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Wool-wearing villains

Wednesday, July 31, 2013, by Justin Vendettuoli
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Clashing, crashing, smashing--the once hearty hemlock heaves its now crippled form to the forest floor. What brings this mighty tree to its knees? Was it the axe man, his barrel chest booming with each thunderous blow? Was it the furious gusts of a gale going through the eastern hemlock stand, singing songs of sorrow?


The culprit creeps covertly along unsuspecting branches, before driving deep its dark feeder into the base of a hemlock needle: an invasive insect, a vile villain, the herald of misfortune for hemlocks all along the eastern lands. They drain the vigor from their victims not for vengeance, but for an unrelenting and unreasonable will to have all hemlocks bow before their kind. It's the hemlock woolly adelgid! These white wool-wearing devils must have their advance stalled, so I study their ways.

Under the stalwart and seasoned guidance of David Orwig, master of forestry and adelgid whisperer, I train in the scientific arts of ecology. A heroic and knowledgeable figure, Orwig, knows the secrets held in the hemlock stands, passed down by researchers of years gone by. Seeking out sickly stands and those still full of vigor I harvest hemlock roots, foliage and the wicked wool wound 'round the needles.

I divined the truths the adelgid wished to withhold.

With this knowledge in hand I produced a persuasive power point presentation with which to teach the throngs of researchers, students, and staff. Through trial and fire then oration and presentation, I came through with elation!

Making this blog post on the finals days for the REU students here at Harvard Forest has prompted my mind to wander through a string of hilarious, beautiful, amazing, terrifying, and all around awesome moments I've been part of over these past few months. That's what my time here has been for me, an important mix of new experiences and people.

I am a better person for having been here. I am still coming to grips with the fact that I may never again see some of the tremendous people I've met this summer. Everyone has preformed admirably and I continue to be impressed learning about all the very interesting research being done by others here. I leave Harvard Forest another year older and a good bit wiser.

Justin Vendettuoli

Quirky Q&A with Justin

Have you ever donned a horrific hairdo? Once in the 4th grade my aunt gave me a classic bowl cut, and I looked like a little mushroom head. It was quite silly and I wanted nothing to do with it, so I had it cut down to get rid of it, which ended up being pretty much a buzz cut. I looked ridiculous and the barber said I should never shave my head; it would look weird.

You have the choice to live with a gorilla who knows sign language or a dog who sings lullabies, which do you choose? That dog would get so annoying. Think of how much a dog barks daily, and now replace all those barks with lullabies. That would get old fast. What if you are just hanging out on the couch watching a movie and your dog is singing lullabies and you are lulled asleep and miss the best part of the film? The gorilla and I would just sign and laugh at it and go do cool stuff, like rock climbing and dancing.

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