As temperatures plummet into the single digits, people will often seek any silver lining in the cold, cold days and nights.
A common theory is that bitter cold winters lead to fewer bugs — pests like gnats and mosquitoes — come summertime.
But Tim Gibb, a professor of entomology at Purdue University says that’s nothing more than an old wive’s tale.
“We hear that all the time,” he said with a chuckle. “But if it were really true, that a hard freeze kills off bugs and pests, then wouldn’t there be some years we didn’t have any at all?
“Because we always have hard freezes,” Gibb said. “It’s just not true.”
Gibb said the real truth about bugs and wintertime is quite the contrary.
Gnats and mosquitos are ectothermic, meaning their bodies adapt to the cold weather quite well. Bugs actually enter a cold-appropriate physiological state in which their bodies don’t form ice crystals, a process that protects them from the bitter cold weather.
“In almost every case,” Gibb said, “insects have found a way around a hard freeze. If an insect can keep from forming ice crystals in its body, it can undergo real, subzero weather.”
What pesky insects can’t adapt to, however, is a winter that brings with it a “roller coaster” of temperatures, a trend similar to what the area has experienced so far this winter.
“What really causes them trouble is when we get into a pattern of seeing low temperatures and then coming out of them only to plunge back into (the single digits) again,” Gibb said. “Physiologically, an insect is going to have real difficulty in dealing with that. They just have to change too much.
“They can’t adapt to the roller coaster,” Gibb said, “and if we have a lot of that, then insect populations do begin to suffer.”
That said, ups and downs in temperatures experienced so far this winter haven’t been extreme enough — at least not yet — to harm pest populations.
What does, without a doubt, affect the number of bugs seen in the hot summer months, however, is the amount of precipitation that falls in the springtime, Gibb said.
“The more rain we see in the spring means (a greater) potential for mosquitoes and gnats,” Gibb said. “In the cold, bugs, their larvae and eggs, they’re hearty. They actually do really well.
“But in the springtime, once the warmer weather and water gets to them, that’s when they hatch and we see those huge populations.
“So a lot more goes into bug populations besides what happens in the winter months,” he said. “It’s something we just won’t know more about until springtime.”
Mark Boyer, a sixth-generation farmer in Miami County, plants corn and wheat crops but also sunflowers.
The sunflower byproducts are sold through his Healthy Hoosier Oil as salad dressing and as a protein source for livestock.
Boyer would like to diversify by growing industrial hemp and extracting its oil as a nutritional supplement.
Industrial hemp could be a legitimate commodity under bills introduced in the Indiana General Assembly.
“I believe industrial hemp holds great promise for Hoosier farmers,” Boyer said. “The potential economic impact of Indiana industrial hemp cultivation goes way beyond my own products. Hemp is an extremely fast-growing crop, producing more fiber per acre than any other source, 250 percent more than cotton and six times more than flax but also being more drought resistant than either crop.”
Among the legislation at the Statehouse, House Bill 1137, authored by Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, would expand industrial hemp beyond its current role as a research product.
His bill, which was heard in committee on Jan. 18, is supported by agriculture researchers, farmers and the Indiana Farm Bureau, hoping to turn industrial hemp into a Hoosier commodity.
Industrial hemp is estimated to be used in more than 25,000 products, including textiles and furniture, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Under federal regulations, states can regulate industrial hemp pilot programs. Indiana grew 10 acres in 2017 for research through Purdue University, said Justin Swanson of the Indiana Hemp Industries Association.
Lucas’ bill is based on the Agricultural Act of 2014 that defines how industrial hemp can be grown. The act limits a plant’s tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration to 0.3 percent; THC produces the high in marijuana.
Many people are confused between industrial hemp and marijuana.
“A lot of people are reluctant to feel OK with hemp because of the association. But industrial hemp is no more marijuana than a chihuahua is a wolf,” Dr. Matthew Andry, a family practitioner and associate professor at the IU School of Medicine.
Lucas said, “My intent of this bill is to play off the definition of the federal farm bill, which recognizes the hemp plant and its byproducts. Cannabidiol is one of those byproducts but I don’t want to confuse the issue because I know of the situation that the state is going through right now.”
Last year, the General Assembly approved the use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil to treat epilepsy. Those patients must be registered with the Indiana State Department of Health. About 50 people have enrolled.
However, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill has said that while those patients can use CBD, its sale is illegal. There are efforts in the legislature to clarify the language.
Indiana is about six years behind the Commonwealth of Kentucky whose legislature already approved growing industrial hemp and seeking markets for oil, seed and fiber.
Scott L. Miley
A Scott County Court search warrant issued in connection with a drug investigation at a residence on the southwest side of Austin resulted in five people being charged with a variety of drug related offenses.
Indiana State Police Sgt. Jerry Goodin said troopers and officers with the Austin Police Department served the warrant at 218 Lawnview Drive just before 11 a.m. last Thursday.
During the search officers located what was believed to be methamphetamine, syringes, scales and other pieces of drug paraphernalia, Goodin reported.
•Terry Morris, 46, a resident at 218 S. Lawnview, Austin, was charged with maintaining a common nuisance, possession of syringe.
•Timothy Ebertshauser, 26, of Scottsburg; dealing in methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, possession of paraphernalia, possession of syringe and maintaining a common nuisance.
•Erica Moore, 24, of Scottsburg; dealing in methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, possession of paraphernalia, possession of syringe and maintaining a common nuisance.
•Eric Howard, 29, of Scottsburg; was charged with visiting a common nuisance.
•Victoria Autenrieb, 28, of Seymour; was charged with visiting a common nuisance.
All five were incarcerated at the Scott County Jail. This investigation is continuing, Goodin said.
More than 300 units of township government in Indiana would be consolidated under a bill touted as one of the legislative priorities for House Republicans.
House Bill 1005 would make it mandatory for trustee offices in townships with a population less than 1,200 to merge either with a more populous township or one of similar population.
Of Indiana’s 1,005 townships, 309 fit the bill’s population category, said Deborah Driskell, executive director of the Indiana Township Association. Depending on the approach taken by the townships, there could be more than two townships in each consolidation, she said.
“They could consolidate in different configurations. There’s no way to predict exactly what the reduction would be. It could be 150; it could be more,” Driskell said.
Consolidations would not require a voter referendum, though a public hearing would be necessary. The mergers are to be led by township officials.
“We have far too many local government entities in our state for us to be efficient,” said Rep. Cindy Ziemke, R-Batesville, author of the bill. “It’s really to try to gain some efficiencies and far more value for the taxpayer.”
Township governments have functioned in Indiana since the signing of the 1852 State Constitution. The House bill, if passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb, would not eliminate the township concept.
“I am pleased that everyone will still have a township trustee and a township board. That’s the most important thing when looking at any kind of reform,” Driskell said. “We have always stood for the fact that if you get rid of townships, people lose their trustees and their boards.
“There’s been a push to get rid of the boards and put us under county control, and we have stood against that for many years. We have been encouraged strongly to come up with our own reform measures,” Driskell said.
Additional reforms – many recommended by the township association – in the bill include salary caps in trustee offices, a requirement for capital project plans and justifications for high cash balances in a trustee’s budget. Current debts would remain with taxpayers in the township where the debts were incurred.
House Bill 1005 could lead to savings in the costs of trustee salaries and building expenses, among other costs that would be shared by consolidated offices, according to House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis.
Another streamlining bill, House Bill 1003, by Rep. Douglas Gutwein, R-Francesville, would repeal six chapters of Indiana Code and 55 duplicative reporting requirements for local and state units of government, Bosma said.
Bosma said the bills are part of efforts “to continue to streamline and downsize government while still providing critical services to Hoosiers.”
A third bill, House Bill 1004, authored by Sally Siegrist, R-West Lafayette, would reduce paper reports.
Township trustees typically provide poor relief and pioneer cemetery maintenance.
In 2007, a study by the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform recommended ways for Indiana to streamline services. The effort was led by Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall Shepard and former Gov. Joe Kernan.
Among recommendations, the commission suggested transferring township services to county governments and having county government led by a single elected county executive.
The Kernan-Shepard report has had a rocky history. Efforts to consolidate township assessors with county offices were successful, but the state’s 1,009 township trustee offices have fought merger attempts. Township officials argue that they offer the units of government that are closest to Hoosiers.
Last session, Ziemke introduced a bill that would have abolished township advisory boards and assigned financial responsibility of townships to fiscal bodies of each county. The bill was opposed by the township association which since then has been in discussions with Ziemke.
Scott L. Miley
CNHI News Indiana Reporter
Four townships in Jackson County would be in the crosshairs for consolidation if HB 1005 passes.
Salt Creek Township in northwest Jackson County is the smallest township with a population of 347, according to the 2015 U.S. Census estimate.
Grassy Fork Township, which includes the community of Tampico, has a population of 676.
Driftwood, which includes the community of Vallonia, has a population of 869.
Washington Township, which includes the community of Dudleytown, has a 2015 estimate population of 1,135.
The next closest township in the county that could be on the bubble is Pershing with a population of 1,398.
Other townships by population include Jackson, 21,455; Brownstown, 5,581; Redding, 4,377; Vernon, 3,443; Hamilton, 1,681; Owen, 1,591; Carr, 1,516.
None of the township trustees in Jackson County are responsible for fire protection as rural fire protection is paid for by a fire protection district or territory. Some consolidation of those responsibilities have already occurred. Jackson-Washington and Owen-Salt Creek have fire protection districts for combined township territories.
However, all township trustees in Jackson County are responsible for poor relief—emergency assistance for rent, food, utilities, burial of the indigent—and maintenance of cemeteries that do not have a church or association to provide mowing.
Town workers Roger Jewell (left) and Chris Mains dismantle targets at a gun range built surreptitiously on town property last month. The town council ordered the gun range, discovered at the old town dump, dismantled.
A gun range built on town property north of Crothersville had a brief life. Constructed unbeknownst to the Crothersville Town Council believed to be sometime in mid-December, the shooting range was ordered demolished when the council met Jan. 2.
The gun range was constructed on the old town dumpsite a 1.2 acre parcel on County Road 400 S. The town has not used the site since the mid-1960’s other than to store loads of dirt excavated during town storm water, water and sewer repair projects.
A now dismissed town employee apparently constructed the gun range without the council’s knowledge.
The council voted unanimously to dismantle the shooting range at their first meeting of the new year.
Councilman Lenvel ‘Butch’ Robinson was the most vocal in his opposition to the gun range.
“This is the stupidest thing that could happen,” he said noting that his opposition had nothing to do with gun ownership or gun rights but for safety and financial responsibility of the town.
“The dirt backstop was only six inches above the targets and beyond the dirt pile was US 31,” he said. “I don’t know how anyone could have thought that was a smart thing to build.”
“No body checked with us. Nobody asked permission. And the town’s insurance would have gone through the roof,” said councilman Bob Lytle.
Town workers were on the scene Wednesday morning removing the 1/2” steel plate targets and leveling the mound of dirt.
While some spent brass shell casings were found during the demolition, Crothersville Chief of Police Brent Turner said his department was made aware of the gun range only after it was completed.
“No officer with our department used the gun range,” Turner said.