Chefs, wasps and jellyfish, oh, my

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 8, 2014

Lots of activities are going on in Rowan County, and it’s more than just the birds and bees …
Question: When will the next Market Chef competition occur, and will you be accepting any new contestants?
Answer: The second round of the Market Chef competition is this Saturday, Aug. 9, at 10 a.m. We have three competitors this week, so we are not accepting any new competitors for round two. However, we are still accepting entries for the final round on Sept. 6, but space is limited. The round this Saturday will be quite interesting since there have been some game changes to the event. Competitors are now only allowed to bring 10 pantry items, and they have also received a hint as to what style they may want to cook their food. The second round will once again feature local products from the Farmers’ Market. Each contestant will have to create an entrée this time. For more information, visit www.salisburyfarmersmarket.com or www.rowanextension.org (spotlight section for Market Chef).
Question: You will never believe where I found a wasp nest! Can you believe that I drove my lawnmower with them under my seat?
Answer: I am not surprised that wasps built a nest under your lawnmower seat. What does surprise me is that you mowed your lawn and did not get stung. Wasps will build nests just about anywhere and are usually defensive when bothered or tampered with. What you have under your seat is called a paper wasp. These nests are usually abandoned after a hard freeze and typically, only the queen survives. Queens will usually make their way in crevices of buildings or under the bark of trees. Thankfully for you, these were wasps and not yellow jackets. Otherwise, I don’t believe you would have made it off the lawnmower without being stung.
Question: Have you ever heard of freshwater jellyfish?
Answer: No, I can honestly say I’ve never heard of this before. However, I did some research and found out that they actually do exist. I received some samples of these jellyfish after an interesting paddle boat ride, chasing these half-inch creatures. I was even able to capture a video of them moving through water, all in the name of science. I looked at other Cooperative Extension agencies across the United States and found very little information about freshwater jellyfish, except that they can arrive at a pond out of nowhere and can disappear quickly (within a few days). Pond temperatures seem to also play a role in their appearance, but there is still little information on them.
This has been another week of intriguing questions that has kept me on my toes …
For more information on the Market Chef competition, wasps, and weird pond issues, please call the Extension office at 704-216-8970.

For more information on the topics discussed, visit these links:
Market Chef — http://rowan.ces.ncsu.edu/spotlight/2014-market-chef-competition/
Paper wasps — http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Other/note144/note144.html
Jellyfish — http://www.uri.edu/ce/wq/ww/Publications/Jellyfish.pdf

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