The Rapp for Aug. 23

Plural of forum is — *

Join us this Sunday, Aug. 26, at 2 p.m. for a community forum on the takeaways from this summer’s multipart Foothills Forum/Rappahannock News series on the Rappahannock economy — past, present, future.

The “Work in Progress” forum will take place at Mountainside Physical Therapy, 12625 Lee Highway between Sperryville and Washington. The forum is co-hosted by the Virginia Cooperative Extension Office, Businesses of Rappahannock, and the Rappahannock News.

Topics include the Rappahannock economy, farming’s future, business climate, comprehensive planning, tourism, agri-tourism, entrepreneurship — and The Rappahannock Hustle.

For those unable to participate Sunday afternoon due to work, family or other commitments, a second midweek after-hours forum opportunity is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 13, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m at Headmasters Pub in Sperryville

* Fora. But let’s stick with forums, OK?

Blue haze

Eyes watering more than usual? Throat a bit irritated?

The blue in the Blue Ridge has had a smoky hue of late thanks to the massive wildfires scorching California. While fire danger in Rappahannock County remains low given this summer’s hefty rainfall, smoke from western forest fires has drifted some three thousand miles from the Golden State to the prairies and across the Blue Ridge Mountains.

And yes, credit the wildfires for helping fuel our stunning sunsets of late.

Brilliant autumn

Autumn temperatures from September through November are expected to be normal to slightly above normal in Rappahannock County, according to the long-range seasonal forecast issued by the Weather Channel.

The good news, given this summer’s broken spigot resulting in above normal groundwater, is the fall foliage this year, unlike in recent drier leaf-peeping seasons, should radiate more brilliant shades of red, purple, yellow and orange.

Flesh eater

This American Carrion Beetle has found something fleshy to munch on in the town of Washington. By Megan Smith

“Well it looks like we have a new invader in Rappahannock,” writes Megan Smith of Washington. “I don’t know what the heck this thing is but it looks like some variation of a stink bug.”

Actually, the photo Smith forwarded isn’t of a stink bug, but the American Carrion Beetle (Necrophila Americana), which consumes and lays its eggs in raw flesh, particularly dead animals.

“The American Carrion Beetle helps to complete the circle of life,” says one description of the beetle, which lives east of the Rocky Mountains from Florida to Maine, and Rappahannock in between.

Trap crops

Speaking of stink bugs, a new environmentally friendly discovery can help farmers combat the pests while saving millions of dollars.

For stink bugs to attract a mate or to communicate that they have found food, they use their own chemical language: pheromones. Virginia Tech researchers have discovered insights into this chemical language, which can be used to develop alternative pest controls.

“We have gained a deeper understanding of how stink bugs synthesize pheromones, and this knowledge may allow us to produce pheromones in expendable food crops — also called ‘trap crops’ — to lure the bugs away from cash crops,” said Dorothea Tholl, a professor of biological sciences,

In Virginia, crops such as apples, grapes and sweet corn have been under attack by the invasive brown marmorated stink bug since 2004; cabbage has also been affected, but by the harlequin stink bug. A relative, the southern green stink bug is also a severe pest and attacks many different crops including beans and soybeans.

Scam warning

Residential and business members of Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) have received phone calls from scammers claiming to be from REC stating the members’ accounts are overdue.

“The scams are very sophisticated, with the caller ID appearing to be that of REC. Calls made to the false phone number even sound legitimate, as the caller is greeted by a recorded message as if they had called the Cooperative,” says John Crawford, REC’s manager of Safety, Risk, and Operational Support Services.

For any Rappahannock County residents who receive a suspicious call, keep in mind that REC does not use collection agencies to contact members by phone, and REC’s legitimate representatives never demand immediate payment.

Victims of scammers are asked to notify the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office or call REC directly at 1-800-552-3904.

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