One of the many advantages to working in Bozeman for the summer is the plethora of activities available in the area—most of them outdoors.
We have several Farmers’ Markets, two of which I attended in the first week I’ve been home: the Saturday morning Gallatin Valley Farmers’ Market and the Tuesday evening Bogert Park Farmers’ Market. The Saturday market brought yummy breakfast crepes and fresh, local ingredients to make one of my favorite soups for dinner, Spicy Zuppa Toscana. My mom and I used this recipe, but triple the potatoes and kale. I also make sure that any meat I use is local, free range, and utterly devoid of any hormones, antibiotics, or other unhealthy (for people, animals, or Earth) additives.
Bozeman also has countless hiking trails in the area. All of the trails are stunning, and I will post photos from my hikes throughout the summer here. Today was the first hike beyond what’s within walking distance of my front door. It finally cooled off enough—to about 80 degrees—for a hike with some elevation gain, so we trekked up Drinking Horse Mountain. There’s a longer, more gradual way up and a shorter, steeper route—Coach Mitch would be proud I took the steep way, right?
Along the way, we came across many photo-ops. I have put some of them on my hometown album linked above, but there was one that stood out most: a larval Spurge Hawkmoth (Hyles euphorbiae).
We discovered this little guy on our return hike down Drinking Horse Mountain. A little internet research helped identify him as a U.K. native moth commonly released as a biological control agent for Leafy Spurge—which happens to be the plant he’s munching on! Biological controls are controversial alternatives to herbicides or mechanical removal that would usually be applied to combat invasive species. The idea is to find a specialized species that will target only the invasive species of concern—great when it works, but dangerous when unintended consequences ensue. I’m not sure about the impact on the Leafy Spurge here, but sometimes biological controls turn out to be more generalist and target desirable species too. I love the idea of dealing with invasives without chemicals, but even with careful testing biological controls can be risky. Probably the best option is to not let invasives take over in the first place! (Easier said, of course, than done).
Needless to say, my first week home has be wonderful. My internship with Project WET is off to a great and exciting start, I get to spend time with family and friends, and I am surrounded by the beauty of my home state. More fun to come!