Just what’s in those insect-repellent clothes? You’ll know soon

Avoiding the threat of mosquitoes, ticks and other pests by wearing insect-repellant clothing sounds ideal, but there may be some hidden costs. On April 25, the EPA found that pesticide-treated clothing sold by the Columbia Sportswear Company lacked a proper ingredient statement, a warning, a proper storage and disposal statement and was missing the required EPA pesticide registration number. Until Columbia fixes the labeling and tells customers what ingredients are in them, it can no longer sell the pesticide-laden clothes. It also has to pay a fine of $22,880. So although it’s nice to have a day in the woods without constant insect buzzing, I’d appreciate knowing what pesticides are keeping them away.

Beachmaker crushes zebra mussel leftovers

A new weapon has emerged in the war against invasive zebra mussels. Put it on the shelf next to the BioBullets, Zequanox, the mussel-killing cocktail and the Mobile Decontamination Machine. Introducing, the Beachmaker. The Beachmaker sucks up zebra mussel shells and crushes them until they look like sand particles. It was invented by a Wisconsin man who wanted his kids to be able to play on the beach without wearing shoes.

Photo Friday: Lake Erie contest

If you’re an Ohioan itching to share your pictures of the Lake Erie watershed, the Ohio Lake Erie Commission wants to hear from you. The commission is opening up its 2012 Life on Lake Erie photo contest, looking for pictures that display sustainable use, development or protection of Lake Erie’s resources. The photos can’t be digitally altered.  Winning images will be displayed online on the commission’s website and Facebook page. You can submit entries by sending a printed photo or CD and entry form to the Ohio Lake Erie Commission in Sandusky, Ohio, or online by contacting the commission office. Check out the winning 2011 photos here.

Name International Wolf Center pups

Now’s your opportunity to pass on your Polish grandfather’s traditional name, or finally name a boy Sue. The International Wolf Center in Ely, Minn., is hosting the Name the Wolf Pups contest, where you can enter to name wolf pups that will be part of the center’s ambassador wolf pack. The two pups up for naming this year are temporarily nicknamed Bolts and Peanut. Bolts is an inquisitive yet camera-shy male, and Peanut is a vocal, robust female. You can see the pups on the center’s Youtube Channel, or in live action on the Wolf Watch Cam.

Wisconsin boasts nation’s best hunting and fishing town

The Great Lakes region got some recognition this month when Outdoor Life magazine named Appleton, Wis., the best hunting and fishing town in the United States. With Lake Winnebego, Fox River and Green Bay nearby, there are plenty of fishing opportunities. And 52,000 acres of nearby public hunting land doesn’t hurt either. “You don’t have to get far out of Appleton to hunt, fish, trap and do other outdoor activities,” said Kay Brockman-Mederas, wildlife biologist in Shawano, Wis., with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. And according to Outdoor Life, area deer hunters do pretty well for themselves, with record-winning bucks shot within 50 miles of downtown Appleton in the last five years.

Flash Point: Bryan Hansel’s toughest Great Lakes photos

We asked Great Lakes photographers to send us their favorite Great Lakes shots. Bryan Hansel of Bryan Hansel Photography sent us these photos. I was on a 45-day, 800-mile kayaking expedition from Port Huron, MI to Grand Marais, MN when I heard about an upcoming storm that was predicted to blow gales for days. I was on a deadline and needed to get to Houghton to jump a ferry to Isle Royale before the storm hit, so I was paddling 30+ mile days. Before I got this photo, I had paddled about 33 miles and got to camp just as the sunset started.

Monitor the effects of climate change as a citizen scientist

The USA National Phenology Network lets citizen scientists monitor the behavior of plants and animals to track climate change effects. Phenological events like plant flowering and bird migrations are influenced by the climate, so if those events continue to change, that could shed light on a changing climate. You can participate by scanning historical data from The North American Bird Phenology Program, sharing data you’ve kept from past years or observing plants and animals. Just sign up on the National Phenology Network website to learn what plants and animals you can observe, how to observe them and how to submit your information. You can see the data here and track phenological events across the country.

Network to find your water-conscious neighbors

If you’re the only one in your neighborhood with a rain barrel, rain garden, green roof or porous driveway, don’t worry. You’ll never feel alone again. Networked Neighbors for Eco-Conservation Online connects you to other water-conscious people in the Great Lakes region. You can map projects around the region, calculate how much water you’re conserving and share pictures of your water conservation efforts. The site, developed by the Institute of Water Research at Michigan State University, has fostered friendly competition among neighbors who want to see who can save the most water with home projects like rain gardens.