The term refers to leaves that have not changed all the way, as they feature completely green spots. Why is that? Well, it has something to do with moth larvae on leaves. More specifically, it has to do with bacteria living on their bodies. According to researchers, bacteria interacts with leaf tissues and affect the production of cytokinins, which ultimately produces green islands.
How it works
When trees are preparing to go dormant for the winter, the leaves begin to shut down production of cytokinin, which eventually leads to color changes. However, bacteria help to increase the production of cytokinin. What this means is that the tissues around the larvae possess more photosynthetic life.
Photosynthetic life equals more food for the larvae, and so what we have is a symbiotic relationship between the larvae and bacteria. They both benefit—and the result are those green islands you sometimes see on leaves deep into autumn.
The takeaway from green islands
In looking at the relationship between bacteria and larvae, it is important to consider the larger implications regarding plant, grass and tree biology in general. Nothing we do to care for our lawns and gardens is done within a vacuum. Everything affects everything else, and so when we use chemicals to treat the earth, we are destroying a balance between plants, grasses, trees and our environment.
The larvae needs the bacteria, which needs the moth just like we need healthy soil to produce healthy food for our families. Next time you see a green island, remember what it means. It means nature is working as intended.
Have questions about anything or need help cleaning up this fall, call Heidelberg Farms at (603) 501-9919.