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'Adventure Awaited' at Virtual Reality Demonstration

UC Davis medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo shows Sebastian and Kamila Ehrlich examples of  what insects they might want to see in virtual reality. In back is their mother, Carollina Ehrlich. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

"Adventure Awaits!" the theme proclaimed. And that it did Saturday at the 105th annual UC Davis Picnic Day--especially at the second annual "Virtual...

UC Davis medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo shows Sebastian and Kamila Ehrlich examples of  what insects they might want to see in virtual reality. In back is their mother, Carollina Ehrlich. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
UC Davis medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo shows Sebastian and Kamila Ehrlich examples of what insects they might want to see in virtual reality. In back is their mother, Carollina Ehrlich. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

UC Davis medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo shows Sebastian and Kamila Ehrlich examples of what insects they might want to see in virtual reality. In back is their mother, Carollina Ehrlich. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Sebastian Ehrlich enjoying the session. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Sebastian Ehrlich enjoying the session. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Sebastian Ehrlich enjoying the session. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)


"That was cool!" Sebastian Ehrlich removes the headset. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

"That was cool!" Sebastian Ehrlich removes the headset. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Dad Ethan Ehrlich (background) reacts to the 40-foot-tall bugs. With him are wife  Carolina, children Sebastian and Kamila,  and UC Davis medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Dad Ethan Ehrlich (background) reacts to the 40-foot-tall bugs. With him are wife Carolina, children Sebastian and Kamila, and UC Davis medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Dad Ethan Ehrlich (background) reacts to the 40-foot-tall bugs. With him are wife Carolina, children Sebastian and Kamila, and UC Davis medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

UC Davis alumnus Paul McClelland (zoology)of Sunnyvale selects what insect he wants to see in virtual reality. With him are his wife Marmirjam and UC Davis medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
UC Davis alumnus Paul McClelland (zoology)of Sunnyvale selects what insect he wants to see in virtual reality. With him are his wife Marmirjam and UC Davis medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

UC Davis alumnus Paul McClelland (zoology)of Sunnyvale selects what insect he wants to see in virtual reality. With him are his wife Marmirjam and UC Davis medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)


"That's fascinating!" said Paul McCelland, as he hands off the headphones to another member of his party. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

"That's fascinating!" said Paul McCelland, as he hands off the headphones to another member of his party. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Just Grubbin' Around

Shoveling isn't usually my idea of fun, but after months of rain, I was so excited to get into the garden and start prepping the raised vegetable beds for spring and summer.  On a (finally!) recent sunny weekend, my husband and I headed outside to mix in some compost and top off the beds where the soil had settled.  As my husband started to turn the first bed, he asked, “what are these white grubs?”  And then he observed, “there are a lot of them.”  And the final blow, “it's like something out of a horror movie.”

Oh no!  We have grubs!  To be more specific, we have masked chafers, commonly known as “white grubs” (Cyclocephala spp.).  These beetle larvae are white with a brown head, up to 1 inch in length, and have bristles on the underside of the posterior end of the abdomen.  Put simply, if you find a large c-shaped white grub, it's probably a – you guessed it – white grub.  The species produce one generation each year and the grubs overwinter as mature larvae.  In spring and early summer, the white grubs pupate 3 to 6 inches deep in the soil. The adult beetles variously referred to as scarab beetles, May beetles, or June bugs are about one-half inch long and are golden brown with a darker brown head. The adults are attracted to lights at night in the summer, mostly from mid-June through July.    

Identifying the masked chafer was confusing because most references discuss how the grubs are attracted to turf grass.  The masked chafer grubs feed on roots, resulting in irregular dead patches and resembling drought stress even though there is sufficient irrigation.  

We removed our turfgrass three years ago, so I'm not sure why the masked chafers are in our raised beds.  Nonetheless, despite their primary reputation for being a turfgrass pest, they will feed on the roots of weeds, vegetable transplants, and ornamental plants.  The most severe injury to plants is caused by large grubs feeding on plant roots in the fall and spring.

Masked chafers don't seem to be a serious problem unless there are a lot of them.  In our case, one 4'x3' vegetable bed had about 30 grubs.  That seems like a lot to me!  We've evaluated the various control options, but aren't inclined to try pesticides or nematodes at this point.  According to the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County, removal is the first line of defense and hand-picking the grubs is the best approach.  (“Grubs in the Vegetable Garden's Soil” (March 12, 2018) at https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=26574.)

So my husband dug them out and squished them.  I certainly hope that helps control them.

 

For information about biological and cultural controls that may help reduce the number of masked chafers infesting turfgrass, see the UC Pest Management Guidelines for masked chafers at http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/r785301311.html.  For information about the use of beneficial nematodes to control grubs, see the UC Guide to Healthy Lawns, Beneficial Nematodes, at http://ipm.ucanr.edu/TOOLS/TURF/PESTS/innem.html.

 

Apparently, the masked chafer is a blueberry pest as well.  For information about control of masked chafers on blueberries, see the UC Pest Management Guidelines at http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/r57300411.html.

photo by Erin Mahaney
photo by Erin Mahaney

Posted on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at 10:31 AM

Dr. Bob, Forensic Entomology, and UC Davis Picnic Day

Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey (left) held forth at the forensic entomology table in Briggs Hall during the 2019 UC Davis Picnic Day. He recently won a College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' advising award. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Did you see "Dr. Bob" in Briggs Hall during the UC Davis Picnic Day last Saturday? Forensic entomologist Robert "Bob" Kimsey of the UC Davis...

Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey (left) held forth at the forensic entomology table in Briggs Hall during the 2019 UC Davis Picnic Day. He recently won a College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' advising award. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey (left) held forth at the forensic entomology table in Briggs Hall during the 2019 UC Davis Picnic Day. He recently won a College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' advising award. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey (left) held forth at the forensic entomology table in Briggs Hall during the 2019 UC Davis Picnic Day. He recently won a College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' advising award. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Graduate student/forensic entomologist Alex Dedmon, who studies with forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, answers a question at the UC Davis Picnic Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Graduate student/forensic entomologist Alex Dedmon, who studies with forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, answers a question at the UC Davis Picnic Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Graduate student/forensic entomologist Alex Dedmon, who studies with forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, answers a question at the UC Davis Picnic Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Briggs Hall, home of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, was a big draw at the 105th annual UC Davis Picnic Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Briggs Hall, home of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, was a big draw at the 105th annual UC Davis Picnic Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Briggs Hall, home of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, was a big draw at the 105th annual UC Davis Picnic Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at 5:12 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment Innovation

Winter's Hardy Hellebore

Beyond the legend, myth and poisonous reputation surrounding this member of the Ranunculaceae family, the Hellebore is perhaps one of the most an intriguing plants I've invited into my garden. With a color palate stretching from dark purple, maroon, and red to pink, yellow and white, this perennial fills a void in the flowerbed when little else is blooming. A plus is that the five petals of a Hellebore bloom don't drop off but stay on the plant, eventually turning green as shown in the photo below entitled: NOTE the greening of the flower.
 
Hellebores prefer well-drained soil that's a bit alkaline. While they appreciate shade or partial shade, some species grow in sun and more acidic soil. With over 20 species to choose from, this 12 to 18-inch plant with its rhizomatous roots, sturdy stems, and thick dark green leaves is worth getting to know.
 
Here are a couple of tidbits about its history:
1. The ancient Greek botanist, Dioscorides, and Pliny, the Elder, supposedly treated madness, melancholy, and worms using the dry powder from the plant's roots to induce vomiting. 
2. The Gauls coated the tips of their arrowheads in its powder to ensure the death of their enemies. 
3. In the middle ages, Hellebore was burned to protect homes from evil spirits. 
4. Even a 20th-century English herbalist, Maude Grieve, was said to scatter Hellebore powder into the air and on the ground so she was invisible.
 
Whatever you believe, whether it's fact or fiction, the following is true: 
1. The Hellebore plant is susceptible to fungus botrytis. 
2. A gardener can develop a skin irritation from contact with protanemonin, a chemical produced when plant is injured. 
3. The specific species Hellebore niger contains glycosides, known to cause cardiac issues. (H. niger, also called Christmas rose, grows over a foot tall and a foot wide, with large white blooms.)
4. Hellebore roots are emetic (medicinal substance inducing vomiting) that can be fatal.
 
For learn more about Hellebores, visit:
http://pss.uvm.edu/ppp/articles/hellebore.html   -  Hellebore: The Lenten Rose by Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor, University of Vermont
 
https://www.gardendesign.com/flowers/hellebores.html   -  Hellebores: How to Grow & Care for Hellebore Flowers
 

photos by Launa Herrmann
photos by Launa Herrmann

Hellebore2
Hellebore2

NOTE the greening of flower
NOTE the greening of flower

Helebore 3
Helebore 3

Hellebore4
Hellebore4

Hellebore5
Hellebore5

Posted on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at 2:22 PM

Riverside Washington Navel gets additional protection

The city of Riverside is taking steps to protect a 143-year-old Washington Navel orange tree - the tree that parented most navel oranges alive today, reported the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

According to legend, the seedless and sweet Washington navel was an accidental mutant that appeared on the grounds of a Brazil monastery in the early 1800s. Tree clones were sent to USDA in Washington, D.C., and from there acquired by Eliza Tibbets, who tended the trees at her home in Riverside.

This month, city workers removed two trees that were planted near the iconic navel orange - a Marsh Grapefruit and another navel, which was planted in the 1940s and doesn't have the historical value. They have built a steel structure over the Washington Navel to support a transparent screen that will keep out Asian citrus psyllid, an invasive pest that spreads the devastating huanglongbing virus in citrus.

The measures to protect the tree were planned by a team that includes scientists from UC Riverside, the Citrus Research Board and the USDA, the article said.

The Riverside Washington Navel tree surrounded by open fencing in this 1932 picture. View the Riverside Press-Enterprise to see a photo of the large steel structure that now looms over the tree. (Photo: Department of Interior)

 For more information on the photo above, see visit this UCLA Library page.

Posted on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at 11:42 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

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