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Ever Seen a Plume Moth?

A pterophorid plume moth (family Pterophoridae) in Vacaville, Calif. on April 2, 2020. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Have you ever seen a plume moth? Or has a plume moth ever seen you? We spotted a pterophorid plume moth (family Pterophoridae) yesterday on our...

A pterophorid plume moth (family Pterophoridae) in Vacaville, Calif. on April 2, 2020. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A pterophorid plume moth (family Pterophoridae) in Vacaville, Calif. on April 2, 2020. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A pterophorid plume moth (family Pterophoridae) in Vacaville, Calif. on April 2, 2020. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Citizen science SOD Blitz starts April 11 with new COVID-19 safety measures

Matteo Garbelotto examines bay laurel for sudden oak death symptoms at the UC Berkeley campus.

With Californians sheltering in place to stop the spread of new coronavirus COVID-19, the annual citizen science project to map sudden oak death disease has been redesigned to ensure the safety of participants. The first in a series of SOD blitzes of 2020 will be April 11 in Napa. The events are free.

“We have been able to redesign the 2020 SOD Blitzes to make them a safe and legal activity that allows volunteers to exercise outdoors, and this powerful citizen science program will help us protect our forests' health,” said Matteo Garbelotto, UC Cooperative Extension forest pathology specialist and adjunct professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley and event organizer.

Sudden oak death disease has killed more than 50 million of the state's iconic oaks and tanoak trees between Humboldt County and Monterey County, threatening survival of several tree species. In 2019 alone, 1 million tanoaks succumbed to sudden oak death, according to 2019 tree mortality data released by the U.S. Forest Service.

“The presence of new SOD strains is alarming and the SOD blitzes are the best, if not the only, program to intercept them before they spread,” Garbelotto said.

SOD Blitz volunteers will register online and take the training online at www.sodblitz.org to learn how to identify SOD symptoms and to carefully collect symptomatic leaves from California bay laurels and tanoaks. Collection and survey materials, which have been prepared in a sterile environment, will be picked up by participants at a local SOD Blitz station conveniently located near a parking lot. They can return samples to the same SOD Blitz station or by mail.

As citizen scientists, volunteers should focus on following safety guidance as well as adhering to research protocols. Social distancing – at least 6 feet away from other volunteers – and clean “housekeeping” rules will be strongly enforced when picking up or returning materials and during leaf collection.

For parents who are home schooling their children, this is an activity that the family can do together. 

Garbelotto encourages tree care specialists to participate in the SOD blitzes.

“Besides offering free bay laurel and tanoak tests for their clients, we now offer tree care professionals free enrollment in UC Berkeley Forest Pathology Laboratory's OakSTePprogram, which allows them to test oaks for SOD infection,” Garbelotto said.

For more information, visit www.treefaqs.org or email the organizer of the SOD Blitz in your community (See schedule below).

Symptoms of sudden oak death disease on a bay laurel leaf.

Sudden Oak Death Blitzes 2020

www.sodblitz.org

All collection materials will be provided, but participants need a mobile phone or GPS device to install the free SODmap mobile app. 

New format due to COVID-19

1. Training (30 minutes) and sign-up (5 minutes) must be done online at www.sodblitz.org before collecting the sampling materials at the SOD Blitz Stations in the locations specified below. Please sign up before you start the survey, and preferably when you take the online training.

2. Once at your local SOD Blitz Station you can pick up one or two collection packets following the social distancing rules of the State of California clearly specified in the online training.  Stay at least 6 feet from other collectors. Bring your own pencil. Each packet allows you to sample 10 trees. Do not pick more unless you discussed it with the organizer. 

3. Before you start the survey, make sure you have downloaded the free App “SODmap mobile” to determine the exact location of the trees you sample.

4. Each SOD Blitz has a start and end date, including the hour. You can pick up materials at the start time and you have to return your samples and any unused collection materials by the end date and cutoff time.

5. You can sample private properties with the owner's permission, alongside public roads and in parks or open spaces that are open to the public. 

6. If you have any questions, please email your local organizer. Thank you so much for your participation.

Napa Blitz

Saturday, April 11 at 10 a.m. to Tuesday, April 14, 10 a.m.

SOD Blitz Station located on front porch of the Napa County Agriculture Commissioners Office Building 1710 Soscol, Napa

Please mail samples to UC Berkeley using the preprinted mail labels and postage included in each packet.         

Contact: Bill Pramuk  info@billpramuk.com


For a schedule of SOD Blitzes at other locations, visit https://nature.berkeley.edu/matteolab/?page_id=5095.

Posted on Friday, April 3, 2020 at 2:05 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment

Honey Bees Just Lovin' the Mustard

Packing a heavy load of pollen, a honey bee heads for a mustard blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The things we overlook are the things we should look for. Take mustard and honey bees. You've seen mustard thriving in fields, but have you ever...

Packing a heavy load of pollen, a honey bee heads for a mustard blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Packing a heavy load of pollen, a honey bee heads for a mustard blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Packing a heavy load of pollen, a honey bee heads for a mustard blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Touchdown! A honey bee reaches a mustard blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Touchdown! A honey bee reaches a mustard blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Touchdown! A honey bee reaches a mustard blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A honey bee on top of her world--a mustard blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee on top of her world--a mustard blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A honey bee on top of her world--a mustard blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Heading home--a honey bee leaves a mustard patch to share her bounty with her colony. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Heading home--a honey bee leaves a mustard patch to share her bounty with her colony. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Heading home--a honey bee leaves a mustard patch to share her bounty with her colony. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Johnny Jump Up

One of the cheeriest parts of spring, in my opinion, is the Johnny-Jump-Up.  No, not the Irish drinking song, but the flower, known officially known as Viola tricolor or Viola cornuta.  The white, yellow and purple pansy-like flower is an ancestor of the modern pansy.  A hardy perennial it is often grown as an annual.  If left for a second year, it will rebloom.  While a native of the mountains of Spain and France, it has spread throughout Europe and parts of Asia as well as in North America.  Thomas Jefferson planted it at his childhood home in Virginia.  Further back, Shakespeare mentioned the flower in his plays Hamlet and The Taming of the Shrew.  In Midsummer Night's Dream it was the source of the love potion.  Ancient Greek mythology has it that the flower used to be white until it was struck by one of Cupid's arrows.  Related to all of those stories, you can see why the flowers have so many other names:  hearts ease, ladies' delight, tickle my fancy, heart's delight, wild pansy, Jump-Up-and-Kiss-Me.  The flower was used to treat rheumatism, respiratory problems, epilepsy, eczema and even venereal disease.  It was also considered a diuretic.  It was employed as a yellow and as a green fabric dye. 

Viola tricolor is spring through fall, a flowering perennial that will multiply and can reseed and naturalize if left through the winter.  In the partial shade, it will bloom from early spring until the first frost.  It can become a groundcover.   I have planted them straight in the ground, but with our alkaline, clay soils, I have had more success with containers.  Johnny-Jump-Ups like neutral to acidic soil.  They attract butterflies.  They are also edible.  I have only eaten them candied on a slice of wedding cake.  All I tasted was sugar.  But they can be picked from the plant and eaten.  They are said to have a minty taste.  The taste and scent are strongest in the early morning. 

A relative of the Viola tricolor is Viola pedunculata, AKA California golden violet, found in open woodlands, chaparrals and sage scrub along the California coast.  I remember seeing this beauty while hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains at Paramount Ranch years ago.  The flowers are a deep yellow, almost orange with a dark brown center and bright green, heart-shaped leaves. 

photo by Michelle Davis
photo by Michelle Davis

Posted on Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 12:57 PM

UCCE scientist is researching Perigord truffle cultivation in Placerville

UC Cooperative Extension advisor Scott Oneto and retired insurance executive Staci O'Toole are researching conditions in a Placerville hazelnut orchard that best support the production of highly prized Perigord truffles, reported Becky Grunewald in the Sacramento Bee.

“Whether this will be the next big commodity in California? I would love to say yes, but that goes with a lot of hesitancy and uncertainty," Oneto said. "There's a ton of things we need to figure out to make this industry successful.”

O'Toole had asked Oneto for assistance.

“When I have a farmer or rancher who is presented with problems, whether it be a new pest, weed, pathogen, or the effects of climate change, we help them solve those problems so they can continue to be successful in agriculture,” Oneto said.

During a sabbatical leave, Oneto researched scientific literature about truffle cultivation. Last spring, he and O'Toole set out an experiment in four plots of her hazelnut orchard to compare different growing conditions, with varying levels of moisture, shade, pH and soil amendment.

The hazelnut trees were planted, pre-inoculated with truffle mycelium, over a decade ago by the former ranch owner. The trees are all the same age, same variety, and same condition, making the location ideal for scientific investigation.

O'Toole is keeping close track of truffle production in the orchard, the article said. In time, Oneto hopes to publish the results of their experiment in a peer-reviewed journal to help other would-be truffle growers.

Perigord black truffles potential new crop for California. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Posted on Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 11:19 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

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