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Posts Tagged: beneficial insects

Bugging You at the California State Fair

The California State Fair's Insect Pavilion lauded the Bohart Museum of Entomology for donating insect specimens. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The Insect Pavilion at the California State Fair, which includes specimens from the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California,...

The California State Fair's Insect Pavilion lauded the Bohart Museum of Entomology for donating insect specimens. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The California State Fair's Insect Pavilion lauded the Bohart Museum of Entomology for donating insect specimens. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The California State Fair's Insect Pavilion lauded the Bohart Museum of Entomology for donating insect specimens. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Everyone liked the beneficial insect, the lady beetle, aka lady bug. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Everyone liked the beneficial insect, the lady beetle, aka lady bug. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Everyone liked the beneficial insect, the lady beetle, aka lady bug. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This trio checks out the pests displayed below a sign in the Insect Pavilion that cautions:
This trio checks out the pests displayed below a sign in the Insect Pavilion that cautions: "Beware of hitchhikers." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This trio checks out the pests displayed below a sign in the Insect Pavilion that cautions: "Beware of hitchhikers." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A youngster points excitedly at a display in the Insect Pavilion. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A youngster points excitedly at a display in the Insect Pavilion. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A youngster points excitedly at a display in the Insect Pavilion. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The wanted visitors at the California State Fair and the unwanted visitors (pests). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The wanted visitors at the California State Fair and the unwanted visitors (pests). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The wanted visitors at the California State Fair and the unwanted visitors (pests). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This visitor was fascinated by the displays in the Insect Pavilion. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This visitor was fascinated by the displays in the Insect Pavilion. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This visitor was fascinated by the displays in the Insect Pavilion. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Visitors coming and going in the California State Fair's Insect Pavilion. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Visitors coming and going in the California State Fair's Insect Pavilion. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Visitors coming and going in the California State Fair's Insect Pavilion. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Growing Great Roses Without Toxics

The rose (Rosa) has an undeserved reputation of requiring a lot, in terms of time, chemicals, and trouble.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you are considering adding a rose garden, or even a handful of favorites to your existing garden.

Select for disease resistance

Find a variety that has a track record for resisting the “big three”:  black spot, rust, and powdery mildew.  Here, the AARS can be helpful.  The All-America Rose Selections is a non-profit, which will list the top performers in 15 categories, including overall beauty, ease of maintenance, and the ability to resist disease.

Log on to rose.org/winning-roses/ and select “N. CA & Northwest”.  Also, when you buy roses, go for Grade 1, which are usually found in nurseries, rather than the discount stores.  This means that they must have three or more strong canes, well spaced around the graft.  Also, don’t be afraid to do what is known as “shovel pruning”, meaning if a rose does not perform well in your particular area after one season, consider replacing it with something more reliable.  One trick is to go for the glossy leafed varieties if you are buying during the growing season.  The glossy leaves seem to repel most fungal infections.

Use beneficial insects

The most commonly known beneficial insect is the Lady beetle, which feed on aphids in both the adult and larval stages.  But some of the lesser-known beneficial insects are also important, like the Leatherwing or soldier beetle, Syrphid flies, which are important predators of aphids, and predaceous mites.  Thrips are a mixed bag, feeding on both plants and spider mites.  And don’t forget that all spiders are predators, and are important in your garden.  You can see them all in UC ANR’s Healthy Roses (publication #21589).  Before reading this, I had been hand picking off Leatherwings, thinking they were harmful!

Use good cultural practices

First and foremost is the need for nutritious soil that’s fertilized on a regular basis and mulched, at least 6 hours sunshine minimum, and enough water.  If you use drippers, roses can also benefit from weekly deep watering, and overhead sprayed water from the shower setting on a hose to keep the leaves free of aphids and mites, or even fungal spores, so long as the leaves are dry by sunset.  Provide good air circulation by spacing roses at least 3’ apart, and trim out some of the bottom inside leaves for the same reason.  Annual pruning will remove any damaged or diseased canes, as well as dead wood.  At pruning time, all leaves should be stripped from the plant, so you can see what you’re doing, and cut out all unnecessary growth.  If you are going for show quality roses, cut the canes down to 12-18”, which forces lush new growth in spring.  The attached photos are some of my favorite blooms for cutting,Rosa floribunda ‘Hot Cocoa’, and R. ‘Brandy’, both grown without any toxics.

'Hot Cocoa' photos by Bud Veliquette
'Hot Cocoa' photos by Bud Veliquette

'Brandy'
'Brandy'

Posted on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 10:44 AM
Tags: beneficial insects (5), Rose Rosa (1), toxics (1)

What Do You Want for Your Birthday?

Several women I know asked for jewelry, cruises or trips to Las Vegas; but I asked for raised beds. Walking around the backyard I picked out a good spot -- taking in consideration the hours of sunlight --  my husband and I visited the various box stores in the area. Redwood was chosen because of its ability to last longer.  Our measurements were six feet long, four feet wide and 22 inches high. The height was important to both of us because we are in our seventies and don't bend and stretch as easily as we used to.

We lined the box sides using staples to keep the soil from leaking out between the planks.  After doing the math we ordered three yards of special soil mixed especially for raised beds. In addition, I incorporated four bags of dried chicken manure from a local organic chicken farm.

We enjoyed a bounty of vegetables, greens and herbs and I was amazed at how well plants grew in a raised bed. I found it very interesting that beneficial insects easily found the plants growing in a high rise environment, but the troublesome pests appear to have a more difficult time finding the plants. Very few problems.

The first raised bed we built provided us with strawberries throughout the season. I am still able to go out in the morning every couple of days and find a few small and delicious berries. I am now thinking of changing bed # 1 as a herb garden instead of having the herbs spread all over the yard.

How lucky I am to have a husband who indulges my 'crazy birthday ideas' -- that end up benefiting the both of us! 

              

The beginning of the raised bed. (photos by Danielle Wilkowski)
The beginning of the raised bed. (photos by Danielle Wilkowski)

Vegetables spilling out of the raised bed.
Vegetables spilling out of the raised bed.

Yum! Strawberries!
Yum! Strawberries!

Posted on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 8:50 AM

Hedgerows enhance beneficial insects on farms in California’s Central Valley

Hedgerow plants form a border around crop fields.
Hedgerows are rows of trees, shrubs, forbs and grasses that surround farm fields. They may be remnants of existing vegetation from cleared lands, a result of natural plant dispersal, or established via direct plantings.

They’ve been in existence for thousands of years with many benefits including serving as wind breaks, helping to reduce soil erosion, and providing habitat for wildlife. All of this helps protect our water and air quality as well as enhances biodiversity.

More recently, studies have shown that hedgerows of California native flowering shrubs planted on field crop edges can enhance beneficial insect activity on farms, possibly leading to biological pest control in adjacent crops. This valuable ecosystem service could lead to reduced insecticide use on farms, possibly enhancing environmental and worker health and safety issues and provide cost savings to growers. for thousands of years with many benefits including serving as wind breaks, helping to reduce soil erosion and providing habitat for wildlife. All of this helps protect our water and air quality as well as enhance biodiversity.

The larvae of this adult syrphid fly, also called hoverfly, will feed on aphids.
In a study published in the 2011 October-December edition of California Agriculture by Morandin et al., plantings of elderberry, toyon, coffeeberry, coyote brush, California buckwheat and California lilac on field crop edges attracted significant numbers of beneficial insects. Lacewings, ladybugs, parasitic wasps and syrphid flies, all important natural enemies of crop pests, appeared. Most beneficial insects were found on the plants during bloom, with the floral resources providing many adults the needed nectar and pollen to help them survive and reproduce. Although some pests were found in the hedgerows, nearly 80 percent of the total insects found were natural enemies.

Weedy field edges attract more pests than beneficial insects.
In contrast, an opposite trend was found for weedy field edges with more pests detected in the weeds than beneficial insects. In particular, weeds such as mustard, malva and wild radish are hosts to pests such as cucumber beetles, flea beetles, lygus and stinkbugs that can cause significant crop losses. Replacing this weedy vegetation with managed vegetation such as California flowering shrubs and native perennial bunch grasses will help rid farms of hosts that enhance pest numbers while at the same time increase beneficial insect activity.

The extent to which enhanced pest control occurs in adjacent crops is still under investigation. However, research to date shows that hedgerows aren’t concentrating beneficial insects; instead they’re actually exporting them into adjacent crops. That is, higher numbers of beneficial insects have been found in crops adjacent to hedgerows of flowering shrubs than weedy field edges. Data are still being collected on impacts to pest control.

Stinkbugs are among the insects that damage crops.

The enhanced biodiversity and potential ecosystem service benefits of hedgerows have prompted the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service to support growers in planting native shrubs and perennial grasses on their farms. In 2009, 13 miles of hedgerows were established on California farms compared to 3 miles in 2005, so interest is growing.  In particular, planting California native flowering shrubs and forbs for attracting native bee pollinators for enhanced pollination in adjacent crops is gaining significant attention.  Recently the USDA approved 90 percent cost-share programs for pollinator hedgerows.

More information on plant selection, establishment practices and costs for planting hedgerows on farms can be found in UC ANR publication number 8390, available as a PDF or e-book: Establishing hedgerows on farms in California.

Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 11:43 AM

Good Soldiers

Three's Company

They're good soldiers, those soldier beetles. Members of the family Cantharidae, they are beneficial insects that eat other insects, especially...

Three's Company
Three's Company

THREE'S COMPANY--Three soldier beetles search for aphids on a rose bush. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Eating an aphid
Eating an aphid

EATING AN APHID--A soldier beetle dines on an aphid on a rose leaf. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

AphId in Flight
AphId in Flight

APHID IN FLIGHT--An aphid flies toward a rose bush, unaware that two predators--soldier beetles--lie in wait. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Antennae
Antennae

ANTENNAE of a soldier beetle. This is a beneficial insect that eats aphids, caterpillars and other soft-bodied insects.(Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at 4:14 PM
 
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