Posts Tagged: insect biodiversity
It finally happened! The back yard has drip irrigation, complete with a timer controller. I am still working on tweaking the system, but I can see the difference already: evidence of a regular and evenly-watered garden.
The bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) that I repotted a few weeks ago has grown fast. I've been trying to grow it as a standard topiary, like a lollipop, but it never had enough leaves for me to trim it into shape, much less to harvest for cooking.
I'm even growing Malabar spinach (Basella alba), a tropical perennial vine indigenous to Asia and Africa. It may be a short-lived plant in our temperate climate. But I'll enjoy for as long as I can. When it gets cooler, I could take cuttings and grow it inside until the weather warms again. In the same pot are seedlings of Chinese Cabbage that I sowed just for fun.
And everywhere else I look, where the drip system is in place, the plants are looking better.
Drip irrigation by JobyOne is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
The Return of Bombus
The English lavender drew her in. And there she was, a yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, foraging in our family's pollinator...
A yellow-faced Bombus vosnesenskii, prepares to sip nectar from an English lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, sipping nectar.(Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Side view of the yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, departs. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
How to Outfox Foxtails?
It seems these days that it is hard to find something on which everyone can agree. But I may have just found it –foxtails. I hate them. Can I get an amen here? I should perhaps explain that what I refer to as a foxtail is any barbed grass seed that finds its way onto me or my animals, and not merely the annual grass of the genus Setaria of which there are many varieties. Every year it is the same; the grasses are green and lush, the rain ends, the heat comes, and the foxtails are virtually everywhere. Especially, if you live in a rural or country area as I do. Now if I did not have pets, I might notice them as hitch hikers on my shoes, socks or pant legs. But because I have pets, both cats and dogs, I notice them in the form of vet bills. I have tried to solve the problem in several ways so far without success. The only year I had a modicum of success was when I allowed my horses to graze the same area the pets occupy. They ate everything and I think that year I never had a trip to the vet for an extraction. The downside was that the horses ate everything—roses, pomegranates, oranges, peaches, mulberries, almonds, etc. It was worth it though because the emotional toll of seeing your pet in the excruciating pain a foxtail can inflict is hard to take.
The list of things I have tried that have not worked is much longer. I had high hopes when I found a mask made out of non-toxic mesh that fits over the dogs' head covering its nose, eyes, mouth and ears. There is enough flexibility in the netting that dogs can drink water and carry a ball while wearing the mask. Wearing the mask involved some training however, and mine all trained well, but flunked out when it came to continuously wearing the mask once out of my sight-- especially my girl who tends to have a lot of her own opinions about things. I also found that the nose end of the mask was not as durable as I needed since the dogs spend a good deal of time with their snouts pressed firmly to the ground. Replacing the masks every three to four weeks can also be expensive when you have four dogs, though not as expensive as the trips to the vet.
Being a recent graduate of the UCCE Master Gardener Program, I turned to my resources: Pests of the Landscape Trees and Shrubs, An Integrated Pest Management Guide, published by the University of California Agricultural and Natural Resources (Publication 3359)(hereinafter IPM). Given my feelings about foxtails, the idea of using a “flamer” —one of the options described in the IPM—appealed to my darker side. A flamer is what it sounds like. An open flame that is applied to the basal stem area of the weed being eradicated. But the memory of being evacuated at two in the morning by the LNU Complex fire quickly caused me to reject this method. There are infrared flamers that do not have an open flame, so I might reconsider, but the grasses would still have to be green for this to work; too late for that now. There are of course herbicides and biological control to consider along with the manual labor of hoeing and pulling, but in the large area I am addressing this will take a fair amount of time and labor. In the meantime, it is leash walking for me.
Groene naaldaar aarpluim (Setaria viridis)
Taylor Kelly's Exit Seminar: Targeting Yellow Fever Mosquito and Pyrethroid Resistance
Remember back in 2013 when scientists verified the reintroduction of the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, in California? Infected...
The yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti. (Photo courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Myrmecologist Jill Oberski: A Dream Come True
Picture this. Jill Oberski is in the third grade, stretched out on the classroom floor reading her "Audubon Field Guide to Insects and...
This is an illustration from Jill Oberski's exit seminar on pyramid ants.
"Dr. Jill" (Oberski) answers ant questions at the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house on May 21. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)