Backyard Orchard News
Honey bees foraging on zinnias?
Yes. It's not considered a "bee plant" like the salvias, lavenders and mints, but bees do forage on it occasionally.
The genus, from the aster family (Asteraceae), derives its name from the German botanist, Johann Gottfried Zinn.
At the Hoes Down Harvest Festival last weekend at the Fully Belly Farm, an organic farm in Guinda, deep in the heart of Capay Valley, life took a celebratory twist. The annual festival, so named because folks put down their hoes to celebrate the harvest, includes educational farm tours, a children’s area, hands-on workshops, live music, and the sale of organic produce (fruits, vegetables, olive oil and honey).
This year, the 23rd annual event, weavers wove, spinners spun and a blacksmith blacksmithed just as our great-grandparents did.
And those little honey bees that make it all possible, buzzed amid the basil, mints, salvias--and yes, zinnias.
Honey Bee on Zinnia
You want to make sure that Mr. and Mrs. Yellowjacket and all their offspring--plus nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts, cousins and assorted other relatives--aren't on the invite list.
And if you're a beekeeper, you don't want them killing your honey bees. "They pull the bees off at the entrance, dismember them and fly away with the parts--generally the head--to feed to their larvae," said Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen (right) of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Indeed, these predatory insects can be a major problem this time of the year.
When Mussen addressed the Santa Clara County Beekeeping Guild on Monday, Oct. 4, he asked the 60 attendees: "How many of you have had significant problems with yellowjackets?"
About eight hands shot up.
What to do?
"It was around a decade ago that we lost the use of flowable microencapsulated diazinon (Knox Out 2FM^® ) as a yellowjacket bait poison," Mussen said in a message he also shared today with the UC Davis Department of Entomology. "As long as the wasps did not taste it, they would take the contaminated bait back to the nests and share it with their brood and other adults. It was amazing! Often in 48 hours the colonies were out of business and the area was clear of yellowjackets."
Recently, a new microencapsulated product, Onslaught^® , containing esfenvalerate, has come on the market to be mixed into yellowjacket baits, Mussen said. Formulating the bait is the same as it was with diazinon--about 1/4 teaspoonful of the insecticide in about 12 ounces of the bait.
Yellowjackets are attracted to many odorous potential foods when their prey runs out and they turn to scavenging, said Mussen, adding that the chemical seems quite a draw when it's mixed with canned, fish-based cat food.
"Try a couple samples of cat food without insecticide to see which product is most attractive to your local yellowjacket population. Then place about three ounces of formulated bait in each trap and things should get better fast."
"You can find this product on the web as Alpine Yellowjacket Bait Station Kit. A multi-year supply (one pint) of microencapsulated esfenvalerate and four bait stations--they look like over-sized, plastic prescription bottles with a hole in the side and a string for hanging--will cost about $85 before shipping. Sounds like a lot of money for a small amount of product, but if you need to clear out the yellowjackets in a hurry--wedding reception, fair, outdoor barbecue, your own peace of mind-- this is a good investment."
And don't even think about inserting insecticidal wasp baits in that empty soda bottle lying on the ground near your picnic table. It's illegal to put pesticides, including insecticidal wasp baits, into used food and drink containers.
"The last thing you would want is for someone to accidentally eat or drink your poisoned bait," he said.
What the world needs now is "love, sweet love" and...more ladybugs.
Ladybeetles are our friends. They gobble up aphids and other pests in our garden, and then look around for more. They have insatiable appetites.
Last Friday morning, as volunteers worked in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre bee friendly garden at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis, the artichoke plants stirred.
Two ladybugs were in the midst of making more ladybugs.
Yes! We need more ladybugs.
During the grand opening celebration of the haven on Sept. 11, we spotted a web-weaving spider eating a ladybug.
One ladybug gone.
But many more to come.
Volunteers interesting in tending the plants--and maybe spotting a few ladybugs, as well as honey bees, butterflies, dragonflies, sweat bees, praying mantids and a variety of other insects in the garden--can show up at the haven on Fridays at 8:30 a.m.
Melissa "Missy" Borel, program manager of the California Center for Urban Horticulture, UC Davis, and one of the key persons involved in the development of the garden, is coordinating the volunteers. She can be reached at email@example.com or (530) 752-6642.
And oh, if you like to capture images of plant and animal life inside the garden, don't forget your camera.
Beneath a Leaf
Females can become highly cannibalistic in the presence of other females.
Doctoral candidate Yao Hua Law (right), who studies with major professor Jay Rosenheim, UC Davis Department of Entomology, will speak on "My Neighbors Drive Me Cannibalistic: Mechanisms of Density-Dependent Cannibalistic Behavior and its Effects on Population Dynamics" at a seminar from 12:10 to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 6 in 122 Briggs Hall.
The lecture, which will be his exit seminar, will focus on the egg cannibalism behavior expressed in the generalist predator, Geocoris pallens.
It's also known as the "big-eyed bug."
G. pallens females are weakly cannibalistic when alone, but become highly cannibalistic in the presence of other females, he said. "I will discuss the possible mechanisms of this behavior, as well as the implications of this behavior for the arthropod community that G. pallens interact with," said Law, who will be introduced by Rosenheim.
Law’s lecture will be webcast live (http://uc-d.na4.acrobat.com/ucsn1/) and then archived on the UC Davis Department of Entomology website. The seminars are chaired by assistant professors Neal Williams and Louie Yang.
The fall seminars began Sept. 29 and will continue through Dec. 3. Most are held from 12:10 to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays. See schedule.
Yao Hua Law
Sivakoff (right), a doctoral candidate in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, won a 2010 Robert and Peggy van den Bosch Memorial Scholarship for her work on the regional movement of the pest.
The lygus bug (Lygus hesperus) is a serious pest of such crops as alfalfa, strawberries and cotton.
Her research? "Understanding the Relative Dispersal Ability of Lygus hesperus and Its Predators Using a Novel Large-Scale Mark-Capture Technique."
“In California’s Central Valley, Lygus hesperus is under poor biological control despite a suite of known predators,” said Sivakoff, who studies with major professor Jay Rosenheim. “One possible explanation for this poor performance in the field is a discrepancy in the dispersal ability of the pest and its predators. To examine this directly, we performed a large-scale mark-capture experiment where we marked L. hesperus and its predators in an alfalfa field using protein markers.”
Following the marking procedure, the grower harvested the alfalfa field, and this prompted a dispersal event. At several times following the harvest, Sivakoff and colleagues sampled surrounding cotton fields for L. hesperus and its predators, including big-eyed bugs (Geocoris spp.), damsel bugs (Nabis spp.), green lacewings (Chrysopa and Chrysoperla spp.), and convergent lady beetles (Hippodamia convergens).Another UC Davis entomology doctoral candidate, Alex Van Dam (left) received a Robert and Peggy van den Bosch Memorial Scholarship for his research on a scale insect.
His project: “Investigating Host-associated Lineage Splitting within Dactylopius Using Molecular Phylogenetics.”
Van Dam studies with major professor Bernie May of the UC Davis Department of Animal Science.
Sivakoff and Van Dam were among eight University of California doctoral candidates sharing a total of $95,000 as recipients of the scholarships.
The recipients are all involved in biological control, said coordinators Kent Daane and Nicholas Mills, co-directors of the Center for Biological Control, UC Berkeley. Eligible to apply for the annual scholarships are doctoral candidates from UC Davis, UC Berkeley and UC Riverside. Selection is by a panel of biocontrol faculty representing the three schools.
The other recipients of 2010 van den Bosch scholarships:
Albie Miles, UC Berkeley, for "Evaluating the Influence of Floral Resource Provisioning on Biological Control of Leafhoppers and Mealybugs in California Vineyards." Major professor: Miguel Altieri.
Steve Bayes, UC Berkeley, for "Determining the Population Structure of Navel Orangeworm (Amyelois transitella): an Invasive Agricultural Pest in California." Major professor: Steve Welter.
Jason Mottern, UC Riverside, for his work on molecular relationships within the parasitic wasp family, Aphelinidae. Major professor: John Heraty.
Jamie Gonzalez, UC Riverside, "Genetic Effects of Prolonged Mass Rearing on Trichogramma pretiosum Fitness: Inbreeding Depression and Selection for Adaptation the Mass Rearing Conditions." Major professor: Richard Stouthamer.
Casey D. Butler, UC Riverside, "Assessment of the Potential for Biological Control for Management of Bactericera cockerelli (Hemiptera: Triozidae)." Major professor: John Trumble.
Jennifer Henke, UC Riverside, for his work dealing with t secondary impacts on fish. Major professor: William Walton.
Congratulations to them all!