Backyard Orchard News
The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) announced today that a 76-year-old man contracted WNV, but "he did not acquire the virus locally."
The HHSA, along with other agencies, is urging folks to avoid outdoor activity at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are the most active. If you must be outside at that time, they say, use an insect repellent with DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3534.
It goes without saying that if you're camping, don't sleep outside unprotected.
Among the other good tips:
- Wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors
- Make sure your windows and doors have tight-fitting screens without holes or tears
- Check your property weekly to eliminate any standing water sources, where mosquitoes can breed.
- Keep your eye on any foreclosed homes in the neighborhood to ensure that swimming pools do not go unattended and containers do not contain water.
Meanwhile, the ground-breaking research (Aug. 18, 2008) of UC Davis chemical ecologists Walter Leal and Zain Syed on why mosquitoes avoid DEET continues to draw attention. It's one of the most downloaded and cited articles from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Be careful out there.
Seems like many folks assume that all bees are "honey bees."
If you look around you, you'll see bees of all shapes, colors and sizes nectaring flowers.
And they're not all honey bees (Apis mellifera)!
The one below, as identified by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, is a medium-sized striped sweat bee, Halictus ligatus. It's a ground-nesting bee. It's also a native bee (unlike honey bees which arrived here from Europe in 1622 with the colonists).
This particular sweat bee took an avid interest in the Agapanthus in our yard.
The Xerces Society has compiled a wealth of information on native bees. You'll want to check out their Web site and read about the $458,000 grant the society recently received to study native pollinators and protect their habitat.
It’s the lemon law.
When life hands you a lemon (cucumber), make honey.
The lemon cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is an increasingly popular garden vegetable that doesn't look like your typical cucumber. The vegetable is round to oval in shape and is pale yellow to pale green in color.
A key point about all cucumbers: No bees, no cucumbers. Or, no pollination, no cucumbers.
The photos below show a honey bee nectaring a lemon cucumber blossom and then packing the pollen.
You can see the pollen basket (corbicula), a concave structure located on the tibia of the hind legs. The pollen basket is fringed with hairs.
Bee use their middle legs to “pat down and compact the growing pollen mass in the pollen baskets,” according to A. I. Root (1839-1923) and E. R. Root (1862-1953) in their landmark encyclopedia. The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture. Although first published in 1877 and updated in 1920, the book maintains both an historical and current-day presence. It is considered a "must-have" or "must-read" book. The Smithsonian sponsored the digititzing and it can now be read online.
Here's what they have to say about cucumber blossoms:
“In the absence of bees, cucumber blossoms, whether in the field or hothouse, remain barren. The stamens and pistils are in different flowers on the same vine, the staminate flowers being more abundant on the main stems and the pistillate on the lateral branches.”No bees, no cucumbers.
Bee on Lemon Cucumber
You may not know about Lavandula "Goodwin Creek Gray" but the honey bees do.
They love lavender.
That's one of the plants selected for the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden being implemented near the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis.
The Goodwin Creek Gray, a cross between Lavandula dentata and Lavandula lanata is a hearty plant with lavender floral spikes and silvery-gray, sawtoothed leaves.
Ground preparation is under way, and the project should be completed and open to the public by Oct. 16.
A Sausalito team (landscape architects Ann Baker and Donald Sibbett, interpretative planner Jessica Brainard, and exhibit designer Chika Kurotaki) submitted the winning design (online).
The garden will provide a year-around food source for honey bees and create awareness for the plight of the honey bee. Visitors can glean ideas for their own bee friendly gardens.
The plants will include such bee favorites as lavender, sage, tower of jewels, swamp sunflower, catmint, angelica, clover, California buckwheat, California honeysuckle, woodbine honeysuckle, passionflower vine, globe thistle, coral bells, dwarf plumbago, dwarf oregano, purple dome aster, Mexican daisy, silver carpet aster, deer weed and mother of thyme.
With such a smorgasbord to choose from, it will be interesting to see which blossoms the bees go to first.
I'm betting on four: lavender, sage, catmint and tower of jewels.
Caught in the Act
Butterflies, dragonflies, ladybugs and honey bees.
What exists in nature is replicated in art.
We sculpt them, draw them and paint them. We create their images on everything from clothing and jewelry to quilts and stepping stones. We never tire of their shapes, colors, textures and the extensive variety.
Many replicas find their way into exhibits at county fairs.
We saw more than a dozen "insects" today in McCormack Hall at the Solano County Fair, Vallejo. A butterfly morphs into a quilt. Another butterfly yields its shape for a stepping stone. A honey bee transforms into a keychain. Dragonfly and ladybug decorations glide and crawl among the exhibits.
The 60th annual event, set July 22-26, is themed "Raisin' Steaks" but it's also raising awareness of nature.
And why not?
Insects reign supreme in sheer variety and abundance. Scientists have recorded some million insects to date. Millions of others await identification. In total volume, there could be as many as 200 million insects for every human on the planet. They're all around us.
Interesting that we seek beneficial insects for our gardens, but the "revolting ones" we set aside for horror movies.