There's gold on them thar roses.
No, not the kind of gold found during the California Gold Rush (1848–1855) that brought some 300,000 folks to the Golden State.
These are gold eggs from the multicolored Asian beetle, Harmonia axyridis, that we found on our Sparkle-and-Shine roses last week. The aphids are sparkling and the lady beetles are shining.
A native of eastern Asia, the multicolored Asian beetle was introduced in California by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1916, and in 1964 -1965 for the biological control of pecan aphids. Later, from 1978 through 1982, released beetles took hold in Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
The multicolored Asian beetles are tiny, about 7 mm long and 5.5 mm wide. Spots? They range from as many as 19 spots to no spots at all. Color? From red to orange to yellow and (rarely) black. A key identifying characteristic is the black M-shaped mark behind its head.
The beetles, commonly known as ladybugs (but they're beetles, not bugs), are from the family Coccinellidae and they eat lots and lots of aphids and other soft-bodied insects, including scale insects and mites.
Aphids are not your friends. With their piercing mouthparts, they suck the juices right out of your plants, including your favorite roses. Lady beetles are your friends. They have voracious appetites and can gobble up 50 to 75 aphids a day.
Lush new growth often means a gathering of aphids, which means a gathering of lady beetles. Look closely and you might seen a cluster or row of about 20 oval eggs on the leaves.
That's the gold.
And so the cycle continues.
(Note: If you're looking for more roses, the California Center for Urban Horticulture, UC Davis, has just announced its 10th annual Rose Days will be Saturday and Sunday, May 6-7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Foundation Plant Services parking lot, 455 Hopkins Road, UC Davis campus.)
Honey bees aren't all that attracted to commercial roses, but this one was.
Honey bees are still attracted to it. So are assorted lady beetles, aphids, syrphid flies, tachinid flies, and occasionally we see a green bottle fly. Hey, flies are pollinators, too! And green bottle flies do look rather stunning on yellow roses when the light is just right.
This is our "Yellow Rose of Texas," bringing back memories of our Texas-born mother.
This year's Rose Weekend, sponsored by the UC Davis-based California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH), part of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is Saturday and Sunday, April 30 and May 1 at the Foundation Plant Services (FPS), 455 Hopkins Road, off Hutchison Drive, west of the central campus.
Admission is free. The event is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. You can stop and smell the roses, buy your favorite roses (five-gallon plants for $25 each, with proceeds benefitting CCUH), tour the FPS eight-acre collection of roses, talk to the UC Cooperative Extension master gardeners, and listen to two professionals who love roses and love talking about them. Rose breeder Jim Sproul speaks at 10 a.m. Saturday on "Breeding Novel Rose Varieties," followed at 11 by Jacques Ferare of Star Roses discussing "The Status of the Rose Market in the United States."
FPS tours are from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. each day. The UC Master Gardeners will be offering tips and advice for your roses from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Free mini-roses, while supplies last, will be given to visitors. See schedule and directions on the CCUH website as compiled by executive director David Fujino and manager Kate Lincoln.
Many folks attend the Rose Weekend to purchase roses for their mothers, as Mother's Day is coming up (and coming up roses) on Sunday, May 8.
For more information about this educational event and fund-raiser, contact Kate Lincoln of CCUH at (530) 752-6642 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An educational opportunity to learn more about them--the truths and the myths--will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 9 at the University of Caifornia, Davis, and you're invited. It's open to the public.
The conference, themed “Truth or Myth: Neonicotinoids and Their Impact on Pollinators: What Is the Science-Based Research?” will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the UC Davis Conference Center, 550 Alumni Lane.
UC Davis researchers and state officials will address the crowd, announced conference coordinator Dave Fujino, director of the UC Davis-based California Center for Urban Horticulture.
“We are pleased to have such a knowledgeable lineup of UC Davis researchers who will clarify the issue of impact of neonicotinoid impacts on pollinators by summarizing and presenting the past and current science-based research,” Fujino said. “We are also fortunate to have additional presentations on the regulation guidelines on neonicotinoids and their role in controlling invasive pests in California, and a diverse group of stakeholders participating in a panel discussion on the neonicotinoid issue.”
Neonicotinoids, recently implicated in the worldwide die-off of pollinators, including honey bees, are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. Considered important in the control of many significant agricultural and veterinary pests, they target the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death. “Neonics,” as they're called, are commonly used on farms, and around homes, schools, and city landscapes.
Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, will provide an overview of the current use of neonicotinoids and the role of honey bees in California agriculture. Six other speakers are scheduled, along with a panel discussion.
The speakers include:
- Brian Leahy, director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, who will discuss “California Pesticide Regulation of Neonicotinoids”
- Nick Condos, director of the Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services Division, California Department of Food and Agriculture, “Neonicotinoid Risks Associated with Invasive Species Management”
- Karen Jetter, associate project economist, UC Agricultural Issues Center, “Trends in Neonicotinoid Usage in California Agriculture and the Control of Invasive Species”
- Margaret “Rei” Scampavia, a doctoral candidate who studies with major professors Neal Williams and Ed Lewis of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, “Past Neonicotinoid and Bee Research”
- Elina Lastro Niño, Extension apiculturist based at the Harry H. Laidlaw Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis, “Current Neonicotinoid and Bee Research.”
The California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH) will co-host the event with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Sponsors include California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers (CANGC), a trade organization founded in 1911 to promote and protect the California nursery industry; Four Winds Growers, based in Winters, Calif.; Scotts Miracle-Gro, a company headquartered in Marysville, Ohio, and known as the world's largest marketer of branded consumer lawn and garden products; and Monrovia, a horticultural craftsmen company headquartered in Azusa, Calif.
At the close of the conference, Fujino will preside over a panel discussion on neonicotinoid issues and concerns. Questions and answers from the audience will follow. The panel is to include a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor, and representatives from the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers, Home Depot, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bayer CropScience and the American Beekeeping Federation.
The registration fee of $50 will include lunch, as well as the post-conference social hour. To register, access the CCHU website at http://ccuh.ucdavis.edu/public/copy_of_public/neonicotinoid-pollinator-conference-2015/neonic or contact CCUH representative Kate Lincoln at email@example.com or (530) 752-6642.
The European Union recently adopted a proposal to restrict the use of three pesticides belonging to the neonicotinoid family (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) for a period of two years. In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that by January 2016, it will ban the use of seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides and the use of crops improved through biotechnology throughout the 150 million acres managed by the National Wildlife Refuge System.
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How to celebrate Valentine's Day?
Well, without pollinators, we wouldn't be celebrating Valentine's Day as we know it.
That box of chocolates? Give thanks to the midges that pollinated the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao.
That bouquet of mixed flowers? Honey bees probably visited them before they were gifted to you. Among honey bee favorites are lavenders, mints, sunflowers, asters, basil, rosemary and the like.
That candle on your dining room table or fireplace? It may be made of beeswax, provided by the bees.
But to paraphase John F. Kennedy, it shouldn't be about what bees can do for us; it should be what we can do for the bees. Two of the nicest things we can do are to (1) plant a bee friendly garden, offering a diversity of their favorite seasonal plants, (2) avoid pesticides and (3) learn about the bees around us and their needs.
You can learn how to attract pollinators at a workshop set March 28 on the UC Davis campus. That's when the California Center for Urban Horticulture is sponsoring "Your Sustainable Backyard: Creating a Living Landscape." Registration is underway.
Another perfect gift for Valentine's Day is the newly published California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardener and Naturalists (Heyday), the work of Gordon Frankie, Robbin Thorp, Rollin Coville and Gretchen Ertier, all with UC Berkeley connections, and one with a UC Berkeley/UC Davis connection. That would be native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor at UC Davis, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley.
As the authors point out, California is home to some 1600 species of bees. In their must-have book, they describe bee behavior, social structure, flight season, preferred flowers, and natural enemies. They offer "recipes" for bee gardens and list how you can become involved with projects that protect bees and promote public awareness.
Can't you just hear the bees communicating "Bee Mine?"
So you want to create a sustainable landscape in your backyard. You want to create a living landscape that attracts bees, butterflies and birds. You want plenty of pollinators and a plethora of beneficial insects.
How do you do it?
The California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH), based at the University of California, Davis, will clue you in at its workshop, "Your Sustainable Backyard: Creating a Living Landscape Workshop," on Saturday, March 28 on the UC Davis campus.
The event, set from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (come for breakfast at 7:30!), will take place in Room 180 of Medical Sciences Building C in the School of Medicine complex. Registration is now underway and those planning to attend should reserve their space early.
Insect and wildlife habitat is growing scarce in the typical backyard, said Anne Schellman, program manager of CCHU. "Making your garden into a living landscape is an important way to create places of refuge for wildlife while adding biological diversity to your city. The goal of the sustainable gardener is to reduce pesticide use, select plants carefully and provide food and shelter for wild creatures, which helps tie our gardens to the larger landscape around us."
Workshop topics (the speakers and their titles will be announced soon) are:
- Plants that provide refugia for wildlife (refugia is defined as "an area where special environmental circumstances have enabled a species or a community of species to survive after extinction in surrounding areas")
- Not-so-common pollinators
- Cool tools to control garden pests
- Green roof applications
- Attracting birds to your backyard
The cost is $45, which includes parking, a light breakfast, lunch and a special tour of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden operated by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology on Bee Biology Road. It is located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, west of the central campus. Those attending will also have the opportunity to purchase bee condos or homes for leafcutter bees and blue orchard bees. They are blocks of wood drilled with specific-sized holes.
For more information on the workshop, access the CCUH website or contact Schellman at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 752-6642.