From the UC Blogosphere...
The circle of life... Monarch caterpillars feast on milkweed, their host plant. Oleander aphids feast on the juices of milkweed plants. Lady beetles, better known as ladybugs (but they're beetles, not bugs) feast on the aphids. The milkweed...
A lady beetle munching on an aphid while another aphid (far right) looks on. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of a lady beetle eating an aphid. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A New Pest for an Old Favorite
By Andrea Peck
Agapanthus, or African lily, is a mid-sized plant with small, tubular flowers that form a clustering habit. From far off it looks like one big spherical ball of flowers set on top of a smooth green leg of a stem. Most often they are blue, but can come in purple, white or pink. The leaves are rich and green and kind of floppy, just like a lily. The agapanthus is less girly and delicate and more what you might call, sturdy female. It would be surprising if you had never seen one because they are grown around malls and shopping centers—anywhere that you find hardpan and broken sprinklers. Easy to grow and resistant to pests and diseases, the agapanthus is probably the official flower of the mall landscaper. If you see them often enough you may grow weary of them despite the fact that they actually are very pretty plants.
But, all this may change for the lovely, though utilitarian, agapanthus. It appears it has developed a nemesis in the UK (It has not been sighted here in North America). The pest goes by the name of agapanthus gall midge. The name sounds somewhat innocuous but it can cause mayhem when the flower buds become disfigured and discolored before falling off, leaving only floppy leaves and a beefy stem.
Until 2014, the midge remained in a cloak of invisibility. Personally, I thought that trick was reserved for superheroes or their foes, but interestingly, new pests do surface from time to time. The creature is so new that it has not even been given a scientific name.
The damage is caused by the larvae, icky maggot lookalikes, of a small fly. The fly lays eggs on the flower buds of the agapanthus and when the eggs hatch the flower begins a slow descent into flower netherworlds. Because the pest is new to the scene, not much can be said as far as lifecycle or control. The larvae are about 3mm in length, a creamy white or orange, and can be found inside flower buds, sometimes in a milky liquid of their own making.
Dragonflies are fierce predators but they are predator-shy. "If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck," as the saying goes. If you look like a predator, walk or fly like a predator and act like...
A wind-whipped female variegated meadowhawk, a Sympetrum corruptum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Advice from the Help Desk of the Master Gardeners of Contra Costa County
I found this "bug" in my kitchen sink. Could you tell me what it is and what I should do about it?
Help Desk Response:
Thank you for contacting the Contra Costa Master Gardener Help Desk. I have inspected your insect sample, and suspect that it is a young (nymph stage) of an Oriental cockroach. This variety of roach prefer damp areas and cooler temperatures. They are most commonly found in single family homes surrounded by vegetation, and will come into homes in search of food. They are more slow moving than other roaches, and do not fly. Because of this, they will often be found trapped in sinks or bathtubs. Because Oriental cockroaches will take one to two years to grow to their adult size, you may be seeing only the nymph stage from a recent hatching.
I have included a link below from the UC Davis Integrated Pest Management website that will provide you with more information about roaches, including the most effective methods of control. A combination of baits, traps, sanitation, and exclusion methods are discussed.
In the event that you decide to consult a professional exterminator company, I have also included this link providing information on how to choose a pest control company:
I hope you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to call us again if we can be of assistance.
Help Desk of the UC Master Gardeners of Contra Costa County
Note: The UC Master Gardeners of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. We can also be reached via telephone: (925) 646-6586, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/
The work of the late chemical ecologist/UC Davis professor Sean Duffey (1943-1997) lives on. Chemical ecologist Yuko Ishida of Toyama, Japan, a former UC Davis post-doctoral researcher who shared the same lab--and the same bench--in Briggs Hall that...
Chemical ecologist Yuko Ishida in his lab in Toyama.