From the UC Blogosphere...
John "Jack" Longino knows his ants. "We share the planet with millions of species, and many of them are insects," says Longino, professor and associate chair of biology at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, and the adjunct curator of...
A side view of the new ant species Eurhopalothrix zipacna that Jack Longino discovered in Central America. (Photo by Jack Longino)
"Wasp love." You don't hear those two words often, but you'll hear them often from Amy Toth, who's hoping that the hashtag, #wasplove, will draw attention to the wonderful world of wasps. Toth, known for her work on bee and wasp behavior,genomics, and...
A European paper wasp, Polistes dominula, foraging for food. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of a European paper wasp. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Amy Toth with a favorite wasp. (Photo courtesy of Iowa State University)
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) nutrition specialist, convened for the first time this week to make recommendations to the Berkeley City Council about spending the funds raised by the city's soda tax, reported Emily Dugdale in NOSH.
"We're all in a fish bowl built out of a magnifying glass," a Berkeley City Councilmember told the panellists, referring to the national attention and strong community interest in the initiative.
Berkeley taxes sugar-sweetened beverages one cent per ounce. The tax generated $116,000 in its first month of operation.
The UC ANR panelist is Pat Crawford, the senior director of research for the Nutrition Policy Insititute, an organization of experts from throughout the University of California system brought together to share, synthesize, develop and collaborate on nutrition policy research.
In a recent Q&A with the UC Food Observer, Crawford commented on efforts to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.
"We have strong evidence of sugar's contribution to diabetes, heart disease, obesity and dental caries," she said. "Hopefully educational materials for the public, including MyPlate, can begin to include water as the beverage that is first for thirst."
By Linda Lewis Griffith UCCE Master Gardener
Halloween may be the last thing on your mind. But it's not too early to get your pumpkins in the ground. Pumpkins come in a wide array of sizes, shapes and uses. Tiny Jack-be-Littles fit in the palm of your hand and are perfect for toddlers or seasonal displays. Big Max grows up to 135 pounds. Cinderella Pumpkins are unique French heirlooms that were cultivated by the Pilgrims and served at the second Thanksgiving dinner. Luminas are a ghostly white color; they have a delicious flavor and are excellent for pies. Pumpkins grow best in fertile soil that has been enriched with well-rotted compost and manure. Mound soil into small hills spaced 8 to 10 feet apart. Plant 4 to 5 seeds per hill. Thin to the 2 strongest plants when the seedlings are 3 inches high. Plants are spreading and vinelike with wiry, curly tendrils. They can grow to more than 20 feet. Their leaves are large and shaped like a maple leaf.
Pumpkins have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. The male flowers don't produce fruit; they supply the pollen that fertilizes female flowers. Pollen must be transferred to the female flowers by bees for fruit to develop. Male flowers develop first and can be identified by their long slender stems. Female flowers have a very short stem and miniature fruit at the base of the flower.
Soil should be free from weeds and kept moist throughout the growing season. Avoid getting water on the leaves as it may lead to powdery mildew. You can monogram a pumpkin by scratching a name into the fruit before the shell is hardened (usually in late August or early September). The inscription will callus over and become more obvious as the fruit matures.
Pumpkins are ready for harvest in approximately 100 days. Smaller varieties mature slightly earlier. Larger ones may take up to 120 days.
Cut pumpkins from the vines carefully, leaving 3 or 4 inches of the stem attached; pumpkins without stems may not keep as well.
Asian Longhorned Beetle
By Andrea Peck
Out west, we have drought, but on the east coast, there is this giant beetle. I guess, giant is probably an overstatement, but the female does grow to 1.5” in length and that's before she puts on her antennae. The Asian longhorned beetle is native to China and Korea. As bugs often will, it found its way to America. Probably, the Founding Father Bug was a stowaway inside a box of inexpensive children's toys. The beetle is black and white and polished to a high sheen, not unlike a small child's toy. Actually, a little rugged child would probably be more interested in this live plaything than a toy. Of course, the parents of that rapscallion likely disposed of Mr. Original Beetle in their compost—only a bug's jump away from the backyard maple tree.
The reason this dressed-up beetle is newsworthy is because it has an insidious propensity for hole-boring. The beetle begins its descent into the tree through the bark, deep into the wood and finally rests inside the center or hardwood. It loves the maple tree, but will settle for a whole host of others, such as elm, willow, mountain ash, birch, poplar, katsura, mimosa, hackberry, London plane tree and horse chestnut. You can imagine how Mr. Shiny Pants is breaking down the maple syrup industry. According to a Youtube video I watched, the dime-sized holes can fit your average pen – they are that large, and dare I say, handy.
Unfortunately, trees with holes eventually become structurally unsound. If there is someone in the forest, the tree falls with a loud bang. If no one is there, it still falls.
The USDA is quite concerned. According to their estimation, 30% (1.2 billion trees) of the trees in the U.S. could be lost if this creature is not corralled. Because the bug hides deep within the confines of the tree, eradication can be difficult. This great thing about this beetle –for the beetle, that is—is that it can fly. In fact, when it is searching for a new host, it is capable of flying over 3,000 feet (1000 meters). Beetles in search of a new home sometimes hitch a ride in infested packing material and firewood. Yet, one more reason not to move firewood! Currently, three states, Massachusetts, New York and Ohio are actively fighting the bug, while surrounding states are considered high risk. According to the USDA, the entire U.S. is susceptible to invasion.
We are pretty far away from the hullaballoo, but if you see a spiffy-looking beetle, let the authorities know.
The Asian longhorned beetle travels, after all.