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The European grapevine moth has officially been eradicated in California

The European grapevine moth, which was detected in Napa County in 2009 and threatened crops valued at $5.7 billion, has been eradicated from the state, reported Geoffrey Mohan in the Los Angeles Times.

The reporter gleaned information about and a photo of the moth from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR). The article credited ANR as explaining, "The moth's several larval stages damage flowers and the fruit itself throughout the growing season."

UC ANR played a key role in the eradicating the pest from California. A team of UC ANR academics received an award this year for coordinating a program "that saved the wine and table grape industries from economic disaster caused by an invasive insect," said the ANR Report.

ANR's European Grapevine Moth Team includes:

  • Walter Bentley – UC Integrated Pest Management entomologist emeritus
  • Larry Bettiga, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Monterey County
  • Monica Cooper, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Napa County
  • Kent Daane, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley
  • Rhonda Smith, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Sonoma County
  • Joyce Strand, IPM academic coordinator emeritus
  • Robert Van Steenwyk,  UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley
  • Lucia Varela, UC Cooperative Extension area IPM advisor in the North Coast
  • Frank Zalom, UC Cooperative Extension specialist and professor in the Department of Entomology at UC Davis
The European grapevine moth has been eradicated in California. (Photo: Jack Kelly Clark)
Posted on Friday, August 19, 2016 at 8:46 AM

UC research on mosquito that spreads Zika is in the public eye

Congressman Jim Costa, who joined crews releasing 20,000 male mosquitoes in Clovis yesterday, said he's ready to return to Washington D.C. immediately if called back to vote on $1.9 billion in emergency supplemental funding to fight Zika in the United States. His district includes part of the San Joaquin Valley where Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes - insects that can spread Zika - have become established.

“San Joaquin Valley communities and researchers need Congress to pass legislation that would fund Zika response efforts and research so that they can continue educating the public and implementing new strategies, like the one we saw today, to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito which can transmit the Zika virus,” Rep. Costa said. “Education efforts and encouraging public engagement are critical components to getting Congress to act and pass a bill that would provide funding for researchers, county public health departments and mosquito abatement districts in the Valley and throughout the nation to limit and ultimately stop the transmission of the Zika virus in the United States.”

The news media gather for a press conference with Rep. Jim Costa, UC mosquito researcher Anthony Cornel, and other officials.

Thousands of non-biting male mosquitoes are released every Tuesday and Friday morning after arriving via FedEx from a lab in Kentucky. The males have been infected with a bacterium called Wolbachia. When mosquitoes with the bacterium mate with female who don't have it, the resulting eggs are infertile.

The pilot project, conducted by the Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District and the UC Mosquito Research Laboratory, is just one of several aimed at controlling Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that first appeared in the area three years ago. Aedes aegypti can spread several viruses that pose a serious public health risk, including yellow fever, dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika.

More research funding is needed, said Anthony Cornel, director of the UC Mosquito Research Lab and UC Davis entomologist.

“There are gaps in our knowledge concerning the biology of Aedes aegypti, mosquito, which is the major vector of multiple viruses including Zika virus,” Cornel said. “Research funding is needed to conduct field- and laboratory-based studies to learn more about the daily and local spatial movements, longevity, overwintering behavior and Zika virus vector competence of this mosquito in the San Joaquin Valley. Learning more about the biology will assist us immensely to design improved methods to control Aedes aegypti  and to implement more efficient vector-based disease surveillance.”

The event was covered by

Ezra David Romero, Valley Public Radio

Sontaya Rose, ABC 30 Action News

Barbara Anderson, Fresno Bee

Elizabeth Riecken and Liz Gonzales, KMPH-KFRE Fox 26 News

Jessica Porter, KSEE Channel 24 News


Rep. Jim Costa, left, and Dr. Anthony Cornel.
Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 at 9:53 AM

It's not too late to make California forests resilient to wildfire

Even though there has been a deficit of fire in California forests for decades, their future is not hopeless, said UC Berkeley fire science professor and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources researcher Scott Stephens in an interview with Craig Miller on KQED Science.

"The next 25 to 30 years are paramount. If you begin to do restoration, reduce density, make forests more variable in pattern, and less fuel, when you have episodes of drought and fire, it's going to be fine. The forests have been doing this for millennia. It's going to be fine," Stephens said.

UC researcher Scott Stephens shows fire scars on pines that reveal regular exposure to burns and then healing and regrowth, a sign of a healthy forest ecosystem. (Photo: Lindsey Hoshaw, KQED Science)

However, under current conditions, in which fires have been regularly suppressed, the situation is dire.

"The forests used to burn every 12 to 15 years, but most places haven't been touched for 50 to 100 years. Today we have areas with 300 or 400 trees per acre, where you used to have 50 to 80," he said.

Even though, Stephens said he is an optimist. "There's still opportunity today to do restoration, so that when it does get warmer and warmer, as projected, the forests will be able to deal with that, deal with insects and disease and keep themselves intact."

UC researcher Scott Stephens believes that with restoration, California forests will be fine. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)


Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 at 4:06 PM

UC Cooperative Extension support eases the plight of drought

UC Cooperative Extension is helping Hmong farmers in the Central Valley deal with water shortages.
A recent survey by UC Cooperative Extension advisor Ruth Dahlquist-Willard provides a picture of the Hmong farmer experience during the recent drought, reported Andrea Castillo in the Fresno Bee.

Sixty-eight farmers were interviewed by phone or in-person. Twenty-two percent said their wells had dried up, and 51 percent reported a decreased water flow.

“For the ones with dry wells, it could be $20,000 to $50,000 to drill a new well,” Dahlquist-Willard said. “A lot of them cannot get access to loans.”

To deal with irrigation water limitations, some farmers told interviewers they reduced acreage or changed the time of day they irrigate. Some stopped farming all together.

“One farmer told us he was irrigating his crops with his domestic well,” Dahlquist-Willard said.

The survey was conducted in conjunction with outreach efforts with Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board and Jennifer Sowerwine, UCCE Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. The survey was funded funded with a grant from the USDA Office of Advocacy and Outreach and with support from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources via Sowerwine.

Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 at 3:13 PM

Chinese newspaper shares UC food insecurity research

The Xinhua News Agency reported in its Chinese-language newspaper on the NPI survey of food security at UC campuses.
The findings of a UC Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) survey on food insecurity reverberated across the globe to China, where editors of the Xinhua News Agency were surprised to learn food insecurity is a real problem among university students in the United States, said reporter Dan Ma in an email to Lorrene Ritchie, NPI director and author of the report.

Xinhua News is the official press agency of the Peoples Republic of China. It has a news bureau in San Francisco. The story came after UC President Janet Napolitano approved $3.3 million in new funding over the next two years to help students regularly access nutritious food on campus and off. The allocation was prompted by the results of a 2015 UC survey designed to accurately gauge the food security of its students. Survey responses were evaluated by NPI, part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.

According to the survey, 19 percent of UC students indicated they had "very low" food security. An additional 23 percent were characterized as having "low" food security.

"I think many people in China think about food security in a little different way," wrote Dan in her email to Ritchie. "They care more about if there's food to fill their stomach and are less likely to realize that the reduced size of meals, less nutritious food, diet lacking variety and irregular eating patterns may constitute food insecurity. Maybe that's why some editors just don't believe that food security could be a broad issue in American universities."

Ritchie told Dan that is also a common misperception among people in the U.S.

"Food insecurity should not be confused with severe forms of starvation. Food insecurity is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture," Ritchie said. 

According to USDA definitions, "very low" food security is experienced as reduced food intake at times during the past year due to limited resources, and "low" food security is reduced quality, variety or desirability of the diet, with little or no indication of reduced food intake.

Dan got further clarification when she asked about her own personal experience.

"I'm constantly under work pressure and deadline pressure and don't have time to prepare food. As a result, I often skip meals, have poor quality diet and irregular eating patterns. Do you think I have the problem of food insecurity?" Dan wrote.

Ritchie explained: "You, like many, may not eat optimally for a number of reasons. But to be classified as food insecure, your inability to eat a more nutritious diet and follow a more regular eating pattern has to be due to a lack of financial resources, rather than lack of time."

Posted on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 at 1:03 PM

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