- Author: Lauren Fordyce
If you've used disinfecting wipes to clean surfaces in your home, an herbicide to control weeds in your garden, or insect repellents while on a hike, then you have used a pesticide. A pesticide is any material (natural, organic, synthetic, or even homemade remedies) that is used to control, prevent, kill, or repel a pest. Pesticides are designed to be toxic against certain pests like weeds, insects, or bacteria. But when they are not used properly, pesticides can also be toxic to people and pets, and harm the environment including water quality, pollinators, and natural enemies.
February is National Pesticide Safety Education Month, a time to raise awareness about pesticide safety. Keeping yourself, your family, and the environment safe from pesticides starts with reading and understanding the pesticide label. Below are some key things to look for and follow on the label.
- Where can you use it? Some pesticides can be used on both edible and ornamental plants, indoors and outside. But other pesticides may explicitly state that they should not be used indoors, on edible plants, etc. Always be sure the label states that it can be used where you intend to use it.
- Signal words. The signal words Danger, Warning, or Caution on a pesticide label indicate the immediate (acute) toxicity of a single exposure of the pesticide to humans. Pesticides with the signal word Danger are the most toxic. Look for products with the signal word Caution, as these pose less risk of toxicity.
- What should you wear to protect yourself? When handling most pesticides, you should usually wear a long-sleeve shirt, pants, closed-toe shoes, eye protection, and chemical resistant gloves (not gardening gloves). This prevents you from being exposed to the pesticide through your skin, eyes, lungs, or mouth. For some other pesticides, like insect repellents you apply to your skin, read and follow the label for specific instructions.
- How long after applying can you enter the treated area? For many home-use pesticides, you can enter the treated area when the pesticide has dried. Entering an area where the pesticide is still wet can expose you to those chemicals. Some pesticide products may state that you must wait a certain number of hours before reentering the area.
- When can you harvest treated produce? If you applied a pesticide to your edible plants it's important to know when it is safe to harvest and consume them. Many pesticides can be applied to edible crops up until the day of harvest, but some pesticides may require days or weeks to pass before it is safe to do so.
- How should you store the pesticide? Pesticides should always be stored in their original container with the lid tightly sealed, in a locked storage cabinet where children cannot access them. Improper pesticide storage can lead to exposure incidents, such as a child drinking a pesticide or spilling it on yourself.
Following the pesticide label can prevent unintentional pesticide exposure to people and pets. To prevent harm to the environment, you should also follow these general guidelines:
- Don't apply pesticides in rainy or windy weather. If it is actively raining and windy, or rain is expected, hold off on applying the pesticide. Applying during rainy or windy weather can cause the pesticide to be washed away, polluting stormwater and waterways. It can also cause drift, which is when pesticide droplets or dust move through the air. Drift can harm nearby plants, bodies of water, or people.
- Don't spray plants in bloom. Protect pollinators and natural enemies (good bugs) that feed on pollen and nectar by not spraying flowering plants.
- Dispose of pesticides at your local household hazardous waste (HHW) site. Pesticide containers that are partially or entirely filled should be taken to a HHW site to prevent environmental contamination. Empty, rinsed pesticide containers can be disposed of in the garbage or recycled if accepted in your area.
Happy National Pesticide Safety Education Month. Visit Pest Notes: Pesticides: Safe and Effective Use in the Home and Landscape to learn more about pesticide use and safety.
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
There's no fame, fortune or glory in writing a daily (volunteer) Bug Squad blog.
It's about the insects. It's always been about the insects, from honey bees to bumble bees, to butterflies, to dragonflies, to praying mantises and more.
Why? Just call it a fascination for insects, which evolved some 400 million years ago. "Three-quarters of all known animals are insects, a staggering 1 million species in total with an estimated 4 to 5 million yet to be discovered," according to a November 2015 article in New Scientist. "By contrast, there are fewer than 70,000 vertebrate species. Harvard University entomologist Edward O. Wilson has suggested there may be as many as 10 quintillion insects alive at any one time – that's 1018, or more than a billion for each person on the planet. They have colonised every continent, including Antarctica. They can live in air, land and water. They even live on us – lice evolved as soon as there was hair and feathers to set up home in. They are the kings of the arthropods – animals…"
I began writing the Bug Squad blog (at the invitation of Pam Kan-Rice) on the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) website on Aug. 6, 2008, and have written it every night, Monday through Friday, never missing a single night of posting. Today that amounts to 4020. Along the way it's been named the No. 4 "bug blog in the world" (there aren't that many of us!) And, it has won some international awards. My photos have landed on the covers of several scientific journals and popular magazines, and in a few scientific books and children's books (all donations).
My photography has also resulted in thousands of copyright infringements. One man in Austria falsely claimed one of my images and was selling it on four stock photo platforms, including Getty Images. Others deliberately erase the copyrights and steal the images for their commercial purposes.
It's fun until it isn't.
Where do I take the images? Almost all are from our family's pollinator garden. My gear includes a Nikon Z7 mirrorless camera, a Nikon D800, a Nikon D500, a Canon AE1, coupled with half-a-dozen macro lenses. It's exhilarating to capture an image of a honey bee in flight, a monarch butterfly laying an egg, a dragonfly catching prey, or even to go eye-to-eye with a Western yellowjacket.
I don't poke 'em, prod 'em, or pin 'em. I am a guest in their habitat.
So, in 2023, "These are a few of my favorite things" (thanks, Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers):
It all started with pumpkin seeds
Justin Valliere has been hired to expand the Department of Plant Sciences' reach in the fields of invasion and restoration ecology. Valliere started as an assistant professor of UC Cooperative Extension in July.
Valliere seeks ways to restore California's native plant communities amid the onslaught of invasive plants and a range of environmental changes. He thinks it's important to bring youngsters into the research world, training them to care about nature and inspiring them to form the next generation of restoration professionals. Cooperative Extension offers a great way to combine these threads into a network that can be cast across the state and used as a model elsewhere, Valliere said.
He hopes to enhance restoration efforts statewide, enthused by the progress of his most recent projects in southern California's Mojave Desert and Santa Monica Mountains. His work includes the impacts of automotive emissions (they add nitrogen to the biological system, while making it less tolerant of drought), and the results of mowing non-native, invasive grasses (it reduced non-native grass cover and led to a slight increase in native bunchgrass).
“California has huge amount of ecosystem diversity,” Valliere explained. “CE already is such an effective system for supporting agriculture, but it's also an important model for natural resource management and restoration… There is a real need for help advising folks through-out the state about managing and restoring natural lands, and I'm excited to help bolster that.”
That's because natural lands and native ecosystems help both agriculture and urban areas. “Native plants serve all kinds of critical functions for people's well-being as well as for agriculture,” Valliere said. “Native plants sustain pollinators, they help provide clean water, they improve soil quality.”
Get the kids involved
Valliere grew up in a small town in rural Massachusetts, where the whole family worked in the vegetable garden. He conducted his first experiment at the age of seven or eight, he recalled: The family dug a new well, and he was fascinated by the soil brought up from the deep. How would pumpkin seeds grow in that mysterious muck compared to the surface soil of the garden? “They barely grew at all,” Valliere continued with a laugh. “That was my very first time I realized, ‘Wow, soil is really important for plant growth!'”
As a teen, he participated in the local 4-H program. His passion was pressing plants. Though a lot of them were weeds come over from Europe, he didn't yet know the difference, and if the judges at the county fair did, they didn't mind. His collections won blue ribbons.
By high school, Valliere got involved with removing invasive plants. “Even in my lifetime, I've seen them taking over the forests of New England,” he said ruefully. “Invasive species was one of the things that really hooked me.”
Those experiences also shaped his appreciation for environmental education programs that involve kids. Combining such programs with research, management and restoration could be a creative solution to educational challenges in California, plus strengthen the pipeline for future professionals in restoration and management, Valliere said.
He brings his expertise after teaching most recently at California State University Dominguez Hills. Valliere earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Green Mountain College in Vermont and a doctoral degree in plant biology from the University of California, Riverside. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science at UC Los Angeles; and as a research fellow at the University of Western Australia.
Check out the Valliere Applied Plant Ecology Lab website, focused on how to restore treasured landscapes in a changing world.
Valliere's publications are listed here.
Valliere on being a scientist and gay: UC's queer climate scientists on making science as diverse as the natural world
Original source: UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences News, August 25, 2023
Giving Day is tomorrow! Has our program made a difference in your life? Have you attended a class, gained information from reading a blog post, or asked a question of our Help Line? If so, please consider making a donation to our program! All dollars given go to the UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program in Stanislaus County. We rely on donors like you to help us purchase much needed materials for our office, demonstration gardens, and outreach events and to fund scholarships for workshops and training classes.
Join us at noon on May 18 and be the first to give—or visit us anytime tomorrow as we highlight the impact of our program across the state. Tomorrow, on UC ANR* GivingDay, donate to the UC Master Gardener Program to extend research-based knowledge and information on home horticulture, pest management, and sustainable landscape practices to the residents of California.
Spread the word to friends and family who also want to make an impact. Make your gift then share your support on social media using #GivingDay. It's the generosity of individuals and volunteers like you that support our efforts to share gardening expertise in communities across the state. Our goal is to inspire 500+ Californians to give.We hope you're one of them! Giving Day ends at noon on May 19, so please make your contribution today!
*Cooperative Extension operates under the umbrella of a larger, statewide organization called UC ANR or Agriculture and Natural Resources.
- Author: Janet Hartin
Climate Change Resources for Horticulturists and UCCE Master Gardeners
Updated by Janet Hartin email@example.com 8/17/2022
University of California UC ANR Green Blog (Climate Change and Other Topics) https://ucanr.edu/blogs/Green/index.cfm?tagname=climate%20change (full index)
- Save Trees First: Tips to Keep Them Alive Under Drought https://ucanr.edu/b/~CdD
- Landscaping with Fire Exposure in Mind: https://ucanr.edu/b/~G4D
- Cities in California Inland Areas Must Make Street Tree Changes to adapt to Future Climate https://ucanr.edu/b/~oF7
Drought, Climate Change and California Water Management Ted Grantham, UC Cooperative Extension specialist (23 minutes) https://youtu.be/dlimj75Wn9Q
Climate Variability and Change: Trends and Impacts on CA Agriculture Tapan Pathak, UC Cooperative Extension specialist (24 minutes) https://youtu.be/bIHI0yqqQJc
California Institute for Water Resources (links to blogs, talks, podcasts, water experts, etc.) https://ciwr.ucanr.edu/California_Drought_Expertise/
UC ANR Wildfire Resources (publications, videos, etc.) https://ucanr.edu/News/For_the_media/Press_kits/Wildfire/ (main website)
UC ANR Fire Resources and Information https://ucanr.edu/sites/fire/ (main website)
Preparing Home Landscaping https://ucanr.edu/sites/fire/Prepare/Landscaping/
UC ANR Free Publications https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/ (main website)
Keeping Plants Alive Under Drought and Water Restrictions (English version) https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8553.pdf
(Spanish version) https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8628.pdf
Use of Graywater in Urban Landscapes https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8536.pdf
Sustainable Landscaping in California https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8504.pdf
Other UC (Non-ANR) scientists
Daniel Swain (UCLA): website: https://weatherwest.com/ twitter: @Weather_West
Non-UC Climate Change Resources
Urban Forests and Climate Change. Urban forests play an important role in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Active stewardship of a community's forestry assets can strengthen local resilience to climate change while creating more sustainable and desirable places to live. https://www.fs.usda.gov/ccrc/topics/urban-forests
Examining the Viability of Planting Trees to Mitigate Climate Change (plausible at the forest level) https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2927/examining-the-viability-of-planting-trees-to-help-mitigate-climate-change/
Reports and other information resources coordinated under the auspices of the United Nations and produced through the collaboration of thousands of international scientists to provide a clear and up to date view of the current state of scientific knowledge relevant to climate change. United Nations Climate Action
Scientific reports, programs, action movements and events related to climate change. National Center for Atmospheric Research (National Science Foundation)
Find useful reports, program information and other documents resulting from federally funded research and development into the behavior of the atmosphere and related physical, biological and social systems. Search and find climate data from prehistory through to an hour ago in the world's largest climate data archive. (Formerly the "Climatic Data Center") National Centers for Environmental Information (NOAA)
Think tank providing information, analysis, policy and solution development for addressing climate change and energy issues (formerly known as the: "Pew Center on Global Climate Change"). Center for Climate & Energy Solutions (C2ES)
Mapping Resilience: A Blueprint for Thriving in the Face of Climate Disaster. The Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE) was launched in July 2010 and is managed by EcoAdapt, a non-profit with a singular mission: to create a robust future in the face of climate change by bringing together diverse players to reshape planning and management in response to rapid climate change. https://www.cakex.org/documents/mapping-resilience-blueprint-thriving-face-climate-disaster
Cal-Adapt provides a way to explore peer-reviewed data that portrays how climate change might affect California at the state and local level. We make this data available through downloads, visualizations, and the Cal-Adapt API for your research, outreach, and adaptation planning needs. Cal-Adapt is a collaboration between state agency funding programs, university and private sector researchers https://cal-adapt.org/
Find reports, maps, data and other resources produced through a confederation of the research arms of 13 Federal departments and agencies that carry out research and develop and maintain capabilities that support the Nation's response to global change. Global Change (U.S. Global Change Research Program)
The Pacific Institute is a global water think tank that combines science-based thought leadership with active outreach to influence local, national, and international efforts to develop sustainable water policies. https://pacinst.org/our-approach/
Making equity real in climate adaptation and community resilience policies and programs: a guidebook. https://greenlining.org/publications/2019/making-equity-real-in-climate-adaption-and-community-resilience-policies-and-programs-a-guidebook/
Quarterly CA Climate Updates and CA Drought Monitor Maps (updated each Thursday) https://www.drought.gov/documents/quarterly-climate-impacts-and-outlook-western-region-june-2022