You're in luck.
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is planning a free field trip on "Cover Cropping for Beneficial Insects" from 9 to 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, March 28 at the Muller Ranch LLC, located at 15810 County Road 95, Woodland. The event is open to the public, but reservations should be made: email Jessa Kay Cruz, Xerces Society's senior pollinator and ag biodiversity specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Among those speaking is Yolo County Farm Advisor Rachael Long, an expert on hedgerows and cover crops. See her UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) publication on "Establishing Hedgerows on Farms in California."
Here's the agenda for the field trip:
- 8:30 to 9 a.m.: Arrive and Sign-In
- 9 to 9:20 a.m.: Welcome and Introduction, Project Background
Jessa Kay Cruz, Senior Pollinator and Ag Biodiversity Specialist, The Xerces Society
- 9:20 to 9:40 a.m. Cover Cropping for Soil Health
Jeff Borum, Soil Health Coordinator
- 9:40 to 10 a.m. Cover Cropping for Beneficial Insects
Rachael Long, Farm Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension
- 10 to 10:30 a.m.: Insect Ecology, Plant Species Selection, Implementation and Management
Jessa Kay Cruz, Senior Pollinator and Ag Biodiversity Specialist, The Xerces Society
- 10:30 to 10:50 a.m.: A Farmer's Perspective: Why Do It and How Well Does it Work?
Colin Thomas Muller, Muller Ranch LLC
- 10:50 to 11:10 a.m.: Accessing Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Cost-Share Programs and Understanding the Planning Process
Fanny Ye, Soil Conservationist, NRCS, and Corey Shake, Point Blue / NRCS Partner Biologist
Continuing education credits are available.
On the field trip, you're likely to learn about pollinators, predators, pests and parasitoids as well as plants (cover crops). Keep your eyes out for such beneficial insects as lady beetles, aka ladybugs. These predators make short work of aphids, scales and other soft-bodied insects. Keep them close!
Yolo County Farm Advisor and children's book author Rachael Freeman Long remembers telling her son stories about an adventuresome, kind-hearted, wildlife-loving boy named Jack and three of his friends--a bat named Pinta, a coyote named Sonny and a crow named Midas.
Eugene was only two years old when his mother began weaving the stories about nine-year-old Jack: his deep friendship with the three animals, his love of wildlife, his exhilarating adventures, and the unexpected dangers that threatened him in his search for gold near his parents' cabin in the Black Rock Desert. The dangers? Among them, an international network of poachers and a hungry pack of wolves.
Eugene is 19 now and off to college this fall, but the stories she told him live on. They are chronicled in her newly completed Black Rock Desert Trilogy (three books): “Gold Fever,” “Valley of Fire” and now “River of No Return,” works published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises, Mustang, Okla.
Long will discuss “River of No Return” at a book-signing at 1 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 20 at the Avid Reader, located at 617 Second St., Davis. The event is free and open to the public. Live bats and/or specimens are expected to be part of the presentation.
Long dedicated the book to Eugene ("he heard the stories first") and her husband, David ("for always being there").
Long, who as a scientist and Yolo County farm advisor researches the benefits of bats in agriculture, thoroughly engages the readers (the book is aimed for the age group 8-12, but is also for adults) with information about the pallid bat, Pinta. Throughout the book, Long dispels many myths of bats that give them "a bad rap."
In real life, Long works with farmers to ensure that bats are protected. "We are studying the impact of bats on the key codling moth pest in walnut orchards," Long related. "Preliminary data from 2008 documented that 5% of a colony of 3,000 bats on a walnut farm in the Central Valley fed on this pest, showing an economic benefit, which we are in the process of quantifying. Other agricultural pests detected in the guano samples included Lygus bugs and armyworms. Outreaching information on the benefits of bats to agencies such as the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, will help protect bats on farms."
In her trilogy, a 10-year project, Long makes Pinta quite lovable, describing her as having a "cute little Chihuahua face" and making sure readers knows she's a pollinator (just like honey bees, bumble bees and butterflies) and that she consumes pest insects.
Pinta tells Jack she turns yellow when she eats what she calls "the yummy pollen and nectar" of cactus flowers. She also talks about other topics.
"Jack knew all about bat migration and their use of stars, landscapes, and even the earth's magnetic field to find their way home. But he knew nothing about their lives. 'How many pups do bats have a year?' he asked.
Pinta replied: "Generally one, but sometimes we have twins."
When Jack asked Pinta how long the mother bat cares for them, Pinta replied: "Sometimes up to a year...They're so helpless when they're born, bald as an egg and can't fly. We wean them after about eight weeks when they start flying and catching their own insect prey."
Pinta also related that she can eat "almost" her full weight in insects every night. Jack is amazed. "Wow, that's like me eating ninety pounds of pizza every night!" he exclaims.
"The River of No Return" is a page-turner. It's interesting, exciting, and suspenseful. You eagerly want to know if the poachers who are capturing and caging wild animals will go through with their plans to sell them to international zoos. The leader, Sarge, is a mean-spirited military veteran who hopes to make a million from the illegal operation and buy the Last Chance Ranch near the cabin of Jack's parents. Why? It has an undisclosed copper mine on the property. Sarge brags to his fellow poachers about how rich he will become.
Meanwhile, a starving wolf pack blames Jack for decimating the wildlife population and targets him. What happens next? You'll have to read it and see.
Bottom line: "The River of No Return" is about camaraderie, communication (Yes, Pinta, Sonny, Midas and Jack communicate with one another), survival, kindness, cruelty, greed and justice.
And bats, too. After reading the "Black Rock Desert Trilogy," you'll come away with a newfound appreciation for those insect-eating bats.
It doesn't get more real.
That's not to say you'll see beneficial insects doing their thing—but you might.
The event, a walk and talk, is “Scouting Out the Hedgerows on the DH Long Farm,” set from 10 a.m. to noon at 8304 County Road 91B, Zamora. Coffee and snacks will be available at 9:45.
The workshop, free and open to the public, is sponsored by the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), Solano Resource Conservation District (RCD), Colusa County RCD, and the Yolo County RCD. Attendees are asked to wear "good walking shoes and a hat" and bring water.
The event begins at 10 with a welcome by Laurel Sellers, UCCE project assistant, Yolo County, who will provide a DPR grant project update.
Next to speak will be John Anderson of Hedgerow Farms, Winters, at 10:10. His topic is “Land of Milkweed and Honey: A Walk Into Beneficial Insect Habitat.”
Anderson will be followed at 10:35 by Sellers speaking on “Rodent Activity and Hedgerows: What's the Correlation?” Sellers is a master's degree candidate in international agricultural development, UC Davis.
Then at 10:55, Kristina Wolf, a doctoral candidate in entomology at UC Davis, will cover “Raptors, Rodents and Reptiles, What's in Restored Grasslands?”
Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor, Yolo County, will offer her insights on “Establishing Hedgerows: Protecting Crops with Insect Predators and Parasitoids” at 11:15.
Following Long's talk, Kelly Garbach of Loyola University, Chicago, will share “Hedgerow Survey Highlights.” A summary and audience review will follow.
For more information, contact Rachael Long at email@example.com.
You'll learn more about honey bees if you attend the Crop Pollination Workshop next month.
UC Cooperative Extension Apiculturist Elina Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology will speak on “Multiple Stresses Impact Honey Bees” at the Crop Pollination Workshop on Tuesday, Feb. 3 on the Colusa County Fairgrounds, 1303 10th St., Colusa.
Niño is the first of six speakers at the workshop, which begins at 1 p.m. and continues through 3:30 p.m.
Pollination is important for a number of crops grown in Colusa County, said workshop coordinators Katharina Ullmann of the Xerces Society and Farm Advisor Rachael Long, Yolo County Cooperative Extension Office. At the Crop Pollination Workshop, regional experts will share the latest on honey bee health, onion pollination, management practices that support pollinators of cucurbits and almonds, and how to encourage beneficial insects on your farm using hedgerows.
The event is free and open to all interested persons. No reservations are required. Sponsors include UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Xerces Society, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, Colusa County Resource, and UC Agricultural and Natural Resources.
The complete schedule:
1 p.m. Welcome
1:05 p.m. "Multiple Stresses Impact Honey Bees" by Elina Niño, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
1:25 p.m. “Insecticides Reduce Honey Bee Visitation and Pollen Germination in Hybrid Onion Seed Production” by Rachael Long, Farm Advisor, UCCE, Yolo County
1:50 p.m. “Best Management Practices for Squash and Pumpkin Pollinators” by Katharina Ullmann, Pollinator Conservation Specialist, Xerces Society and formerly of UC Davis (she received her doctorate in entomology last year)
2:15 p.m. “Enhancing Habitat in Almonds and Almond Pollination” by Kimiora Ward, staff research associate, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
2:40 p.m. “Hedgerows Enhance Pollinators and Pollination Services” by Lauren Ponisio, graduate student, Environmental Sciences and Policy Management, UC Berkeley
3:05 p.m. “Hedgerows Enhance Biodiversity and Provide Crop Benefits in Agricultural Landscapes” by Rachael Long, Farm Advisor, UCCE, Yolo County
3:20 p.m. “USDA-NRCS Financial and Technical Support for Hedgerows,” Andrea Casey, Colusa NRCS DC
For more information, contact Long at (530) 666-8734 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yolo County Farm Advisor Rachael Freeman Long, who has been researching and writing about bats for 20 years, has two colonies of bats at her ranch in Woodland. The bats eat moths, cucumber beetles, leafhoppers, mosquitoes, midges and water boatmen--when they disperse from the water.
Long is finishing the third book of her children's trilogy, The Black Rose Desert, which stars a boy named Jack, a pallid bat named Pinta and a coyote named Sonny. She'll be talking about bats and signing her books, "Gold Fever" and the newly published "Valley of Fire" on Saturday, Dec. 13 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. in the Common Grounds Coffee shop, 729 Main St., Woodland. She plans to showcase museum specimens, in lieu of live bats.
At a recent educational program in the Avid Reader, Davis, Long and her friend Corky Quirk of Nor Cal Bats, an organization dedicated to research, rehabilitation and release of bats throughout Northern California, entertained the crowd with information about bats. Quirk displayed live bats: two pallid bats, a big brown-bat and a Mexican free-tailed bat, the latter found beneath the Yolo Causeway.
“Pallid bats are native to the western North America,” Long said. “They're unusual in that in addition to catching prey in flight, they will also hunt on the ground for prey, such as crickets, grasshoppers and scorpions. Pallid bats have huge ears and have amazing hearing—they can pick up the sound of a cricket walking on the ground. They are quite agile on the ground.”
“Some migrate, but it's unclear how far they go,” Long said. “In my story they go long distances. Our neighbor regularly gets colonies of pallid bats in the fall in his barn that then move on somewhere else.”
Long, known for her research and scientific publications about bats and bat houses, said her interest “in writing this trilogy is science literacy for kids to teach them about the natural history of bats and the incredible importance of bats in our world for pollination and pest control benefits. Bats are major pollinators of many plants; without bats we wouldn't have tequila as they are the main pollinators of the agave plant from which tequila is made!"
"In my stories,” Long said, “we learn all kinds of wonderful tidbits about bats, including echolocation, migration, that they feed on insects and that 'blind as a bat' is a total myth.”
Long's avid interest in the ecosystem services of bats revolves around how bats can help with pest control in agricultural crops. "For example, we just determined that in walnuts, each bat provides about $6 in pest control services for codling moth control, a major pest in this crop.
Long recalls telling bat stories to her young son “on our long drives into town from our ranch. He loved them so much that one day I finally decided to write them down to share with other children--and adults too!"
Long's trilogy focuses on a cave-exploring boy named Jack, who is 9 years old that summer when his family heads to their Black Rock Range property to search for gold. Jack, wandering off, falls into a cave and gets lost. His new friends, Pinta, the pallid bat, and a coyote named Sonny help him find his way out but then they all find themselves in danger. Other characters in the book include Jack's parents, uncle, and “the bad guys,” a ring of international poachers. One of the poachers is a newly escaped prison inmate roaming Black Rock Range.
What are some generally unknown facts about pallid bats? “They emit a skunk-like smell when disturbed; it's a predator defense,” Long said. “Their wing membranes are like skin; incredibly sensitive.”
Pallid bats usually have one or two bat pups, once per year, and they can live for more than 20 years, Long said. “These bats glean the tastiest parts of insects and leave other pieces behind --legs, wings, heads-- so you can always tell if you have a pallid bat colony. We find them in our bat houses that are up and around Yolo County.”
Long's efforts to educate young children about bats resulted in praised from science journalist Jim Robbins of the New York Times: “Bats play a little known, but vital role in the world.”
Long's books, published by Tate Publishing Co., Mustang, Okla., introduce “young readers to their world in an engaging and entertaining way,” Robbins wrote.
The general public--children and adults alike--can learn a lot about bats in her books. One of her favorite books on bats is "Bats in Question: The Smithsonian Answer Book" by Don Wilson.