- Author: Dustin Blakey
Recently brown marmorated stink bugs (Haylomorpha halys) were found in Inyo and Mono counties. This invasive pest from Asia is relatively new to our area. Its first sighting was in Bishop last year.
We have plenty of species of stink bugs on the east side, but this one is especially annoying because it tends to aggregate in large numbers and will attempt to get inside homes and structure to avoid cold weather. As our temperatures return to more normal ranges, I would expect more issues with home ingress.
We have had reports from Swall Meadows down to Big Pine, and possibly an isolated case in Olancha. My hunch is they arrived from northern California, not down south, but there is no way to tell for sure.
As of now, most stink bugs you will encounter are not BMSB. You can identify this pest by a couple notable features: like many stink bugs it is brown, but it has white bands on its antennae and has alternating white and dark coloration on its abdomen. It also has rounded shoulders; similar species in our area have pointed shoulders.
Spraying adult stink bugs doesn't do much good. The best course of action is to ensure your homes are sealed up well so they can't get in.
If these bugs do come inside, they can be trapped easily. (Squishing them is just messy and smelly. Trapping is a better choice.) Here is a video from Virginia Tech showing a good way to trap them.
They can also be vacuumed up. Here is what UC IPM suggests you do:
An efficient way to collect stink bugs indoors is by sucking them up with a dry or wet vacuum. The bugs will cause the collection canister or bag and other parts of the vacuum to give off an unpleasant stink bug odor, so some people dedicate a vacuum cleaner to stink bug capture only. Alternatively, a nylon stocking can be stuffed inside the tube and securing the end over the outside of the vacuum tube with a rubber band; this way, bugs are collected in the stocking and not the vacuum cleaner bag. Individual stink bugs can be brushed off into a cut-off plastic bottle containing an inch of soapy water, where they will drown in a short period of time. If needed, the container can be fastened to a pole or broom handle to reach high locations. Stink bugs caught live also can be placed inside a plastic sealable bag and then into a freezer for 2 days to kill them. To conserve water, avoid flushing them down the toilet and avoid placing live stink bugs in the garbage so they do not become established around landfills.
Hopefully this will just be a minor nuisance for us, and nothing more.
- Author: Trina Tobey
They plague every gardener's nightmares. Like something from a sci-fi movie, they are green with long legs and antennae and long piercing mouths with which they suck out fluids. They eat 100 times their body weight, and—worst of all—they multiply asexually by the dozens in a day!
My first experience with aphids as a beginning gardener was watching the leaves on my plum tree wilt. The flowers fell off and died instead of producing fruit. This prompted me to research what I could do to protect my fruit trees. Here is what I learned.
In fall it is time to start your preventative measures for aphids on fruit trees for next year. After harvest, a zinc sulfate application on plums and prunes will provide zinc to the trees as well as hasten leaf fall disrupting the aphid life cycle.
If aphids are a chronic problem in your fruit trees, you can apply supreme- or superior-type oils to kill overwintering pests during dormancy this winter. This helps to start the following season with a clean slate.
In the spring, start monitoring your trees for aphids as soon as leaves begin to bud. Check for aphids on the underside of the leaves on several areas of your trees at least twice weekly. Ants tend aphids and collect their honeydew and large numbers of ants climbing up your tree trunk is an indicator that you may have aphids. Over watering and over fertilizing can increase aphid populations so only apply the minimum necessary for healthy plant growth.
One excellent way to reduce aphid populations is to knock them off with a strong spray of water.
Several natural predators feed on aphids including lady beetles, green lacewings, brown lacewings, syrphid flies, and soldier beetles. Predators can be released onto the trees but often appear naturally in significant numbers when there is a significant aphid population. Where aphid populations are localized on a few curled leaves or new shoots, consider pruning these areas out. Drop the infested plant parts in a bucket of soapy water. If insecticide sprays are needed, insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils are generally the best choice. Avoid using broad-spectrum insecticides which will kill natural predators and consequentially could increase your aphid population.
In our area, it can help to keep weeds under control near your trees.
With these tips, you can save your home orchard from an aphid invasion like the Men in Black saved earth from an alien invasion and go back to sleeping soundly throughout the night. Good luck!
Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California (2019). Leaf Curl Plum Aphid. Retrieved from http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/r606301811.html
Flint, Mary Louise (2018). Pests of the Garden and Small Farm: A Grower's Guide to Using Less Pesticide, Third Edition. Oakland, CA: The Regents of the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.
- Author: Erich Warkentine
The Manzanar Guayule project is well underway.
Guayule is a type of USA native rubber plant which was grown at Manzanar during the war years. UC Master Gardener volunteers for this project have been assisting in the reconstruction and maintenance of a guayule patch situated in front of the Manzanar Visitors' Center. In addition, they are researching cultivation requirements and developing expertise in the care of guayule.
On September 3 Manzanar Park Superintendent Bernadette Johnson and Arborist Dave Goto invited Master Gardener Guayule Project group members to meet a visiting French guayule expert, Professor Serge Palu. The group from Master Gardeners included Joanne Parsons, Harold MacDonald and Erich Warkentine. Dr. Colleen McMahan also joined us bringing some additional guayule specimens from her USDA lab in Albany, California for planting in the garden. The group discussed some of the details of guayule cultivation and listened to a history of rubber plant cultivation (guayule and other plant types) by the late Mark Finlay, presented by his colleague, Professor Palu.
While interest in guayule has been persistent over the last century, many factors have hampered its development – including lack of patent protection, political factors, and growing area regional instabilities. Thomas Edison even experimented with the cultivation of guayule in Fort Myers during the late 1920's. Major D.D. Eisenhower signed orders to survey guayule in the 1930's. The connection of guayule to Manzanar is the establishment of a rubber research effort during World War II. After the park was established, one of the researchers, Akira Frank Kageyama, donated some plant specimens taken from the internment camp, which Manzanar staff used to establish a guayule demonstration garden in front of the administration building.
This demonstration garden is a reminder that interest in biological sources of rubber has been around a long time, and that scientists who were interned at Manzanar had an interest in contributing to the war effort.
Guayule still has a lot of potential. There are currently more varieties of guayule than ever before — greater than 50 —and there is more interest in producing rubber from non-petrochemical sources. Research is continuing (at USDA), including new ways of bioengineering the plants.
The guayule in the Manzanar patch is your grandfather's rubber plant. Expect to see more commercial cultivation in the coming years.
We hope to see you at the Guayule patch!
- Author: Erich Warkentine
On October 6, Inyo-Mono Master Gardener volunteer Laura Mogg presented the latest Sunday Seminar on composting. She explained the benefits and practical details of composting, and provided a handout from UC Cooperative Extension providing further details.
Laura provided a demonstration of a simple and easy way everyone can compost garden and kitchen waste. Materials are simple: a bit of fence material that is shaped into a cylinder 3 ft wide and 3 ft tall into which layers of leaves, kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, and animal waste from herbivores are added. An even mix of fresh green waste and brown waste is ideal, and any large or woody plants should be cut into small pieces for best results. The pile within the cylinder is thoroughly watered down and topped with a plastic cover to keep it from drying out in our arid climate.
A compost thermometer is required to monitor the temperature of the pile to see when it is ready to turn (between 140°F and 150°F) and to monitor watering and turning until its ready. The finished compost will be about 1/3 the volume of the original contents of the pile.
Bottom line: it didn't look all that hard, and the benefits to our gardens and landfills are too big to ignore.
- Author: Trina Tobey
I woke up on my seventeenth birthday to find my parent's juvenile maple tree had magically converted to a banana plant overnight and had a resident monkey…and no, I was not dreaming. My very creative friend Whitney had snuck into my yard in the middle of the night to tie bananas and a stuffed monkey from the tree limbs. Twenty years later, this “banana tree” is the most beguiling gift I have received.
I come from a family of practical jokers. My dad loves to prank my children, and they love to get their revenge whenever they can. So when my dad's birthday came around this year, my kids and I took a page from Whitney's book, and plotted the perfect gardening practical joke. My dad hates watermelon and so my daughter suggested we put a watermelon garden in his yard. We found the fake vines with leaves and garden gnome at the thrift store and new Family Dollar in town for less than $10 altogether. All that was left to buy was a few mini watermelons and voilà, we had an instant watermelon garden! We got up at 4:30 A.M. the morning of his birthday and stealthily tip-toed into his backyard planting our prank garden into the middle of his pristine lawn. Now, the most fun was his response. He took pictures and posted them on social media, texted family and friends, and grilled every suspect until my daughter finally caved under the pressure two days later. My mom said, “He really got a big kick out of that!”
Here are some other ideas for gardening pranks, but the possibilities are endless and guaranteed to make for great stories and laughs for years to come. You could decorate your friend's garden with the ugliest garden ornaments you can find at yard sales. Put a gnome, flamingo, or other figurine in a garden and move it periodically (like Elf on a Shelf) posing it to do various gardening tasks. Attach store bought fruit or vegetables to a plant of a different species (i.e. tie oranges to an apple tree). And then there is the rubber snake, always guaranteed to create a startle but not for the faint at heart.
Be creative, have fun, and, most importantly, pick the right person or they might not think it is funny.