Like many of you, I have been a walking sneeze these past couple weeks. There is a fair chance that I'm single-handedly keeping the antihistamine industry afloat! We're past the elms, grasses and pine pollen season so what's going on?
Although in late summer we like to blame rabbitbrush and goldenrod for our allergy woes, the most likely culprit is ragweed. With all the rain this year, the ragweed is plentiful. It thrives on disturbed ground which flooding has created more of beyond the usual roads and trails that it's usually found near. I've seen it this year in places I seldom encounter any.
Ragweeds are found across the USA, but California has its own set of species. There are several species in Inyo and Mono counties, but the one I'm seeing most right now appears to be Ambrosia anthicarpa: annual bursage.
All ragweeds are prolific pollen producers. A quick brush against them near Horton Creek covered me (and my dog) in pollen. Sneezes soon followed.
At this point, ragweed isn't really controllable. It can be managed earlier in the season with herbicides, but the plants are too far developed for that option. Even if you did manage to control yours, the immense population this year will still release enough pollen to make life difficult for another month.
My advice now is to try to avoid getting close to it and try to keep your pets out of it if they're the type that likes to snuggle up to you. If you're out hiking around and see some growing, I'd suggest moving to another spot.