UCCE Master Gardeners of San Joaquin County
University of California
UCCE Master Gardeners of San Joaquin County

UC Garden Blogs

Myths and Gifts

Author Fran Keller with her dogface butterfly book. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Myths and gifts...

When the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology hosts its open house from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 23, the theme will be "Insect Myths." (Okay, and spider myths, too!)

You'll learn about honey bee, ladybug, butterfly and spider myths at this family-oriented event, which is free and open to the public.

The insect museum  located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, is not only the home of nearly 8 million insect specimens, but it operates a live "pettting zoo" (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas) and a year-around gift shop filled with T-shirts, jewelry, posters, books, bug-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy, including chocolate-dipped scorpions, crunchy crickets, and protein-rich lollipops. 

Insect jewelry is popular at the Bohart Museum. Proceeds are earmarked for educational efforts. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Two of the latest books available in the gift shop are Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide (Princeton University Press) and California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists (Heyday), co-authored by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis. Thorp is an associate at the Bohart Museum and maintains an office in the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.  

Another popular book, published in 2013, is a 35-page children's book, The Story of the Dogface Butterfly, authored by entomologist Fran Keller, who this year received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis. She is a researcher, college instructor, mentor, artist, photographer, and author.

The book, geared for  kindergarten through sixth-grade classrooms, and also a favorite of  adults, tells the untold story of the California dogface butterfly (Zerene eurydice), and how a classroom successfully mounted a campaign to name it the California state insect. Illustrations by artist Laine Bauer, a UC Davis graduate, and photographs by naturalist Greg Kareofelas, a Bohart Museum volunteer, depict the life cycle of this butterfly and show the host plant, false indigo (Amorpha californica). Net proceeds from the sale of this book are earmarked for the education, outreach and research programs at the Bohart Museum.

Gift shop items are available both in the store (Monday through Thursday) and online, http://www.bohartmuseum.com/.

Among the favorites gifts at the Bohart Museum:

  • T-shirts depicting images of dragonflies, butterflies,  beetles and moths
  • Bohart Museum coffee mug
  • Insect collecting net
  • Posters of butterflies of Central Californian, Dragonflies of California, and the California Dogface butterfly
  • Butterfly habitat
  • Jewelry depicting bees, butterflies, dragonflies and ladybugs (many of the boxes are engraved with the Bohart logo and treasured)
  • Science kits
  • Insect and spider books
  • Insect magnets

The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, is open to the public  from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. It is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free. More information is available by contacting the Bohart Museum at (530) 752-0493 or Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator at tabyang@ucdavis.edu.

Robbin Thorp with two of the books he co-authored. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Robbin Thorp with two of the books he co-authored. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Robbin Thorp with two of the books he co-authored. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, November 21, 2014 at 5:40 PM

Alion (indaziflam) label change for orchard and vineyard crops

Effective this fall (2014) there will be a fairly significant change to the Alion herbicide label for California orchard and vineyard crops.  Growers and PCAs will want to be aware of this as you're planning your dormant-season herbicide programs now that many areas of the state are getting some rain.

The use patterns for Alion (active ingredient: indaziflam) has been modified for tree nuts, grapes, stone fruit, pome fruit, and olive (citrus uses were not changed).

Most important changes include:

  • Maximum use rates now have a restriction based on soil organic matter (OM) content

    Grapes: if soil less than 1% OM, max rate is 3.5 oz/A (0.045 lb ai) and if over 1% max rate is 5 oz/A (0.065 lb ai)
    Nuts, Pome, Stone, Olive: if less than 1% OM, max rate is 3.5 oz/A; If 1-3% OM, max rate is 5 oz/A; if OM above 3%, max rate 6.5 oz/A

    Previously there was a 6.5 oz rate max for all crops except grape which had a 5 oz max rate.  Although it presents another thing to think about when writing recommendations, a soil OM restriction is not unusual.  Because of the charge characteristics of organic matter (as clay particles), soil OM content can greatly affect the proportion of herbicide in "soil solution" - that is, herbicide that is not bound to soil.  Rate refinements based on OM can avoid the situation where lighter soil is over treated and also should increase the margin of crop safety because light or coarse soils do not hold herbicides in the surface zone (where the weeds are) as well.

  • The label now restricts Alion use in flood-irrigated orchards.  It also prohibits irrigation within 48 hrs after the applications. 

    This is designed to ensure crop safety by giving the herbicide sufficient time to bind to surface soils before a large amount of water is intentionally applied.  It should also help maximize weed control because any residual herbicide that is moved too deeply into the soil is likely to lose some efficacy on some weeds - this is especially true for herbicide like Alion that primarily affect weeds as they first germinate but have less of an impact on established weeds.

  • The manufacturer has also offered some best use guidelines for this herbicide that are very positive (in my opinion):
    -  Use the highest rate for local conditions for best performance
    -  Consider tank mixes with other PRE herbicides such as Matrix, Chateau, Goal, GoalTender (this is good for both broadening the weed spectrum and managing selection of herbicide resistant weeds)
    -  Tanks mix with burndown herbicides if emerged weeds are present (this was always the case as Alion as almost no activity on germinated weeds)
    -  Apply from Nov-Jan, avoid spring applications for best weed control (good idea also to increase crop safety and get the greatest performance out of this chemistry)
    -  Soil should be free of large trash and clods at application (this is true for best performance of ANY of our PRE herbicides)
    -  For best weed control, rainfall or sprinkler irrigation within 3-4 weeks is ideal.  If irrigation is used to activate, 0.5 inch of water is ideal (the idea is to incorporate the herbicide into the surface inch or so, where the weeds germinate, but not go too deeply.  This is also pretty true for all PRE herbicides).

In my opinion, the prohibition on use in flood irrigation orchards is probably the most important change as those sites simply cannot use the herbicide - these growers will have to use other products.   The soil OM restriction is much less of a problem and may actually be beneficial from  both a product stewardship and resistance management standpoint if growers use tankmixes and good integrated strategies.  I had several trials with a range of Alion rates in 2014 and we  observed very good weed control with the reduced Alion rates in most instances but control at 2.5 or 3.5 oz/A was definitely more dependable and long-lasting when a tankmix partner (selected based on field scouting) was used in the management program.

Check out the updated Alion label on your favorite herbicide label source.

Take care,


Posted on Friday, November 21, 2014 at 2:00 PM
Tags: announcements (9)

JOB OPENING :: Pesticide Safety Educator

Cmty Educ Spec 3 / Pesticide Safety Educator

Application instructions and a full position description are available on the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources employment website (https://jobs.ucop.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=57905).

This position is with the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM). UC IPM develops and promotes integrated and ecologically sound pest management programs in California (www.ipm.ucanr.edu).

The Pesticide Safety Educator works under the direction of the Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP) Coordinator. This position coordinates with UC ANR advisors and specialists, government agencies, professional organizations, and others to plan, develop and deliver local pesticide safety educational programs for fieldworkers, pesticide handlers, pesticide applicators, as well as other trainers of these clientele. This position supports development and delivery of programs that provide objective information about pesticide use and safety in order to reduce pesticide risks to human health and the environment. The Educator participates in program planning and supports the efforts of the PSEP Coordinator to identify priorities, engage cooperators and disseminate resources to achieve program goals. In addition, the Educator develops or assists in the development and delivery of outreach materials and training programs and also conducts systematic review of program materials to assure that they are up-to-date and meeting clientele needs.

If interested in finding out more about this position and/or to apply, visit https://jobs.ucop.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=57905

Posted on Friday, November 21, 2014 at 1:12 PM
Tags: announcement (119)

For the Love of Bats

Big-eared Townsend bat (Corynorhinus townsendii) (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management)
Most of us think about bats at least twice a year: during National Pollinator Week, when bees, beetles, butterflies and bats beckon, and on Halloween, when bats mingle with the witches, ghosts, ghouls, goblins and other things that go bump in the night.

Bats are pollinators? Definitely.  According to the USDA Forest Service, more than 300 species of fruit depend on bats for pollination. The crops include mangos, bananas and guavas, grown in tropical and desert climates. While bees take the daytime pollinator shift, bats take the nighttime shift. 

Entomologists and agriculturists think about bats a lot, too, because bats eat insects that ravage our crops.

Someone who really knows and appreciates bats is Yolo County Farm Advisor Rachael Freeman Long. "I've had a long time interest in ecosystem services of bats because they feed on insects and can help with pest control in agricultural crops," Long said.  "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 RF et al. 2014. What's a bat worth to a walnut orchard? BATS Magazine [Bat Conservation International] Spring 2014)."

A person of many interests and talents, Long has also written a children's book that features bats.

The cover of Valley Fire.
It's actually part of a trilogy published by Tate Publishing Co. The first was Gold Fever. The second, newly published, is Valley Fire. She's half-way through writing the third and final book in the trilogy, River of No Return.

In honor of bats,  The Avid Reader, 617 2nd St., Davis, between E and F St., is planning a special program from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 22. Long will be there for the book signing, and talk about her book, and Corky Quirk of Nor Cal Bats will be there with her live bats and talk about their importance in the world. The organization is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of bats throughout Northern California. 

"My 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," Long said. "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, 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. I'll have to talk about their shiny poop in my third book with all the insect exoskeleton parts that bats can't digest and the fancy name of guano!"

Long recalls telling these stories to her son, when he was little, "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!!"

Sadly, bats often get a bad rap. When a person is mentally unstable, he's "batty" or has "bats in the belfry." Visual issues? "Blind as a bat."  And who hasn't heard the expression, "like a bat out of hell?" (usually referring to a speeding car heading toward you at breakneck speed).

In Long's book, a little boy named Jack falls into a cave and loses his memory. We won't tell you what happens next but that the book is engaging and entertaining.

Just like bats. 

Rachael Long beneath the Yolo Causeway with a bat detector. Notice the bats in the photo.  (Photo courtesy of the California Farm Bureau Federation)
Rachael Long beneath the Yolo Causeway with a bat detector. Notice the bats in the photo. (Photo courtesy of the California Farm Bureau Federation)

Rachael Long beneath the Yolo Causeway with a bat detector. Notice the bats in the photo. (Photo courtesy of the California Farm Bureau Federation)

Posted on Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 9:30 PM

Upcoming National and Regional Weed Science Society Meetings

Meeting announcements from WSSA

Plus, I'll add in my own plug for the California Weed Science Society meeting, January 21-23, 2014 in Santa Barbara


Weed Science Societies Focus on the Future during Upcoming Annual Meetings  

LAWRENCE, Kansas – November 20, 2014 – Upcoming annual meetings of the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) and its sister regional organizations will tackle a wide range of topics vital to the future of weed science – from how to manage herbicide-resistant weeds to new developments in weed research. 

The events are expected to draw hundreds of scientists, students, educators and other individuals interested in sustainable weed management practices and the conservation of our natural resources. 

The 55th annual meeting of WSSA will be held February 9-12, 2015, in Lexington, Kentucky. Rosalind James, Ph.D., a national program leader in USDA's Agricultural Research Service, will deliver a keynote address on the future of the agency's weed science research initiatives.

More than 300 presentations and poster sessions are on the annual meeting agenda, as well as two special symposia. The first will summarize a recent national-level Herbicide Resistance Summit sponsored by WSSA, while the second will explore the future of molecular-level weed research. Graduate students in weed science are organizing a special student-oriented workshop on how to prepare for jobs in weed science. For more details and registration information, visit www.wssa.net.

Upcoming regional annual meetings include:

  • North Central Weed Science Society, December 1-4, 2014. The society will meet this year in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Special symposia are planned on the role of cover crops in weed management and on the human dimension of managing herbicide-resistant weeds.  For more details and registration, visit www.ncwss.org.  
  • Northeastern Weed Science Society, January 5-8, 2015.The meeting will be held in Williamsburg, Virginia.  Agenda and registration details will be posted soon at www.newss.org.
  • Southern Weed Science Society, January 26-28, 2015.The society's annual meeting will take place in Savannah, Georgia, and will focus on a wide range of weed management topics – from regulations and environmental considerations to new weed control techniques.  For details and registration, visit www.swss.ws.
  • Western Society of Weed Science, March 9-12, 2015.Scheduled for Portland, Oregon, the annual meeting will focus on five subject areas:  agronomic crops, horticultural crops, weeds found in range and natural areas, basic biology and ecology, and teaching and technology transfer.  In addition, consultant Bill Cobb, Ph.D., will lead a symposium on the role of laboratory tests in the diagnosis of suspected herbicide problems.  For further details and registration, visit www.wsweedscience.org.


About the Weed Science Society of America

The Weed Science Society of America, a nonprofit scientific society, was founded in 1956 to encourage and promote the development of knowledge concerning weeds and their impact on the environment. The Society promotes research, education and extension outreach activities related to weeds, provides science-based information to the public and policy makers, fosters awareness of weeds and their impact on managed and natural ecosystems, and promotes cooperation among weed science organizations across the nation and around the world.  For more information, visit www.wssa.net.

Posted on Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 1:03 PM
Tags: announcements (9)

Next 5 stories | Last story

Webmaster Email: mdhachman@ucdavis.edu