REC AO Blog
If you are planning to do your part for the environment this Sunday by planting in your garden, be sure to check out the article below about UC IPM's new insectary plants webpage by Stephanie Parreira - you will be glad you did! Home is...
The IR-4 Project at Rutgers University is pleased to announce the launch of the Plant Search page on the Protecting Bees website. Users can search for pollinator attractive plants by zip code, bloom period, sun/light requirements, and/or pollinator attractiveness. Once the search is complete, users can download a printable list of select plants, compare pollinator information (limit of 5 plants), or get detailed information about the attractiveness data and links to the data sources.
This plant search tool is a necessary resource for anyone with an interest in protecting pollinators and growing plants. Planting pollinator attractive plants provides insects and animals with essential resources, while helping plants survive and flourish. All pollinator attractiveness information on Protecting Bees comes from reputable scientific studies or publications. New plants and pollinator information is constantly being added, so be sure to search Protecting Bees for attractive plants when planning for your next planting or when guiding others about pollinator beneficial gardens!
The website is sponsored in part by USDA-NIFA-SCRI. James Bethke's group (San Diego UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor specializing in nurseries and floriculture) and Christine Casey are UC contributors to the larger project's collaborative group.
Help the environment this Earth Day, which falls on Sunday April 22 this year, by installing insectary plants! These plants attract natural enemies such as lady beetles, lacewings, and parasitic wasps. Natural enemies provide biological pest control and can reduce the need for insecticides. Visit the new UC IPM Insectary Plants webpage to learn how to use these plants to your advantage.
The buzz about insectary plants
Biological control, or the use of natural enemies to reduce pests, is an important component of integrated pest management. Fields and orchards may miss out on this control if they do not offer sufficient habitat for natural enemies to thrive. Insectary plants (or insectaries) can change that—they feed and shelter these important insects and make the environment more favorable to them. For instance, sweet alyssum planted near lettuce fields encourages syrphid flies to lay their eggs on crops. More syrphid eggs means more syrphid larvae eating aphids, and perhaps a reduced need for insecticides. Similarly, planting cover crops like buckwheat within vineyards can attract predatory insects, spiders, and parasitic wasps, ultimately keeping leafhoppers and thrips under control.
Flowering insectaries also provide food for bees and other pollinators. There are both greater numbers and more kinds of native bees in fields with an insectary consisting of a row of native shrubs planted along the field edge (called a hedgerow). Native bees also stay in fields with these shrubs longer than they do in fields without them. Therefore, not only do insectaries attract natural enemies, but they can also boost crop pollination and help keep bees healthy.
Insectary plants may attract more pests to your crops, but the benefit is greater than the risk
The possibility of creating more pest problems has been a concern when it comes to installing insectaries. Current research shows that mature hedgerows, in particular, bring more benefits than risks. Hedgerows attract far more natural enemies than insect pests. And despite the fact that birds, rabbits, and mice find refuge in hedgerows, the presence of hedgerows neither increases animal pest problems in the field, nor crop contamination by animal-vectored pathogens. Hedgerow insectaries both benefit wildlife and help to control pests.
How can I install insectary plants?
Visit the Insectary Plants webpage to learn how to establish and manage insectary plants, and determine which types of insectaries may suit your needs and situation. If you need financial assistance to establish insectaries on your farm, consider applying for Conservation Action Plan funds from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) offered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
- Flower flies (Syrphidae) and other biological control agents for aphids in vegetable crops. (PDF)
- Good news for hedgerows: no effects on food safety in the field.
- Hedgerow benefits align with food production and sustainability goals.
- Habitat restoration promotes pollinator persistence and colonization in intensively managed agriculture. (PDF)
- Reducing the abundance of leafhoppers and thrips in a northern California organic vineyard through maintenance of full season floral diversity with summer cover crops.
Spring is here, flowers are blooming and wildlife abounds. The UC Hopland Research and Extension Center (HREC) is inviting the community to join NatureFest on April 27 and 28 to revel in the joys of the outdoors!
NatureFest brings together scientists, researchers and the community in a variety of experiences to enjoy the biodiversity found in the oak woodlands of Northern California. The celebration will begin with a delicious locally sourced dinner and the talk “Bear Essential? The Past, Present, and Potential Future of Grizzlies in California” by Dr. Peter Alagona, author and associate professor at UC Santa Barbara on April 27. Activities will continue bright and early on April 28 with the opportunity to join bird watching hikes with Peregrine Audubon Society and to explore the leaf litter of the woodlands in the search for scorpions with Dr. Lauren Esposito of the California Academy of Sciences. From 11am-3pm on the 28th scientists, naturalists, volunteers and community members of all ages are encouraged to join the “Bioblitz for All” in search of new species.
“The concept of a bioblitz is to connect researchers, experts and all members of the community in a combined effort to survey a specific piece of land over a set period of time,” said Hannah Bird, HREC community educator. “In our case we will be hiking a beautiful trail on the University of California owned property taking us into oak woodland, through creeks and across grasslands. Experts and naturalists will help us search for and identify critters, we'll then record them using a cell phone app called iNaturalist. Using tools like iNaturalist, which link us with a community of experts, allows us all to become citizen scientists,” Bird said. “Researchers only have so many pairs of eyes. Observations of species can be magnified greatly when the public get involved and submit their findings through an online platform.”
At 2:30pm, as the Bioblitz draws to a close participants are encouraged to join John Griffith of the California Conservation Corps for the bioblitz dance, this dance has become a social media sensation and every participant is welcome to bring their own personal dance moves to add to the event.
Folk musicians The Real Sarahs and Gwyneth Moreland will help attendees to relax after a day in nature with organic harmonies that enchant and uplift the spirit from 3-5pm. These singer-songwriters create magic with voices in harmony, acoustic instruments, and the energetic connection between artists and audience. With a breadth of influences, you are likely to hear threads of folk, jazz, blues, and country running through their songs.
Visitors are encouraged to join any or all of the events during the weekend. The events are suitable for a wide range of ages and experiences. Photographers will have an opportunity to display their skills during a competition for the best pictures taken during the weekend. Prizes will be given not only for the best pictures of wildlife but also for pictures that express the wonder and awe of nature.
“We hope that NatureFest will include all those who enjoy getting outdoors and observing nature – from the roly poly researching toddler to the keen gardener, hiker or aspiring teen wildlife biologist,” Bird said.
Tickets prices vary from $5-$60 for the different events, all prices are listed at http://bit.ly/NatureFest2018. Registration in advance is encouraged, all tickets are $5 more on the door. April 23rd is the deadline to register for the Friday April 27 dinner. Registration can be made online or by calling Hannah Bird at (707) 744-1424, Ext. 105. All events will begin at the Rod Shippey Hall, 4070 University Road, Hopland. NatureFest is supported by Charlie and Joan Kelly, VisitMendocino, Peregrine Audubon Society, 4-H, California Conservation Corps, Terra Savia, Blue Quail Wine and The California Naturalist Program.
Due to the nature of the research with sheep and a commitment to using guard dogs as part of a predator control program, no dogs are allowed on UC ANR HREC for public events.