UC Master Gardener Program
UC Master Gardener Program
UC Master Gardener Program
University of California
UC Master Gardener Program

Latest Statewide Master Gardener News

Conenose or ‘kissing bugs’

Adult western conenose bug, Triatoma protracta.
Although not a new insect to California, conenose or ‘kissing bugs' (Triatoma spp.) have recently received press from CBS Sacramento and other media outlets and we anticipate that questions and samples will be coming in to UCCE offices in response.  These bugs can vector a protozoan, Trypanosoma cruzi, that causes Chagas disease in humans.  The protozoan is transmitted via the bug's feces, rather than through bites.

UC IPM Pest Note Available

In anticipation of questions, we recommend UC Master Gardener volunteers read and bookmark the UC IPM Pests Notes: Conenose Bugs. 

Triatoma rubida

As indicated by UC IPM, there is a low instance of Chagas disease in humans in the U.S.  “Researchers attribute the low incidence of Chagas disease…to poor efficacy of disease transmission by the bugs, infrequent human contact, and inability of the bugs to permanently colonize homes.”

Conenose bugs are in the Reduviidae family, a group of insects known for a study body and large proboscis. Most reduviids are beneficial as insect predators, and include various species of assassin bugs. Conenose bugs are easily confused with other assassin bugs as well as bugs with similar body shapes from other insect families. Conenose bugs prefer sheltered habitat such as indoors, beneath porches, in wood or brush piles, and in outdoor structures such as dog houses and chicken coops.

ID Methods and Resources 

If you receive a call about conenose bugs in your area, alert the caller not to touch the bug with bare hands.  They can bring a sample in a sealed container or take a picture and send it to their local UC Master Gardener Program, UCCE advisor, or county agricultural commissioner for identification.  Information that can be sent to the client include the UC IPM Pest Note on conenose bugs as well as information available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.  The CDC web site also has useful photos to help in identification.

The insects below are NOT kissing bugs:

Adult western corsair bugs (Rasahus thoracicus) and insect predators and have a distinct orange spot on each wing. They do inflict a painful bite to humans, but are not blood-sucking.










Adult spined assassin bug, a predator of other insects.
















Adult squash bug, a plant pest.

Posted on Monday, November 30, 2015 at 2:36 PM

Volunteers Donated 398,150 Hours Last Year ... and More Reappointment Stats!

Reappointment is complete and the statewide office is excited to share reappointment stats for the UC Master Gardener Program.

During fiscal year 2014 –15 the UC Master Gardener Program had 6,055 active volunteers who were dedicated to extending UC research-based home horticulture information to the public. 

County-based programs range in size from 13 to 315 volunteers - but the one thing they all have in common is their passion for horticulture, the desire to learn and willingness to share their knowledge with local communities!  

From July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015 UC Master Gardener volunteers donated 398,150 volunteer hours and more than 4.6 million volunteer hours have been donated since the program's inception.

If we want to think about this monetarily (and who doesn't?!), the value of this time to UC ANR comes in at more than $10.7 million that's equivalent to 191 full time employees!

Volunteering for their communities is not the only way UC Master Gardeners spend their time. Last year 88,300 continuing education hours were logged as UC Master Gardeners worked to keep themselves informed about new or advanced horticultural topics and trends.

A sincere thank you to our incredible group of volunteers, for sharing your passion and valuable time to the UC Master Gardener Program!

Posted on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 9:39 AM

UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County Host Grand Opening of Sherwood Demonstration Garden

Last-minute preparations are currently ongoing for the grand opening of Sherwood Demonstration Garden, the crown jewel of the UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County.  This event will be held on Saturday, Oct. 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., so mark your calendars.  There is no entrance fee, parking is free and the garden is open to all. The location is behind the El Dorado Center of Folsom Lake College on Campus Drive in Placerville. 

The impressive demonstration garden was the brainchild of Bob Sherwood, a long-time UCCE Master Gardener volunteer, who envisioned a place for the public to learn about research-based home gardening techniques and practices with outdoor classes and hands-on demonstrations. Bob spent countless hours searching our county for just the right location and in 2009, in cooperation with the El Dorado County Office of Education and Folsom Lake College, El Dorado Center, broke ground on what is now the Sherwood Demonstration Garden.  Bob passed away unexpectedly last fall before realizing his dream of a garden open to the public. The UCCE Master Gardener Program pledged to honor his legacy by continuing to work towards a grand opening as soon as possible. It took a little over a year for project completion, but the UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County are proud to announce the opening of its new demonstration garden this weekend.

On Saturday visitors will have the opportunity to tour all 16 themed garden, including:  All Stars, Bog, Butterfly, Children's, Cottage, Japanese, Mediterranean, Orchard, Ornamental Grasses, Native, Perennial, Rock, Rose, Shade, Succulent and Vegetable. 

UCCE Master Gardener volunteers will be onsite and available in each garden to answer questions and explain how and why a particular garden was planted, what kind of irrigation is used in each, facts about specific plants chosen, pest management practices, and more. A very limited quantity of plants will be available for sale (no credit cards; cash or checks only) and there will be treasure hunt prizes. Free refreshments will also be available. 

UCCE Master Gardeners are very excited to showcase this garden and we hope to see many of you present on Oct 3.  It's going to be fun! For more information about this garden go to the UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County website at http://ucanr.edu/edmg



Do you have a garden or event you would like featured on the statewide UC Master Gardener Program blog? E-mail: mgwomack@ucanr.edu


Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at 1:21 PM
  • Author: Sue McDavid

Garden Gold: Changing Waste Into Resource

Compost is a great way to recycle organic matter back into your garden
This time of year finds us cleaning up the garden and throwing away the trimmings without ceremony or thought. This predilection we humans have of creating waste and then wanting it to “going away” has had dire consequences for our planet. Everything comes from and goes somewhere; the trick is to use this fact to our advantage.

Defining waste is tricky, but you could think of it the same way as weeds, which are basically plants where you don't want them; like weed management, reducing garden waste comes down to re-thinking and altering your cultural practices:

Plan ahead: Shopping at a nursery without a plan is like going to the grocery store hungry; impulse buys are inevitable! Measure your space, research climate-appropriate plants, and call nurseries for availability. Try to favor evergreen (non-deciduous) species, limit herbaceous perennials and annuals, and provide all plants adequate space for their natural size and shape. Constant shearing is a waste of time, and planting too densely often means you are tearing out plants within a couple of years, a waste of the water and other resources that went into growing those plants.

Irrigate and fertilize appropriately to avoid the feedback loop of wasteful inputs: too much water and high N-P-K fertilizers create lush growth, which is more attractive to pests, requiring herbicides and more irrigation to keep up with all that growth. Potent fertilizers often leach below the root zone or out of the soil via irrigation run-off, polluting rivers and groundwater, and wasting your money. Organic fertilizers with low N-P-K numbers provide a slow release of nutrients, which can be taken up more effectively by soil microbes and plants.

Composting is the best way to recycle myriad forms of plant matter, both from your yard and the kitchen, into a source of bio-available nutrients. Compost also helps improve soil structure (a definite plus for those of plagued with adobe) and increases the biodiversity of your soil, a way of protecting your plants from pathogens.

Grasscycling: Recycling grass clippings by leaving them on the lawn reduces fertilizer needs by 20% and returns valuable organic matter to the soil. It's easier on your back, too! Problems associated with grasscycling often result from improper practices; see the resource section below for help.

Avoid invasive species: Some plants have aggressive growth and produce a lot of waste when they need trimming. Examples of invasive species include English ivy and Vinca major. Some invasives can re-root in a compost bin, so they end up in the landfill. for examples of invasive plants and alternatives, see the California Invasive Plant Council (Cal IPC) website.

Fertilizing:   sjmastergardeners.ucdavis.edu/files/154369.pdf
Composting and Grasscycling:   sjmastergardeners.ucanr.edu/Composting_/
Cal IPC:  www.cal-ipc.org/landscaping/dpp/

Posted on Monday, August 10, 2015 at 5:10 AM
  • Author: Nadia Zane

What Do You Know About Neonics?

What do you know about neonicotinoids, aka neonics?

A worker bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

An educational opportunity to learn more about them--the truths and the myths--will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 9 at the University of Caifornia, Davis, and you're invited. It's open to the public.

The conference, themed “Truth or Myth: Neonicotinoids and Their Impact on Pollinators: What Is the Science-Based Research?” will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the UC Davis Conference Center, 550 Alumni Lane.

UC Davis researchers and state officials will address the crowd, announced conference coordinator Dave Fujino, director of the UC Davis-based California Center for Urban Horticulture.

“We are pleased to have such a knowledgeable lineup of UC Davis researchers who will clarify the issue of impact of neonicotinoid impacts on pollinators by summarizing and presenting the past and current science-based research,” Fujino said. “We are also fortunate to have additional presentations on the regulation guidelines on neonicotinoids and their role in controlling invasive pests in California, and a diverse group of stakeholders participating in a panel discussion on the neonicotinoid issue.”

Neonicotinoids, recently implicated in the worldwide die-off of pollinators, including honey bees, are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. Considered important in the control of many significant agricultural and veterinary pests, they target the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death. “Neonics,” as they're called, are commonly used on farms, and around homes, schools, and city landscapes.

Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, will provide an overview of the current use of neonicotinoids and the role of honey bees in California agriculture. Six other speakers are scheduled, along with a panel discussion.

The speakers include:

  • Brian Leahy, director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, who will discuss “California Pesticide Regulation of Neonicotinoids” 

  • Nick Condos, director of the Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services Division, California Department of Food and Agriculture, “Neonicotinoid Risks Associated with Invasive Species Management” 

  • Karen Jetter, associate project economist, UC Agricultural Issues Center, “Trends in Neonicotinoid Usage in California Agriculture and the Control of Invasive Species”

  • Margaret “Rei” Scampavia, a doctoral candidate who studies with major professors Neal Williams and Ed Lewis of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, “Past Neonicotinoid and Bee Research”

  • Elina Lastro Niño, Extension apiculturist based at the Harry H. Laidlaw Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis, “Current Neonicotinoid and Bee Research.”

The California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH) will co-host the event with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Sponsors include California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers (CANGC), a trade organization founded in 1911 to promote and protect the California nursery industry; Four Winds Growers, based in Winters, Calif.; Scotts Miracle-Gro, a company headquartered in Marysville, Ohio, and known as the world's largest marketer of branded consumer lawn and garden products; and Monrovia, a horticultural craftsmen company headquartered in Azusa, Calif.

At the close of the conference, Fujino will preside over a panel discussion on neonicotinoid issues and concerns. Questions and answers from the audience will follow. The panel is to include a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor, and representatives from the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers, Home Depot, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bayer CropScience and the American Beekeeping Federation.

The registration fee of $50 will include lunch, as well as the post-conference social hour. To register, access the CCHU website at http://ccuh.ucdavis.edu/public/copy_of_public/neonicotinoid-pollinator-conference-2015/neonic or contact CCUH representative Kate Lincoln at kmlincoln@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-6642.

The European Union recently adopted a proposal to restrict the use of three pesticides belonging to the neonicotinoid family (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) for a period of two years.  In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that by January 2016, it will ban the use of seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides and the use of crops improved through biotechnology throughout the 150 million acres managed by the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Posted on Friday, August 7, 2015 at 10:17 PM
  • Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey

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