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UCCE News

Make it a healthy Halloween!

Orange fruit cups with jack-o-lantern faces drawn on the plastic.
Around this time of year, candy is flying off the shelves and headed to a classroom or workplace party near you. 

It's not too late to mix things up this year, by bringing one of many creative fruit and vegetable goodies to your spooky bash.

What about healthy ideas for children's parties? Think outside the wrapper! Consider handing out non-food items this Halloween. You can purchase many of these items for the same price as sweets. Pro tip: check out your local dollar store or hit up the party favor aisle at most department stores for bulk buys at low prices.

Here are a few non-food ideas:

  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • Crayons
  • Spider rings
  • Bouncy balls
  • Yo-Yo
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Kazoos
  • Stickers

For more ideas about healthy holiday celebrations, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov, or contact your local University of California Cooperative Extension Nutrition Education Program.

Two creative and healthful Halloween party ideas.
Two creative and healthful Halloween party ideas.

Photo credit: http://feedingfourlittlemonkeys.blogspot.com/2008/10/veggie-skeleton.html and http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/holiday---celebration-recipes/halloween-recipes/fun-halloween-food

Posted on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 8:47 AM

Is that a light brown apple moth?

It's easy to confuse light brown apple moth caterpillars (above) with look-alikes, including orange tortrix, omnivorous leafroller, avocado leafroller and apple pandemic moth.
Nursery workers are the first line of defense in detecting light brown apple moth when growing ornamental plants in commercial nurseries. A new brochure and video can help those in the field distinguish light brown apple moth from several look-alike caterpillars.

Light brown apple moth is currently under a California Department of Food and Agriculture quarantine that regulates the interstate shipment of plants to keep the moth from spreading to new areas. It has been quarantined in various counties throughout coastal California ranging from Mendocino to San Diego.

An exotic and invasive pest from Australia, light brown apple moth has a host range of more than 2,000 plants. It is a pest to a wide range of ornamental and agricultural crops, including caneberries, strawberries, citrus, stone fruit, apples, and grapes. The caterpillars eat leaves and buds, leading to weak or disfigured plants. They also can feed directly on fruit, causing the fruit to be unmarketable.

Correct field identification of the light brown apple moth is the first step in containing the spread of this moth. Unfortunately several other leafroller caterpillars, including the orange tortrix, omnivorous leafroller, avocado leafroller, and apple pandemic moth, look similar to light brown apple moth caterpillars. This makes photo identification tools that can go into the field with workers, like the Field Identification Guide for Light Brown Apple Moth in California Nurseries, a useful resource for nursery workers.

The field guide was created by Steven Tjosvold, Neal Murray, University of California Cooperative Extension; Marc Epstein, Obediah Sage, California Department of Food and Agriculture; and Todd Gilligan, Colorado State University with the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM).

For more information on light brown apple moth and other leafrollers found in nurseries, see the UC Pest Management Guidelines for Floriculture and Nurseries.

Posted on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 10:03 AM

UCCE helps span the boundary between fire science and fire management in California

UC Cooperative Extension is conveying fire science to wildland managers.
After academics complete fire science research, the results often end up gathering dust on a shelf. UC Cooperative Extension is now playing a significant role in bridging the gap between wildland fire science and wildland managers across the United States.

“It is a classic disconnect,” said Susie Kocher, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in the Central Sierra office. “That's why Cooperative Extension was formed almost 100 years ago. Policymakers could see that research advances weren't being implemented on farms. The same thing has happened in natural resource management.”

For example, Kocher said, scientists have known since the 1960s that systematic fire suppression has many negative consequences, but it took a very long time to get that message into practice by agencies charged with managing wildfire.

“After the Great Burn of 1910, which killed 87 people, there was a public clamor to attack fire and treat it as an enemy,” Kocher said. “We've come a long way since then. Now land managers have a good understanding of how important it is to have low-intensity fire in Sierra forests.”

Fire agencies are now beginning to understand that they must pay attention to technology transfer. Kocher believes UC Cooperative Extension is a logical player in the process.

“Cooperative Extension is the exemplar,” Kocher said. “We try to get new and evolving understanding into the hands of people who use the information to made decisions – not just land managers, but the public and policy makers as well.”

Beginning in 2009, the federal Joint Fire Science Program created 15 regional fire science exchanges to accelerate awareness, understanding and use of wildland fire science. Scott Stephens, professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, leads the California consortium. Stacey S. Frederick serves as the consortium's full-time coordinator. Other UC academics involved are Kocher and Yana Valachovic, UCCE advisor in Humbolt and Del Norte counties.

Since its inception four years ago, the consortium has hosted webinars, conferences and symposia, and offered field consultations, field trips, tours, demonstrations and expertise. Another significant role of the group has been distilling academic fire science research reports into easy-to-read one-to two-page research briefs. To date, well over 100 briefs have been written by the consortium on a wide range of topics.

The California Fire Science Consortium maintains a comprehensive website that contains links to the research briefs, webinar recordings and information about upcoming events. The consortium also offers a twitter feed @cafirescience and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaFireScienceConsortium and you can sign up for their monthly newsletter here.

Posted on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 9:58 AM

California pest invasion rate increasing

Introduction of new invasive pests into California seems to be increasing, reported Todd Fitchette in Western Farm Press. The story was based on presentations at the recent professional crop advisors convention in Anaheim by UC Cooperative Extension specialists Mark Hoddle and UC Riverside entomology professor Richard Stouthamer.

Before 1989, Hoddle said, California saw about six new pest invasions per year. The number has risen to about 10 per year, and the cost amounts to about $3 billion annually.

Asian citrus psyllid, a relatively recent invader in California, has farmers particularly worried because of the pest's ability to spread the lethal bacterial disease huanglongbing in citrus. In late 2011, Hoddle's lab began releasing a natural enemy of the psyllid he collected in the Punjab, Pakistan, a stingless wasp called Tamarixia radiata.

According to the Western Farm Press article, Hoddle is now studying a second natural enemy of ACP -  Diaphorencyrtus aligarhensis - in quarantine at UC Riverside.

Stouthamer is studying another troublesome invasive pest in California, the polyphagous shot hole borer. The pest attacks many tree species that shade California streets, landscapes and parks; their greatest threat to agricultural production appears to be in avocados.

At the meeting, Hoddle said there is a growing and vocal minority of ecologists who believe invasive species are not such a serious problem, Fitchette wrote.

“They think we should just relax and let them install themselves in the environment and do whatever they like,” Hoddle said. “I think that's a wrong viewpoint to be taking with a lot of these organisms.”

UC Cooperative Extension specialist Mark Hoddle inspects a citrus tree for insects.
Posted on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Nightmare in midtown: Brown marmorated stink bugs

A Sacramento report considers brown marmorated stink bug worthy of a Halloween creature feature.
A population of invasive brown marmorated stink bugs have settled in Sacramento's mid-town, a development that Sacramento Bee writer Debbie Arrington says is "worthy of a Halloween creature feature."

"Wow, I'm being overwhelmed with calls about brown marmorated stink bugs getting into people's home, as well as restaurants and businesses," said Chuck Ingels, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Sacramento County. "It's that time of year again!"

When days get shorter and cooler, the BMSB start looking for a place to spend the winter. Frequently, that's inside homes and buildings.

Ingels told the reporter he is keeping track of the BMSB invasion. Residents are asked to fill in an online survey to report BMSB finds. For identification help, residents may deliver BMSB in a sealed plastic bag or container to the UCCE office, 4145 Branch Center Road, Sacramento, or they can email clear photos to cesacramento@ucanr.edu.

Ingels said fairly large populations of BMSB have been found in Citrus Heights near Auburn Boulevard and River Park north and west of CSU Sacramento.

"Most of the others are single finds," he said.

For more information on BMSB identification and management, read a Pest Note posted by the UC Integrated Pest Management program.

Posted on Monday, October 27, 2014 at 10:38 AM

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