Thursday, December 30, 2010

Camp Verde Snow Day

As of a couple of days ago I still had at least one hummingbird hanging around.  I really hope he survives this cold snap.  I've kept food out for him because if he hasn't moved on yet, I expect he isn't going to.  As you can see from the picture taken from my front yard this morning, its a bit chilly out.   Not being a snow person,  I think its pretty as long as I don't have to live in it.   Birds though, live outside year round.  In times like these I think they appreciate a few treats.  You can purchase suet blocks or make your own.  Making your own is really easy and could be a fun project if you have kids.   Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes.      

1 cup lard
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
Other things you will need include cookie cutters, waxed paper and a chopstick or something similar.

Melt the lard and peanut butter in a saucepan at low heat.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to form a thick mixture.  Pour or spoon the mix into the cookie cutters to a depth of about 1 inch.  Poke a hole in the suet near the top of each cutter.  Make the hole large enough to thread ribbon or yarn through it.  Put the tray of filled cookie cutters into the freezer for at least a week.  Remove the "cookies" from the cutters and peel off the waxed paper.  Thread ribbon or yarn through each and hang outside.  Makes around 12 cookies. 

(If you don't have cookie cutters,  you can use muffin tins, or simply pour it into a cake pan.  Put wax paper on the bottom.  If you use a cake pan you will have to cut the mixture into smaller pieces once it comes out of the freezer.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Website & Plant Database

Yavapai County Cooperative Extension

Jeff Schalau and Mary Barnes have finished the conversion of the horticulture information to the new website.  Jeff says that this page will likely take longer to load and there are some other things that aren't as user friendly but there are pluses to the new site.  At the top of the page is a link to Extension publications.  Look to the menu at the left for the horticulture page.  If you have bookmarks to the old site you can still use them but first you will reach a page that will redirect you to the new site.  Take a few minutes and bookmark these new links.

There are some differences from the old one so I recommend you spend a bit of time exploring. To get to the main horticulture page use the link below. You can find Jeff's newpaper columns here, a terrific resource since it is searchable.

From there you can find the Master Gardener pages.  This is the place to find the reporting forms, both electronic and not.  There is also a link to the Arizona Master Gardener Manual, this blog, forms to apply to become a Master Gardener, the Master Gardener Newsletter (there is an index for the newsletter starting in 2000) and a calender.

One link that is terrific, is the plant database.  This database was created by Master Gardener volunteers and covers around 150 native plants of Yavapai county.  It isn't a complete list, there are portions still in development but the grasses, shrubs and trees sections have a wealth of information.  The listings include several pictures of the plant, description of the species, flower characteristics and habitat information.  If you are a Yavapai County Master Gardener and would like to work on the database contact Mary Barnes.

The links to the new website are posted on the main page of the blog also.  Take some time and and explore the site, it's filled with terrific information.

Science News

It's late November and not much is going on in my garden.  Instead I've been doing one of my other favorite things—reading.  I'll read just about anything someone puts in front of me but one of my favorites is the magazine ScienceNews.   They do a terrific job of explaining science in friendly terms.  Below are some interesting tidbits.

(SN:7/18/09, pg 12)  The heat of chili peppers apparently protect them from  fungus, but they are more likely to be affected by drought and ants.

(SN Online: 2/13/09) The stress of plants being grown organically could explain the abundance of some micronutrients, ones that protect the plants and aid human health.

(SN Online: 8/25/09)  For those using pomegranate supplements instead of eating the real thing:  don't bother, most of them don't actually contain any of the plant material they claim.

(SN 1/16/10, pg 8)  Deception amongst the squash.  Squash are slight of hand advertisers thanks to a common virus.  When cucumber mosiac virus infects squash plants, the plant starts to smell more attractive to aphids.  Oh by the way, none of this is good news for the gardener!  Anyway the virus attracts the aphids, the aphids take a taste and go "UGH" and move on.  The aphids also pick up the virus and help spread it to other plants.

(SN 1/16/10 pg 8)  Worried about bed bugs, not sure whether you have them?  A low tech, low expense, way to find them has been devised by researchers.  The bugs apparently are attracted by carbon dioxide.  Take about a kilogram (sorry you'll have to figure out how much this is) and put it in a 1/3 gallon insulated jug (available in sporting goods stores).  Don't quite close the opening.  Stand the jug in a low dish and build a paper ramp up to the lip of the bowl.  Dust the bowl with a slight coat of talcum powder.  Leave the room, close the door and leave it alone for 11 hours.  The pesky bugs are attracted to the CO2, climb the ramp, fall into the bowl where the slick sides and talcum powder prevent them from escaping.  Some good news (?) is that modern bed bugs don't live as long without feeding.  Small consolation, but it will save you money by not hiring a pest inspector.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Website!

The “old” Extension website has been closed down.  When it is accessed users will be redirected to the new website.
    Here is the link to the Yavapai County Extension homepage.  

Most of what we will use is related to Horticulture and the Master Gardener Program.  When you hover over Horticulture on the left navigation bar, a drop-down menu will come up.   If you click on the word Horticulture (in the left navigation bar) you will get a Horticulture page with not too much on it.   If you click on Home Horticulture on the drop-down menu you will get the Home Horticulture page that contains access to the U of A bulletins, Yavapai County bulletins, the MG Blog, insect and disease diagnostic info, etc.  

    The 2011 Master Gardener class info and application can be accessed from any of the above mentioned pages.
The new link will be found in the favorite links box from now on.

2010 Recognitions Picnic

A beautiful day, great food and over 100 Master Gardeners made the 2010 annual Master Gardener Recognition Picnic a smashing success.  Montezuma's Well was the backdrop.  Excellent food was on the menu thanks to Linda Kimberly's master bar-b-quer husband and Kathy MacCauley's food organizational skills with the great cooks among our master gardeners.  Jeff Schalau presented forty-six awards for 150, 250, 500, 1000, 1500 and 2000 hours.  Jeff and Bob Burke, our president, also recognized many Master Gardeners who have made the Yavapai County Master Gardener Association one of the most successful in the country.  The rarified Emeritus club (those with 10 years of continuous MG membership) acquired one new members:  Delores Johnson.
(article by Angela Mazella)

150 Hours
Black, David
Bourdage-Allman, Tana
Gerber, Lisa
Gessner, Bob
Hauserman, Cindy
Heisinger, Pete
Herrick, Merle
Hunter, Donna
Kimmel, Joy
Tierney, Jean
Weesner, Robin
Williams, Rose
Wilson, Deborah

250 Hours
Allen, Debbie
Ames, PJ
Colangelo, Juliette
Cowan, Judy
Downing, Eric
Earls, Ken
Gooslin, Bobbie Jo
Herrick, Michele
Hughes, Kirby
Konzem, Tom
Loos, Betty
McIntyre, Steve
Moody, Steve
O’Laughlin, Jean
Spring, Wendy
Zmyslinski, Ron

500 Hours

Berkshire, Sally
Fleishman, Jay
Kinnen, Sandee
Loving, Connie
Mansoldo, Janet
Millet, Nancy
Russi, Suzette
Selna, Bernadette

1000 Hours
Carter, Cynthia
Howard, Sherry
Smith, Sue

1500 Hours
Art Filippino

2000 Hours
MacCauley, Kathy
Wise, Richard

Delores Johnson

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Wild Garden

My yard is a mess.  I can never control the Bermuda grass.  I let the sunflowers grow wildly (even though I pull up tons of seedlings) because in the fall, the finches flock to eat the seed.  I have some native milkweeds that I let grow because they attract butterflies.  I rarely use any pesticides or do much of anything to control the insects.  While the yard does attract the birds and butterflies it also attracts bees, wasps and ants.  This year I have been stung three times by flying creatures and I can't even remember how many ant bites I've suffered through.  I finally had to kill a huge wasp nest that hung on the roof of my porch endangering access to both of my doors.  Just today I was stung by one of the bees that were foraging in the vegetables and taking advantage of a late season drink of the hummingbird feeders.

Each time I decide to kill something, its a rather agonizing decisions.  I hate buying the chemicals because they are both a large expense and then a burden when the unused portion sits on my shelf for years after.  There are few ways to get rid of them safely.

I try hard to avoid the creatures and give them space.  When you have a wild garden you have to make a choice.  Will you accept nature as it is or will you make the decision about what you preceive as good or bad.

 So what is good and what is bad?  The line is blurred.  Wasps are great predators that eat many insects the damage my vegetable plants.  I rarely have insect problems with my vegetables.  The bees are pollinators and are crucial to providing me with fruits and vegetables.  The ants are engines of soil rejuvenation.  I choose to give them all the benefit of the doubt and have learned to live with them...most of the time...... even if I have to put up with a few stings and arrows.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Plant Garlic Now!

October is the perfect time to get your garlic planted.   I've had people complain that they've never had much luck with growing garlic only to find out they were planting in the spring.  Readjust your calendar when it comes to garlic.

The mild days of October give the garlic bulb time to send out leaves.  Once it gets cold, the plant slows down and not much happens above ground. As it begins to warm up again in spring, the leaves suddenly brighten and start growing again.  Its spring when the bulb forms.

Garlic is a pretty forgiving plant but prefers a loose soil.  I rarely fertilize except to add compost each year and every 4 to 5 years I might toss in a phosphate fertilizer.  I've found one of the keys to good sized bulbs is even watering throughout the winter.  Long stretches of dry soil won't necessarily kill the plant but it does result in very small bulbs.

Its an easy winter plant to grow and pays off dramatically come spring.  You can even eat the leaves and scapes (the flower stalks and heads).  What more could one want in a plant!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Monsoon Madness Three

July 10th dawned on the Extension Office parking lot with Robin Weesner and Cathy Michener resting peacefully in their sleeping bags.  Their job was to guard the plants and trees for Monsoon Madness three.

Once again the Master Gardener Association pulled off a perfect fundraising sale on a perfect day with of course, the traditional afternoon monsoon thunderstorms.

This year's event drew a crowd of 687 people and plenty of sales.  The tool sharpening service also attracted quite a few customers.  Revenue was slightly below last years. 

Revenue from the sales has purchased 4 Ezy-up canopies and a bullhorn.  Watch your ears at the next MGA meeting when Bob Burke takes the podium.

We would like to thank all of the Master Gardener volunteers who made Monsoon Madness three possible.

Click on the link to flickr to find photos of the sale:

by Angie Mazella

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Plant Pathology Websites

Do you have a plant problem?
There are a couple of online resources that may help you.

The first thing I would try is from the University of Arizona. Give it a try next time you have a problem.

Cornell University (New York) has a plant pathology department with some good online resources also.  While some of the information won't apply to Arizona gardeners it is an interesting resource.
You can find the website at

Basil Fungal Disease

Fear struck my heart when I first read the article on downy mildew on basil.  Basil was a cast-iron plant, trouble free.  It just spent the summer producing more and more wonderful leaves.  But downy mildew has struck, afflicting basil plants first in Florida and then spreading up the east coast to Canada, then the Midwest and California.  The mildew was first found in Uganda in the 1930's and then disappeared only to show up in Europe in 2007 and from there it arrived in America.

The first signs are faint yellow bands on the upper surfaces of the leaves.  The bottom of the leaf becomes dotted with tiny gray specks.  The mildew isn't harmful to humans but it looks unattractive.  You can remove the infected leaves and make sure the plants has good air circulation.  Fungicides don't seem to be very effective.  Some varieties of basil seem to be more susceptable than others.  Lemon and purple basil's seem to resist it better than sweet and Thai basil.

For more information and pictures:

Let me know if you see this in your garden.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

2010 Yavapai Master Gardener Garden Tour

 The 2010 Master Gardener Garden Tour participants enjoyed a warm, sunny day, highlighted by the many bright colors found in the gardens visited. Thank you to all who made the day a success. A special thank you goes to the garden owners who worked over several months to prepare for the tour: Sally Berkshire, Jan Billiam, Bob Burke, Linda Scheerer and Jeannette Teets.  Recognition also is extended to the volunteers who assisted at the gardens, Merle Herrick, Linda Kimberly, Nancy Oliker, Perla Stice, Joan Tyler, Donna Hunter, Susi Wright, Janice Latrell, Lois Rosenow, Gwynne Reese, Dave Black, Trudy Black, Karen Morris, Judy Cowan, Karen Wagley, Patrick Wilcox, Jennifer Young, Barb Waldie, Cindy Schofield, Toni Coon, Grace Baker and Karen Willey. Pete Heisinger’s maps were excellent. We are looking forward to the video to be prepared by John Emerson.

Appreciation also is extended to all who attended the garden tour. Thank you from the Garden Tour Committee: Juliette Colangelo, Toni Coon, Carol Ekeland, Beverly Emerson, Lisa Gerber, Merle Herrick, Betty Loos, Janet Mansoldo and Ron Zmyslinski.

 To see more photos check out the link below:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer Pests

The pests of summer are coming if not here already.  Keep on eye out for grasshoppers, codling moths and IPS and bark beetles.

Grasshoppers can be voracious eaters of just about everything.  There are chemical controls but they need to be applied correctly for your safety and the best result.  An easier solution may be to just cover your plants temporarily with a physical barrier.  Lightweight spun fabrics (like Remay and others) are very good at protecting your plants from grasshopper damage.  A bait is available (Nosema locustae).  The bait needs to be applied in the spring as it is most effective on the nymphs, juvenile grasshoppers, that hatch in the spring.  The problem with the bait is that it needs to be applied to a large area.  If you live on a small city lot, it won't provide much protection as grasshoppers can move long distances.  For more information: 

Codling Moths are fruit tree pests.  Adults lay their eggs on developing fruit blossoms.  The larvae hatch in 8 to 15 days, tunnel into the fruit and then tunnel out leaving behind their brown excrement.  Once they leave the fruit the fully-grown larva hides in the bark or litter on the ground and another cycle begins.  In Arizona there can be as many as three generations per year.  You can find them by looking at the fruit.  It will have small holes in it or the fruit will drop when it is still immature.  You can help control them by removing and destroying infected fruit and cleaning up debris around the tree.  There are chemical controls but they are not recommended for home growers because they kill bees and require multiple applications.  If you only have a few trees there are alternatives including pheromone traps and sticky bands.  Check the following link for more information:

The damage from IPS Beetles and bark beetles is seen throughout the state.  Vast areas of trees are dead and dying.  The forests around Prescott are particularly hard hit.  There are several different species that infect different trees.  In pine forests you will find IPS Beetles and in cypress trees the Cypress Bark Beetle is the killers.  Infestations are becoming more common as the drought in Arizona has severely stressed the trees.  In pines, the needles start to yellow at the top.  Once you see the needles start to die, the tree is doomed.  On cypresses the branch tips start dying.  A cypress can survive the infestation unless it is stressed usually by drought.  If a cypress in your yard has been infected, you might improve its chances by watering.  The beetles can build up in piles of firewood and slash.  Piles of wood should be removed or covered with plastic and heated up but the plastic has to be completely sealed otherwise the beetles can escape.  There are no chemical treatments that do an effective job of controlling bark beetles.  For more information go to the Yavapai County Cooperative Extension Backyard Gardener columns, type in bark beetle for a series of articles.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Native Plant Database

The long awaited Yavapai County Native Plant Database has gone live. It is linked to our home page (see link below) and is the result of many hours of Master Gardener volunteer service over the past three years. Thanks to Master Gardener, Sue Smith, for leading this outstanding effort with additional assistance from Mary Barnes, Pam Bowman, Kirby Hughes, Dr. Charles Johnson, Doug McMillan, Janet Schieber, and Bev Turnbull. The following Master Gardeners also contributed photos for the project: Wally Anderson, Marv Mazur, and Ginny Shugars. Special thanks also to John Kava, Research Specialist on the V Bar V Ranch Experiment Station, and Max Licher, Sedona area botanist. Be sure to check out this awesome project!

Beneficial Insects

One of the alternatives to spraying insecticides is the use of beneficial insects.  Not that long ago I wrote an article about one, the ladybug, but there are others.  Beneficials have been especially useful in greenhouses as the structures can keep the insects contained.  In open gardens they aren’t as effective but if you have a specific problem and use them correctly they can be make a difference in your garden.

The Lacewing  (Chrysopa sp.)
There are many lacewing species, some that feed on nectar and honeydew but others are predators.  The species we use the most as a beneficial feed mostly on aphids.  In some species both the adults and larvae will feed on insects other than aphids also.  It’s a good thing when you find them in your yard. Most lacewings are a delicate green in color with two pairs of wings and golden eyes.  The wings are large and transparent. The common green lacewing is found throughout North America. Lacewings are sometimes confused with dragonflies but lacewings fold their wings over their bodies while dragonflies hold them out to their sides.
    Lacewings over-winter as adults usually in leaf litter.  Come spring the adults lay eggs.  Eggs are laid at night.  A female can produce 100 to 200 eggs that are laid at the end of long stalks. They are often laid nearby aphids.  When the eggs hatch in 3 to 6 days, the young insects descend on the aphids and feed. They are fast and have large pinchers with which they suck out the body fluids of the prey.  The larva doesn’t stop with aphids and will feed on any insect small enough for them to handle, including caterpillars, insect eggs, thrips, small worms, immature whiteflies and others. Larvae are slender with a humpbacked shape and have bristles that sprout from the sides.  They collect bits of food and debris to hide themselves from birds. Larvae go through 3 instars, which last two to three weeks.   Adults will feed on pollen, nectar and honeydew along with mites and aphids.  The lifecycle can be influenced by temperature and there may be several generations per year.
    The more predaceous species are bred as biological pest control.  They are generally sold as eggs.  They have a spotty record of success in the home garden and seem to be better used in greenhouse or contained settings and in higher humidity settings.  You can improve their chances of staying around by having nectar and pollen sources available.  To increase the success of any “release”, monitor the insect infestation.  If there isn’t enough for them to eat, they will not survive or as an adult leave the area.  Once the lacewings are released do not use any broad-spectrum pesticide.
    You can attract lacewings by planting things like dill, coreopsis, cosmos, sunflowers and dandelions.  I suspect most of us won’t have to plant dandelions; we just might need to rethink killing them, though.


Trichogramma is a wasp that preys on gypsy and codling moths.  The wasps are very small, 4 to 5 would fit on the head of a pin and they do not sting.  The wasps lay their eggs inside the eggs of the moth.  There are over 200 species but only a few species that are used as beneficials.  They target different species of moths.  T. brassicae is the one you need for your home garden.  T. platneri is used for grapes. These wasps are the most studied and released beneficials in the Southwest.
    When you receive your order of wasps they are actually parasitized moth eggs.  The strips with the eggs are hung on branches near where you have seen caterpillars.  12,000 Trichogramma will treat up to 500 square feet.  The wasps themselves will actually travel great distances so if you don’t really have a problem the wasps will move on.
    To use in the garden you need to wait until you see signs of caterpillar damage.  Select the wasp that will target your problem—otherwise you will be wasting your money.  Beneficials can be a good alternative to pesticides but make sure you use them appropriately for the best result.  A search on the internet will provide you with several resources for purchasing beneficials.  Below are a few.

Gardens Alive
(513) 354-1482
5100 Schenley Place, Lawrenceburg, Indiana 47025

Arbico Organics
800-827-2847 or (520)-825-9785
PO Box 8910
Tucson, AZ   85738-0910

Peaceful Valley Garden Supply
P.O. Box 2209
125 Clydesdale Court
Grass Valley, CA 95945
(530) 272-4769 Toll Free (888) 784-1722

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pest Alert!

Are your plants getting the tattered look as in these pictures?  Then it may be the creature known as the Army Cutworm.  They are the caterpillars, sometimes called grubs, of various moths.  Their voracious appetites can decimate a garden and are showing up in Prescott gardens.

Cutworms are found in the debris of the garden where they remain semi-dormant waiting for the right conditions.  When temperatures warm they begin to feed.  You will likely not see them, they are active at night but the damage they cause will be evident at first light.  They cut plants down right at the soil line, sometimes dragging unfinished plants into soil cracks.  (Apparently gardeners in Prescott have been seeing  a lot of them climbing up the sides of their houses and across driveways.)

Once the cutworms have fed enough, most likely after finding and destroying your favorite plant, they pupate in the soil and emerge as a moth—known as a Miller Moth.  Fortunately they have just one generation per year but a single moth can lay a thousand or more eggs.

The moth likes to lay its eggs in dense vegetation so keep weeds down.  Rototilling and spring digging can also reduce the populations.  A way to thwart their eating sprees is to place a collar around the stem of the plant.  The collar can be plastic, aluminum foil or cardboard.  For seedlings cut paper towel or toilet paper cores to size and place over the plants.  Cutting the bottom out of paper or plastic cups works well also.  Push the collar below soil level.

Information taken from

It may be possible to control cutworms with a beneficial nematode and a Trichgramma wasp.  The nematodes target the cutworms themselves, the wasp targets the eggs.  There are also pheremone traps for moths.  I have never used any of these products so if anyone has information about them, let me know so I can post your results for others to see.
Sources for cutworm and moth control:

Arbico Organics
Gardens Alive

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Master Gardener Website

The Master Gardeners of Santa Clara, California have a terrific website, check it out.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


In a previous entry a visitor made a comment on his use of hydrogels.  Hydrogels are those little clumps of material that when water is added swell into jelly-like blobs.  They are added to soils, mostly for container plants, to help retain water and then release it to the plant as the soil drys out reducing the need to water. I've also heard they are good for starting cuttings.   Some people like them, others don't.  If you use them or are thinking of using them you might read the article by Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott from Washington State University for more insight on the materials.  Dr. Chalker-Scott is one of the the great mythbusters for garden remedies.  Even if you aren't interested in hydrogels, check out her website.  A link is in the box to the right.   Anyway she has concerns about the chemicals released when the products break down.  The link to her article on hydro-gels is

After reading the article, make up your own mind.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Unusual vegetable

I just finished writing an article for the Master Gardener newsletter (the March issue will be posted around the first of the month) on unusual vegetables. I only picked out a few for the article but there were others. The cabbage walking stick was probably one of the oddest. A vegetable as tree! I'm not sure that it will grow in our area, it may be too hot, but it could be fun to try. It is a relative of kale and can get to 10 feet tall by the second year of growth. (Actually I found wildly varying estimates of its size, one source said it can grow as tall as 20 feet) It has been grown in the Channel Islands (England, not California) for over 200 years. The leaves are edible. To collect the walking stick, behead the plant when it reaches the height you want and let it try. The information I found said it needs to dry for a season, but I suspect that it will dry a lot faster here.

To find more information on growing for canes go to:
Canes can be carved.

Seeds can be found at Annies Annuals & Perennials

Interesting Cactus

When I first saw this cactus I thought they were golden barrel cactus, but I had never seen them grow so wildly before. There were lots of regular looking barrels in the garden also, so was intrigued by the forms these cactus created. Anybody seen anything like this? I know cactus will sometimes create fasciated forms, but not sure if that is what is going on here. Regardless, these were fabulous looking.

Potted Plants

In our climate it is difficult to grow container plants unless you are home to water a couple of times of day during the hottest part of the summer or install an irrigation system. It doesn't stop people from trying though. Sometimes it is simply a matter of finding the right container and the right plant. This container is a bit large for most homes and difficult to find, but creates the perfect match of container, climate and plant.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pruning WorkshopsTree

University of Arizona Offers Free
Fruit Tree Pruning Demonstrations

It’s fruit tree pruning season and the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Yavapai County is offering three free deciduous fruit tree pruning demonstrations conducted by Extension Agent, Jeff Schalau. Come and learn why, when, and how to prune your backyard fruit trees. Demonstrations will cover apples, pears, plums, peaches, nectarines, cherries, and more. Fertilization, irrigation and fruit thinning will also be discussed.

Three pruning demonstrations are scheduled. The first will be held on Saturday February 6 at 10 AM at the McLandress Orchard, 850 S. Maricopa in Chino Valley. The second will be held on Saturday February 20 at 10 AM at the City of Sedona Jordan Historical Park, 735 Jordan Rd in uptown Sedona. The third will be held on Saturday February 27 at 10 AM at Chino Valley Farms, 2572 N. Rd 1E in Chino Valley.

Maps and directions to these workshops are also available on the Yavapai County Cooperative Extension web site: Signs will also be posted prior to the workshops to help participants find the locations. Carpooling is encouraged as parking may be limited. Please call the Prescott office at 928-445-6590 x 221 with any questions.

The University of Arizona is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution. The University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or sexual orientation in its programs and activities.

Yavapai County Cooperative Extension
University of Arizona
840 Rodeo Dr Bldg C
Prescott, AZ 86305
928-445-6590 ext. 221
928-445-6593 Fax

Friday, January 1, 2010

Importing Pests

Being an Arizona native and with parents that loved to travel we spent a lot of time on the road.  Coming back to the state at some point you had to stop at the Agriculture check station where the inspector asked if you were carrying any fruits or vegetables.  Most of the time Dad said no and we all knew about the oranges, grapefruit, apples or other fruit in the bag under the seat.  The inspector would send us on our way with "CONTRABAND APPLES".  Wow, illegal apples.  It impressed us for a while.  Unbeknownst to us we could have been carrying the next plague into Arizona.  We just thought it was a bit silly.  But simple uninformed actions can transform the world.

A number of non-native pests have transformed our landscapes and costs us a fortune.  Here’s a short list:

Formosan termites, also dubbed the super termite:  This creature is so voracious it can destroy the support structure of a house in months.  In New Orleans it has caused extreme devastation. They can chew through electrical cable!  It came into the US on wood products from Formosa after WWII.

Dutch Elm Disease transformed eastern forests and urban landscapes destroying nearly every elm tree in America.  While horticulturist and scientists have made some headway in developing a resistant tree, the great elms of America are gone.  The disease came in on logs from France.

Emerald Ash borer is in the process of destroying ash trees as the Dutch Elm did the elms.  It is a recent arrival apparently coming in on an overseas shipping container. 

Medfly is one of the world’s most destructive pests and the US is desperately trying to prevent it from taking hold in America.  About the size of a small housefly it can easily be brought into this country in fruit.  The fly deposits its eggs under the skin of fruit and can’t always be recognized by the traveler. In the United States, the Medfly could attack peaches, pears, plums, apples, apricots, avocados, citrus, cherries, figs, grapes, guavas, kumquats, loquats, nectarines, peppers, persimmons, tomatoes, and several nuts.  It has been found in California but so far the US has been lucky.

Travelers bringing dogs into the country brought cattle screwworm into Florida.

In 2003 bags of pine cones from India being sold in craft and chain stores were recalled when they discovered wood-boring insects in them.

It isn’t just plants though, its animals also.  Did you know that the Everglades are now home to a large population of pythons and other tropical snakes?  Originally released or escaped snakes now breed there. The English sparrow that dominates most urban bird feeders was imported because they apparently reminded some people of home.

Just a short list of why when you come into this country you may get asked about plants or food you may be carrying.  Do us all a favor and follow the rules!  Oh!  and those agriculture stations in Arizona—they have all been closed for budgetary reasons.

Below is a new alert by the US Department of Agriculture.

Gardeners: This holiday season, spread peace, love and joy. Not citrus deadly greening disease.   A message from the USDA

During the holidays, people buy and send more citrus plants than any other time of the year. Whether someone is buying citrus plants online or giving a citrus plant as a gift, they could be spreading citrus greening disease. This deadly bacterial plant disease is spread by a disease-infected insect, the Asian citrus psyllid, and has destroyed millions of acres of citrus plants around the world. Since there is no cure, the best way to protect our citrus is to not move citrus plants or plant materials.

Inform others about the dangers of moving citrus.

As a gardener, people respect your expertise on plants. Help spread the word about citrus greening disease. Let people know:

                        Many areas of the Southeast are under quarantine for citrus greening disease and Asian citrus psyllids. It is illegal to move live citrus plants, plant parts, budwood, or cuttings from these areas.

                        Many other areas are under quarantine for Asian citrus psyllids. Get a complete list of quarantined areas for both the disease and the psyllid.

                        Citrus greening is only one of many diseases threatening our citrus. By not moving citrus, you help stop the spread of all these deadly disease.

                        Citrus plants and plant materials include curry leaves, jasmine flowers, and the citrus leaves on wreaths and in potpourri.

Spread the word — don’t move citrus.

The safest approach is to simply not move citrus plants, ship citrus plants, or buy citrus plants of an unknown origin. If you or someone you know owns citrus plants, make sure they are inspected regularly for signs and symptoms of the disease and psyllids.

For more information from the USDA on citrus greening disease, visit