A Generalized Integrated Pest Management Program for Aphids in Public Rose Gardens.

A Generalized Integrated Pest Management Program for Aphids in Public Rose Gardens.

By William Olkowski Phd.



Some Biological Facts to Start With

Figure A.  The Rose Aphid Life Cycle (make one up with the wingless females indicated from the overwintering egg).

What No Mating?  So Sad.

Asexual Reproduction Speeds Up Reproduction

A Secret Entomological World

Natural Controls on Rose Aphids

Designing Your Own IPM Program

Rose Aphids are Not that Important for Plant Health

The IPM Algorithm

Honeydew, the Manna from Heaven

Insects Present

Plant Damage Present

Monitoring, the Most Important IPM Component

Figure x: the Natural Enemy Lag Problem

My First Rose Garden IPM Experience

Ants Can Interfere with Natural Controls

Carnivores Effective?

Pictures of Orius, larvae or life cycle of lacewings and ladybeetles see CSPC

The Most Important Organism on the Earth are Not Humans

Figure Z. Pic of mummy

Control Feasible?

The Treatment Sieve

Table 1.  Strategies and Tactics Useful inPestControl.  See CSPC.

Biological Control (BC) Feasible?

Classical BC

Plant Replacement

Tell Conclusions to the Manager and Clientele



A Generalized Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM) for the Rose Aphid

in Public Rose Gardens


By William Olkowski, PhD.


IPM can stand for Intelligent Pest Management or as it is more commonly known, Integrated Pest Management.  It takes little brain power to buy a powerful insecticide and kill animals.  Plus, insecticide use is fast and convenient if one disregards the need for spray-safety equipment, and the contamination of the environment.  Intelligence is required if one wants to avoid the toxic products which have now contaminated the soils, air, water and food chains of the planet, as well as most human bodies.  But insecticides can be useful if placed properly within a least toxic program.  This article describes how to design a least toxic IPM program for the rose aphid in public rose gardens.  As such it can be taken as an example for the development of similar programs for other pests of roses and for other pests in urban settings.

IPM is an Intelligent Approach to Pest Control

Intelligence is not a product but a sign of a good thinking process at work.  With thought, experimentation and work, a least toxic pest management program can be developed for all pests.  An attitude and knowledge is required, however.  The attitude part of the process is based on the desire to learn and be gentle with the natural world that this aphid species represents.  Knowledge of life cycles, natural controls and the proper interpretation of observations make the job a bit more complicated than reaching for the poison, but much more satisfying.  Living with the natural world is the idea, not domination of it.  We are part of the natural world and it was not created for us alone.  That goes against a whole body of history, but it is rational.  Maybe IPM could be called RPM, Rational Pest Management.

Some Biological Facts with Which to Start

In different parts of the country the near universally distributed rose aphid, Macrosiphum rosae, lays eggs on the overwintering canes which give rise to wingless young in the spring, and after a short time these grow into wingless or still later in the fall, winged adults.  Before the so called modern era which brought us the DDT’s of the world, this fact was used by intelligent managers to cut the canes down just before the winter.  This reduced the spring aphid populations.  The practice, however, is only temporary, of course, as aphids are evolutionary smart little critters with some critical tricks for survival.  See Figure A for a complete generational life cycle for this particular aphid.

Figure A.  The Rose Aphid Life Cycle (make one up with the wingless females indicated from the overwintering egg).

Rose aphid adults then continue laying wingless young without the need to mate.  In characteristic fashion entomologists have special terms for these life stages.  Young are called nymphs, which has always engendered in me a vision very different from these wingless sap suckers.  Adults and eggs have no special terms, yet.  But winged aphids have the adjective alate attached to designate wing forms.  So with most aphids we have alternating morphologies, winged and wingless.  Things in the natural world are not simple.

What No Mating?

These first generation animals have an unusual life cycle even for most insects.  The wingless young develop into wingless adults during the hot summer months.  These give birth to more living aphids without the need to mate.  Then winged male and female adults appear in the fall, but these mate and the females lay an overwintering egg.  So most of their life they reproduce asexually which means they are genetically identical to their mothers.  Thus all populations are made up of mixes of clones.  This feature occurs here and there in the animal kingdom, some lizards do not mate, for example.  And some critters are hermaphrodites, a characteristic claimed for mythical beings in some belief systems.

Nature experimented with different types of reproduction a long time before we humans arrived.  I wish we humans knew what these dumb little animals learned during their evolution.  Hopes could drive knowledge acquisition, maybe.

Asexual Reproduction Speeds Up Reproduction

In cases where no eggs are laid, adults fly into the rose garden from other areas and start to lay living young.  The ability to reproduce without the need to mate speeds up population growth and accounts for very high numbers early in the season.  Then the cloning process continues through the summer months until the fall.  When you see a single winged adult you are really looking at 3 generations.  These winged “alate” adults have babies inside which also have babies inside them, all ready to go out the door, so to speak.  This characteristic is called telescoping generations.

The newly born young can develop rather quickly into fully mature adults at optimum temperatures.  Aphids in general can reproduce at lower temperatures than many other insects and consequently get a head start in the cool early spring mornings.

Thus, most of the year the aphids are reproducing asexually and can do so rapidly that one can be surprised by excessively high early populations.  In places where eggs occur they are the result of mated females who lay eggs in the fall.  At these times, in response to changes in sunlight, sexually mature wingled females and males develop, mate and the females deposit overwintering eggs.  Such eggs are thought to be the reason why so many exotic aphids have invaded from foreign lands as they can sneak in with plant materials when the plants are imported, for example.

We are the main invaders toNorth Americaas any living American Indians must know.   And we brought our plants with us.  But back then, nobody was looking for these tough little overwintering eggs.  Even today new aphids invade.  The rose aphid may have arisen inEurasiaas that is where roses are thought to have been domesticated. (Need refs, see wiki first).

This egg fact has two consequences for the pest manager: 1) overwintering eggs can be a target for control efforts with cane removal and oil applications in the fall; 2) as most overpopulated pest species are exotic, they can be controlled by reintroducing the biological controls present in their native areas.

A Secret Entomological World

The process of importing the original natural enemies from the native area of the pest is called classical biological control (BC). It is probably the most hidden secret in pest control.  Many entomologists are only now discovering this secret and most entomologist can’t yet use this process, particularly the classical tactic.  This is understandable as to participate in such biological control projects requires special quarantine laboratories and accurate identification.  Other BC tactics, however are generally useful (see further below) and are sold through commercial companies.

Unfortunately, few scientists work on such natural enemies.  In a curious twist of fate, most of the natural enemies, particularly of aphids, are among the most common creatures on earth.  They remain unexplored mostly, while we continue using vast sums of money and resources looking for life on other planets, and how to kill things.  Most of the life on this planet is still unlisted and if listed the list is too short and most of the species are biologically unknown.  But this listing process is now being explored with NSF funds and is part of a process called Encyclopedia of Life (eol.org) stimulated by the great E.O. Wilson, so well known for his work with ants and the field of sociobiology (See Ants, Sociobiology, and Superorganism).  His latest book explores the development and evolution of social species by comparison between social insects and primates, particularly humans (The Social Conquest of Earth).

Natural Controls on Rose Aphids

Natural controls regulate population sizes.  Natural controls on rose aphids arise from the environment, the plants themselves and from natural enemies.  These controls can be used by the intelligent garden manager.  Plant resistance is evident from an examination of population sizes on different plant varieties.  Old rose varieties (frequently those with open yellow flowers) are less susceptible to aphids and plant pathogens.  But rose garden managers need to do their own observations on the varieties under their care to select those for emphasis in their displays.  The more susceptible varieties need to be discouraged where possible, but for those special varieties you can’t cull, they can be placed in less conspicuous places where their pest problems are not so visible.

Seeing large numbers of aphids on stems, rose buds and leaves so soon after your first look in the spring can lead to an immediate concern for the rose bush and pesticides are rushed into the battle.  In most cases, this is not the least toxic way to manage the problem.  There are better ways but within a more inclusive IPM mental framework as termed above.

Keep commercial pesticides to a minimum if they are needed at all.  That’s the least toxic way.  Too many pest control people think IPM means mixing pesticides, in the same tank, in combinations or sequentially on the plant.  That’s not the right stuff.  Insecticide resistance is widespread and leads to the pesticide treadmill my old teacher, Robert van den Bosch, describes so aptly in “The Pesticide Conspiracy”.

Designing Your Own IPM Program

Every rose garden is different and every situation is different so I think it is better to teach people to design their own IPM programs.  My logic is based on the Fishing Paradigm.  I call it this because the idea is held in the commonly repeated reframe about teaching how to fish is better than giving someone a fish. So, with the right stuff, each manager can design a program for their own ecosystems because a process for designing such programs is more generalizable to more situations since every place, every ecosystem, certainly every garden, is different.  Learning how to fish can feed a person for a lifetime, but a gift fish is only good for one or two meals at best.

A recipe based approach fails in the long term and leads to pesticide resistance, but an IPM approach can be redesigned at every turn with learning from previous experiences.  The IPM learning process is not complicated but requires a reorientation from the simple see-bug –kill-bug idea which the commercially purchased insecticide sellers teach.

More money can be made by servicing the problem than solving it.  One of the worst practices taught by these sellers is the use of combination products like fertilizers and various “cides”, be they herbicides, insecticides, or fungicides.  Combination products lead to waste and resistance as they are commonly used when one of the combination is not needed.  Such mixed products are common, unfortunately.

Rose Aphids are Not that Important for Plant Health

Aphids on roses are not big killers, they are nuisances.  The IPM garden manager is not greatly disturbed by aphids on roses because simple non toxic and least toxic solutions are available.  Water washes can be used right away and this can buy time for further analysis and observation.  One must learn how much water pressure to use however and must chose the right nozzle and its adjustment to wash off the aphids but not damage the plants.

With water washes there is time to learn how best to manage the problem if it persist as intolerable.  The rose aphid is more an aesthetic consideration than a plant health issue.  Public rose gardens are usually considered as exemplars where no bugs are tolerated as they reflect on the manager.  Changing this sort of thinking is not easy and is a major barrier to a more ecologically sane approach.  But frequently the job description and performance expectations need adjustment.  These are a human construct, and when changed, can provide new incentives for capable managers to make the necessary changes in the pest program management.  If the boss wants immaculate roses there is no room to use IPM.  When we were implementing pilot IPM programs we went around this problem by going to the top of the bureaucracy in question and instituted an IPM policy.  Usually there was no previous policy and decision-making was left to field personnel.

This can be a disaster or even a benefit depending upon the bureaucracy.  Public pressure can influence these upper levels, while field personnel are insulated from such pressures, for the most part.  But field personnel do think about their health and exposure to toxic materials which require safety equipment and procedures can be disincentives and, as such, make their jobs vastly more complicated.

The IPM Algorithm

The algorithm in Figure x (from Shade Tree chapter in CSPC) encapsulates a whole systems view of what IPM can be.  I and my associates tested this system for over 30 years in a wide variety of ecosystems, including at first in the City of Berkeley California, on Shade Trees, Parks and the City Rose Garden.  There are a series of features for this algorithm which make it particularly fitting for urban pest systems.  These features are 1) the type of triggers for monitoring, 2) the involvement of ants and 3) the idea of plant replacement.  These features differ considerably from those advocated for agricultural IPM, the main research focus for most economic entomologists.  I suspect, however, that aesthetic considerations also operate in agricultural settings.

The monitoring component for this algorithm is triggered by three questions which are all aesthetic concerns: honeydew present, insects, and plant damage visible.

Honeydew, the Manna from Heaven

Honey dew is an essential feature of aphid colonies and this sweet pertinacious excretory product is food for beneficial insects including many aphid natural enemies.  By watching for this shiny sticky substance on leaves one can detect early small aphid colonies.  Without honeydew falling on leaves in the forest biological controls cannot function properly.  Lacewings, ladybeetles, and many parasitoids need protein to lay eggs, for example.  Honeydew supplies protein for building tissues and sugars for supplying fuel for metabolism.  Now this fact creates a quandary.

Aphid presence means honeydew and honeydew brings natural enemies.  Having both is the ideal, but not too much of either honeydew nor aphids.  Tolerance of some bugs is vital, however.  Just when does tolerance meet intolerance is a management decision.  That’s the key question, dear Hamlet.

Insects Present

Insect presence alone cannot be harmful.  Seeing an insect or even a colony of bugs anywhere is not necessarily a bad thing.  It’s us who make this judgment.  What comes first to my mind in making such a judgment is a Chinese classical painting of a grasshopper sitting on a leaf with a few holes in the leaf and a bamboo stalk.  It’s a beautiful vision.  Grasshoppers are part of the natural world.  One grasshopper is not a calamity.  Vast numbers of them could be, however.  The pestiferous nature is decided by whether we have so many that life becomes impossible.  Even loss of an entire rose bush does not challenge the free world, however.  Like Woody Allen’s heroine says in Whatever Works: “Relax, there’s nothing faster than the speed of light.”

Plant Damage Present

Plant damage alone is only a possible indicator of a pest problem.  Alone, at a low level plant damage is not a threat, particularly if natural enemies are already eating on the colony.  A little plant damage is actually stimulatory to the plant.

Insect presence, like honeydew and plant damage are only triggers for more attention, so once detected further monitoring is needed.

Monitoring, the Most Important IPM Component

Monitoring and the answers derived determine whether the particular pest is or will become intolerable.  This is the key to most pest control situations.  I am at a party and someone comes up knowing I am a pest control specialist, asks: “What can I do about my African violets?”  I ask “What appears to be the problem?”  She/he says there are these white specs on the leaves.  Maybe I probe a little further but finally get to the key question: “How bad is it?”

In many cases they say: “It’s not so bad but I am worried”.  So my answer in many more words is: “Call me when you can’t take it any longer”.

So by peeling away a great many minor problems, much less pesticide can be used, sometimes 100% less.  It’s amazing to think that many, many people are spraying unnecessarily.  Fear of insects maybe in part the blame, and this is engendered by unscrupulous business people but also by knowledgeable people who go for the quick fix.  This 100% reduction can be achieved is given the knowledge that natural enemies always lag behind the pest population.  With a little more tolerance they will do all the work necessary to control the problem, but one must be able to recognize these species and judge how much impact can be expected from their feeding.

When some aphids survive a water washing, for example, many predators will eat the remaining aphid colony and move over to other pest problems and prevent outbreaks there.  Many pesticide applications can be prevented with a little insect tolerance and careful monitoring.  Plus, this is a window into the natural world, something we all need in our education, maybe in our lives, judging by how common pets are for living the good life.  Insects as pets are part of many cultures, crickets, for example are pets inChina(see Box Q).

Box Q. Crickets as pets

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A pet cricket and his container made of agourd. Watercolor by Qi Baishi (1864–1957).

Keeping crickets as pets emerged in China in early antiquity. Initially, crickets were kept for their “songs” (stridulation). In the early 12th century the Chinese people began holdingcricket fights.[note 1] Throughout the Imperial era the Chinese also kept pet cicadas andgrasshoppers, but crickets were the favorites in the Forbidden City and with the commoners alike. The art of selecting and breeding the finest fighting crickets was perfected during the Qing dynasty and remained a monopoly of the imperial court until the beginning of the 19th century.


Figure x: the Natural Enemy Lag Problem.

The natural enemy lag problem is a most important aspect of garden pest control, but it is frequently never considered.  If one only treats the most severe pest problems, already showing or those anticipated to will show intolerable plant damage the percentage reduction in unnecessary pesticide use can go up to over 90%, and even higher.  That is why spot treatment, even with conventional pest control tools, can be a major way to reduce pesticide use.

My First Rose Garden IPM Experience

On my first visit to the Berkeley Rose garden many years ago the smell from the routine insecticide and fungicide applications over the whole collection of plants was overwhelming and most disturbing.  I don’t make a habit of smelling pesticides as that means I am getting a lung dose of some unknown poison.  Roses were considered in that particular garden as sort of sacred beings, untouchable, static, virtually icons, that is, even before icons became internet features.

This icon idea about horticultural creations is a bad idea.  Nature is not static and to make a collection of plants like a fixed photograph is unnatural, most ignorant of how natural things work, stupid even.  This attitude arises from the idea of dominating nature, our task as humans, much like the White Mans Burden of 18th centuryEngland.  The upper class gardens, particularly public display gardens, for example, say in Versailles in France are not the best we can do.  To mimic this ideal is foolish for it leads to having to support the unsupportable with the pesticide crutch.

I did not tell the rose garden manager all this at first but it was rattling around my mind.  I needed this guy as an ally so I suggested some useful practical things, first spot treatment with water, second pulling some highly susceptible plants out, moving some others to poorly visible places where they could sustain more damage without hampering the visibility of the rose blossoms.  And I said to him: “those pesticides can damage one’s health, some people can tolerate exposures better than others but we don’t know why”.  I am sure he heard that part.  Older people worry more about health than youngsters.  The manager was not a youngster, so I tried this gambit.

Ants Can Interfere with Natural Controls

The ant association with honeydew producers can be a most difficult complication which is overlooked by many garden managers.  That’s because ants can be sneaky.  Here inCaliforniathe Argentine ant (AA) has spread north along the coast and riparian corridors into theCentral Valley.  It likes living under warm and protected side walks from where they forage into the nearby shade trees so conveniently planted by city forestry departments.  In my early surveys inBerkeleyevery tree species inBerkeleyhad trails of this ant going up the trunks, and that’s over 100 species.

This ant species is an invader to North America, having spread from its initial port of entry, New Orleansin 1871, arriving from South Americain coffee shipments.  It’s present in most Southern states from the West coast to the eastern Atlantic states.  I first viewed this ant as a pest and made a pilgrimage to visit and present my thesis work at the Tall Timbers Research Station in Floridaback in 1970s.  The pilgrimage was to simultaneously meet the great entomologist, “Willy” Whitcomb, then an entomological rebel.   Anybody who can remain a rebel in Academia is worth respect.  My old teacher, Robert van den Bosch called him Willy and I am continuing the tradition out of respect.  Willy’s specialty was spiders and ants, particularly fire ants (see http://gap.entclub.org/taxonomists/Whitcomb/ index.html).

My first conference lecture was about the algorithm described herein and it was received without criticism, and a polite applause as is customary. I got some comments and questions privately, always a good indicator.  Later, Willy assured me that there was a natural enemy for the Argentine ant: “Ants are ant’s worst enemies.” This was his cryptic remark to my quiz.  With some further discussions I learned about an army ant that he saw tunneling under the soil surface to native Argentine ant colonies in South American jungles.  This army ant killed by bursting out and swarming over the AA colony chewing up any resistance and carrying away the carcasses to feed their colony.

This underground army would kill and carry off the whole AA colony rather quickly.  Great, I visualized a classical biological control project which would involve a personal 30 year effort.  Such a project would require an impossibly big budget, a big quarantined warehouse holding colonies of the Argentine ant as a food supply for an army ant colony.  Then the army ant would require assurances that it would be specific to the argentine ant, another unrealistic assumption.  These sort of things are part of the necessary testing for a quarantine process to bring any natural enemy to theUS.  This concept would require an enormous effort, almost impossible, so I staggered back to think.

Later after further cogitation I realized the AA was a beneficial species as it turned great volumes of soil providing aeration, and preyed on numerous pests (and beneficials alike), including subterranean termites and native fire ants.  So it was a mixed bag, a good and a bad bug.  They come that way at times.  So it pays to learn something in depth and not classify everything as a pest because someone else calls it a pest.  Plus there may be other more logical and less risky natural enemies to consider.  Thus consequently I worked on exclusion methods so people could keep the ant out of the jelly jar but keep them patrolling the house perimeter to eat termites, for example.

Carnivores Effective?

This question is critical in evaluating existing natural enemies found during monitoring.  But if you can’t identify these organisms you may not realize they are being helpful.  A classic case occurs with ladybeetle larvae which most people can’t identify so they only see the large aphid colony and treat it when the larval predator may be enough to suppress the aphid population below tolerance levels.  The same goes for larval lacewings and the small Hemipteran predator in the genus Orius.  These are generalist predators widely distributed across theU.S. with homologous species throughout the planetary terrestrial ecosystems.

Pictures of Orius, larvae or life cycle of lacewings and ladybeetles see CSPC

Orius Life Cycle

Enlarged Adult Orius (line drawings), photographs of nymphs and adult.



The Most Important Organism on the Earth are Not Humans

But the real prize goes for “crypticity” goes to the parasitoids.  These are tiny “miniwasps” in the hymenopteran family Aphidiidae which look like winged ants to the lay person.  These mostly selective species lay eggs in aphids with the ovipositor at the end of the abdomen.

Figure xx.  An Ovipositing Miniwasp Attacking an Aphid Colony.

The egg laying behavior looks like a fencer dashing about thrusting a sword into the aphids.  It’s fast and rather furious and can be most effective if the host and the parasitoid are well matched.  I distinguish parasitoids from parasites even though specialists call these miniwasps by both terms.  The proper term is “parasitoid”.  To make matters worst there are similar species which attack the primary parasitoids which are called hyperparasitoids.  See Figure z.

Figure z.  A Primary Parasitology Emerged from this Dead Aphid.

(Primaries have even round emergence holes, secondaries have irregular edges on their emergence holes.

A parasitoid is really a highly specialized predator, but does not work like a ladybeetle, for example.  Common predators, like the domestic cat, kill and eat a wide range of organism, mice, birds, lizards, insects, bats, snakes and others.  Parasitoids are like parasites living inside the pest, but kill the host which many parasites only weaken over a life time.  Their restricted host ranges make them very different from most predators which consume their prey in one meal, usually (see Figure x.)


Figure x. Life Stages of an Aphid Parasitoid.

From UC,Daviswebsite.


The parasitoid egg hatches inside the aphid and kills the aphid by eating the insides out, then forms the remaining aphid skin into a shell like aphid with color changes ranging from black and tan.  It looks like a swollen aphid and is frequently found off the leaf, which makes it even harder to evaluate the effects of predation.  Aphid dissections are needed but even these are subject to error as the eggs are difficult to see.

To really determine if this sort of natural enemy group will be enough to reduce a developing aphid population requires experience and some detailed examination, frequently calculating percentages, e.g.,2 lady beetle larvae/30 aphids/leaf, and 5 mummies/25 aphids/leaf.  With this sort of measurement and a few monitoring visits one can guess at what levels of natural enemies can be effective.  Looking one time and spraying is rarely a good idea.

A good rule of thumb is to count the number of ladybeetle egg masses while also counting the aphids.  This is simple because adult ladybeetles need the protein from the aphids to make their eggs.  And the adult ladybeetle needs to eat many aphids to generate an egg mass, so their presence and their eggs means many aphids have already died.  And then one can expect both adults and the hatched larvae to continue eating aphids with the combination being even more effective.  When the adults are no longer seen they have eaten all they can, water washing will not kill the larvae, nor the adults but many aphids will die from broken bodies.  Larvae and adult predators washed from plants are not killed and those aphids washed to the ground will be eaten by ants and other ground predators.

The next level up in human induced mortality is the use of soap solutions, or alternately alcohol or even ammonia solutions.  The context for moving up in “Cide intensity” deserves further discussion.  Higher intensity sprays will kill more aphids than water washing and even soap solutions but also natural enemies present in and around the colony.  More conventional insecticides have greater residual lives and will kill for longer periods.  This may be convenient but leads to resistance, and further outbreaks of aphids.  Before long one joins the pesticide treadmill, something “cide sellers” love.  You then become hooked like an addict to methamphetamines.

Control Feasible?

So let’s assume for argument that the carnivores are not effective because the leaves are lost from the roses, or the numbers of aphids on the buds prevent normal flowering.

A selective mortality agent like water washing is best for most situations, particularly as a first response.  This tactic can leave enough prey to sustain the predator community which in the long run can keep the aphids under control.  That’s the goal.

But something important should be added here for emphasis.  If, for example, it takes 3 water washings to manage this aphid over a season, compared to the use of a single toxic insecticide like an organophosphate, carbamate, pyrethroid or the newer systemics, I would rather use the water.  Water does not hurt anything else and is even vital for plant growth.  How many water washings it will take to manage the situation then remains the unknown assessment.  Each manager then needs to make a decision about what to do next.

The Treatment Sieve

I like to line up my potential treatment strategies and tactics in the form of a series of mental sieves.  Table 1 lists the strategies and tactics from a rather broad range of possibilities which can be assembled into this mental sieve system.  This compilation is regularly re-conceptualize to keep a mental listing as large as possible.  For example, I just started evaluating the use of vinegar solutions for killing weeds in pavement cracks.  This looks like a great, cheap, weed control tool analogous to water washing aphids.  Hot water may also be useful.

Conceptualize this sorting device as a stacked series of sieves each with a decreasing sized mesh screen, each representing a treatment.  The top sieve has a large mesh and each subsequent screen below the other has a mesh of decreasing sizes.  Think about pouring the pest problem into the top sieve and if that treatment doesn’t solve the problem completely the problem drops down to the next screen.  Ideally this series of treatment sieves can solve all pest problems.



Table 1.  A Summary of the Strategies and Tactics Useful in UrbanRoseGardens.

Strategy                           Tactic

Chemical Control             Soap solution

Pyrethrin Insecticide

Biological Control            Importation of Natural Enemies (NE)

Augmentation of Existing NEs

Innoculation of Lab Reared Native NE

Conservation of NEs

Physical Control              Habitat Destruction: Cut                                                                  Overwintering Canes

Pruning or hand picking

Water washing



This sieve idea mimics the way mortality agents work on a pest problem.  (SeeHagen’s survivorship curve with its natural enemy notations.)  Consider as a first example in the first sieve water washing, the next sieve could be soap solutions.  Commercial soap products are better than homemade solutions for they have a standard dose while home solutions must be rigorously formulated, chemistry students could easily do it, however.  Homemade solutions, unless carefully prepared can vary and make observations confused.  The next sieve could be alcohol solutions, next ammonia solutions (homemade), and last pyrethrin insecticide applications (commercial products).

The more toxic soaps, alcohol, ammonia and pyrethrin solutions will kill all natural enemies by contact, with the last being the most toxic.  I recommend the pyrethrin solution as a last resort because it is highly effective but has a short residual life, maybe a few hours or one day, so it will not continue to kill everything that comes in contact with the plant surfaces.  Ultraviolet light degrades this insecticide rapidly.


Figure y.  Generalizable Survivorshop Curve Illustrating how and where various Mortality Agents Operate. (fromHagen, source unknown, in fact the drawing is temporitly lost and I may have to create a new one).

Biological Control (BC) Feasible?

I placed this strategy last because it is the most powerful means for pest control if it is the classical form.  But it is the most complex.  The classical form means importation of natural enemies from native areas from which the pest originated.  Other types of BC, are augmentation efforts to inoculate or inundate natural occurring enemies.  A whole range of these generalist predators and parasites are available from insectaries who raise them for purchase (see Rincon.com, for example.

Classical BC: Importation of Natural Enemies.

This tactic is the most powerful pest control method because it can lead to permanent pest control.  Hundreds of examples proving this practice have been documented since the first major success which saved the citrus industry in California around the turn of the 20 century.  The scale ladybeetle predator, Crytolaemus montrouzeri, was introduced from Australia to California stopped the scale from killing citrus trees, and that’s why we still have oranges for sale in North America.  And it is also why California leads the nation in doing this sort of work.

Crytolaemus montrouzeri, the Mealybug Destroyer that saved the California Citrus Industry from the invaded Cottony Cushion Scale.


The classical approach however, needs very specific support systems, particularly people trained in this special science.  It is however, still an art as the science remains poorly developed, practiced by few entomologists mostly under the tight control of the federal government and underfunded compared to the threats posed by introduced pests.  Such specialists travel the world, make international agreements with colleagues in many countries and collect organisms for passage to quantine labs managed by University or USDA workers, under permits and tight controls to eliminate hyperparasites and other foreign treats.  In addition, such collections must be precisely identified by taxonomists who are familiar with these organisms backed up by adequate museum specimens.

Figure Z.  Trioxys curvicaudus attacking the Linden Aphid, Euceraphis tiliae, introduced successfully inBerkeley,CA.

My knowledge comes from successful projects against a series of shade tree aphids in the San Francisco Bay Area.  These occurred on Linden, Elm and Tulip Tree aphids, each aphid specific to those tree species, and each involving highly specific parasitoids (see Table 2), imported from Europe and the East coast of North America.  This work was done under the supervision of my old boss, a colorful advocate and anti-pesticide pundit of worldwide importance, Robert van den Bosch.  Van, as he was called would travel the world each year and send back species he knew were going to be effective.  So his decades of experience was what I relied on for our projects.


Table 2.  Successfully Established Shade Tree Parasitoids in theSan FranciscoBayArea.

Parasitoid                        Aphid                               Tree


Trioxys curvicaudus                Eucallipterus tiliae          Tilia spp.

Aphidius hortorum          Tinocallis platani             Ulmus spp.

Aphidius liriodendron      Illinoia (Macrosiphum)      Liriodendron



He used the unique identification aphid specialist, Hille Ris Lambers, a Dutch scientist funded by that government.  Peter Stary, a Czeck, and MacKauer, a Canadian, both identified the parasitoids, the former for the parasitoids in the family Aphidiidae which only were known from aphids, and the later for Aphelinidae, which are narrow range scale and aphid parasitoids already well known as important natural enemies from many successful colonization’s in North America and elsewhere.  The 2-3,000 specimens derived from my aphid/parasitoid studies were recently deposited at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco,CA.

I believe the loss of van, Lambers, by human life cycle limits and by now MacKauer, along with the other members of the Division of Biologcial Control, Ken Hagen, Huffaker, and Messenger, all deceased, and now the actual laboratories they used at the Gill Tract, in Albany, CA means those days and the successful projects they conducted will not be replaced.   Maybe the dissolution of their laboratories and the lack of substitute scientists means the pesticide forces have won another victory in their projects to contaminate the earth.

It was always an uphill battle for funds, recognition and repulsion of numerous attacks from the pro-pesticide forces, so obvious even earlier against Rachel Carson, that the idea of biological control survived the pesticide era.  Now Biological control appears greatly diminished when the planet needs this approach even more than in those days when we were active.

The rose pest managers, especially those who become IPM specialists will no doubt learn how important the classical approach is needed.  This is because to manage an invaded pest requires considerable work.  Successful classical BC projects do not require further efforts.  It’s what a lay person would call magic, but the specialist knows it takes special knowledge and repeated work.

Table 3.  List of Known Natural Enemies of the Rose Aphid.

Back in the 1970s I was interested in taking what we learned with our few successes with parasitoid reestablishment and organize a nation wide effort to set up IPM programs, particularly classical BC for the Shade Tree Pests of theUS.  To do this one needs to know the full range of species which are known to attack the known herbivores which attack the shade trees.  With funding from the EPA we compiled over a six year period a searchable database of 5,000 species.  This was based on over 900 catalogues, papers, and indexes.  Three to four people labored for about 6 years to compile this source.

The data from this source provides the list in Table 3 for the rose aphid.  This was a demonstration project stimulated by our project officer at EPA at that time, Darwin Wright.  A summary of the structure of this database is presented in Diagram x, below.

Diagram X.  The Structure of The Database of the Natural Enemies of The Shade Tree Pests of theUS.

Table 3.  A listing of the Natural Enemies of the Rose Aphid, Macrosiphum rosae from Olkowski et al. 1976?.  Database printouts available on www.WHO1615.com.

Carnivore One (means a primary carnivore), abbreviated CARN1.

Parasitoids, abbreviated PARA1

Aphelinus asychis

Aphelinus gossypii

Aphelinus howardii

Aphelinus sp.

Aphidius alius

Aphidius chilensis

Aphidius confuses

Aphidius ervi

Aphidius nigripes

Aphidius rosae

Charips luteicornis

Chrysolampus thenae

Ephedrus californicus

Ephedrus incompletus

Ephedrus lacertosus

Ephedurs plagiator

Ephedrus sp.

Euaphidius cingulatus

Lysiphlebus sp.

Lysiphlebus testaceipes

Praon aguti

Praon occidentale

Praon rosaecolum

Praon simulans

Praon unicus

Praon volucre


Pribremia aphidophaga

Adalia biopunctata

Adalia decempunctata

Adalia revelieri

Adonia variegate

Allograpta exotica

Allothrombium fuliginosus

Anthocoris pilosus

Aphidoletes aphidimyza

Aphidoletes aphidovora

Austromicromus tasmaniae

Calvia decimguttata

Calvia guatuordecimguttata


Chrysopa abbreviate

Chrysopa carnea

Chrysopa perla

Chrysopa septempunctata

Cocconella ancoralis

Coccinella conglobata

Coccinella quadripunctata

Coccinella quatuordecimpustulata
Coccinella repanda

Coccinella septempunctata

Coelophora inaequalis

Cycloneda sanguinea

Eriopis connexa

Eumicromus angulatus

Hippodamia convergens

Hyperaspis festiva

Isobremia keifferi

Leis conformis

Melangyna viridicesps

Mesograpta watsoni

Nabis pseudoferus

Pemphredon lethifer

Pemphredon lugubris



Propylaea sp.

Psenulus pallipes

Scaeva melanostoma

Scaeva pyrastri

Scymnus subvillosus

Scymnus (Stethorus) sp.

Semiadalia undecimnotata

Simosyrphus grandicornis

Sphaerophoria javan

Spaerophoria ruppelli

Sphaerophoria scripta

Syrphus balteaus

Syrphus corollae

Syrphus latifasciatus

Syrphus nitens

Syrphus ribesii

Syrphus serarius

Syrphus citripennis

Thea vigintiduopunctata


Evaluation of Potential Importation Species

I tackle this subject last, because it is by default, or sometimes deliberately the last tactic when nothing works to prevent intolerable damage.  It is certainly the most complex.  This tactic is something to explore when the water washes fail and even those methods along the gradient to insecticides fail, and the plant still suffers intolerable damage and maybe dies from pest attack.  Some of the exotic plants should die, because the damage done by them and their pests to our native ecosystems will persist forever.  That approach is used against weeds, for example.  Alternately, while water washes and other insecticides may provide temporary relief the possibility of importing certain natural enemies can be evaluated while holding the aphid at bay, so to speak.

But invaded pests like Cryphonectria parasitica, the causal fungal pathogen of Chestnut Blight (see Box ZZ below), which killed off our most beautiful native chestnut trees and now other examples of invaded pathogens, tell such stories.  Although there are possible solutions for these type projects they remain relatively unexplored, certainly as potential classic BC cases, even thought natural enemies are known from native areas.  For plant pathogens viruses and other fungi are known to attack many bacterial and fungal pathogens of plants, but this area remains poorly explored as are those for many other animals, including many crustaceans, fishes, mollusks, and birds for example.

Chestnut blight

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Chestnut blight fungus

Cankers caused by the fungal infection cause the bark to split.

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Ascomycota
Subphylum: Pezizomycotina
Class: Sordariomycetes
Order: Diaporthales
Family: Cryphonectriaceae
Genus: Cryphonectria
Species: C. parasitica

Binomial name

Cryphonectria parasitica

The pathogenic fungus Cryphonectria parasitica (formerly Endothia parasitica) is a member of the ascomycota (sac fungus) category, and is the main cause of chestnut blight, a devastating disease of the American chestnut tree that caused a mass extinction in the early 1900s of this once plentiful tree from its historic range in the eastern United States.

============== end Box


One way to simplify the evaluation process is to first exclude predators, because they may if established interfere with the natural enemies of other stable ecosystems.  This is a general assumption borne from cases where vertebrates were introduced like the mongoose, who were deliberately introduced to many islands in the Pacific.  The mongoose was introduced to control rats which were brought to the islands by traders and military personnel ignorant of the consequences.

The consequences included destruction of many native, rare and special highly specific species which had evolved to survive on these isolated places directly by rat predation, but also by the rat destroying many native predators, like snakes, and other wildlife, like native birds.  Importing predators is a secondary possibility in some cases but in this case it is not necessary as there are parasitoid possibilities which promise more specificity.

The list of natural enemies of the rose aphid above once predators are excluded needs to viewed further in two ways: 1) Possible Native Importations: this involves potential targets for importation from areas wherever they occur in the US.   This is because it is possible that a natural enemy inside the US could be useful in another area of the US where it does not now occur.  This is what we did with the tulip tree aphid importation project mentioned in Table 3.  We found specific miniwasps on the east coast and introduced it to the San Francisco Bay Area with good results.

But the best targets are foreign areas where the aphid is under better control than here in theUSwhere the aphid is exotic.  This fits most pest problems faced by agriculture and horticulture.

So the other option needs to be considered in reviewing the literature: 2) Classical Importation.  This type project is more complicated because it involves searches in foreign countries where the cultures are different as are the languages and travel considerations may become paramount.  Shipments to the US must be brought to an airfield for transport to a quarantine lab in the US, which at that time were only four, two in CA, another in New York, another was in Hawaii.  There might have been others but those were the only ones I knew about then.  The lab in northern California was in the laboratories at the Gill Tract in Albany,CA, the city next to Berkeley near my laboratory.

Assuming one has the right permits the real job of finding the potential species for importation is tricky because one must search at a time in the season when the natural enemy occurs in sufficient numbers to be worth the labor of collecting and preparing the specimens and then getting to the airport quickly.  That scenario is best for matching the seasonal patterns between the foreign area and the importation area.  Then the potential colonization areas need to be protected against insecticide applications.  This is also tricky as unsprayed colonization areas are needed.

If the pest was being regularly treated with insecticides for decades as was our experience with our shade tree pests listed above the pest population will soar well beyond the toleration zone.  We may have been successful largely because we controlled the pest management programs in the cities we worked in.  See our website for further detailed reports (www.WHO1615, under Science, then under IPM, then selectBerkeley,Palo Alto andSan Jose).  There are over 50 annual reports for the 6 cities we worked with before Proposition 13 cut off funds to the cities which resulted in drastic cutting of shade tree programs, and incidentally but fortunately the pesticide treatment programs.

Quarantine Labs are Not Common

The quarantine laboratory takes out any hyperparasites attacking the primary parasites.  Ideally the new species should be passed through one generation of the target pest.  This requires a colony which either is being raised in the laboratory behind closed doors and isolated from the environment to prevent accidental escapes, or raised outside the lab in another lab with regular passage of living material into the laboratory.  By raising the new species on its target pest one gets a first test to see if the new natural enemy will attack the pest.

Our early experiences with the silver maple aphid parasitoid, which is also a widespread pest of shade trees in the Central Valley of California showed that the parasitoid did attack the aphid but did not develop further and no adult emergence occurred.  This meant that the match between the pest aphid and the new potential natural enemy was off someway.  It could be due to misidentifications of the aphid, or the natural enemy.  And then there is an incompatibility due to unknown factors generally called ecotype mismatch.

This assessment refers to a sort of ecological effect which has selected the natural enemy from an aphid variety very different from that which is occurring in the pest area.  This was the end of the efforts we made to import against this pest inCalifornia.  Someone else could pick this project up at some future time now that new genetic methods can assure precise identifications.  The ecotype question then could also be surmounted as ecological fit can be assured.

Next in the evaluation process is host specificity.  This requires research and should first be approached by examination of the literature.  The ideal is a host specific parasitoid as these will ride the pest population down and not switch to another aphid as is the case with the polyphagous predators.  Parasitoids come in three flavors: mono-, oligo- and polyphagous.  The term polyphagous applied to a parasitoid is slightly different from the same term applied to a predator.  Lacewings, for example, will feed on mites, Lepidoptera eggs, caterpillars of many species, aphids, mealy bugs and almost anything that moves, and they may even bite people.

A polyphagous parasitoid like Aphidius nigripes attacks many aphid species.  Aphidius rosae looks like a good prospect as Stary (1970, p. 200) lists it as only attacking two species, the rose aphid, and Macrosiphum funestrum.  Since both hosts are in the same genus this parasitoid may be a good candidate.   Monophagous parasitoids are rare but have the greatest potential for complete biological control.  Trioxys curvicaudus cited above is a good example.  There are many species of oligophagous parasitoids and these may be good candidates but may require more than one species to be most effective.

Tell Conclusions to the Manager and Clientele

I mention this tactic as a final thought as part of the algorithm because it is the responsibility of the scientist, especially the specialist who can get lost in his/her own world to remember to keep the surrounding personnel acquainted with the status of any project, be it research, or applied biological control because many people are usually involved in these programs and their activities must be coordinated.  We have been surprised at times by people who assume they know what is happening and want to help out by controlling a pest problem when no such control was needed nor warranted.  Prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.


Our seemingly endless efforts to educate the public and plant managers in many areas of North America and elsewhere through our publications, must be repeated by the minority of entomologists interested in bringing about a less toxic world.  The public does not know of these options, nor their complexity and wants fast, simple solutions.  Alas, there are no such things in managing parts of the natural world.  Further, by demanding spotless plants and by continuing to buy toxic materials the status quo continues and that has been unsuccessful.


Beales, P. 1992.  Roses, An Illustrated Encyclopaedia and Grower’s Handbook of Species Roses, Old Roses and Modern Roses, Shrub Roses and Climbers.  Henry Holt and Company, NY.472 pp.

Minks, A.K. and P. Harrewijn.  1988.  Aphids, Their Biology, Natural Enemies and Control, Volume B.  Elsevier,Amsterdam.  364 pp.

Palmer, M.  1952.  Aphids of the Rocky Mountain Region.  Thomas Say Foundation, Volume 5.  452 pp.

Essig, E. O. 1929.  Insects ofWestern North America.  MacMillan Co., N.Y., 1035 pp.

Hill, D.S. and J.D. Hill.  1994.  Timber Press,Portland,OR. 635 pp.

Stary. P. 1970. Biology of Aphid Parasites (Hymenoptera: Aphidiidae, with Respect to Integrated Control. Dr. W. Junk, N.V., TheHague.  643 pp.

Olkowski et al

Olkowski, W., L. Laub, A. Fedanzo, and ?

Zuparko, R.  1982.

Olkowski, W. Unpublished (see website for articles).

Quezada, J.R. and P. DeBach.  1973.  Bioecological and Population Studies of the Cottony-cushion Scale, Icerya purchase Mask., and Its Natural Enemies, Rodolia cardinalis Mul. And Cryptochaetum iceryae Will., inSouthern California.  Hilgardia 41 (10): 631-688.





Gratitude’s a thing of the soul;

Enjoyed my stay more than can be told,

Staying too long is not best;

it’s just a test for an unexpected guest.

Sure hope I didn’t.

Only did as I was bidden,

Your return could only be

FOR ME To treat others as you treated me.

A giver without pay will have happiness til the last day.


date unknown

Ecological Farmet Educational Greenbelt Design

 Ecological Farmet Educational Greenbelt Design

by William Olkowski, PhD.

This idea grew out of a review I conducted for a presentation of the 5 small scale urban gardens we developed and the one small scale farm we created which grew into a school for disadvantaged young women.  We called the farm: Skyhigh.  This was because it was placed above the Sacramento Valley floor at about the 500 foot level.  A farm at this height assured safety from when and if the Berryessa Dam would break and flood the nearby areas.  Plus it would mean saving the beautiful productive soils in the valley from the common and destructive activities of civilization, principally roads, shopping malls, vast plots of residential single family dwellings instead of precious farmland.

I am summarize the experiences from the 5 small scale urban gardens.

Compost is key

Compost helps conserve water by reducing evaporation

Manures are key to compost

Animals: chickens and rabbits are most appropriate for small scale.

Compost helps conserve water by reducing evaporation

Ecologcial farmet Design

Why Educational?

Why Greenbelt?

Why should someone consider this idea of Small Scale Greenbelt Farming?

The vision we were working on at our peak of concentration on developing this farm was seeing the deliberate construction of green belts around major metropolitan areas that contain small scale “farmets”.  On such small farms where people grew plants and animals for their own food and for sale at farmers markets or though sustainable delivery of boxes of food on a subscription basis to people within an hours drive a new type of farm would/could arise with many public benefits.  Further such farms would also be educational sites where people would visit as an educational/ecological tour bringing their children and themselves to a beautiful place where food was produced and where they could see again what it takes to produce the life sustaining materials they need to live.

It was really the educational aspects that finally came to be the most important product we created.  We are really educators and like to pass on what we are learning to our friends, associates and community members.  Personalities certainly play a part in what one chooses to do with one’s life. But it is hard to both farm and educate.  Many people, however, see the need to do both and this book is for them from fellow travellers who were both farmer participants and as teacher/learners.  We hope the reader will see both the need for public educational programs linking farmers and urbanites and the need for educators to learn more about producing food from our work.

Selecting Design Criteria: No Pesticides, No Machinery, Low Water Use

Our plan was: No pesticides in the traditional sense.  Mulches are the key to weed management.  Larger scale composting means creating excellent nutrient rish compost for use as mulches.  This requires major sources of organic matter and that means a pickup truck and sources to haul materials in and for processing via composting.  I do not see how anyone can farm without a truck.  I bought a ’67 ford pickup which burned lots of oil which I replaced and could still buy parts for, especially oil filters.  This truck was simple enough that I could repair most problems and those I could not the local gasoline station could.

I did not want to spend the necessary time under a tractor making repairs as I have seen other small farmers do.  So we decided that one of the aspects we would test out is how little machinery we could use on our “farmet”, to coin a term.  We used rototillers but after very little use we found that they replant weeds that are a major labor problem for management without herbicides. We used lawn mowers to manage the grasses for fire protection but gradually switched to sheep.

Mulch the Whole Farm

At our peak we produce huge piles of compost from farm waste, especially chicken manure, but also wastes from the 10 ac or so gardens we constructed.  I also hawled in truck loads of rice hulls from the University of California, Davis, about 20 minutes away.  I used to joke that the principle product of that school for our farm at least was the dump where they piled the rice hulls mixed with manures from their animals quarters.

This idea of setting up the farm based on wastes as a key input has a theoretical base.

See energy flow diagram showing the largest component is waste (i.e. the decomposer community) and this fits into the larger farm community since the biggest energy material flow is carbon.  Rice hulls and animal manures are key examples.

Fires and Protection from Fire

Over the years we learned that fire was an important component of the naturally occurring ecosystem within which we lived and thus that must be a focus for design.  Fires could be assumed to be at least an every 10 year of so event.  We saw two big fires which threatened our farm while we farmed.  ONe we set by mistake, the other someone else set by mistake.  This was a turning point for us as we switched to using sheep as fire protection grazers to keep grasses low and roadways constructed in concentric circles around the main buildings.  The roadways were kept clear by our donkeys.  The idea was to eat the sheep while also getting inexpensive grazing-fire protection rather than running mowers, using personal time and energy as well as fossil fuels.

Skills and Knowledge – Design Tools

I certainly felt overwhelmed at times doing plumbing, electrical repairs and installations, installing pumps and water delivery lines for animals and various shelters. I joked that what people were seeing with my work was “entomological carpentry, entomological plumbing and an entomological electrician installations.  I did not mind the larger scale composting and got very good at it, and I did all the veterinary work of castrating, fixing small wounds, injecting drugs, shearing and all the hoof cleaning on the donkeys, and trimming on the goats as our veterinarian taught me.  At age 55 I learned how to shear sheep, a most taxing job to learn, but once learned could be a good income for someone much younger.

Degree of Mechanization

I did not want to spend the time to repair equipment so we decided that one of the aspects we would test out is how little machinery we could use on our farmet.  We used rototillers at first but after very little use we found that they replant weeds that are a major labor problem for management without herbicides.

Mulches made from compost was our main weed control on the beds with hand picking and shovel extirpation.  We raised seedlings in a greenhouse and transplanted them to the beds.  That gives them time in a protected environment to grow fast and after transplanting are past the most vulnerable stage for pests to eat is also past.

That and subsurface leaky pipe irrigation were our first efforts at watering.  Weeds grow from watering.  Concentrating the irrigation to the root zone prevents a great deal of weed growth as weed seeds in the soil need sunlight as well as water to germinate.  Our walkways between beds were dug out and filled with rice hulls a local waste product.  This helped reduce weed growth in walkways.  Morning glory was the biggest weed problem at first, but later grasses invading beds became most problematic.

We used lawn mowers to manage the grasses surrounding the garden for fire protection but gradually switched to sheep.  I broke at least four commercial lawn movers before switching to sheep.  Lawn mowers do not work very well, especially against grasses, compared to domesticated lawns.

Compost into mulches for the whole farm is based on wastes as a key input.

See energy flow diagram showing the largest component is waste and this fits into the larger farm community since the biggest energy material flow is carbon.  Rice hulls etc.

Animals: Protein is the Key Production Goal

Probably the most significant step anyone can make is to take on the responsibility for a pet, a domestic animal or for that matter another human being. The attraction seems to be innate. We loved chickens, got to love sheep, got donkeys to protect sheep from coyotes and other .predators, got to love donkeys, got goats for fiber, got 12 geese, later rabbits and loved them all. The result was a complicated set of needs for food, care, housing, and ultimately time. Given most peoples’ needs to have mobility the decision to raise animals means being tied down.  Animals do not understand holidays, Sundays vs. weekdays, have babies which are difficult to time within other chores, get sick and die and are dependent for their lives on your skill, patience and knowledge.

We had 3 chicken runs and three different houses which we constructed, the best being those with concrete floors.  I mention this detail as concrete floors properly connected to the walls can keep rats and mice from gaining entry. Our first chicken house at Skyhigh had a ramp up into the nest boxes where we would harvest the eggs.  One day while raising the cover on the nest boxes I starred right into the hind end of a skunk who had broken an egg and was munching away.  Maybe the distraction of food saved me from a miserable spraying, but I quickly closed the lid.  I did not want to trap the skunk as skunk kill and eat mice, always some help around chicken feed.

So I resolved the problem by taking away the ramp.  The chickens could jump/fly the two-three feet to enter the laying areas.  This left the skunks to patrol and kill any mice they could find.  They could not jump the distance to get back into the laying areas.

These separated areas keep the new layers from the old, and the babies from the developing hens.  Essentially there are three age groups, with a continuous effort to raise new layers each year.  That was one objective but I think it could have been scaled down, since many birds can lay for more than a year.  Three groups of 250 was what we were managing at our peak.  These bigger older birds don’t lay as many eggs and some are fleshier depending upon the breed.  We had a mix so that we could produce eggs with multiple colors.  Helga was the one who mixed the different eggs, white, brown and greens (Arucana breed).  This chocolate box arrangement almost double the value of our product making it the highest value of all the eggs sold where we supplied.

One needs an outlet for the older hens as we could not eat as many as we produced, and throwing away so much good food seemed too wasteful.  So we found a small chicken butchering operation inSacramentoand sold them after butchering to the upscale Chepanese Restaurant run by Alice Waters where we also sold eggs, lamb and some vegetables.

In our animal mania we drew the line at milking animals because we knew we could not devote the extra time each day to milk and keep the milk clean and safe. Fiber was our targetted crop for the sheep, goats, and rabbits.  The natural colored wool from the Marino breed had a reddish brown soft pastel color which was highly attractive.

Growing vegetables is comparatively easy compared to raising animals which is a 24/7 job.  There was many a night when I had to get up to solve one problem or another.  An example will suffice.

A Bobcat Visits the Chicken Coop

Helga pokes me in the ribs to get up and find out why the chickens are squawking so loud and so animated.  It’s about 5 am and still dark.  So I stumble out of bed (around the cat) and walk over to the nearby coop where I here more screeching and I see a pile of chickens in one corner on the floor.  I go in and like a fool close the door behind me.  Then I see it: a BIG pussy cat, actually looks like a small tiger, very colorful and powerful lean standing very still on the other side.  I go back to our trailer and get my insect net, for want of something to defend myself.  I only had my underwear on as it was a hot night.  I go back and open the door leaving it open this time, go in and slowly walk toward the large pussy who still stand rock still.  Moving slowly I go up to it and touch it with the pole end of my net and in a flash it’s gone out the door. Faster then I could see it move.

I go back to the pile of chickens who are frightened out of their tiny minds and start tossing them out the door.  About 25 were killed from the smothering pile, but I saved a good bunch of the silly things.  I stored most of them in the freezer but it took the rest of the day.  I will never forget being so close to a bobcat, a most marvelous looking animal who had climbed the outside wall of the coop, found a hole to fit his/her head through and got inside.  Thousands of these animals are killed inCaliforniaalone, for so called sport.  I don’t understand killing for sport, where’s the sport?  Buying the high powered scope mountain cannon they sell almost everywhere?  Try tennis, golf or checkers.  They are real sports.

Water Catchment: Aspirations Go Beyond Reality and Self Capability.

After purchasing the 40 ac piece in the early 1970s and developing the farm for 10-15 years finally living there full time, with part time pest control design work, we took time to reexamine the situation.  We had by then purchased another 20 acres that came up for sale next to our property and it had a good 10-15 gals/min well functioning.  Anyway that’s what the local pump company told us was the yield.

Wow, with that much water our farm would be tropical paradise, imaging no water limitations.  Their estimate (done without a flow meter) was off by 100%.  They were paid by the sellers.  Water flooded our minds and stopped critical examination.  I can imagine what a gold discovery must do.  After buying came the realities.  The first was that the well was 600 feet below our main growing sites and the water needed to be pumped uphill that distance. This system was set up to gravity feed water to the house and gardens, etc.  We installed the necessary water lines (2,000 feet of 2 inch plastic pipe) and the biggest electric wire we could afford (#6, about $2.oo/ft) and we started to use the water to refill our 2,000 gal tank installed up on our hill another 100 feet up the hill thereby adding the need for a greater lift.  One year it cost us over $300 per month to run the pump for the late season months (Oct.- Feb or March, depending upon the rainfall).  Fortunately, we were running the  farm on about 2,000 gals/day with a very elaborately distributed drip and subsurface irrigation so our needs were low and water conservation practices were working.

However, the yearly rainfall pattern normally ran from November at the earliest to March at the latest, then we had to live on pumped water.  By the end of the year the ground water was being fast depleted so took at least a day to refill the tank we used to draw from.  Also there were times when an error occurred and a hose was left running and all 2,000 gals was wasted.  During the driest part of the year, when the rains were late, things got very tight.  So to fix this problem I planned out a water catchment system to store 90,000 gallons minimum so we could use this rainfall during the driest months.  As such projects go we got very close to making the plan work.  We got a grant to demonstrate the system and bought 10 tanks of 2,500 gals each and installed them where rain fall would fill them from run off from small buildings (chicken coops, garage, etc.) and we could pump from the tanks to gardens or animal shelter, or even the house.

This project took us about 2 years before we had all the gutters connected to the tanks and the tanks to use locations, and catchment sites (buildings).  We also had a 2 ac pond storing about 2 ac  feet of water (ca. 100,000 gals) at most, about half of which was lost to evaporation by the  fall each year.  By December without rain the pond went dry.  We tried to augment the size of the pond by digging deeper and building up the dam, but the soils in the area open wide cracks when dry and although we tried to coat the bottom of the pond with clay it would have been better to leave the old pond as it was.  In some years at least it held water until the first rains.  Our new pond with higher capacity never made it to December.  So another brain storm came about and I built a 60,000 gallon cistern.  We lined the cistern with thick polyethene and pumped it near full one year from the pond during the winter when water was plentiful.  Since the surface area of the cistern was much smaller than the pond I reasoned we could save water from being evaporated, possibly even with a pool cover.  Pumping water laterally is much more efficient than pumping water uphill.  I was so cleaver and was just hoping it would work.

Then the natural resistance factors entered the picture.  With the cistern empty before the first rains we found a series of punctured holes in the lining.  It was clear that a hoofed animal had fallen into the pond and had punctured many holes through our precious polyethylene and got out.  I tried various patches but nothing seemed to work and that project was moved to the back burner.  I still believe one can run a small farm on just rainfall stored properly and wish I had research funds to make such a demonstration actually work.

Old Age Catches Up

One day I watched Helga walk up to the main house from our trailer where we lived and a new life became my goal.  What good is a farm if one cannot live a good life on it?  She could not really do the work she used to do, and I had to grit my teeth and face reality.  Fortunately at that time, about 1996 or 1997 we got the message that Helga’s father wanted to see us and we made our usual trip south to Santa Barbara, which we did for over 30 years.  When we visited SB, it was usually a vacation for us as the folks fed us, we slept, went to movies and made painting excursions to nearby parks, and beaches.

This trip was different.  Dave looked very tired from helping care for his wife, who now was deep in the grips of The A disease, which was our way of saying Alzheimer’s Disease.  And the story he told us about his health care helpers did not bode well, and we left them after 2 weeks, with regrets as our lives were so complicated at that point that we could do nothing about helping them out.  Besides, Dave had moved a woman into the house who became his cook, and helper with his wife.  He told me where his check books was kept and the records for the house, etc.  So he knew what was coming and did wave us good bye.  Later we were told he had died in his favorite chair and we decided to leave the farm, sell the office/house in Berkeley, and go take care of Helga’s mother.  So we moved to Santa Barbara, with the wrenching that goes with leaving places full of so many memories and fine friends.  We thought at one time that the farm would be our last repose. I would not have mined to be buried with our favorite cat, for example.  It could have worked if we could pass the farm to some sympathetic and sympatric souls who could carry on the same dream.

This should tell a story to readers about ones fantasies compared to a real view of what is in store for each of us.  Watch out for your dreams, they can become real, but then you learn how to dream better the next time.

The reality was that we could not attract the right people who could join us in this vast, yes, vast small scale enterprise.  Our friends don’t have the money, nor commitment to the same dream.  I felt alone again, at least I had my wife companion.

What Lessons Were Learned?

To create an alternative agriculture in the US, will require public help.  Sure, with enough money, from some sort of inheritance, or bonus income, the small scale idea for food production can be part of most people’s lives, but they would have to appreciate having and caring for and eating animals, and the ability to grow plant foods, at least for themselves and whoever helps them.

What do I mean by public help?  Various possibilities arise in answer.  Public help would mean zoning for small scale farmets, possibly around metropolitan areas, say as part of greenbelts, which could also incorporate playing fields, for example.  It’s not that far fetched.  We used to charge a small fee ($2/person) for a tour of the  ” farmet and showed various experiments in plant and animal cultivation, for example.  Everybody who came and many hundreds did so in the 5-10 years our farm ran at top form.  It was an educational source for many people, who surely had a family history in farming.  I call this option The Greenbelt Farm Option.





by William Olkowski, Phd, 12.26.12


Life, a walk between pleasant nonsenses?

and the chasm of no return?

A tightrope balancing act?

A journey on a knife edge,

with reason as a companion,

or just beliefs?

A quest, a maze from extracted truths,

Amidst black fangs that snap shut with a wrong turn?

What a wonderful world —

What could be and what is.

With the goal of a star gleam on a grave stone.

With no visitors, or what?






From : http://naturalsociety.com/dirty-dozen-fruit-vegetables-clean-15/

The Dirty Dozen

Without further ado, the dirty dozen:

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet bell peppers
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Blueberries (domestic)
  12. Potatoes

Plus 2 more to add to the dirty dozen:

  1. Green beans
  2. Kale/Collard Greens

Going into a little more detail for the dirty dozen, 100 percent of imported nectarines tested positive for pesticides, as well as 98% of apples and 96% of plums. Grapes had 15 pesticides in a single sample, while blueberries and strawberries each had 13. As an entire category, grape samples contained 64 different pesticides; bell peppers had 88 different residues, cucumbers 81 and lettuce 78.

The Clean Fifteen

And the clean fifteen:

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Cabbage
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Eggplant
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cantaloupe (domestic)
  12. Sweet Potatoes
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Watermelon
  15. Mushrooms





By William Olkowski, PhD.  12.3.12

I heard about T replacement therapy thru a friend here in SB who was advising Helga on hormone replacement to substitute for her daily use of the estrogen/progesterone (E-P) pills she took to help prevent osteoarthritis.  The justification for the combination is that estrogen alone is a cancer producer, so it needs progesterone to sluff the uterine lining.  Estrogen builds it.  The combination just confuses the body.  Kaiser docs were recommending the combination E-P since she also had used premarin for many years before she met me, back in 1969.  The talk then was that premarin may have increased the risks from hypertension, but this was a wrong assumption, one of many I found when dealing with many doctors.In fact, I found that most gynecologists we consulted in 3 places (including the famed Eisenhower Hospital System in Palm Springs where we traveled each year for some time) were vastly ignorant, even about their own specialties.  One gynecologist even went so far as to tell me that the biochemical pathway from cholesterol to estrogen and beyond were all reversible chemical exchanges, which was patently false.  This guy mostly dealt with natural births, so really was ignorant about gynecology as births are usually normal and in need of little aid, except for emergencies.  That was my clue as to why he was so stupid. I use this word in its most pejorative sense as he should be more knowledgeable.  Don’t professional baseball players know where home plate is?

The biochemical changes only go one way and are not reversible.  And cholesterol is essential within the body for formation of the steroid hormones as well as forming the cell membranes for all new cells.  To stop cholesterol interferes with cell reproduction.  To stop production of cholesterol is another case of vast ignorance.   There is a growing literature showing that the cholesterol causing heart disease is dead wrong.  It is a correlation, not a proof of when heart disease is correlated with high cholesterol blood levels. It is also correlated with the amino acid homosystine, which may be a better marker for heart disease.

Dead wrong is a good word as now we see the treatment of high cholesterol levels leads to recommendations of statins, the side effects of which are another disaster, the principle one being muscle weakness.  These poisons are now administered to over 25 million in the world and constitute the single greatest use of patent medicines. And they are administrated for stroke victims, something which surely is beyond the pale as these folks almost always are paralysed in different areas and so already have muscle weakness.  Sometimes I think we are really just around the corner from 1850 England.

This should not be a surprise to anyone who reads the history of medicine.  There are at least 20 such stupidities already well documented by medical historians.  References on request.  One must be very careful when taking doctor recommendations in this era of Big Pharma.  Buyer beware is the watch word.

Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Testosterone replacement therapy (TT) parallels the use of Hormone replacement (HT) as practiced on women for the last few decades.  This HT for women is already documented as one of the greatest medical experiments (disasters) of all time.  The key word is “practiced”.  This fiasco finally was revealed to be causing heart attacks, and then like always they went too far and  they said all women should stop their use of HT with no discussion of bioidentical hormones. Since Bioidentical hormones are not patent-able, they cannot be profitably sold, at least by Big Pharma, or so it is said by these same companies, which incidentally, are bringing in huge sums with these ideas.

The early birth control pills were designed to mimic natural hormones.  These were all based on altering the natural substances for patent purposes, a great disaster as it turns out. By adding a molecule or two here and there onto the natural substance these molecules turned out to be subtle poisons, something Big Pharma, is a specialist in selling. The word of this disaster began seeping out about 10 or so years ago, at least to my knowledge.  See the book Sex, Lies and Menopause.

Today, the best advice comes as using bioidentical hormones.  Helga switched to these about 15 years ago.  I am sure this helped her with her underlying, probably genetic predisposition for hypertension, which I can elaborate on about being another area of stupidity.

Oh, well, enough of my ravings about the state of medicine.  Use of HT with women is a blessing, especially if the guy has a vasectomy, which I had just after I met H.  Tubal ligation and vasectomy, the latter now being reversible are the best way to go today, based on my current knowledge.  There are already too many people in the world and we need more help in raising the kids we have.

I thought the birth control pills were contributing to Helga’s hypertension so was willing to forgo children, which my dear wife even volunteered to have if I wanted one, even at the age of 40.  Age 40 for women having kids can raise the rate of genetic defects.  I still remember the day I decided to have the operation.  And I know just where in the garden at Acton St. when my decision was made.  I dedicated myself to an idea about making a contribution to other people’s children, after all, many men do not reproduce and give their lives away during war time, so making a deliberate decision was my choice, and not that odd.  Deliberate is always more pleasurable than default.  The classes at the More House where we taught the sex class, as we called it, taught this idea and I have used it ever since.  Another example, is to take out a splinter in your hand yourself and compare it to having someone else take it out.  It will be less painful if you do it yourself.

The male use of TT follows the same idea used with women HT (i.e. bioidentical)..  And this time us males benefited from the early experiences done on women.  Bioidentical is better than the patent medicines.  More on that theme another time, perhaps.

When I was making my decisions about vasectomy  I was worried about 1) whether TT would cause prostate cancer, which turned out to be the wrong advice, again, by our trusted medical professionals.  I have a book (see blog) on TT by a Harvard Professor of urology who recommends using TT as a treatment for prostate cancer.  Another 180 degree turn.  He even uses it for treatment of men who have been castrated as the currently recommended treatment for prostate cancer.  Gads, what a world!  One thinks, how can I, a mere mortal have so many ideas that fly in the face of so many industries and professions.

If I did not have my deep history in pest control and their related use of toxics I would not be such a strong counter thinker in the medical field.

The other thing I was worried about was what would happen to my ability to have erections and adequately perform my biological and pleasurable role with females.  This is something every male is worried about and feels the loss of when it actually occurs.  II certainly did, and still am concerned about.  Fear can be a major barrier as well as a warning.

Again I think use of TT actually helps prevent ED, at least slows it down and make recovery possible.  There are exceptions to all human behavior so I am just generalizing mostly from my own experiences.  ED sets in wjhch almost every male over 50 can expect.  Of course the years vary with the individual and his health status.  And his health status is partially as aspect of how frequently he has ejaculations, as these are part of a healthy functioning prostate.  Use it or lose it, is the motto, which in our society is fraught with social restrictions.  Now I see this changing.  And I attribute this to a loosening of females from the bondage of reproduction, at least for the younger females.  The older ones, I am now just learning about, and so far with my limited experience, other aspects come into play.

So in my summary to date, I say most men should start supplementing when their libido starts its downward trend in the 40’s (or thereabouts), and if ED sets in as can be expected start supplementation immediately and don’t look back.  The first level of supplementation should be with arginine. More on this later.   Dosing with T is something every man needs to work out, as each body is different, and then there is the problem of finding the right doctor, since one needs a prescription to use TT creams. And these doctors are probably the most difficult to find.  I am lucky to have found one, who has become a friend, here in SB.  And of course, all this is taboo, which is another thing I am working on, even with myself.

Not only does TT helps with preventing and recovery of sexual functions including libido, it does much more for the entire body.  I don’t hesitate to suggest that this could help extend the useful life of male bodies and even females who associated with such males.  T like the Estrogen-Progesterone are key hormones which go down and are correlated with accelerated aging. Loss of secretory functions of all hormone producing organs is part of aging.  Now aging and its associated maladies, mental and physical, are being reclassified as diseases and giving rise to treatment protocols, now mostly in the alternative medical field of anti-aging medicine.


Of, course this follows the pattern of modern medicine, with its disease orientation and consequent treatments, so again, I am cautious, but today, it’s all I have to go on.  So, taking TT, or even HT is an innovation, subject to the usual learning processes.  Given the alternative, I think it’s worth the risk.  Surely more will be discovered.  The human body is not simple.  The alternative is rapid aging, even accelerated aging evident in skin changes, loss of secretory functions, loss of libido, cancer, heart disease, and worse.  This is a vast simplification, of course, as many other factors, particularly diet, behavior, and thought processes are all involved as well.

I am a big believer in use of supplements, carefully selected and used.  I feel these along with diet changes and selection of foods can be most useful.  More later.




Help Out BIRC, Our Former Non-Profit, Rodenticides Kill Raptors

Raptors and Rodenticides

Support Independent, Public Benefit Journalism

Who We Are

The Bio-Integral Resource Center (BIRC) is a nonprofit, scientific and educational organization offering more than 30 years of insight, experience and leadership in the development and communication of least-toxic, sustainable, and environmentally sound Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods. BIRC assists homeowners, farmers, cities, park and water districts, schools and pest control professionals in pesticide use reduction.

Our internationally respected journals, the IPM Practitioner and the Common Sense Pest Control Quarterly, provide critical information for pesticide and public policy debates, and offer least-toxic and non-toxic solutions for pest problems. Honey Bee death and decline, the impact of systemic pesticides and genetically engineered crops, Tick control and Lyme disease and least-toxic solutions for the ubiquitous Argentine Ant are just a few of the topics covered in our award winning publications.

Through EcoWise Certified, BIRC provides training and certification for pest control professionals in greener methods of pest control. And anyone coping with a pest problem can receive free, expert advice through our online technical assistance service,Ask the Expert at http://www.birc.org.

For these and other achievements protecting public health and the environment, BIRC has received both the IPM Innovator Award from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the IPM Lifetime Achievement Award at the 6th International IPM Symposium. For more information about BIRC, or to view our publications, please visit our website at http://www.birc.org.

Why This Campaign?

Raptors in the U.S.,Canada, France, Great Britain and elsewhere are dying from eating rodents poisoned with 2nd Generation Anticoagulants such as brodifacoum and bromadiolone. The relationship between rodenticides and raptor deaths and proposed solutions to the problem is the focus of the next issue of the Common Sense Pest Control Quarterly. The careful and timely research and analysis that are the hallmarks of every Quarterly article will help inform decision makers trying to halt the proliferation of these deadly toxins into our environment. And it’s not just about restricting anti-coagulants, it’s showing how humane rodent control can be achieved through sound site management. An excerpt from the article-in-progress is printed below.

Article Excerpt:

Much of the information about raptor deaths is coming from government surveillance programs. For instance, anticoagulant rodenticides were found in the livers of 48% of 265 raptors collected in New York. Of those exposed, anticoagulants were related to their deaths in about 22% of the cases (Stone et al. 2003. Bull. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 70:34-40). Also, 37% of 351 owls in Great Britain and 70% of 164 owls in Canada had detectable concentrations of anticoagulant rodenticides in their livers (Ratner et al. 2011. Environ. Toxicol. and Chem. 30(5):1213-1222). Concentrations in at least 21% of the Canadian owls were large enough to be life threatening (Albert et al. 2010. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 58:451-459).

Raptors are dying from direct poisoning effects, but also sublethal exposures are making them more susceptible to disease and accidents (Lemus et al. 2011.Science Total Environ. 409:4729-4734).

Wildcare, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Marin County, CA, is seeing poisoning in 58% of the bird and mammal patients. In Massachusetts, of 161 raptors admitted to a wildlife clinic, 86% had brodifacoum anticoagulant residues in their livers (Murray. 2011. J. of Zoo Wildlife Med. 42(1):88-97).

California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife has seen 284 cases of second generation anticoagulant poisoning, including 37 raptors and 50 endangered San Joaquin kit foxes since 1993.

Cases from surveillance programs are likely the tip of the iceberg, as many bird poisonings go unnoticed as the corpses decay quickly in out of the way locations.

While the IPM Practitioner,with its focus on structural pest control and agriculture, is well supported by advertisers providing IPM products and services, the Common Sense Pest Control Quarterly, with an emphasis on reduced risk pest management and pesticide policy of interest to the general public, attracts relatively few advertisers.

For the past few years, lack of adequate support for the Quarterly has resulted in publication delays and combined issues. Though many of our publications are available online, BIRC is committed to offering a small number of print issues to serve the needs of some libraries, to bridge the technology gap that still exists in our country as well as abroad, and to provide copies for community outreach events.

The cost of each edition, including research, writing, editing, layout, printing and distribution is approximately $5,000. We are hoping that you discovered our crowdfunding website because of your interest in protecting threatened and endangered raptors from secondary poisonings. Can you help support this important work?

What We Can Give to You

We offer gratitude and incentives at every level of giving. Regardless of whether you can assist us with a contribution, we invite everyone to visit our website at www.birc.org. Eventually, everyone faces a pest problem and BIRC can provide you with an effective solution that helps protect your health and the health of the environment.

Each level of giving includes the incentives offered before, plus one new benefit. Every contribution is deeply appreciated.

American Kestrel $1-$9 acknowledgement in our new publication, Raptors and Rodenticides

Peregrine Falcon $10-$29 a complimentary copy of Raptors and Rodenticides

Red-Tailed Hawk $30-$49 a complimentary Associate Membership with BIRC, receiving the Common Sense Pest Control Quarterly

Great Horned Owl $50-$99 a complimentary dual membership with BIRC, receiving theCommon Sense Pest Control Quarterly and the IPM Practitioner

Golden Eagle $100 or more, acknowledgement on our website

California Condor $1000 or more BIRC’s Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief, Dr. William Quarles, will give a 40 minute presentation on raptors and rodenticides with a question and answer period to your organization or community group, in person in the nine bay area counties, via Skype in locales beyond.

Thank You so much for your help. We hope to hear from you soon!

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