By Margaret Bayne, OSU Extension Service Staff-retired, OSU Master Gardener

Cover of OSU Publication EM 9297
New OSU publication EM 9297

Asian Giant Hornet: A potential threat to honeybee colonies in Oregon
New OSU publication outlines identification, life cycle, and predatory habits of the Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia).  Along with recommendations for reporting a suspected sighting in the Pacific Northwest. (Ellen Topitzhofer, Chris Hedstrom, Priyadarshini Chakrabarti, Andony Melathopoulos, Silvia I. Rondon, Gail A. Langellotto-Rhodaback, Ramesh R. Sagili)

Why Are Plants Green? To Reduce the Noise in Photosynthesis. “Plants ignore the most energy-rich part of sunlight because stability matters more than efficiency, according to a new model of photosynthesis.” (Rodrigo Perez Ortega,

Spiders, cobwebs proliferate this time of year; here’s why (plus fascinating spider myths and info.) (

View of the Columbia River Gorge, with haze caused from forest fire.
Columbia Gorge Fire, PNW Disease Handbook

Air Pollution: Ozone. (Jay Pschdeit, PNW Disease Handbook)

Volcanic Rock Yields a New Kind of Insecticide for Mosquitoes. (John P. Roche

A Field Guide to Finding Cool Moths. (Ken Keffer,

Bumblebees Are Larger in Cities, Study Finds-Bigger bees have larger brains and are better pollinators. (Mary Jo DiLonardo,

Moth Fur Is the Ultimate Acoustic Armor. It muffles the clicks of ravenous, echolocating bats. (Matthew Taub,

Yellowjacket, OSU

Be Yellowjacket Aware. (Amanda Brenner, Lauren Grad, OSU)

Female Dragonflies Play Dead To Avoid Having Sex, New Video Shows.  Researchers believe this is a survival tactic which is rare- “Sexual death feigning.” (Annie Garau,

A 194-year-old apple tree, the matriarch of the Northwest apple industry, has died. (CNN via

Selecting quality trees from the nursery. (Edward F. Gilman, and Laura Sadowski, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL)

Some like it hot… but most do not: How high temperatures delay pollination and ripening. (John Porter,

Squash blossom with sun shining on the blossoms.
Squash blossom, OSU

Bumblebees hate pumpkin pollen, which may help pumpkins (Krishna Ramanujan, Cornell U)

Natter’s Notes
Jean R. Natter, OSU Master Gardener

As I write this in early September, fires are raging in much of Oregon and air quality ranges between unhealthy and hazardous due to nearby fires or at a distance by smoke plumes. //Unfortunately, due to turn around time for the metro MG Newsletter, you won’t receive this advice until long after it is the most useful. //But perhaps, during a future event, you’ll recall the most critical guidelines to help protect you and yours.

Perhaps the single best link for info is where there’s nearly endless info under the headings of Air Quality Information (AQI) & Health; Fires; Maps & Data; Education; International; and Resources. When the Home Page opens, click “Allow Location Access” to receive an air quality rating from the sensor closest to where you live.

Let’s review a number of other helpful links about smoke, health safety, and gardening.

The risks of particulate matter in smoke

“Particulate matter contains microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can be inhaled and cause serious health problems. Some particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter can get deep into your lungs and some may even get into your bloodstream. Of these, particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. . . pose the greatest risk to health.” (

Note that only an N95 mask or respirator will protect your lungs from the smallest particles in wildfire smoke.

– Guidelines for working indoors or outdoors

Wait until the air quality reaches healthy levels to begin cleanup because disturbed ash particles can enter, and damage, your lungs.

– Ash disposal 

“Collected ash may be disposed of in the regular trash. Ash should be stored in plastic bags or other containers to prevent it from being stirred up. If you suspect hazardous waste, including asbestos, is present, contact your local hazardous waste authorities regarding appropriate disposal. Avoid washing ash into storm drains.” (

– What should I do about wildfire ash covering my yard and garden: “. . . a thin dusting of ash on plants (can still see the green color) isn’t likely to have long term effects on plant health before our fall rains wash it away, so no need to remove.

“Focus instead on clearing heavier amounts of ash from plants that you regularly come into contact through gardening activities, that are near windows, doors or air handling units, food producing plants, or plants that are of high value to you.

Don’t wash the ash down the storm drain. Instead direct the rinse water into low traffic grassy or ornamental areas (away from your fruit & veggie garden) which will act as a natural filter. Large amounts of ash can be gently swept into a pile, bagged in plastic sacks, sealed, and thrown away “

– Take precautions when wildfire ash lands on fruits and vegetables: “Avoid going outside to harvest while smoke lingers.” Rinse twice, once outdoors and again in the kitchen sink. If the produce is near a burned building, potential health-affecting toxins may be present. Peel produce like tomatoes, apples and root crops and strip the outer leaves of lettuces and other greens. For a more thorough cleaning, soak vegetables and fruits in a 10% white vinegar solution (one teaspoon vinegar to three cups water), which can lift soil particles off vegetables like kale, Swiss chard, savoy cabbage and fruit like peaches, apricots and nectarines.”

– Indoor Air Filtration: If you have central air conditioning, turn the control to “fan.” If you lack central air, consider a portable filter; the best kinds use HEPA filtration.

– Backyard Poultry in Fire-Affected Areas (UCCE; 2017): “In addition to all the destruction and inhalation of smoke associated with the recent fires in Northern California, one of the unfortunate legacies remaining are chemical contamination of land, soil and water. . . . Since backyard chickens are food animals with respect to egg and meat production, there is a risk that some of these substances may be ingested by chickens and deposited inside eggs which are then laid by the chickens. . . .  Unfortunately, there is limited scientific data on this issue. . . .”

At the time of this blog entry (2017), UCCE had several stringent recommendations concerning backyard poultry, including lab testing of the eggs. (

– Produce Safety After Urban Wildfire (UCCE; 2018): “Plant samples DO NOT show extensive contamination of produce exposed to wildfire smoke, and our findings suggest a low health risk from ingesting produce exposed to wildfire smoke.” (

– Safe Ash Clean-Up After a Fire: The greatest risk if from tiny invisible dust particles. Avoid cleaning up until air quality improves and it’s safe to be outdoors. (

– Fire Recovery Guide: What to do with your land after a wildfire.(California Native Plant Society; 2019;

– How to stay safe in a smoky pandemic: A Q&A.

Jewel colored autumn leaves on tree.

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all. 

— Stanley Horowitz 

Help Us to Report Your Generous Service

Although volunteer requirements are waived for 2020 due to the pandemic, we still would like you to tell us about your service hours so that we can celebrate and share your contributions with OSU.  In lieu of submitting a volunteer log this year, please complete the brief survey that Marcia McIntyre sent via email earlier this fall.  No need to submit a volunteer log sheet this year.  Via the survey, you will simply report your total Program and Partner hours, along with your Continuing Education Hours and any produce donations you made to area food banks. 

Please answer the volunteer log survey no later than, Thursday, October 15, 2020.

For our 2020 Master Gardener trainees we are extending the deadline for your training requirements until September 30, 2021. We are looking forward to a time when we can introduce you to a wide variety of volunteer activities where you can apply and expand your gardening knowledge.

Master Gardeners Sowing and Growing in 2021

Seedlings sprouting in small white pot.

So, what’s sowing and growing for OSU Master Gardeners in 2021?  We are pleased to share the news that exciting new programing will be offered to Perennial Master Gardeners around the state, including our class of 2020 trainees.  This is an opportunity for Master Gardeners to enhance your gardening know-how “via a combination of self-paced learning and live webinars and online conversations with OSU experts.” Learn more about this innovative new curriculum, that will be offered starting in January of 2021 HERE.

Celebrate Master Gardener Week
October 26-30, 2020

Image of clover blossoms, with bees. Overlaid with 'Celebrate Master Gardener WEEK' 'Oct 26 - 30, 2020'

Recognition and celebration of Oregon’s Master Gardener Volunteers

In a year when you were needed more than ever, Oregon’s Master Gardeners rose to the multiple challenges of 2020 in simply amazing ways. You made it work and took it online. You stayed connected and identified insects, plants, and soil problems all in new ways. When Oregonians needed advice and education like never before, Master Gardeners were there for
them. You’ve even mastered the Zoom goodbye wave and how to unmute. You grew more Oregon gardeners than ever before. It’s time to say thank you!

Celebrate Master Gardener Week
October 26-30, 2020

Thank you Master Gardeners and welcome to a week-long celebration of YOU!

Events include:

Film Festival featuring three film viewings, discussions, and Q&As with filmmakers and/or local experts.

State of the Master Gardener Program Address with Dr. Gail Langellotto, Statewide Master Gardener Program Coordinator

Beneficial Insect Trivia Game and Discussion

This free celebration is designed as an online opportunity to connect through the learning management platform OSU uses for online classes.

Registration for Master Gardeners will be opening on October 19th, watch for details to come.

Celebrate Master Gardener Week Schedule Film Festival

During these dates registered participants will have special VIP access to view three films.

Promotional poster for the film Love Bugs. Photo of subject of the film. A man and a woman standing with their insect collection.
The Love Bugs
  • October 20 – 27, 2020: The Love Bugs 
    Over the course of 60 years, entomologists Charlie and Lois O’Brien amassed a collection of more than 1 million insects from nearly 70 countries —the largest private collection in the world with a value of $10 million dollars. But as Charlie’s battle with Parkinson’s becomes increasingly pronounced, he and Lois, 90, make the difficult decision to give away their drawers full of iridescent weevils and planthoppers. This humorous and poignant film explores the love of Nature—and the Nature of Love—and what it means to devote oneself completely to both.

  • October 21-28, 2020: Land Grab: The Movie
    Land Grab is the story of an eccentric finance mogul’s dream to create the world’s largest urban farm in his hometown of Detroit and the political firestorm he unintentionally ignited by announcing that he would spend $30 million of his own fortune to build this farm in one of the most economically devastated neighborhoods of the bankrupt Motor City.

  • October 22-29, 2020: The Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf 
    After completing a feature documentary on New York’s High Line, award-winning filmmaker Thomas Piper met the inspirational designer and plantsman, Piet Oudolf, and the idea for a new project was born. The documentary, FIVE SEASONS: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf, immerses viewers in Oudolf’s work and takes us inside his creative process, from his beautifully abstract sketches, to theories on beauty, to the ecological implications of his ideas.

After viewing the films, join together via Zoom with the filmmakers and/or local experts for discussion.

  • October 26, 2020 at 6pm PDT. Facilitated discussion of The Love Bugs.
  • October 27, 2020 at 6pm PDT. Facilitated discussion of Land Grab: The Movie. 
  • October 28, 2020 at 6pm PDT. Facilitated discussion of The Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf. 

Note: Pre-registration is required/Zoom webinars have a limit of 500 people.

State of the Statewide Master Gardener Program Address

  • October 29, 2020 at 6pm PDT. Join Statewide Master Gardener Program Coordinator Gail Langellotto, for a livestreamed update on the Master Gardener Program in Oregon. The presentation will review recent accomplishments and points of pride, current challenges and opportunities, and an overview of what is to come in 2021.

Note: Pre-registration is required/Zoom webinars have a limit of 500 people.

Beneficial Insect Trivia Game and Discussion

Green Lacewing insect.
Green Lacewing, C. nigricornis adult – Photo credit: Jim Moore,
  • October 30, 2020 at 6pm PDT. Put your insect knowledge to the test with this fun and interactive trivia tournament hosted by OSU’s Klamath County horticulture faculty member Nicole Sanchez. The ultimate gardening edutainment experience!

Note: We’ll be using both Zoom and Slido. Pre-registration is required and is limited to 200 people. Study up beforehand if you’re feeling competitive:

Webinar Recordings Work with Your Schedule

Screen shot of webinar 'Vegetable Gardening Tips for Fall' with image of pumpkin. Thumbnail image of presenter - a man wearing a cap.

Do you have a schedule conflict with an upcoming webinar?  Don’t despair!  We are posting recordings of many of our webinars in the days following the presentation.  Recently fellow Master Gardener, Dennis Brown, kindly inspired us with tips for what to do in our vegetable gardens in the fall. 

To see Dennis’ Fall Vegetable Gardening Tips Webinar, along with other past webinars visit:

Garden Webinar Series Continues

Several Japanese beetles on a leaf that has scattered holes.
Japanese beetles
Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Our metro area Garden Webinar Series continues in November, with a special presentation from Jessica Rendon, PhD., from the Oregon Department of Agriculture.  Jessica will be highlight invasive insects species that are important for Oregonians to know about, including the Asian giant hornet, Japanese beetle, and Southern pink moth, to name just a few.

Friday, November 20th, 1PM
Invasive Species Threatening Oregon! What to Look For and How to Help. For webinar details and to register go to…

Our October Garden Checklist

It’s time to overwinter vegetable beds, sheet mulch and plant garlic. Find inspiration in our October Garden Checklist.