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

Caterpillars mimic leaves or offer rewards for protection by ants.  “Study reveals different forms of interaction between insect groups: some caterpillar species have bodies covered with molecules identical to those of the plants they inhabit and are ‘invisible’ to ants.” (

Clod of soil
Clod of soil. Photo: Rachel Werling

Soil: The dirty secrets of a living landscape. (Gordon Jones, Scott Goode, OSU; EM 9304)

What food and gardens trends are predicted for 2021? (Samantha Murray, US/IFAS)

Move over murder hornets:  There’s a new bug in town- at it’s coming for your lawn. (Sandi Doughton, Seattle Times)

Catching hope: Possible ally in fight against harmful fruit fly discovered in Asian giant hornet trap (Karla Salp,WSDA)

Extremely rare, one-of-a-kind flower found in Maui’s rugged mountains. (Mark Price, Sacramento Bee)

This drone sniffs out odors with a real moth antenna. “Researchers slap a living antenna on a drone to give the machine an insanely keen sense of smell. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the ‘Smellicopter.’” (Matt Simon, Wired)

Trips on salal leaves
Trips on salal. Photo: Jay Pscheidt, OSU

Thrips on Salal.  The following is OSU Plant Pathologist Jay Pscheidt’s response to a client regarding damage on Salal: “We have heard about this in the south west part of the state near the coast. The cause is not azalea lace bug (although the damage is surprisingly similar) but the greenhouse thrips, Heliothrips haemorrhoidalis. As the common name suggests, this pest is predominantly associated with greenhouses in temperate climates as it is supposedly not cold hardy. It can be a significant pest in warmer climates, such as California in the avocado areas and in Florida. It predominantly attacks shrubs or trees. We’ve seen it in greenhouses for years but found it in outside samples from Hoyt Arboretum several years ago. Many years ago, it was causing substantial landscape damage in the Seattle area to viburnum and salal among other shrubs.” (Jay Pscheidt Facebook 1-4-21) PNW Disease Management Handbook:

Meet the World’s Least-Charismatic Orchid. “This newly described species has been dubbed “the ugliest.” (Jessica Leigh Hester, Atlas Obscura)

WSU Extension publications has a wealth of peer reviewed gardening information.  Check out a sampling:

Do Black Walnut Trees Have Allelopathic Effects on Other Plants? (Home Garden Series) (Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, WSU)

Epsom Salt Use in Home Gardens and Landscapes. (Dr. Linda Chalker- Scott, Rich Guggenheim, WSU)

Gypsum Use in Home Gardens and Landscapes. (Dr. Linda-Chalker-Scott, Rich Guggenheim WSU

Home Pruning: Reasons to Prune Trees and Shrubs (Home Gardening Series.) Tim Kohlhauff, WSU; et al.

Hugelkultur: What is it, and should it be used in home gardens?  “Hügelkultur is an increasingly popular way of using organic material to create mounded home gardens and landscapes.” (Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, WSU)

Convergens lady beetle
Convergens lady beetle. Photo: OSU

Lady Beetles: Should We Buy Them For Our Gardens? (Home Garden Series.)  “Lady beetles are a popular biocontrol method for aphids in home gardens and landscapes. Many gardeners purchase these insects at nurseries, garden centers, and online.” (Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, Michael R. Bush, WSU)

Vegetables: Growing Peppers in Home Gardens (Home Garden Series.)   “Looking for a way to spice up your home garden? There are few vegetables more colorful or easier to grow than peppers.” (Michael R. Bush, WSU; et al)

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