Warning: Japanese Barberry!

Japanese Barberry  (Berberis thunbergii)
has been on the USDA invasive species Japanese Barberrylist since the 1980s. With its high seed production and 90% germination rate, this plant has taken over forest floors, wetlands and open spaces at an alarming rate. It is now found in the wild in 31 states; throughout all eastern and mid-western states, and areas of Wyoming and Washington.

Deer Tick_blacklegged tickRecently an alarming side effect of this plant’s escape into the wild has been discovered.  Japanese Barberry creates a humid microclimate creating a highly favorable environment for tick survival and reproduction cycles. This humid environment is especially suited for Deer Ticks (aka: Blacklegged Ticks) ( Ixodes scapularis), vectors of Lyme Disease!   And indeed, studies show Lyme Disease has increased where Japanese Barberry is prevalent.  This plant’s encroachment has now created a public health issue, which has BLM, USDA, and Agriculture Mangers  stepping up efforts to eradicate it in the wild.

Public education is key to controlling invasive species, but inexcusably this highly invasive shrub is still sold in nurseries and written about in garden magazines and nursery catalogs publicizing it as a suitable plant for urban landscapes!  Many states now prohibit the sell of Japanese Barberry, but they are still sold in Oregon, so please research plants before you buy them.  Be a Conscientious Gardener!

Invasive Plant Atlas:  https://www.invasiveplantatlas.org/index.html

Entomology Today: https://entomologytoday.org/2017/10/04/the-5-year-plan-manage-japanese-barberry-to-keep-tick-levels-low-reduce-lyme-risk/

Scientific American: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/barberry-bambi-and-bugs-the-link-between-japanese-barberry-and-lyme-disease/

Oregon Invasive Species: http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/programs/Weeds/OregonNoxiousWeeds/Pages/AboutOregonWeeds.aspx

Article by: Carlotta Lucas

Oregon Snakes

One of many nice qualities about living in Oregon, is its non-poisonous snakes, well all but one!


Western Rattlesnake –   Photo By Gary Stolz, U.S. Fish & Wildlife/Wikimedia

Snakes are beneficial to gardeners, they eat mice, voles, rats, slugs, Japanese beetle grubs and other gardening pests.  Only one snake species in Oregon can harm humans, and that is the venomous Western Rattlesnake.

The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) reported,  “there are two sub-species of the Western Rattlesnake in Oregon, the Northern Pacific subspecies, found in southwestern Oregon, in the middle and southern Willamette Valley, as well as the Columbia Plateau. The Great Basin subspecies is found in Oregon’s south central areas and the southeastern region. ”

ODFW says Gopher Snakes (Pituophis catenifer) are often mistaken for Rattlesnakes, because Gopher Snakes shake their tail, hiss and strike out with their head, but Gopher Snakes are not venomous, nor do they have rattles on their tails.  Other snakes in Oregon are also harmless to humans and they are beneficial to the environment, too.

Gopher snake

Gopher snake – Photo by Julia Larson/Wikimedia

Oregon snakes:

  • Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer)
  • Western rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis)
  • California Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata)
  • Common Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula)
  • Northwestern Garter snake (Thamnophis ordinoides)
  • Pacific Coast Aquatic Garter snake (Thamnophis atratus)
  • Common Garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)
  • Racer snake (Coluber constrictor)
  • Western Terrestrial Garter snake (Thamnophis elegans)
  • Ground snake (Sonora semiannulata)
  • Striped whipsnake (Coluber taeniatus)
  • Sharp-tailed snake (Contia tenuis)
  • Ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus)
  • Night snake (Hypsiglena chlorophaea)
  • Rubber Boa (Charina bottae)


Charina_bottae _ Rubber Boa _ USDA Forest Service

Rubber Boa – photo by USDA Forest Service

To learn more about Oregon’s snakes, click on the links below:



Download Oregon’s Fish & Wildlife Brochure … Oregon_Living With Snakes pdf


By: Carlotta Lucas

Home Remedy

Aphid Control

Pour 2 tablespoons liquid dish soap into 1 gallon water. Stir the dish soap into the water and transfer the contents into a plastic spray bottle.

Spray the affected plant’s leaves on both sides with the soapy mixture. Pay attention to coat the underside of the leaves with the mixture, as this is where you’ll find the highest concentration of aphids.

Spray the soapy mixture directly onto any aphids you notice falling from the leaves. The aphids are small, and it’s necessary to shoot them with the soapy water to kill the unwanted pests.

Rinse away the soapy residue after one to two hours. Allowing the soap to remain on the leaves for longer than a few hours can cause damage and burning. Use a garden hose or spray bottle filled with plain water to remove the residue.

Reapply the mixture every few days, or as necessary, to keep the aphid infestation under control.

Tip:  Add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil to the mixture to increase the mixture’s density and make it stickier, helping it attach to and kill the aphids more effectively.

Warning: Test the soapy mixture on a small leaf before a larger application. If the plant shows sign of wilting or damage, don’t use this mixture.

Reprinted from SFgate online:   http://www.sfgate.com/homeandgarden

Earwig Control

Earwigs damage vegetable seedlings, AND they enjoy eating your apricots, blackberries, raspberries, stone fruits, strawberries, dahlias, marigolds and zinnias,  just earwingto name a few!

Earwigs are busiest during June, July and August and there are several organic options to control earwigs in your garden.

  •  First remove the objects earwigs seek out for hiding places, this includes stacks of wood, piles of weeds, grass clippings and other plant debris.
  • Pull mulches at least six inches away from tender plant stems.
  • Earwigs love damp conditions, so water your garden and lawn only when necessary.
  • Turn off as many outdoor lights as possible after dark, earwigs are attracted to light.20160917_113819

Trapping Earwigs with Bait :  Poke several ¼-inch holes in the top of the lid of a small disposable plastic container to make a trap. Place your bait mixture of choice inside the trap, then snap on the lid. Bury the trap in the garden leaving about ¼ inch above the soil.  Empty the trap oil_soysauceinto a bucket of soapy water in the morning.  Repeat every two or three days.

Soy Sauce Bait –  Out of beer, then place ½ inch of soy sauce inside then add a few drops of vegetable oil on top.

Beer Bait –  Pour about ½ inch of stale beer into the trap.

Yeast Bait – Use 1 cup of water, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp flour, ½ dry yeast, and a few drops of oil – Leave the lid off this trap.  This mixture will attract slugs, snails and earwigs.

Traps without Bait:

Newspaper Traps – Roll a section of newspaper into a narrow tube with a ½- to one-inch diameter. Dip it into water to dampen it, but remove quickly. Set the trap in a shady spot near the garden in the morning.  Earwigs will use it to escape the afternoon heat.  Dump newspaper with the bugs into a bucket of soapy water before they come out to feed at dusk.

Milk Carton Trap–  Wash milk carton well with soap and warm water. Cut off one panel of the empty milk carton, wad some dampen newspaper loosely in the carton. Set the trap near the garden but put it in the shade. Earwigs will hideout  in the wet newspaper to escape the heat of the day. Empty bugs into a bucket of soapy water before nightfall.

Natural Predators: Plant flowers that attract earwig predators such as Tachinid and Digonichaeta setipennis flies.  By adding a border of cosmos, dill, or fennel around your garden you provide a habitat for these insect predators.  You can also encourage other natural predators, like toads or lizards to live in your garden.  And, chickens eat earwigs, too.