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May 27, 1989 | TYLER L. CHIN, Times Staff Writer
J. Nicholas Nisson's job doesn't bug him. His job is bugs. As the only entomologist employed by the county agriculture commissioner's office, Nisson helps to detect insects that hitchhike on goods brought into the county from other states and countries and threaten crops. I "wouldn't trade it for anything," said Nisson, whose constant task is to preserve crops worth millions of dollars. One of the nastiest and most dangerous critters Nisson has helped to battle is a little brown beetle from Australia named the eucalyptus longhorn borer.
July 31, 2002
"Opossum Killings Test Limits of Cruelty Cases" (July 29) did not educate enough about how harmless to humans opossums are and why they are desirable to have around our yards and homes. They are nocturnal, so coming across one in the dark is scary. They hiss and show their teeth when they are frightened, but they don't bite humans. Indeed, if humans get too close, they freeze and appear to be dead, i.e., "play possum." This actually is an involuntary, shock-like state. I decided not to bother with traps or any efforts to remove them from hanging around my yard in the middle of Los Angeles when I learned that they dine on insects, cockroaches, snails, mice, rats and occasionally snakes.
February 15, 1998
In last week's "Garden Q&A" column, Robert Smaus gave the most sensible reply to a Topanga resident who asked how to keep raccoons from disturbing a newly laid sod lawn: "A sod lawn has no business in Topanga." I am also puzzled about why people move to a natural and fairly wild area and then try to drag all the accessories of the city there. Most of the plant pests in Topanga are accidental or well-intended but wrongheaded introductions of exotic plants with habits and traits that enable their survival in their original habitats.
September 22, 1989 | STEPHANIE CHAVEZ, Times Staff Writer
Carol Mueller, a gardening enthusiast, has abandoned her hobby because a swirling white cloud of pinhead-sized flies has invaded every corner of her yard. When the Van Nuys woman must go outside, she wears two bandannas to protect her hair and ears. She waves her hands to keep tiny flies off her body and frequently coughs and puffs air out her nose. "It's driving me crazy. They are all over. You wonder if you are breathing them in," she said, exasperated. "It's horrifying.
This is California as America knows it. Sun-dappled hills of golden grasses undulate into the distance, dotted with herbs and occasional wildflowers. It is the kind of landscape made famous in old Western films, when the cowboys galloped their horses through the chaparral. Now here's the real story of this wild-land vista: Most of the rippling gold grasses came from Spain, Italy, Greece, Morocco. That thick patch of pale green fennel is an insidious intruder from Southern Europe.
April 24, 1988 | WILLIAM D. MONTALBANO, Times Staff Writer
A plague of locusts that could become the biggest that modern man has known is sweeping voraciously across North and West Africa, foiling international counterattack, officials at the Rome headquarters of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said last week. "We are in big trouble," said Lukas Brader, a Dutch entomologist who heads the FAO anti-locust campaign. "The speed of the locusts' spread has caught us off balance.
October 6, 1989
Infestations of the ash whitefly, until recently confirmed only in the Los Angeles area, have spread north to the agricultural San Joaquin Valley, raising concerns about possible damage to the fruit industry. The pest, native to Mediterranean countries, apparently has not yet spread into groves of fruit trees it is known to attack, but agriculture officials say it is only a matter of time.
September 23, 1989 | GEORGE FRANK, Times Staff Writer
Agriculture officials and entomologists said Friday that there is "no quick fix" to countering the growing swarms of ash whiteflies in Orange County and other parts of Southern California, but the pesky insects could eventually be controlled through predators and parasites. During a meeting of the California Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Assn. subcommittee on the ash whitefly in Anaheim, Orange County Agricultural Commissioner James D.
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