Browsed by
Tag: trails

Prickly Situation for Hikers: How to Remove Cactus Barbs

Prickly Situation for Hikers: How to Remove Cactus Barbs

Have you ever found yourself in a sticky and prickly situation on a trail?  Have you wondered how you were going to get those painful cactus barbs  out of your hand, arm, or maybe, leg?  Some of them are very large, but some are so small they break before you can get them out!  Well, one of our park rangers has some good tips on how to remove cactus barbs.   if you ever find yourself stuck with some barbs., here is how to remove them.  Easily and quickly…you just need the right tools! to remove those cactus barbs.

Polyphagous Shot hole borer

Polyphagous Shot hole borer

What is the polyphagous shot hole borer & how much damage can one tiny bug cause?

Akif Eskalen steps through the dense, damp leaves in a wooded neighborhood, scrutinizing the branches around him. He’s looking for evidence of an attack: tiny wounds piercing the bark and sap dried around them like bloodstains.  It is The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer.    What?  You’ve never heard of it?

The victims are boDavid Fleming uses a pocket knife to dig out a polyphagous shot-hole borer beetlex elders, sycamores and coast live oaks, all in some state of suffering. Eskalen approaches a tree riddled with 1-millimeter holes, as if someone used it for miniature target practice. It’s time to nab a perp. He selects a hole, pulls out a large knife and expertly levers out a chunk of wood.

There, in his hand, is a glossy beetle no larger than a sesame seed:The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer.

Though small and sluggish, its appetites are wide and its spread is relentless. It attacks forest trees, city trees and key agricultural trees. It has defied all conventional and chemical weapons. No one seems to have a way to stop it.UTI1747472_1_t837

Eskalen tips the beetle into a glass vial. He detaches a pink spray bottle from his backpack and administers a few lethal squirts of ethanol before twisting the vial shut.

These beetles have a strange M.O. They don’t eat wood, like termites; instead, they drill circular tunnels toward the heart of the tree. They carry fungal spores in their mouths and sow them like seeds as they go. Then they harvest the fungus to feed their larvae. It’s a deadly partnership: The beetles attack, but the fungus also helps to kill, colonizing the wood tissue and spreading through the plant.

The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer. have easily evaded the authorities. Inside the tree, they’re well protected from pesticide sprays. The incestuous offspring mate with their siblings inside the trunk, so sex pheromones do not lure them out.

“If we can’t control them,” Eskalen said, “they are going to wipe out all our trees.”

The consequences of a wide-ranging infestation could be enormous. Common city trees, such as American sweetgum and maple, would become public branch-dropping hazards. Native trees such as the California sycamore and the coast live oak have started to succumb, creating a fire risk in the form of dead, dry tinder. Avocados and other crops could face huge financial losses.

A genetic analysis traced the bugs to Vietnam. Unlike other insects that target just a few species, the shot-hole borer beetle is an equal opportunity pest, infesting at least 286 tree species and posing the potential for widespread destruction.

Its hosts include California natives such as coast live oaks and sycamores, and key agricultural crops, including avocado. The shot-hole borer beetle injects trees with a fungus, which it them “farms” for food. The beetle’s adaptability and wide host range make it tricky to identify, because symptoms of infestation vary among the hundreds of trees it attacks. A handout on Eskalen’s website shows the beetles’ effects on different trees …Some ooze with gummy deposits on their bark… Others display dark or reddish stains on their trunks. …Still others erupt in clusters of crystals called “sugar volcanoes.” The beetles are prolific breeders too, and can lay eggs several times per year, experts said.

“The female will bore into hundreds of typical, common tree species,” Launder said. “In most of those species, the fungus will grow. The fungus is the food source for their offspring. The tree ends up just bleeding.”

San Diego is already battling the gold-spotted oak borer, which has felled thousands of California live oak, black oak and canyon live oak in the backcountry, and in parkland.

The oak-borer beetle spreads on firewood, and apparently hitchhiked that way from San Diego County to the mountain town of Idyllwild, in Riverside County, late last year. Forestry and agricultural officials have urged residents not to transport wood, and say that message is doubly important in light of the new pest.

Known Hosts: The following is a selected list of common landscape trees from more than 110 known hosts: box elder, castor bean, avocado, coast live oak, English oak, valley oak, California sycamore, big leaf maple, Japanese maple, red willow, goldenrain tree, olive, persimmon, silk tree, American sweet gum, coral tree, weeping willow, blue palo verde, palo verde, Chinese willow, white alder.


What to do:

  • Look for a single exit hole with surrounding white powderyThe finger points to a beetle entry hole on an avocado trunk. exudates.
  • Scrape off the bark layer around the infected area to see the canker.
  • Follow the gallery to look for the beetle (it may or may not be present).
  • DO NOT move infested wood out of the infested area, including firewood.
  • Look for other hosts (castor bean, box elder, black locust, coast live oak) showing

symptoms of the beetle/disease.

  • There are no effective treatments against this pest/disease complex.
  • If you remove an infested tree, chip it or cut it into firewood and cover with clear

plastic for at least 2 months to kill any remaining beetles.

  • DO NOT move the tree from your property to prevent spreading the beetle and disease.

Who to contact if you find the problem:

If you suspect that you have found this beetle or seen symptoms of the disease on your tree or in surrounding areas please contact either your local Cooperatve Extension Office or Dr. Akif Eskalen by phone 951-827-3499 or email at


Founding of the Friends of Sycamore Canyon – A reflection by Paul Kucharczyk

Founding of the Friends of Sycamore Canyon – A reflection by Paul Kucharczyk


Paul Kucharczyk

I was the supervising ranger assigned to the Goodan Ranch and Sycamore Canyon from 1996-2000. Prior experience in managing a sixth-grade camp program utilizing Urban Corps personnel, providing interpretive programs, and operations experience from my first 11 years at Agua Caliente and William Heise County Parks helped me in this promotional opportunity. My residence on-site was the stone house (est. 1939), still standing today as a burned ruin since the devastating 2003 firestorm. Twenty years ago there was no office, no computer, no Visitor Center. There was no park truck and no other staff or volunteers assigned. The park budget was $1,000.00 a year. Sycamore Canyon Road was mostly unpaved. Think ‘Dances With Wolves’ when Kevin Costner’s character was sent to the furthest Union outpost in the west; that was how I felt when I arrived. I encouraged Boy Scout projects to help repair our trails, gates and fences. Other than that I was pretty much on my own, 24/7.

I did have resources through the docents of the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve ( . Hosting trainings for them at the Goodan Ranch brought good ideas my way. Integral to Blue Sky was the Friends of Blue Sky, a supporting non-profit. There was no similar organization I could call upon for Goodan Ranch/Sycamore Canyon support. During these years the County of San Diego’s Department of Parks and Recreation updated their 5-year plan document. Upon my review, one line-item stood out from all the others: “There shall be established a Friends group for each of our open space preserves”.  Sounds great, but how does one start? Back at Blue Sky I started sharing to a few docents my dream of a support group. I desperately needed help in the form of volunteer labor, and a supporting non-profit could be the catalyst.

Blue Sky Reserve docent, Karen Larson, understood the mutually-beneficial support linking volunteer opportunities to a worthy cause. Planning meant more meetings with more people, and our circle grew. The very first Friends of Goodan Ranch and Sycamore Canyon meeting was held on March 9th, 1999 at President Karen Larsen’s home. Its Mission Statement paralleled the County of San Diego, Department of Parks and Recreation’s Mission Statement. The Friend’s Vision Statement was an inclusive one recognizing the needs of bicyclists, hikers, and equestrians. David Breitweiser, Lee Fowler, and Bill Golightly represented hiking and cycling trail use. Mike Kelly’s long-standing with the Friends of Los Penasquitos provided a parallel experience in supporting an open space preserve. Nancy and John Conney of Sky Hunters brought non-releasable birds of prey to the forefront at interpretive and community events. I’m sure this inspired Garden Road residents Jerry and Mary Kay Tomlinson in their design of the Friends logo. So far, so good, but, what I needed was help… volunteers with boots and gloves. By the end of June, the National Charity League, in which Karen and her daughter belonged, provided the first Friends volunteer cleanup on-site. Avid trail user and cyclist Terry Callen and equestrian DeAnne Erickson joined the Friends. In September we sponsored our first Friends booth in Poway’s Community Day event. By 2000, Blue Sky docent and near-by resident Carol Crafts joined our efforts. Our Friends group continued to engage the public at community events and street fairs in Poway and Rancho Penasquitos. Also in 2000, a boy scout took on the project of constructing an amphitheater which is still in use today. My time as the resident ranger was by this time coming to a close. This led to the promotional opportunity for a new supervising ranger, Maureen Abare-Laudy, who still patrols the trails and boundaries of the Goodan Ranch and Sycamore Canyon Open Space Preserve with her great staff. Trail maintenance, effective signage, perimeter security, staging areas, and, of course, the Visitor Center’s native gardens, nature displays and interpretive programs thrive under Maureen’s care and protection. Ann Laux and Robert Coates, avid equestrians and trail riders, joined the group in 2001. Carol Crafts stepped up to become the next president of the Friends in 2002.

It was my pleasure to visit the Friends board meeting in February at the Hamburger Factory and see it continue for another year. Of course, I renewed my membership. The Goodan Ranch and Sycamore Canyon Open Space Preserve is still my favorite place to ride my horse, ‘Sedona’. Goodan Ranch history and my time living and working there will always be intertwined as I reflect on the past while riding in the present, and pondering its future.

sycamore canyonHappy trails!