Wednesday, May 29, 2013

It's the Lerp Psyllid's fault ? So ? And ? (Nature takes the hit again in blame game)

This seems to be an underlying theme now days to blame Nature behind many of today's ecological problems. I'll have more on this later which I have no doubt will be disturbing to many, but this trend is real and there is a flaw in Human Intellectual reasoning behind this attitude. More on that later since the post already exists. The real tragedy is not so much the wholesale damage caused by what the Lerp Psyllid has done. They were introduced and they do what they do. But mostly what I've seen on my two month stay here is the disconnect by property owners and other agencies with turning a blind eye to the eye sore aesthetics & aftermath in almost all landscapes throughout Southern California and potential for further future fire hazard which will come.
UC scientists apply IPM techniques to new eucalyptus pests
Credit: University of California - California Agriculture
This isn't so much a post on the insects and Eucalyptus trees themselves as the lazy disconnected attitude by many of the residents in Southern California who leave these sickly trees to remain in the landscape as skeleton reminders of their helplessness and hopelessness. I'm finding more and more people are generally apathetic when it comes to landscapes here. Many do not seem to have any sense of pride anymore about their yards or other large properties. I'm not posting mainly about poor folks who can't afford water rates like their wealthier neighbours in the mountain top private communities. Even Mount Helix which towers between El Cajon and La Mesa has it's countless dead or sickly Red River Gum Eucalyptus. While I've driven all over and seen numerous dead or dying woodlands everywhere in the south land, here are some prime example photos taken just east of El Cajon California.
NPR: Invasive Pests, Or Tiny Biological Terrorists?
For those who have a further interest on the subject of the Lerp Psyllid and how it arrived here and some of the Bio-Terrorism speculation being forwarded as to how they arrived in California, the link above from NPR is fascinating as it interviews Timothy Paine of University California Riverside who has put forth an hypothesis of someone who has a hatred of Eucalyptus deliberately importing these pests to rid the state of Eucalyptus trees for good in California. Some of the clues he presents are intriguing. This show was aired on July 22, 2012. In the photo below, you'll notice that in Australia there are a number of biological components which provide checks and balances for the Eucalyptus Lerp which do not exist in California.

photo image - Eileen Collins - June 2015 

Friends of Chiltern Mt Pilot Nation Park

A Regent Honeyeater eating the Lerps from a Golden Wattle
Now the Potential for Wildfire in El Cajon & Lakeside California where massive areas of Dead Eucalyptus are waiting to explode
Photo Mine
This view is from a north side frontage road off of Interstate 8 looking towards infected and either dying and/or dead trees along Olde U.S. 80 at Flynn Springs near Lakeside California. The entire countryside has the appearance of being through a train wreck.
Photo Mine
Traveling west towards El Cajon on Olde U.S. 80 from Los Coches Road near Lakeside California. Many many Red River Gum Eucalyptus were heavily planted along most Southern California roadways in the early days. Places like Ramona & Escondido California are great examples of these trees lining their main streets. Sadly they are mostly in bad shape. These types of locations will become future wildfire facilitators at some point and these dead and dying trees and/or Chaparral will get the blame. Human idiocy will get a cover up.
Photo Mine
Further up the road there are more completely dead and/or dying Eucalyptus trees which should have come down years ago. This area was never touched by the Cedar Fire of 2003 (oddly enough, it was also never touched by the 1970 Laguna Fire either & they were here then], so the dead limbs and trunks are not the result of some past fire. Old Eucalyptus plant skeletons are everywhere. Some dead Eucalyptus in some areas have been around since I was a kid in the 1960s. Fascinating preservative qualities of this tree's wood is what allows for such longevity. But trust me, this is a potential firestorm waiting to happen.
Photo Mine

This photo above is across the old Hwy 80 on the other side behind my previous photo above that where numerous houses and Mobile Home Parks exist. That frontage Road is Aurora Drive and dead Eucalyptus are all along it's corridors. If a fire ever comes from western prevailing winds, then such structures will be toast. Such dead thick dense stands of trees in between housing developments are what help those megafires spread along such vegetative thoroughfares to newer areas within a housing/chaparral patchwork of not well thought out building and planning. It would have been safer if the land was allowed to remain low coastal sage scrub habitat which is the natural native plants to this location, than the present dead Red Gum Eucalyptus with waist high foxtails and European Wild Oats. 

And finally looking through the overpass of Interstate 8 on Broadway in El Cajon, just east of El Cajon Ford and Albertson's. All these photos are a mere tip of a pin head of what there actually is out there. And everyone familiar with Southern California knows exactly what I'm talking about. Much of this major planting was undertaken around the turn of the last Century in the early 1900s. To bad Natives were not more respected and understood back then when a decision was made as to what they should plant in the landscape. Although, I'm not sure it would have made any difference. There are massive volumes of information now available, and although things are improving, they are not moving forward fast enough. Another Santa Ana wind driven Laguna Fire from the east blowing down from La Cresta towards Greenfield Drive and this hill in the photograph behind those dead trees will go up like a match. However it's these very trees which will allow the fire to move forwards into deeper urban residential areas, something it could never accomplish before.

As I've stated before, it appears most home owners and landowners in general have a collective apathy. They turn a blind eye to mess created long ago by themselves or other humans. Having a sense of pride of California's beautiful landscapes doesn't seem to be a priority anymore as it once was. This trip has been a reminder of just how disappointing this attitude is and lack of pride most people reveal in the unkempt landscape. I don't doubt that taking these trees out would cost some money. Those tree trimming companies contracted by County wide Utility companies which normally do a cheaply priced hack job would actually be ideal in these complete removal assignments. Education of the folks on the use and advantages of the Native Plants is the biggest chore. Unfortunately the competition for education is stiff when a short attention spanned population is addicted to it's mind numbing Electronic Devices. Trying to actually motivate them into physically taking action for a change can be a challenge. In many cases I see this as too serious an issue to ever really get corrected. In the mean time anyone presently reading who actually cares and has such plant hazards on or near their properties, do well to heed any advice or suggestions given on property improvement, especially where these hazards may effect their fellow man by means of wildfire or windstorms. I have a bad feeling about some of these locations. The next time a Megafire comes through this way, an un-natural fore break like an Interstate 8 won't be much of a barrier when dead trees at already great heights go up like Roman Candles allowing branches and twigs to get caught in updrafts spreading spot fires even miles away.  
Wildfire Update August 2014
Well, it's happened. Wildfire has struck and destroyed this area I previously referenced as going to happen where the dead Eucalyptus are present between El Cajon and Lakeside. Almost exactly one year after I wrote this article on the Eucalyptus Lerp and May 2014 was a devastating time for wildfire, both in El Cajon-Lakeside and San Marcos-Escondido areas and what made it worse was the dead landscaping and lack of consern on the part of land owners.
Should Firefighters be expected to save Homes which are located in fire trap geography and where the owner cared less about landscape hygiene ?


  1. I agree that those (trash trees w/ problems) are great subjects for mass removals! Yes, not enough respect for all the natives in SD.

    1. The Landscapes out here in Southern California are one big fat mess, even in the wealthier neighbourhoods, which I must say was even a surprise to me.


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