Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
With names like the filth fly, the assassin bug, and the bombardier beetle, Amy Stewart's' new book on insects, Wicked Bugs (Algonquin Books, 2011, $18.95) is sure to shiver your timbers. Amy writes with wit and style. Her books are entertaining and informative. Her exacting research has uncovered terrifying and titillating stories of bugs gone wild. For example, cockroaches have been around for 350 million years and carry pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella, leprosy, typhoid, dysentery, plague, hookworm, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. When they feed, they regurgitate a little food from their last meal. Half of all people with asthma are allergic to cockroaches. For this and more horrifying information on insects, this book is a must read. The many beautiful drawings and etchings by Briony Morrow-Cribbs enhance the narrative.
Favorite or New Plant
Cestrum is an evergreen perennial plant that is native to the American tropics. The showy clusters of tubular shaped flowers are an open invitation to hummingbirds. Cestrum is best planted in a protected area in your garden. It needs frequent tip pruning to prevent it from becoming leggy but will recover if occasionally cut all the way to the ground. If you love hummingbirds, then you need to plant cestrum.