DEAR JOAN: Are the beavers still present in Martinez? Will there be a Beaver Festival this year? I have searched the city website and city calendar but cannot find current information. Thank you.

Clancy Sullivan

American Canyon

DEAR CLANCY: Yes, there are four beavers living in downtown Martinez.

I checked in with Heidi Perryman, president of Worth a Dam, the group formed to save the beavers. The group also is helping San Jose and American Canyon exist in harmony with their beavers.

Perryman says the matriarch of the clan died in 2010, leaving three young kits that were cared for by the rest of the family. Last year the father found a new mate and the couple had one kit.

In this 2008 photo, a beaver chomps on a leaf along Alhambra Creek near the beaver dam in downtown Martinez.
In this 2008 photo, a beaver chomps on a leaf along Alhambra Creek near the beaver dam in downtown Martinez. (Susan Tripp Pollard/Staff)

Martinez residents and officials, Perryman says, have learned and are showing others that beaver challenges are solvable. The beavers also have brought otter, heron, steelhead and mink back to the wetlands.

The sixth annual Beaver Fest is set for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 3 in "Beaver Park," Marina Vista and Alhambra avenues. For updates, go to www.martinezbeavers.org.

DEAR JOAN: I was turning over the dirt in my vegetable garden and found a lot of grub worms. Do you have an ideal way to get rid of them? They also were in the planter box.

Richard Trask

Cupertino

DEAR RICHARD: If you have more than six grubs per square foot, you have a serious infestation. You don't want to use insecticides, however, in areas where you will be growing edibles. Insecticides don't work well against grubs, anyway, so you shouldn't even be tempted.

Most likely you are seeing the larvae of the Japanese beetle, but there are many kinds out there. Take the grubs to your Master Gardeners office and ask for help identifying them.

The larvae will eventually become adult beetles, which will emerge from the soil in the late spring to early summer and begin laying eggs in the root zone, producing more larvae. That means now is the time to combat them.

Toss them in the garbage when you find them and use beneficial nematodes, which are microscopic roundworms that seek out grubs and caterpillars, killing them within a few days. Check with your favorite nursery or online for a nematode reputable supplier.

DEAR JOAN: Do carpenter bees destroy wood like termites do?

I have a beamed wood ceiling that extends outdoors, and during spring and summer when it is warm, I see the bees going in and out of the outside crevices. They seem to disappear during winter months. I try spraying, but they just return.

Shirley G.

Santa Clara

DEAR SHIRLEY: Carpenter bees bore into wood in order to build their nests. Adults usually spend the winter months there, emerging in the spring. They don't eat the wood, as termites do, so their damage usually is minor.

All bees are important pollinators, so please don't kill them. You could install bee blocks away from your house. These are simple wood blocks with drilled holes that encourage the bees to move in there and not in your beams.

You should check the area carefully, though, to make sure you don't have honeybees building a hive in your house. Also, those bees may actually be yellow jacket wasps building nests.

If you suspect honeybees, contact a bee association for help. For yellow jackets, call an exterminator or set traps.

Joan Morris' column runs five days a week in print and online. Contact her at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.