And unleash the secret of soapberry bugs?
Students in the Entomology 1 class, offered by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, studied soapberry bugs under the tutelage of evolutionary ecologists/soapberry scientists Scott Carroll and Jenella Loye. The students then created screen-printed tile mosaics (like the photo at right).
The popular class, headed by Diane Ullman, professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, fuses art with science. Ullman, not only a noted entomologist but an accomplished artist, co-founded and co-directed the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program.
Where can you see the students' art? It will be among the work featured at "The Secret World of Insects" exhibition and reception, set from 5 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, June 3 in the Third Space Art Collective, 946 Olive Drive. It's free and open to the public.
"Soapberry bugs are beautiful insects that are found in many parts of the world. Their most defining ecological characteristic is their specialized diet," Carroll says on his website, Soapberry Bugs of the World. "They feed on the seeds of the soapberry family, which includes well known plants like boxelders, maples, soapberries (or soapnuts), jacket plums, rambutans, and litchis. These plants have evolved many ways to protect their seeds from soapberry bugs: flying seeds, seeds protected in inflated spheres, seeds with cyanide, and seeds that are held unfilled on the plant for months while the bugs slowly starve. Yet these insects work around the plants' co-evolved defenses and use the seeds to fuel their own development and reproduction."
Carroll directs the UC Davis Institute for Contemporary Evolution. Both he and Loye, husband and wife, are members of the Sharon Lawler lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Ullman said that 70 students participated in the Entomology 1 class last quarter. "We had four sections," she added. They were:
- Ceramics. The students created a screen-printed tile mosaic about evolution of the soapberry bug with the support and scientific advice of Jenella Loye and Scott Carroll. Also, this quarter, self-described rock artist Donna Billick, co-founder and former co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, assisted the students.
- Sculpture with reuse materials. The students made sculptural story boards about insects.
- Painting and multimedia.The students did trip tic-like canvases about a diversity of insects.
- Bioart. The students created insect drawings with fungi on agar.
Entomology doctoral candidate Matthew Prebus of the Phil Ward lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, video-recorded the presentations and uploaded them today.
You can watch them on YouTube.
Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center, and Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, welcomed the crowd.
Marla Spivak, Distinguished McKnight Professor, University of Minnesota and a 2010 MacArthur Fellow, keynoted the symposium, speaking on "Helping Bees Stand on Their Own Six Feet."
The presentations on YouTube:
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation generously provided funding.
Upcoming blog: Who won the student poster competition at the symposium and with what topics?/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>
It's a delight to see boy bumble bees sleeping overnight in the lavender.
Two species of bumble bees--Bombus vosnesenkii and Bombus californicus--have been slumbering in our lavender for the past several weeks. Sometimes they nestle a half inchs from one another and other times they're a foot or more apart.
Usually the honey bees began foraging in the lavender before they do.
The yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, and the black-faced bumble bee, Bombus californicus, are two of the bees featured in Bumble Bees of North America: an Identification Guide, published by the Princeton University Press and authored by Paul Williams, Robbin Thorp, Leif Richardson and Sheila Colla.
Thorp, a native pollinator specialist and distinguished professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis. says there are 20,000 species of bees worldwide, and of that number, only 250 belong to the genus Bombus or bumble bees.
Several species of bumble bees in our bee garden seem to prefer the English lavender. They forage, they mate, and they sleep.
The females sleep in their underground nests at night, while the males sleep on the lavender stems.
They are a joy to have around--underground and above ground!
Honey bee scientist and noted author Mark Winston will speak on “Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive” at a special seminar hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology on Friday, June 5 at 10 a.m. in 122 Briggs, Kleiber Hall Drive.
The title is also the title of his newest book, published by Harvard University Press. All interested persons are invited to attend.
“There are powerful lessons to be learned from bees about how we humans can better understand our place in nature, engage the people and events surrounding us with greater focus and clarity, interact more effectively in our relationships and communities, and open ourselves to a deeper understanding of who we are as individuals, communities and a species,” Winston said. “I'll talk about my experiences over 30 years of walking into apiaries, and the lessons learned from a life spent among the bees.”
Winston is a professor and senior fellow, Centre for Dialogue, Simon Fraser University, Harbour Centre, Vancouver, Canada, and is also a professor in the university's Department of Biological Sciences.
Winston is particularly known for his book, The Biology of the Honey Bee, on the bookshelves of almost every honey bee researcher and beekeeper, said Extension apiculturist Elina Niño, who will introduce him.
Winston is described as that rare individual, a scientist, who can speak eloquently to the public. "Recognized as one of the world's leading expert on bees and pollination, Mark has had an illustrious career researching, teaching, writing and commenting on bees and agriculture, environmental issues and science policy," his website says.
Winston received two degrees from Boston University: a bachelor of science degree in biology in 1971 and a master's degree in marine biology in 1975. He earned his doctorate in entomology from the University of Kansas in 1978.
We can all learn a lesson or two about bees, those amazing creatures often taken for granted.
It was windy enough to trigger a small craft advisory.
Yet here comes a flameskimmer dragonfly (Libellula saturata) around noon on Monday, Memorial Day, circling our little bee garden.
He chases a few flying insects around and then perches on a bamboo stake to eat them.
Hmm, I thought, maybe I can capture an image of Big Red in flight? Will he cooperate? I've always wanted to photograph a flameskimmer in flight, but they're usually (1) too fast (2) too far away or (3) they zig when I think they'll zag and they zag when I think they'll zig.
Plus, they are leery of big dark objects (cameras) with long metal protrusions (lenses).
For the past decade, we've prepared well for our dragonfly visitors. They like our fish pond, our bee garden and the assorted bamboo stakes we've placed around the garden. They especially like the all-you-can-eat insect smorgasbord.
Big Red kept returning to Bamboo Stake No. 2 (bamboo stakes are sort of like pot holes—you can name them if you want).
Using my Nikon D800 camera with a 200mm macro lens, I focused on where I thought Big Red would land.
Bamboo Stake No. 1: Probably not. Too high.
Bamboo Stake No. 3: No, a little short.
Bamboo Stake No. 2: Just right.
Big Red obliged. By now he was not afraid of me—he figured, and rightfully so--that I had no culinary interest in him. And neither would I poke 'em, prod 'em or pin 'em. With the wind tousling his wings, he aimed straight for Bamboo Stake No. 2.
Got 'em. In flight.
Said dragonfly aficionado Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist emeritus: “What this photo really shows is that insects do not fly simply by ‘flapping' their wings. This guy's right wings are vertical to the body, but in the same plane, while the left wings actually are down-swept and a bit out of synchrony. The ability of insects to rotate their wings in their sockets allows them to change roll, pitch and yaw as do the moveable parts of airplanes. But, dragonflies can do it instantaneously.”
Commented Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis: "I like how clearly you can see how tightly the one is holding its legs against its body."
The dragonfly vanished right before our residential scrub jays returned. The jays are rearing their young in nearby trees, and the young, as you know, get the munchies. In fact, they're always hungry. Ravenous. Famished.
Have you ever seen a bird nail a dragonfly? Butterflies, yes. Dragonflies, no.
“Birds can change direction in flight pretty quickly, but usually not quickly enough to catch a dragonfly in flight,” Mussen commented. “If it stays stuck to the post, it may be in real trouble.”