If you're looking for plants to attract pollinators, including bees and butterflies, then the UC Davis Arboretum's Plant Sale on Saturday, Oct. 22 is the place to "bee."
A public fall clearance sale will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive, UC Davis campus. It will feature a "wide selection of Arboretum All-Stars, California natives, and gorgeous drought-tolerant plants," officials said. Members (new members can join at the door) save 10 percent and also reap other benefits.
The sale will include more than 16,500 plants and more than 450 varieties.
Will they have milkweed? Yes.
"It looks like we'll have plenty of milkweed, two varieties--Kotolo (Asclepias eriocarpa) and showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)," said Katie Hetrick, director of communications.
Will they have butterfly bush (Buddleia)? Yes.
"We have a ton of Buddleia," said Hetrick, mentioning just a few: Magenta Munchkin, Dark Dynasty, Buzz, Orchid Annie, Purple Haze, Lavender Cupcake--and "The Chips": Lilac Chip, Pink Micro Chip, and Blue Chip Jr.
"And let's not forget all the Salvias!" Hetrick said. "Those are a nectar fave with pollinators including butterflies, bees and hummingbirds!" Among the Salvias on sale: Bee's Bliss, Pacific Blue, Marine Blue, Pozo Blue, Debbie's Rose, Little Kiss, Red Swing, Violet Riot, Royal Bumble, Hot Lips, and Scott's Red.
Taylor Lewis, UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden Nursery Manager, related that pipevine, the host plant of the pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor), will be available.
Ellen Zagory, director of horticulture, listed some of her favorite sunflower family plants that attendees can buy:
- Aster 'Monch'
- Coreopsis, 'Little Penny'
- Coreopsis, 'Enchanted Eve'
- Coreopsis, 'Red Elf'
- Echibeckia, 'Summerina Brown'
- And lots of Echinacea (cone flowers)
For a full list of the plants available, download the PDF.
And, it's interesting to see what folks in the area have planted instead of lawns. The Aboretum's web page offers great ideas.
Do you know how much acres in the United States are planted in lawn? Huffington Post reports in a 2015 news story: "According to a new study from NASA scientists in collaboration with researchers in the Mountain West, there is now an estimated total of 163,812 square kilometers, or more than 63,000 square miles, of lawn in America — about the size of Texas."
All that manicuring, all that water, all that work. And little or no food or shelter for the pollinators.
Every well-manicured lawn "uses up to 900 liters of water per person per day and reduces sequestration effectiveness by up to 35 percent by adding emissions from fertilization and the operation of mowing equipment," Huffington Post says.
Indeed, lawn is our nation's single largest "crop."
But it doesn't have to be. There IS life after lawn. And there is MORE life after lawn.
That's what UC Davis chemical ecologist Walter Leal, co-chair of the International Congress of Entomology (ICE 2016) recently held in Orlando, Fla., wrote in his newly published opinion piece, titled "Zika Mosquito Vectors: the Jury Is Still Out" in F1000 Research.
Leal, a mosquito researcher and distinguished professor in the UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, co-chaired ICE 2016 with Alvin Simmons, research entomologist with the United States Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA/ARS), U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, S.C.
The conference, themed "Entomology Without Borders," drew 6,682 delegates from 102 countries. The last time ICE met in the United States was four decades ago. The venue then: Washington, D.C.
One of the symposia at the Orlando meeting was the Zika Symposium, "which covered multiple aspects of the Zika epidemic, including epidemiology, sexual transmission, genetic tools for reducing transmission, and particularly vector competence," Leal wrote. "While there was a consensus among participants that the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, is a vector of the Zika virus, there is growing evidence indicating that the range of mosquito vectors might be wider than anticipated. In particular, three independent groups from Canada, China, and Brazil presented and discussed laboratory and field data strongly suggesting that the southern house mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus, also known as the common mosquito, is highly likely to be a vector in certain environments."
Leal based his opinion piece mainly on the current literature and the Zika Symposium at ICE 2016, which was organized by Constância Ayres, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ-PE), Recife, Brazil (he collaborates with Ayres) and Adriana Costero, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. The speakers included worldwide experts from the United States, Brazil, China and Canada.
Ironically, the Zika virus wasn't a household word or in most entomologists' vocabulary when Leal and Simmons began planning the ICE 2016 meeting several years ago.
Now scores of researchers are tackling the Zika virus (ZIKV), first isolated first from a febrile monkey and later from the mosquito Aedes africanus. "ZIKV was isolated from humans for the first time in 1954 during an outbreak of jaundice suspected of being yellow fever," Leal recounted.
"During the discussion at the end of the symposium, the forum was opened for questions and comments," Leal wrote. Scott Ritchie of James Cook University, Australia, asked “Is anyone looking for the virus in birds?”
"This question captures the sentiment that both questions were thought provoking, and we still do not have all or many answers when it comes to ZIKV. Hopefully, we will be better prepared when convening in Finland for ICE 2020. Wouldn't it be wonderful to report in Helsinki that mosquito vector populations have been reduced or eliminated, the Zika and other epidemics were contained, vaccines have been made available, and entomologists are ready to further improve the human condition by tackling other problems than the Zika epidemic?"
This story is about a boy, bugs, a birthday and the Bohart.
Ty Elowe, who seeks a career in entomology, asked his mother for an early 13th birthday present: a visit to the Bohart Museum of Entomology. It houses a global collection of nearly eight million insect specimens and also features a live “petting zoo” of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas.
His mother, Robbin Elowe, readily agreed to the birthday wish--although she acknowledges that she is not particularly fond of insects.
“Ty has had an obsession for bugs since he was a year and a half,” his mother recalled. “He has always wanted to be an entomologist and his trip to the Bohart Museum has only fueled his motivation and determination to make his entomology dreams come true!”
Ty described the visit, Oct. 13-14, as “one of the greatest trips of my life.”
“Everyone was so kind, informative, helpful and welcoming,” the Elowes agreed.
The Elowes spent much of the time with entomology enthusiast and undergraduate student Wade Spencer. Then they were invited to Bohart associate Greg Kareofelas' afternoon seminar Friday afternoon on "The Story and Life History of the Rarely Seen Sierra-Nevada butterfly, Colias behrii, known as Behr's Sulphur, or Sierra Sulphur."
“It was fascinating to sit in on Greg's seminar,” Robbin said. “It made us feel so important and privileged!”
“Wade Spencer was absolutely amazing with Ty,” she said. “He spent so much time and gave Ty so much attention. He is truly a mentor to Ty. “
Ty's interest in bugs extends to room décor. Ty convinced his brothers to let his aunt, Celeste Holley, an accomplished artist, redo the boys' bathroom with a bug theme. “They each picked a bug for Celeste to sketch,” Robbin said.
The Elowes' visit began on Thursday. “They came in while other visitors were viewing the live critters and I began helping them,” Wade said. “When Ty's mother remembered to move their car, I asked him where they were visiting from and he informed me his Mom flew them out from Arizona with the only goal of visiting the Bohart. That blew my mind away! So, when she came back, I asked if what he told me was true, and she elaborated, stating it was because he wants to be an entomologist and it was an early 13th birthday present. I was simply astonished.”
“So, seeing as how awesome this was, I set aside databasing to focus on investing time to inspire a buddy entomologist's mind and make their trip worth while,” Wade related. “He is a very bright young man. He's both knowledgeable and friendly and has the potential to be a great entomologist one day.”
Wade set about giving him “tips and pointers on how to safely navigate out in the field, be it at night or during the day.”
The Elowes left the Bohart Museum at 5 p.m. on Thursday, and were encouraged to return on Friday following their planned visit to the UC Davis Arboretum and the Botanical Conservatory. Ty is also deeply interested in plants.
“They came in Friday afternoon and Ty was telling me all about the Conservatory,” Wade said.
"Ty's is absolutely awesome to do something so special for her son," Wade said. "She didn't like bugs, per se, but with each new bug I brought out for him to hold, she sat within two feet of him and repeatedly commented ‘I'm not afraid right now at all, even though they're so close to me.'
“Just her willingness to take an interest in her son's passion and to take steps toward fueling it speaks volumes to her character and awesome parenting skills,” Wade said.
When they left Friday, Wade “handed him my pair of 12-inch forceps for him to use in the field. It was touching to see how such a simple gift could mean so much to him.”
They also exchanged emails. “Hopefully we'll be in touch with Ty and his family to help him as best as we can,” Spencer said.
“This is what makes everything we do in the museum worthwhile," said Lynn Kimsey, director of the museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis. "Every person we help increases our enthusiasm to teach more and try to reach more people.”
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, was founded in 1946, and is named for noted entomologist Richard Bohart (1913-2007), emeritus professor at UC Davis. The museum is the seventh largest insect collection in North America and is a National Science Foundation and UC-funded facility. Visitors are invited to tour the insect museum Monday through Thursday, view the collection, and learn from the scientists. It also operates a year-around gift shop that includes insect-collecting equipment, books, posters, jewelry, insect-themed candy, stuffed animals (insects), T-shirts and sweatshirts.
During the academic year, the Bohart Museum offers special weekend open houses, all family friendly. In the summer they host “bug camps” for kids. Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, directs the summer camps and organizes and conducts the many classroom tours.
It's the cover story of a special focus issue, "Disease Management in the Genomics Era," in the journal Phytopathology.
The research was directed by UC Davis integrated pest management (IPM) specialist Frank Zalom and research biologist Mysore "Sudhi" Sudarshana of the USDA's Agriculture Research Services (ARS), who is based in the UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology.
Last year the Zalom team hypothesized that the three-cornered alfalfa hopper could transmit the Grapevine Red Blotch-associated virus, GRBaV, "based in part on phylogeneic analysis of coat protein sequences of 23 geminiviruses that revealed that GRBaV-CP was most similar to that of another geminivirus that was transmitted by another treehopper," explained Zalom, a distinguished professor of entomology with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and a past president of the Entomological Society of America.
“In commercial vineyards, lateral shoots of grapevines girdled due to feed injury by the adult three-cornered alfalfa hopper also tested positive for the virus using digital PCR,” the scientists noted in their abstract. “These findings represent an important step in understanding the biology of GRBaV and develop management guidelines.”
The disease, first noticed in 2008 and attributed to a newly identified virus in 2012, is present in many major grape production regions of the United States and Canada. It can reduce fruit quality and ripening.
The research team consisted of Zalom; Sudarshana; Brian Bahder, then a postdoctoral researcher in the Zalom lab and now an assistant professor and insect vector ecologist with the University of Florida; and Maya Jayanth, then a student in the Sudarshana lab.
In the Pest Alert, Zalom, a former director of the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, noted that “red leaf symptoms that differed from other known red leaf diseases affecting grape foliage” were first noticed in red wine grape cultivars in Napa County, and subsequently in many other California grape growing counties as well.
“Leaf symptoms first appear approximately mid-summer; however, timing of symptom expression differs among grapevine cultivars and year,” Zalom wrote. “In red-fruited cultivars, common symptoms include red blotches originating from the leaf margin or within the leaf blade and primary and secondary veins that often turn red. In white fruit cultivars, symptoms appear as pale green to pale yellow patches.”
Zalom noted that symptoms usually start on basal leaves and progress up the shoot. In some cultivars, such as Chardonnay and Zinfandel, “marginal burning may occur similar to severe potassium deficiency. In some red-fruited cultivars such as Malbec and Mourvèdre, the entire blade may turn red by harvest.” Grapes produced on infected vines are characterizes by reduced brix and other changes that can seriously impact wine quality.
“Foliar symptoms are generally distinct from those of grapevine leafroll disease (GLD) early in the season, but leaf blade coloration may resemble those of GLD by late fall,” Zalom pointed out. “At this time, red blotch disease is not known to kill grapevines.” However, the effect of the virus infections on yield and fruit quality varies and no cure exists at this time.
But back to the three-cornered alfalfa hopper. What's it look like? It's a green, clear-winged, wedge-shaped (thus the name "three-cornered") insect that's about a quarter of an inch long. That's about the size of a pomegranate seed or a tiny pea.
Earler this year we borrowed (and returned) a couple of insects from the Zalom lab and set out to capture some images of Spissistilus festinus on a grape leaf.
It's definitely a good hopper; we popped it in the refrigerator for a few minutes to slow it down.
And it's definitely camouflaged. Green on green.
It draws its name from alfalfa, but it feeds on many other plants, including soybeans, beans, cowpeas and sweet clover. It also can infest tomato, melon, wheat, oats, Bermuda grass and Johnson grass and the like.
Expect to hear more about Spissistilus festinus...
The colony, sheltered from the elements and located in an unpopulated area, buzzed with activity in June but collapsed in late September.
“We're really glad to get this and it will be a wonderful educational opportunity,” said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis. “Not many people have seen a feral honey bee colony and we haven't seen one as nice as this. Many thanks to the folks who saved it so carefully for us.”
It all came about as the result of Karen Cometta Shepard of Vacaville walking her dogs in the area. On one spring walk, her friend's eight-year-old daughter, Madison Marshall, noticed something unusual. “What are those stripes in the tree?” she asked.
The stripes were a feral honey bee colony.
Shepard posted a photo on a community Facebook page but kept the location a secret to avoid disturbances. Some readers clamored for the bees to be destroyed. Some worried they were Africanized. Some wanted the honey. Shepard shared the location in late June with Bug Squad. (See photos of the then viable colony.)
The colony successfully escaped public view and predation. Last June Extension apiculturist emeritus Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology weighed in on the find and said the colony was a good thing; “the bees are out pollinating our fruits and vegetables” and it's in unpopulated area and “not bothering anyone, “ he pointed out.
In September, however, bees began abandoning the hive, and by early October, the colony was no more. One speculation: varroa mite infestation and the bees left to find a better home? (A basketball-sized swarm appeared on a nearby tree and another swarm temporarily located near a residence several miles away.)
The Eucalyptus tree, on Solano County land, was one of the dead, dying and hazardous trees removed through a county contract with Atlas Tree and Landscape, Santa Rosa. The removal began in mid-September, according to Robert Arndt, building trades mechanic at the Nut Tree Airport, and new trees will be planted.
Through arrangements with Arndt and project leader Jose Garcia of the Atlas Tree and Landscape, the section containing the comb of the collapsed feral colony was cut and saved Oct. 4. It was then trucked to the Bohart Museum where it is being prepared for display. Thousands of visitors are expected to see it.
The feral bee colony produced some five feet of honey comb in the hollowed-out tree. “That could have been for one season,” Mussen said. The average honey bee colony in California yields about 60 to 100 pounds of honey per season. Many beekeepers remove 60 pounds and allow 30 pounds to carry over through the winter.
The Bohart, open to the public Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, is the home of nearly eight million insect specimens. Admission is free. The Bohart Museum hosts special open houses on specific weekends, which are free and open to the public. See schedule.