Ever seen a mob of tiny sweat bees?
The bees below, from the genus Lasioglossum (as identified by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis), just about flash-mobbed an Iceland poppy.
These hungry little bees were a sight to see.
The genus, the largest of all bee genera, contains more than 1700 species in numerous subgenera worldwide, according to Wikipedia. "They are highly variable in size, coloration, and sculpture; among the more unusual variants, some are cleptoparasites, some are nocturnal, and some are oligolectic. Most Lasioglossum nest in the ground, but some species nest in rotten logs."
Why are they called "sweat bees?" Not an attractive name, is it? Well, they're called sweat bees because they're attracted to the salt in human sweat.
Possession is nine-tenths of the law.
It also applies to bees foraging on lavender.
A black-faced bumble bee (Bombus californicus) this morning stretched between two lavender stems and lingered there--probably to warm its wings for flight. Along comes a honey bee (Apis mellifera) interested only in foraging for nectar.
The bumble bee holds its ground--or the stems.
The honey bee glances over at the yoga pose, sips some nectar, and buzzes off--this time probably hoping for an unoccupied blossom.
So, what does "possession is nine-tenths of the law" really mean?
Says Wikipedia: "Although the principle is an oversimplification, it can be restated as: 'In a property dispute (whether real or personal), in the absence of clear and compelling testimony or documentation to the contrary, the person in actual, custodial possession of the property is presumed to be the rightful owner."
When we left the lavender patch, the bumble bee was still in possession. But they did share. Momentarily.
First, there's the upcoming free public event, the Zika Public Awareness Symposium, set Thursday, May 26 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Room 1001 of Giedt Hall. Professor Walter Leal of the Molecular and Cellular Biology and 18 of his biochemistry students are organizing it. Leal, a chemical ecologist, collaborates with fellow mosquito researchers in his native Brazil.
Secondly, medical entomologist Greg Lanzaro, a professor in the the UC Davis Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, will speak on “Mendel, Mosquitoes and Malaria: Applying Modern Genetics to Control an Ancient Disease” at a Davis Science Café presentation at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 8 in the G Street Wunderbar, 228 G St., Davis. It's free and open to the public.
The third event is not a pending event, but a pivotal one. It's a TEDx must-watch-and-share presentation by graduate student Ralph Washington Jr. of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. His topic: "Science, Poverty, and the Human Imagination." He mentions his fascination with mosquitoes, including Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya and Zika viruses.
First, a little about each:
"It is very important that students and the public-at-large learn how to prevent a possible Zika epidemic as this is the first virus known to be transmitted both sexually and by mosquitoes," said coordinator Walter Leal, a chemical ecologist and professor in the UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
"We thought that we did not have the vector (the yellow mosquito), but now our research in collaboration with Brazilian scientists indicates that our local mosquitoes (Culex) are also competent vectors," Leal said. "And more and more we hear cases of travelers returning home infect with Zika virus. I am so glad that a group of 18 students who took my biochemistry class last quarter decided to launch this initiative to educate their peers and citizens of Davis about this dangerous virus."
The scientific-based symposium will include expert panels and speakers throughout the United States and the world, including those working on the front lines of the Zika epidemic.
The Zika Epidemic – An Overview
Professor Walter S. Leal
UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Congenital Zika Syndrome
Dr. Regina Coeli Ramos, University of Pernambuco, Brazil (remote)
Zika Virus and Me
Professor Brian Foy
Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University
Zika Virus: Looking into Mosquitoes' Vectorial Capacity
Professor Constância F. J. Ayres
Department of Entomology, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz-Pernambuco, Brazil (remote)
Don't Let Mosquitoes Bug You with Zika – Repel Them
Professor Walter S. Leal
UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
DEET vs. Zika – I Would Go with the Former
Dr. Emanual Maverakis
Department of Dermatology, UC Davis School of Medicine
Keeping Mosquito at Bay, Not in Your Backyard
Dr. Paula Macedo
Laboratory Director, Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District
Friends Don't Let Friends Get Zika
Dr. Stuart H. Cohen
Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and director of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control, UC Davis Medical School.
Attendance to the symposium is free, but due to limited space, those planning to attend are asked to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
'Mendel, Mosquitoes and Malaria: Applying Modern Genetics to Control an Ancient Disease': Wednesday, June 8, G Street Wunderbar, Davis
UC Davis medical entomologist Greg Lanzaro, a professor in the the UC Davis Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, is the invited speaker at the Davis Science Café presentation at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 8 in the G Street Wunderbar, 228 G St., Davis.
The event, billed as "A Conversation with Professor Lanzaro," will be hosted by Professor Jared Shaw of the UC Davis Department of Chemistry. Shaw founded the Davis Science Café in 2012. It's held the second Wednesday of each month and is free and open to the public. This is a good opportunity to learn more about mosquitoes and the research underway.
Lanzaro, a noted malaria mosquito researcher, is the former director of the UC Statewide Mosquito Research Program. Science Café is affiliated with the Capital Science Communicators.
This is an inspiring presentation by Ralph Washington Jr., a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, and a second-year Ph.D. student in Entomology and Nematology. He chairs the UC Davis Graduate Student Association, co-chairs the UC Council of Student Body Presidents, and is one of the leaders of the UC Davis Black Graduate and Professional Students Association. He is committed to science and social justice and seeks a career as a research professor. He seeks to encourage children, especially low-income children, to study science. (Watch video on TEDx) (Watch video on YouTube)
In his presentation, Washington, who grew up in Oak Park, an impoverished Sacramento neighborhood, says that "The most important thing you should know about my childhood, is that I once knew hunger so well that the pangs were my closest friends. I was hungry for food, I was hungry for emotional stability and I also was hungry for knowledge."
He goes on to talk about children's innate curiosity and that we need to give them "the spark to ignite their imagination."
Mosquitoes also enter the picture. “Mosquitoes have very interesting biology," Washington says. "Some spend winter frozen in blocks of ice whereas others develop in lakes as alkaline as ammonia, more than twice as salty as seawater and as hot as a scalding shower. Some develop in empty snail shells or the tops of concave mushrooms or in a horse's hoof prints."
Be sure to tune in to hear what Washington says about several mosquitoes, including Aedes aegypti and its courtship. You'll remember what he says the next time a mosquito buzzes around you./span>
He's racing through the lavender patch at breakneck speed, as if he's going to be charged with nectar robbing.
The male Bombus vandykei, an engaging blond bumble bee, twists, turns and zig-zags through the long-stemmed lavender. There is no one in pursuit.
Well, except for me and my trusty camera. I'm stationary. The camera is not. Neither is Mr. Van Dyke.
In his morning mission for flight fuel, the golden blob of a bumble bee visits a dozen lavender blossoms, sipping breakfast as if it's a smoothie, and then he's off and running. Buzzing, really. I don't know where he's going but I hope he knows where he went. The welcome mat is out.
Just another day in the lavender patch. But a beautiful day to sight the male Van Dyke bumble bee.
Sometimes the red flameskimmer dragonfly (Libellula saturata) will let you approach it.
Sometimes it's having a bad hair day or a bad predator/prey day or a just-leave-me-alone day and won't let you near it.
This one (below) let me approach it. "Hey," I told my new flame, "I'm not going to hurt you. I promise not to poke you, prod you or pin you. I just want to photograph you."
Of course it helps if you have:
- a fish pond or another body of water in your yard (check!)
- bamboo stakes to perch on (check!)
- a supermarket (aka pollinator garden) filled with bees, flies and other delicious insects (check!)
It also helps if you don't act like a predator. Don't go barging toward it as if you're going to take a selfie or charge toward it carrying a big stick (or tripod).
"When I was a kid, I used to call that dragonfly the 'Radio Antenna dragonfly' because when I was a kid, all cars had radio antenna and this dragonfly like to land on it," said Bohart Museum of Entomology associate and naturalist Greg Kareofelas, who takes incredible images of dragonflies, butterflies and other insects. (See his work on posters at the Bohart Museum, available for purchase.) "I now have a couple of sticks, in the back yard here (in Davis) and they function the same way and the dragonfly likes to perch on them."
Agreed! Every garden should have a few bamboo stakes drilled into the ground--perfect for perching.