It's "Orange October" for the San Francisco Giants, who just defeated the Detroit Tigers in the opening game of the World Series.
But over at the Luther Burbank's Gold Ridge Experiment Farm at 7781 Bodega Ave., Sebastopol, it's Blue October.
It's delightful to see the honey bees foraging in the sky-blue borage (Borago officinalis), aka starflower and bee bread.
Burbank (1849-1926), a noted plant breeder, must have enjoyed the bees there, too. You can almost feel his presence as you walk along the paths, rimmed with more than 250 plant specimens.
His widow, Elizabeth Waters Burbank (1888-1977) donated 15 acres of their 18-acre farm to a senior housing development corporation and then gifted the remainder to the city of Sebastopol for historical preservation. Administered by the Western Sonoma County Historical Society, the farm is open to the public. There's no admission, but donations are accepted. You can also buy a few plants there.
As for borage, it's used as a salad herb and as a dessert garnish. It's also been used for medicinal purposes and for seed oil. Photographers love to capture the colors--the white, prickly hairs ghosting the spectacular blue blossoms.
When you visit the Gold Ridge Experiment Farm, though, you know the borage is for the bees. The nectar-rich blossoms are theirs and theirs alone.
The "boo"--in the way of costumes and decorations--is traditional. The hiss? That's the sound emanating from the Madagascar hissing cockroaches, aka "hissers."
This all will happen from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27 at the Bohart Museum on the UC Davis campus. The museum is located in Room 1124 of Academic Surge, Crocker Lane (formerly California Drive).
The event is free and open to the public. Wear a Halloween costume! Ghouls just love to have fun---but so do ghosts and goblins.
The theme, "Insects and Death," focuses on forensic entomology. UC Davis forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the Department of Entomology will be on hand to answer questions about insects as decomposers, and why they’re important.
Bohart Museum officials also will correct myths about “deadly” insects and “creepy crawlers.”
“House flies and mosquitoes cause more human deaths than all other insects combined,” said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
In addition to the hissers, other live attractions at the open house will be walking sticks and a rose-haired tarantula.
Carved pumpkins, with an insect motif, will decorate the museum.
Over at the gift shop, you can purchase jewelry, T-shirts, sweatshirts, posters, and "entomological" candy. Especially popular around Halloween are scorpion-themed lollipops, chocolate-covered insects and flavored mealworms.
The Bohart Museum, founded in 1946 by noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007), is the home of more than seven million insect specimens. More information is available on the Bohart website at or by contacting Tabatha Yang at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 752-0493.
Whew! That was close!
When you see a butterfly with a gaping hole in its wingspan, you wonder what predator tried to grab it. A praying mantis? A bird? A crab spider or jumping spider? A playful cat or dog?
Whatever tried to grab it, it missed.
That brings to mind the proverbial saying, "A miss is as good as a mile," dating back to the 18th century. It first appeared in The American Museum, Volume 3, 1788.
The author wasn't talking about a Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) missing a chunk of its wing, but the meaning is the same: a miss, whether as narrow as a strand of hair or as wide as the AT&T ballpark (where the San Francisco Giants clinched their National League championship tonight!), is still a miss.
This particular Gulf Fritillary landed on its host plant, a passion flower vine (Passiflora) last Sunday and then fluttered off, only to be replaced by scores of others. They were laying eggs on the plant.
One Gulf Frit touched down on the bright red blossom of the triangular-leafed Passiflora manicata, variety Linda Escobar. Its wingspan? Perfect.
It may not be tomorrow, though.
It's almost time for Halloween, when all self-respecting little ghosts, goblins and ghouls take a special interest in spiders.
We saw this little jumping spider (below) on a pink rose. It doesn't look like it could scare anything--except for maybe a sweat bee or hover fly.
This year the Explorit Science Center of Davis, a hands-on science museum located at 3141 5th St., is taking a special interest in spiders.
The center is sponsoring a number of programs on these critters and posted "Facts About Spiders" on its website.
For one thing, many people think spiders are insects. They're not.
Both spiders and insects are invertebrates, but spiders are not insects.
Insects have a head, thorax and abdomen, and the thorax has three pairs of legs. They also eyes, antennae and mouthparts, the Explorit Science Center website points out. "The entire body is protected by a tough outer covering called an exoskeleton. Animals that share these characteristics are called insects. The group to which they belong is called the Insecta."
Spiders, as the Explorit Science Center explains, have two main body parts. "The body consists of a combined head and thorax called the cephalothorax, and the abdomen. The cephalothorax has the eyes, mouthparts (no antennae) and four pairs of legs. Animals that share these characteristics include ticks, mites, scorpions and spiders. The group is called the Arachnida."
And speaking of spiders, schooolchildren visiting the Bohart Museum of Entomology on the UC Davis campus occasionally ask to "see the spiders." The Bohart is an insect museum (although the officials have been known to showcase a few spiders, too.)
Mark your calendar for Saturday, Oct. 27 for the Bohart's public open house from 1 to 4 p.m. in 1124 Academic Surge on Crocker Drive (nearest intersection is LaRue Road.) This is a pre-Halloween open house and there definitely will be assorted spiders at the insect museum!
The event, themed "The Bounty of Pollination, More Than Just Honey," will take place from 1 to 5:30 p.m. in the RMI's Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theatre, UC Davis. Keynote speakers are winning cinematographer, director and producer Louie Schwartzberg whose film “The Beauty of Pollination” has resulted in more than 23 million views on YouTube; and pollination ecologist Neal Williams, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology, who will discuss “Integrated Pollination Strategies: Managed and Wild Bees for a Sustainable Future."
Others speaking will include:
Amina Harris, executive director of the RMI Honey and Pollination Center and owner of Z Specialty Food, Woodland, who will cover “Honey Tastings Across America”
--Victoria Wojcik, associate program manager of the San Francisco-based Pollinator Partnership, “The World of Pollinators”
--Julie Loke, teaching kitchen educator at Davis Co-Op, “Varietal Honeys—Blending the Flavors in the Kitchen”
Another attraction is the second annual "Best Honey" competition. Beekeepers can enter the competition by bringing a jar of honey (with business card and summary of the honey) to the RMI office on Wednesday, Oct. 24. There's no charge to enter. Those attending the conference will taste and judge the honey.
RMI executive director Clare Hasler-Lewis said the newly established Honey and Pollination, was approved earlier this year by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The vision is to “make UC Davis the nation’s leading authority on honey, honey bees and pollination by combining the resources and expertise of RMI and the Department of Entomology’s Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.”
The center’s mission is “to showcase the importance of honey and pollination to the well-being of the citizens of California. The center will spearhead and nucleate efforts to gain support and assembly teams for research, education and outreach programs for various stakeholder groups including the beekeeping industry, agricultural interests who depend on bee pollination, backyard beekeepers and the food industry."
• Expand research and education concerning nutrition, health, quality and appreciation of honey
• Develop useful information for California’s agricultural bounty that depends on insect pollination
• Help the honey industry establish labeling guidelines to guarantee pure and unadulterated varietal honey
• Coordinate a multidisciplinary team of experts in honey production, pollination and bee health
• Promote the use of locally procured honey in the home, food industry and restaurants.