What's that? A honey bee and a male yellowjacket on the same blossom?
Honey bees and yellowjackets belong to the same order, Hymenoptera, but different families. The honey bee (Apis mellifera) is in the Apidae family, while the yellowjacket, Vespula pensylvanica, belongs to the family, Vespidae.
When beekeepers open the hives at the adjacent Laidlaw facility, trouble can start between the honey bees and the yellowjackets. It's no secret that female yellowjackets establish their nests near apiaries to prey upon honey bees and their brood. They need the protein for their offspring.
But here they were--the honey bee and the yellowjacket--together.
The first occupant: the honey bee. She began foraging on a rose blossom when suddenly a male western yellowjacket approached her. Seemingly unaware of his presence, she kept foraging. He poked her with his antennae. She ignored him. He crawled up next to her and took a close look at her. She kept foraging.
A few seconds later, he left.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, later commented: "I can't help but wonder why the male yellowjacket was visiting a rose flower--no nectar there, so no reward for him."
"Maybe he was just checking out the other occupant 'while searching for love in all the wrong places.' "
Indeed, the male yellowjacket may have been looking for a suitable mate.
This one? Definitely not suitable!
That's the topic--and a good one it is--of the 2013 4-H Honey Bee Essay Contest, sponsored by The Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees.
Why this topic? "Pesticides are a fact of modern life, but misuse or overuse of pesticides, or making poor choices when selecting and applying pesticides can be devastating to honey bees and other pollinators. The 4-H’ers are encouraged to learn about bee-killing pesticides being used in their communities – by homeowners, businesses, or farmers. Then, they should investigate how the impact of those pesticides on honey bees can be lessened."--National Essay Contest Guidelines.
The contest is open only to members of 4-H, a youth development program that teaches life skills and how to make the best better. Some 4-H'ers are beekeepers, but enrollment in a beekeeping project isn't required to enter the competition.
Each state will select a winner and then a national winner will be selected from the pool of state winners.
Judges will score the essays on scope of research (40 percent), accuracy (30 percent), creativity (10 percent), conciseness (10 percent) and logical development of the topic (10 percent).
California 4-H'ers have until Feb. 15, 2013 to submit their essays (750 to 1000) words to the state judge/coordinator, Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. All essays must be electronically submitted (firstname.lastname@example.org). (See the rules.)
In 2011, California 4-H'er Rachel Ricchiuto won the national award for her essay on "U.S. Honey: A Taste for Every Preference." This year (2012) another California 4-H'er, Tucker Van Brunt, received second for his essay on "The Results of Honey Bee Pollination in My Community." You can read their essays and other award-winning essays on the Honey Bee Preservation website.
The national winners will receive cash prizes: 1st place: $750; 2nd place, $500; and 3rd place, $250. All national and state winners will receive a book about honey bees, beekeeping, or honey.
It will be interesting to see what the youths have to say about pesticides.
And, by the way, Mussen points out that "honey bee" is two words, not one.
This year's recipient is Marc Tatar, an authority on the aging of insects.
Tatar, a professor in the Division of Biology and Medicine at Brown State University, Providence, R.I., will speak on “Integrated Control of Drosophila Aging by Insulin/IGF (Insulin-Like Growth Factor) Signaling” at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5 in Ballroom A of the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC), UC Davis campus. Prior to the presentation, a wine and cheese reception will take place from 5 to 6 p.m. outside of Ballroom A.
The event is open to all interested persons, said James R. Carey, UC Davis professor of entomology, who will introduce his former student. The presentation will be recorded for later posting on the UCTV seminars.
Tatar has studied the demography, evolution and genetics of aging working with a variety of insect systems to explore the regulation and basic mechanisms of life history traits and senescence. The current work in the Tatar laboratory focuses on genetic analysis of Drosophila to understand how insulin/IGF signals and lipid hormones regulate aging, and how these endocrine signals interact with nutrition.
Tatar received his doctorate in ecology from UC Davis in 1994 while with the Graduate Group in Ecology, working in James Carey's laboratory. Tatar obtained his bachelor’s degree in biology in 1980 from Earlham College, Richmond, Ind., and went on to receive his master’s degree in zoology from UC Davis in 1984. He completed postdoctoral research in genetics at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul before joining the Brown University faculty in 1997. He was promoted to professor in 2007.
While at UC Davis, Tatar was the 1994 recipient of the Merton Love Award for his Outstanding Dissertation in Ecology and Evolution. He is an Ellison Senior Scholar, founding joint editor-in-chief of the journal Aging Cell, and a past member of the Board of Review Editors for Science.
The Leigh seminar memorializes cotton entomologist Thomas Frances Leigh (1923-1993), an international authority on the biology, ecology and management of arthropod pests affecting cotton production. During his 37-year UC Davis career, Leigh was based at the Shafter Research and Extension Center, also known as the U.S. Cotton Research Station. He researched pest and beneficial arthropod management in cotton fields, and host plant resistance in cotton to insects, mites, nematodes and diseases.
Leigh, who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 1958, retired in 1991 as an emeritus professor, but he continued to remain active in his research and collaboration until his death on Oct. 26, 1993.
At Shafter, Leigh focused his research on the biology, ecology, host plant resistance, control and management of insects and spider mites on cotton. He stood at the forefront of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) of cotton pests, according to an article in the summer 1994 edition of American Entomologist. He taught courses on cotton IPM and host plant resistance.
In his memory, his family and associates set up the Leigh Distinguished Alumni Seminar Entomology Fund at the UC Davis Department of Entomology. When his wife, Nina, died in 2002, the alumni seminar became known as the Thomas and Nina Distinguished Alumni Seminar.
Thanks to the Leigh family, outstanding UC Davis alumni return to campus to share their accomplishments.
So, you're looking for that perfect, one-of-a-kind holiday gift. One that will not only be memorable but a conversation piece.
How about a biolegacy gift? Name that bug!
You can obtain naming rights for this cute little black and white weevil with red polka dots (below) for a donation of $2500 to the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis.
Bohart Museum Society member Henry Hespenheide, professor emeritus from UCLA, collected the weevil a couple of years ago in Costa Rica, said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis.
This species, from genus Macrocopturus, is waiting to be described. And waiting for a name.
Besides the honor of naming it, “Your donation directly supports species discovery and student education in Entomology through scholarships," Kimsey said. "By naming this species you are promoting science education, species discovery and conservation.”
"The names have to pass judgment in a peer-reviewed journal," Kimsey said. "Our collaborating systematists are under obligation to publish these names according to the Zoological Code of Nomenclature."
Other species at the Bohart Museum are also ready to be named, she said. Want more information? Contact Kimsey at email@example.com or (530) 752-5373.
But one thing's for sure: this little weevil is definitely unique.
See no weevil, hear no weevil, and speak no weevil.
But you can definitely name it.
It's a strange little insect.
A reader likens it to "a cricket on steroids."
A Van Nuys resident says she always wondered what they were. "I've lived in this house for 17 years, and a few times a year I see this strange insect in my backyard. It is always either dead or dying. It has a really large head and seems to be a bit top-heavy and has problems walking. I have never seen these insects anywhere but in my backyard and no one seems to know what they are. I feel badly for the little critters, since they don't seem to be thriving."
A Vacaville resident encountered this "unknown species of insect" in her backyard. Her dog discovered the first one. Dead. She discovered the second. Alive.
Guess what they found? A Jerusalem cricket, also known as a "potato bug" because it occasionally feeds on potato tubers.
They're among the largest insects found in California and elsewhere in western North America, says Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis.
The adult is characterized by its "large shiny brown abdomen with dark stripes, large ovoid head and spiny hind legs."
These ground dwellers crawl (slowly) but they don't fly. They belong to the family Stenopelmatidae. The common species found in California is Stenopelmatus fuscus, Kimsey says.
Kimsey also says they are harmless, although if you handle them, they may bite.
So when you're digging around in your backyard, you may find them under rocks, logs or boards. They feed on plant roots and tubers. "They generate sound by rubbing the hind leg against the side of the abdomen (stridulation)," Kimsey says.
In her Fact Sheet on Jerusalem Crickets posted on the Bohart Museum website: Kimsey points out that "Unlike most other crickets, female Jerusalem crickets frequenty kill the males after mating."
Ah, a touch of the praying mantis behavior!
We've seen Jerusalem crickets beneath the grounds of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. We've also seen their predators: birds of prey, including owls and hawks, but never the prey and predator together.
Seems like a tasty treat for a burrowing owl.