Emcee Tom Turpin of Purdue University stood at the podium and acknowledged he might mispronounce an entomology student's name. "If it sounds anything like your name and I’m looking at you, that’s you."
So began the Linnaean Games, a college-bowl type competition that's as lively as it is entertaining and educational.
And it's all about insects, entomologists and entomological facts.
The Linnaean Games, held at the annual Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting, is an event that pits student-teams against one another until a winner is declared. The 2010 event, hosted in San Diego, ended with Ohio State University winning the championship.
Students buzz in with the answers to questions such as:
What’s the loudest insect in the world? What is the egg case of a cockroach called? Kissing bugs, in the family Reduviidae, are vectors of what disease? About how long have insects been on earth? Give three official common names for Helicoverpa zea.
Ohio State defeated UC Davis, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Georgia and finally, in the championship game, toppled the University of Nebraska.
But first, the Ohio team of Joshua Bryant, Glene Mynhardt, Kaitlin Uppstrom and Nicola Gallagher had to get by the UC Davis team of Meredith Cenzer, Matan Shelomi, Andrew Merwin, and Ralph Washington.
As the crowd cheered them on, the two teams tied the score several times. Finally, with the score knotted at 90-90, Ohio correctly answered the final question to advance to the next round.
Tom Turpin of Purdue emceed the program while a trio of judges--J. E. McPherson of Southern Illinois University, Carol Annelli of Washington State University and Susan Weller of the University of Minnesota--scored the answers.
Each ESA branch sponsors a Linnaean Games competition and sends up to two teams to the nationals.
Pacific Branch sent UC Davis and Washington State University.
Southeastern Branch: University of Georgia and University of Florida
Eastern Branch: Pennsylvania State University (University of Maryland also won at the branch level but did not participate in the nationals)
North Central Branch: Ohio State University and the University of Nebraska
Southwestern Branch: New Mexico State and Texas A&M
Answers to the above questions (see sixth paragraph):
What’s the loudest insect in the world?
African cicada (Brevisana brevis); it has been measured at 106 decibels, (equivalent to a gas mower at 3 feet away).
What is the egg case of a cockroach called?
Kissing bugs, in the family Reduviidae, are vectors of what disease? Answer:
About how long have insects been on earth?
Some 400-380 million years ago.
Give three official common names for Helicoverpa zea?
Corn earworm, tomato fruitworm, and cotton bollworm
Other questions and answers included:
Which sexes of cicadas have tymbals and which have tympana?
Males have both. Females have only tympana.
What term is used to describe the antennae found on male mosquitoes? Answer:
Crickets are well-known music makers. What are the names of the two specialized structures that allow them to make that wonderful noise and where specifically on the body are they located?
File and scraper, located on the forewings.
At what American school was the first entomology class taught and who was the teacher?
Harvard (1805-1822) W.D. Peck.
In the Amazon rain forest, what are the common names of two groups of insects that make up about 1/3 of the biomass of all animals in the habitat?
Ants and termites.
Problems with honey bee hives in what state led to the recognition of colony collapse disorder?
Name two orders of insects that are entirely predatory.
Odonata and Mantodea
The monarch is actually the second-most popular state insect. What insect is the most frequently adopted state insect?
Robert Frost wrote a poem that begins with the lines: “An ant on a table cloth ran into a dormant moth of many times his size.” As you might guess the poem is about ants. What is the title of the poem?
Speaking at the 58th annual Entomological Society of America's meeting in San Diego, Marley
related that he grew up in Oregon
hating bugs--especially their all encompassing, intertwining legs that seemed to be everywhere: on, near or around him. Later, while serving two years as a missionary in northern Chile, he continued to hate every bug that he encountered.
Gradually, his viewpoint changed. After studying fashion design at Brigham Young University and embarking on a fashion designer career that took him to scores of countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas, he began to look at them in a different light. He began to appreciate them for their beauty, design, color, structure, texture, pattern, size and shape.
And their drama and diversity.
His first attempts to incorporate them into art were not easy. "I needed tweezers to handle the tweezers," he said of his initial efforts to overcome the emotional barrier.
Today Christopher Marley is an author and an artist with an art gallery, fittingingly named "Pheromone" in Salem, Ore.
"Pheromones," he explained, "are chemical stimulants that insects release to attract one another -- and they’ve been known to seduce the occasional human, too."
Deeply interested in entomology, Marley can tell you the scientific name of many insects, their host plants, what the larvae eat, and when, where and how to find them.
Marley drew the entomologists into his kaleidescope world with photo after photo of his work featuring insects collected in such faraway places as Malaysia, Borneo, New Guinea and Kenya. The crowd sat mesmerized. You could almost hear a scarab beetle drop.
His 256-page book, "Pheromone: The Insect Artwork of Christopher Marley," has drawn worldwide attention in the print and electronic media. He sells his work (including colorful calendars) at hundreds of galleries and stores in the United States and abroad.
Marley told the entomologists he wants folks to appreciate insects--and he hopes that his art will inspire, educate and enlighten them.
Collecting insects is not as simple as hiring collectors, he said. He acknowledged that he fills out "reams" of paper work for the collecting permits, export permits and import licenses.
Not everyone likes the fact that he collects insects for art. One person once told him: "I love insects and I’d rather see YOU in the frame of that book."
And not everyone likes the fact that he employs catchers to collect the insects. Some insects found in the faraway corners of the world are quite rare or rarely seen.
"But it's not so much 'rare' species as 'rare' ecosystems or habitats," Marley told the entomologists.
Marley said by employing people from other countries as catchers, he is contributing to their well-being and that of their families; aiding the poverty-stricken areas; and teaching humankind to protect the habitat that provides those insects.
Marley quoted Baba Dioum: “In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”
"I believe," Marley said, "that we will only love what we've experienced."
Leal, a chemical ecologist and professor of entomology, recently organized and moderated a symposium with professor John Hildebrand of the University of Arizona on "The Diversity in Olfaction and Taste" at the 58th annual Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting.
Among the nine speakers at the San Diego conference: Bert Hoelldobler of Arizona State University who discussed "Communication and Social Organization Among Insects Via Chemical Cues"; Kristin Scott of UC Berkeley, "Taste Recognition in Drosophila (Flies)"; Julien Pelletier of UC Davis, "Conserved and Diverse Mosquito Odorant Receptors"; Hildebrand, "Olfactory Mechanisms Underlying Moth-Host Plant Interactions"; and Leal, who covered "Odorant Receptors from Moths, Flies and Mosquitoes." (Note the communication between a male and female silkworm moth in the accompanying photo by Samuel Woo of UC Davis.)
It's an exciting field--the field of olfaction and taste. And now the Leal lab has an opening for a postdoc trained in biochemistry/molecular biology to join a group of scholars (http://chemecol.ucdavis.edu/) investigating at the molecular level how insect perceive the world true small chemical molecules like pheromones, oviposition attractants, repellents, etc.
Leal, a fellow of the ESA and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and former president of the International Society for Chemical Ecology, is focusing his current research on the molecular basis of insect olfaction, with particular emphasis on odorant binding, release, and inactivation in the peripheral nervous system and chemical ecology.
Leal has published more than 150 papers in peer reviewed journals, 16 invited chapters and review articles, 28 Japanese patents and 2 US patents. Some of the recent publications:
Postdoc scholars who want to apply can email their CV and a letter of application to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three University of California entomology professors were among the 10 newly elected Fellows of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) honored at the organization's 58th annual meeting, held Dec. 12-15 in San Diego.
Their selection speaks highly of the caliber of UC professors. No more than 10 Fellows are selected for the honor every year from the 6000-member organization, and this year the UC system has three.
They are Bruce Hammock and Thomas Scott of UC Davis and Thomas A. Miller of UC Riverside.
Hammock, a distinguished professor of entomology, studies "inhibitors of epoxide hydrolases as drugs to treat diabetes, inflammation, ischemia and cardiovascular disease," the ESA statement of his work reads. "Compounds from the UC Davis laboratory are in human trials."
That in itself--from bench to bedside--is unique in the annals of entomology.
Hammock, a member of the UC Davis Medical Center's Cancer Center and the National Academy of Sciences, is not only a distinguished professor but a highly sought-after mentor who draws students to his lab from all over the world.
Scott, who directs the UC Mosquito Research Laboratory at Davis, is one of the key "go-to" researchers studying dengue. When he's not in his UC Davis lab, you can usually find him doing research in Peru, Thailand or Mexico. Scott is especially known for his research on mosquito ecology, evolution of mosquito virus interactions, epidemiology of mosquito-borne disease, and evaluation of novel products and strategies for mosquito control and disease prevention.
Scott is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is a past president of the Society for Vector Ecology. He serves as a subject editor for the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. (More on Hammock and Scott on the UC Davis Department of Entomology website.)
ESA officials pointed out that Miller's research "has included structure and function of the insect circulatory system; mode of action of insecticides; insect neuromuscular physiology; physiology, toxicology and behavior of pink bollworm in cotton fields; transgenic insects; and applied symbiosis for crop protection and biopesticides for crop protection. "
Miller's university teaching includes insect physiology, insect toxicology and first year biology. Current projects include control of bush cricket pests of oil palm trees in Papua New Guinea, oversight of field trials of transgenic grapevines with resistance to Pierce's disease, biotechnology for control of desert locust, and regulatory control of insect transgenic technologies.
In 2003 Miller was awarded the Gregor J. Mendel Medal for Research in Biological Sciences by the Czech Academy of Sciences. That's just one of his many honors.
Indeed, the list of honors and accomplishments for these three UC entomologists could easily fill a book!
Whether it's spotted-wing Drosophila, codling moth or light brown apple moth--or myriads of other invasives--integrated pest management (IPM) specialist Frank Zalom knows his pests and how to manage them.
Zalom, professor and former vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, directed the statewide UC IPM program for 16 years. His name is well known in state, national and international IPM circles.
Last week: another well-deserved honor for his stellar work. Zalom received the Entomological Foundation's "Award for Excellence in IPM" at the 58th annual Entomological Society of America meeting in San Diego. Some 3000 of the ESA's 6000-member organization attended the four-day conference.
The IPM award is given for "outstanding contributions to iPM," according to foundation president S. Bradleigh Vinson, professor of entomology at Texas A&M University.
Zalom was described as "a professor of entomology, an extension agronomist, and an entomologist in the Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of California, Davis."
Zalom's current research focuses primarily on California specialty crops, including tree crops (almonds, olives, prunes, peaches), small fruits (grapes, strawberries, caneberries) and fruiting vegetable (tomatoes).
Here's what the foundation had to say about him:
"The IPM strategies and tactics he has developed include monitoring procedures, thresholds, pest development and population models, biological controls, and use of less toxic pesticides, which have become standard in practice and part of the UC IPM Guidelines for these crops. His lab has responded to six important pest invasions in the last decade, with research projects on glassy-winged sharpshooter, olive fruit fly, a new biotype of greenhouse whitefly, invasive saltcedar, light brown apple moth, and the spotted-wing Drosophila.
"The results of these studies are reflected in Dr. Zalom's 290 authored/co-authored/refereed journal articles or book chapters and 140 extension publications."