Oh, sure, there are lots of bug girls and bug boys out there--bug women, bug men and real insects, too--but there's only one Bug Girl.
She's the one who writes that witty/informative/tell-it-like-it-is-not-what-you-want-it-to-be bug blog called...drum roll...Bug Girl.
Bug Girl, aka Bug C. Membracid, spoke at a social media seminar at the 59th annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America, held Nov. 13-16 in Reno.
Before her talk, folks were sporting "I Am Bug Girl" stickers on their name tags. That added to the mystery of "Who is Bug Girl?" That one? This one? The one over there? Will the real Bug Girl please stand up?
See, she writes anonymously. We don't know who she is--she keeps her identity a secret--but we do know she has a doctorate in entomology from North Carolina State University and she works in a provost's office "in a Connecticut university."
We also know she wears a mop of hair the color of a blue morpho butterfly and some cool (and mostly erect) blue antennae--at least she did at the ESA meeting. We also know she has a fan base like you wouldn't believe. Fellow bug lovers were coming out of the woodwork like termites to hear her speak, hug her, and to be photographed with her.
Move over, Angelina Jolie. Take a seat, Taylor Swift. Scoot, Jennifer Aniston. We have a scientist in our midst!
In her talk, "Adventures of Bug Girl or Everything You Wanted to Know About Entomological Social Media But Were Afraid to Ask," she told how you, too, can become "an online entomology goddess." She began blogging as Bug Girl in 2004, as "a way to become a better writer."
Bug Girl writes the way she talks. No academic jargon, nothing you have to read three times to understand. "it's about talking to people; it's about conversation, not lecturing," she said.
However, Bug Girl warned "people can be very cruel to you." Someone even set up a website countering her views, she said.
She also mentioned her bug-blogging buddies, including Dragonfly Woman, Alex Wild (he received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis) and Carl Zimmer, among others. "I don't see us as competitors, but as collaborators," she said. "It's not about who has the most followers."
"What I do isn't so much as public outreach; it's public engagement. It's having a conversation with our readers."
Bug Girl said she's proud of what she called "the little victories," like convincing Nature journal to spell "bed bug" as two words, instead of one. She bashes bad science like some folks bash cockroaches.
Bug Girl hammered home several pieces of advice:
1. Find your niche or what she called your "blue water" or where few are--and not "red water," because that's where the sharks are.
2. Find your voice and make it distinct. Don't look for validation or positive validation.
3. Develop a thick skin.
4. Be prepared to spend a lot more time and energy than you expect.
5. Don't expect a profit.
For all bloggers and would-be bloggers, Bug Girl recommended folks read David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing and PR.
For the full account of what Bug Girl said at the ESA meeting and what bugs her, link here.
Until recently, praying mantids were thought to be deaf. We now know that 65 percent of all mantid species can hear. Where do the tympanal organs occur in mantid species?
The answer: The two tympanal membranes face one another inside a narrow groove between the metathoracic legs (hind legs).
That was just one of the questions asked at the 2011 Linnaean Games, a traditional part of the annual meetings of the Entomological Society of America (ESA). It's a spirited college-bowl type of game in which students respond by ringing a bell and shouting out the answers. The winning team receives a huge trophy--and bragging rights.
The UC Davis Linnaean Team, fresh from winning the ESA Pacific Branch championship, journeyed to Reno to compete in this year's Games. Like the other branch winners, UC Davis was there not just to compete, but to have fun and enjoy the camaraderie.
Fun, they did. For the occasion, emcee Tom Turpin, professor of entomology at Purdue, wore his trademark butterfly bow tie. His sharp eyes quickly noticed the bright red bow tie of UC Davis graduate student Matan Shelomi.
So Turpin leaves the podium and walks over to Shelomi to congratulate him on his fashionable choice of ties. The audience erupts into applause.
Then, let the Games begin! When it was all over, the University of Nebraska took home the trophy.
In the championship game, pitting Nebraska against North Carolina State, it was touch-and-go for awhile until Nebraska pulled solidly ahead.
Think you can answer some of the questions? Give them a try. (Answers below)
1.If you donate blood, you are asked about your exposure to babesiosis. What is the common name of the arthropod group that is the main vector of this disease?
2. What is the term for the separation of the cuticle from the epidermis during molting?
3. What does acuminate mean?
4. What is the common and scientific name of the beetle described by LeConte that is a significant pest of corn and was introduced into Europe in the 1990s. The larvae feed on corn roots.
5. What is the meaning of rugose?
6. Most ants use chemical trailing to navigate to and from the nest. However, as a result of high winds and blowing sand, ants that inhabit dessert environments use a different mechanism. How do desert ants find their way?
7. What is the name of insecticidal extract derived from dried chrysanthemum flowers and what chemical is typically added as a synergist to help the performance of this material?
3. Tapering to a long point.
4. Western Corn Rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera)
6. They have the ability to count steps. A recent study experimentally altered the length of ant legs after their search for food. They found that ants with longer legs overshot the nest while ants with their legs shortened didn’t go all the way back to the nest. They then placed all the ants in the nest, and the next day all ants went out in search of food and came exactly back to the nest, showing that desert ants have some kind of pedometer. Source: http://www.entsoc.org/buzz/ants-count
7. Pyrethrum – Piperonyl butoxide.
If you're into macro photography of insects, you'll want to check out the amazing photos that won awards, or were accepted into the international Insect Salon competition, affiliated with the Entomological Society of America (ESA) and the Peoria Camera Club, Illinois.
University of Illinois entomologist and ESA Insect Salon chair James Appleby announced at the ESA's 59th annual meeting, held Nov. 13-16 in Reno, that the Insect Salon drew 200 submissions from 27 countries.
It's good to see so many photographers focusing on insects! Go, bugs! To see some of their spectacular work, check out the exhibition results.
Judges look at such criteria as composition, visual impact of the image (or what I call the "wow!" factor), lighting, subject matter, sharpness, depth of field, and difficulty of image acquisition (how difficult was it to make this image?).
Drum roll...The medal for best of show went to Josef Sauter of Germany for his excellent image of butterflies. The medal for most unusual went to Roy Rimmer of England for his "Great Diving Beetle Larva with Prey." Other top winners: medal for best story telling, Tsai Mengshin of Taiwan for his incubation image; medal for best image by an ESA member, Stephen Doggett of Australia for "Friends for Lunch" (hapless bee nailed by a spider); medal for best image by a Peoria Camera Club member, Mark Doublin of Illinois, for his assassin bug; and medal for the best image by an non-ESA member, Marc Anagnostidis of France for his image of butterflies.
Just to be accepted into the show is quite an honor. However, it's not about winning or losing. It's about sharing. It's not about the camera equipment being used. It's mostly about the incredible insects, and a photographer's skill, patience and keen eye.
Interestingly enough, when folks admire the work of photographers, the first question they often ask is: "What kind of camera do you have?" Sometimes the question is asked as if the camera itself is totally responsible for the image. It's like asking a gourmet cook "What kind of pots and pans do you use?" Or asking an Olympic athlete "What kind of shoes do you wear?" Or asking an nationally renowned artist "What kind of brushes do you use?"
Bottom line: scores of factors are involved in capturing images of insects.
And yes, the Insect Salon competition is open to all. Enter your best shots next year!
It's important to have a sense of humor, especially in the academic world when seriousness almost always shades levity.
Take chemical ecologist Walter Leal, professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, who received the Entomological Society of America's Nan-Yao Su Award for Innovation and Creativity in Entomology this week.
It's an award given to an ESA member who is able to demonstrate, through his/her projects or accomplishments, an ability to identify problems and develop creative, alternative solutions that significantly impact entomology.
Leal, a pioneer in the field of insect communication and on the cutting edge of research, uses innovative approaches to solve insect olfaction problems. Basically, his work examines how insects detect smells, communicate with their species, detect host and non-host plants, and detect prey.
The UC Davis professor has designed and synthesized complex pheromones from many insects, including scarab beetles, true bugs, longhorn beetles and the citrus leafminer. He and his lab discovered the secret mode of the insect repellent DEET.
At the ESA awards session, Leal first stepped on stage to receive the Fellow awards of Anthony James of UC Irvine and James R. Carey of UC Davis, who were unable to attend. (Leal also is a Fellow, a prestigious award given annually to only 10 members--or up to 10 members--of the 6000-member society).
Then it was time for the Nan-Yao Su Award presentation.
Leal's third trip to the stage did not go unnoticed. ESA vice president Grayson Brown of the University of Kentucky, quipped: "That's how Walter gets his exercise--by picking up awards."
Yale University professor John Carlson suggested that Leal might be too tired to get the Nan-Yao Su Award Award. "I will go get his," said Carlson, as the audience burst into an uproarious applause.
A dose of humor also touched Leal's name badge. Beneath the lettering, "Dr. Walter S. Leal" and his blue Fellow ribbon, trailed two other ribbons: "Official Something," "Somebody" and "Workaholic."
The Entomological Society of America (ESA) just announced that among the 2011 award recipients are two UC Davis faculty: Michael Parrella and Walter Leal.
Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology is the recipient of the ESA's Distinguished Achievement Award in Horticultural Entomology.
Chemical ecologist Walter Leal, professor and former chair of the Department of Entomology, is the recipient of the ESA's Nan-Yao Su Award for Innovation and Creativity in Entomology.
They'll receive the awards at the 59th Annual ESA Meeting, set Nov. 13-16 in Reno. Each award comes with a cash prize and a plaque.
Both Parrella and Leal have done so much for the wide world of entomology that their accomplishments could easily fill several books.
The fact that they were singled out from a 6000-member international organization for these coveted awards says a lot about them, their work, their commitments, their passions, and the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
The Nan-Yao Su Award goes to an ESA member who has demonstrated, through projects or accomplishments, "an ability to identify problems and develop creative, alternative solutions that significantly impact entomology."
The Distinguished Achievement Award in Horticultural Entomology, sponsored by Gowan Company, singles out an entomologist who has contributed greatly to the American horticulture industry.
Parrella, who also has a joint appointment in the Department of Plant Sciences and is a former associate dean with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, has developed an internationally recognized program focused on advancing integrated pest management and biological control for the floriculture and nursery industry.
Parrella is a past president of the Pacific Branch of the ESA and represents the Branch on the ESA Governing Board. He has held numerous offices and has authored more than than 375 publications.
Leal is a pioneer in the field of insect communication and on the cutting edge of research. He examines how insects detect smells, communicate with their species, detect host and non-host plants, and detect prey.
Leal has designed and synthesized complex pheromones from many insects, including scarab beetles, true bugs, longhorn beetles and the citrus leafminer. He and his lab discovered the secret mode of the insect repellent DEET.
A past president of International Society of Chemical Ecology, Leal has published his work in more than 161 peer-reviewed journals in the general field of insect pheromones, insect chemical communication, and insect olfaction, many widely cited by his peers.
Hail to the chairs--the current chair and a past chair.