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.
Or an entomologist?
UC Davis Regents Scholar Heather Wilson, a researcher/lab technician in the Frank Zalom lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology, was listening to (I Wanna Be a) "Billionaire," the lead single from Travie McCoy's Lazarus album when she came up with an idea for the Entomological Society of America’s YouTube video contest.
In the hit tune, "Billionaire," McCoy zeroes in on what it might be like to become a billionaire, or rather, what he will do WHEN he becomes a billionaire. He'll be on the cover of Forbes magazine, "smiling next to Oprah and The Queen."
"I wanna be a billionaire, so freakin' (insert alternative adjective here) bad," McCoy sings.
Enter Heather Wilson, a senior majoring in biological sciences. She answered the (I Wanna Be a) "Billionaire" video, created by McCoy and guest vocalist Bruno Mars, with a video of her own.
"I wanna be an entomologist, so freakin' bad," Wilson sings.
"I wanna be on the cover
Of Economic Entomology
Smiling next to Frank and Jim Carey..."
That would be Frank Zalom and James "Jim" Carey, longtime professors in the UC Davis Department of Entomology. Zalom, former vice chair of the department, is in line for the presidency of the 6000-member ESA.
Wilson's video begins rather quietly. A spider prowls its web for unsuspecting insects. Honey bees buzz in and out of a hive. A butterfly flutters into a bush.
A bucolic scene, right?
Wait! The fun is about to begin. Wilson opens a car trunk, retrieves an insect net, and holding it upright like a flag, sprints down a country road like a cartoon character.
She goes on to "count bugs" in the Zalom lab (where she's doing research on the Spotted Wing Drosophila). Then she heads over to the Bohart Museum of Entomology where she wears a resident walking stick on her T-shirt. She cradles a rose-haired tarantula and a Madagascar hissing cockroach. She hugs a display tray of butterfly specimens.
And she does all this with unabated glee.
It's easy to see why Wilson was voted "class clown" at her high school in Anaheim, Calif. But she's also a top scholar. The Regents Scholarship she received is the most prestigious scholarship on the UC Davis campus and is based solely on academic and personal achievements.
Someone asked us "What's this all about, craving so badly to become an entomologist?"
Well, you have to watch the "Billionaire" video to know what's going on. It's a parody! And Heather Wilson pulls it off perfectly.
Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum of Entomology and an avid fan of all things entomological, points out that "It's unrealistic that we can ALL become billionaires. But honestly, we can all set our sights on becoming an entomologist. Now that’s a realistic dream.”
Meanwhile, Wilson is preparing a research presentation on the Spotted Wing Drosophila for the 59th Annual ESA Meeting, to be held Nov. 13-16 in Reno.
And meanwhile, her video is going viral.