There's a good reason why they're called "the menace in the mattress." The mattress is one of their hiding spots.
They? Bed bugs. Parasites that feed on human blood.
"Bed bug infestations are rampant locally, nationally and globally," says Tanya Drlik, integrated pest management (IPM) coordinator of Contra Costa County who will speak at the May 3rd meeting of the Northern California Entomology Society, to be held in the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
“We’ve had a reprieve from bed bugs for about 50 years, but now they’re back,” said Drlik, who will discuss “The Resurgence of Bed Bugs and Current Effective Control Methods” at 9:45 a.m. in the Laidlaw conference room.
The society (membership is open to everyone) will meet from 9:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Drlik is one of five speakers on topics ranging from bed bugs to lacewings to endangered species.
Drlik, who formed the Bed Bug Task Force to help prepare Contra Costa County to meet the challenges of the mounting bed bug infestation, says that bed bugs “have no regard for wealth or class—everyone is vulnerable. Bed bugs can be found all across the country in apartment buildings, hotels and motels, private residences, hospitals, waiting rooms, fire station, taxis and buses…and the list goes on. They’ve infested four-star hotels and penthouses as well as homeless shelters and rundown apartment buildings.”
“Judging by history and the experience of other jurisdictions across the country, the problem is only going to increase, and more and more public buildings and homes will experience infestations,” said Drlik, who has a master’s degree in ecosystem management and nearly 40 years of experience in the field of IPM.
“Bed bugs are difficult to control because of their small size, their secretive nature and their growing resistance to the pesticides we have at our disposal. Poverty, clutter, and poor housekeeping do not cause bed bug infestations, but they make eliminating infestations much more difficult.”
Bed bugs “can be seen in epidemic proportions in some areas of the United States, including New York City and central and southwestern Ohio,” said Drlik, adding that since 2004, New York City has experienced a 2277 percent increase in complaints about bed bugs in the five boroughs (source: New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development). “Colleagues in the Franklin County Health Department in central Ohio have commented to us that they were completely unprepared for the rapidity with which bed bugs spread throughout their county.”
Other topics at the Nor Cal Entomology Society meeting include:
- “Protecting Invertebrates Listed as Threatened or Endangered Species in California” by Darlene McGriff, California Natural Diversity Database (California Department of Fish and Game).
- “California Forest Insect Conditions Going into 2012” by Cynthia Snyder, U.S. Forest Service, Shasta-McCloud Management Unit.
- “PG&E’s Use of Safe Harbor Agreements and Programmatic Permits to Protect Endangered Organisms on Utility Rights of Way” by Peter Beesley, PG&E.
- “In-Depth Look at Lacewings, an Augmentative California Biological Control Agent” by Shaun Winterton, California Department of Food and Agriculture Biological Control Program.
All great topics, to be sure. Bed bugs, however, are the big draw, in more ways than one.
We remember an Entomological Society of America (ESA) seminar on these bloodsuckers that resulted in a flurry of inspections back in the hotel rooms: mattress, baseboard, furniture, closet and luggage checks.
For excellent bed bug resources, check out the ESA website. And for more information on the Nor Cal Entomology Society meeting, see the UC Davis Department of Entomology website.
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."