It's appropriate during National Pollinator Week to remember that.
We spotted this newly emerged green bottle fly (below) nectaring on lavender last week in our yard.
It seemed out of place among the honey bees, leafcutter bees and carpenter bees working the blossoms.
We didn't recognize it as a newly emerged green bottle fly, Lucilla sericata. But fly experts Martin Hauser of the California Department of Food and Agriculture and Terry Whitworth of Washington State University, did.
Family Calliphoridae. Genus Lucilla. Species sericata.
"This looks like a Calliphoridae which just emerged, so the wings are still folded," said senior insect biosystematist Hauser.
Said Whitworth, an adjunct professor of entomology at WSU who maintains the websites birdblowfly.com and blowflies.net: "This is a teneral fly, not fully sclerotized. You can see it just emerged and the wings have still not extended so identification can be tough. However, the shot clearly shows three postacrostichals which almost certainly makes it the common, cosmopolitan Lucilia sericata."
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of UC Davis marveled at the newly emerged fly. "Something dead in your yard?" he quipped.
"No," we said. "But the cat caught a rat the other day. We disposed of it quite quickly." Not the cat, the rat.
'Course, flies aren't known for being pollinators. They're better known--and rightfully so--for disposing of carrion and as the key tool in forensic entomology. They're also used in medical science as maggot therapy. And for art: one of Kimsey's former graduate students, forensic entomologist Rebecca O'Flaharty, coined the term "Maggot Art" (trademarked) and that's one of the activities at the annual UC Davis Picnic Day. Graduate and undergraduate students in the Department of Entomology and Nematology show youths how to dip a maggot in water-based, non-toxic paint, place it on white paper, and let it crawl. Voila! Maggot Art! Suitable for framing...
Everything in life--and death--has a purpose.
Bugs will rule at the 99th annual UC Davis Picnic Day this Saturday, April 20.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology is planning lots of "bug" activities as part of the campuswide celebration.
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, coordinator of the department’s Picnic Day activities, says there will be cockroach races, termite trails, ant colonies, Maggot Art, face-painting, fly-tying, honey tasting, T-shirt sales, and much, much more at Briggs Hall.
Briggs is located off Kleiber Hall drive, near the campus police and fire stations, while the Bohart Museum is in Room 1124 Academic Surge on Crocker Lane.
The Bohart Museum, home of nearly eight million insect specimens, will feature wasp nests in its new display case. Displayed will be nests once occupied by European paper wasps, yellow jackets, carpenter bees and bumble bees. The Bohart also will include a live “petting zoo” where visitors can hold Madagascar hissing cockroaches, a rose-haired tarantula, and walking sticks. Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, directs the Bohart Museum.
At Briggs, you can also expect to see forensic, medical, aquatic, apiculture, and forest entomology displays, as well as a honey of a honey tasting. In the courtyard, Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen will share six varieties of honey: manzanita, lima bean, pomegranate, almond blossom, orange blossom, and Northern desert shrub Nevada), a reddish honey. In Room 122, staff research associate/beekeeper Billy Synk of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility will provide a bee observation hive.
One of the most popular activities at Briggs is Maggot Art, a term trademarked by forensic entomologist Rebecca O’Flaherty, a former doctoral candidate in entomology at UC Davis. This involves dipping a maggot in non-toxic, water-based paint. “Artists” pick up a maggot with special forceps, dip it in the paint and then let it crawl on white paper. O’Flaherty launched Maggot Art in 2001 at the University of Hawaii as a community outreach project when she was teaching entomology to youths.
The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) will set up its traditional display in front of Briggs Hall where visitors can learn about managing pests in their homes and garden. In addition, UC IPM will give away live lady beetles (aka ladybugs) to children.
Plans at Briggs Hall also call for a “Bug Doctor” to answer insect-related questions. The doctor is in! Last year’s “Bug Doctors” included Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
So, bugs will rule!
She delighted in the insects on her parents' rose buses--the aphids, the ladybugs, grasshoppers and the caterpillars.
“I would trap those in containers and I kept my tiny companions underneath the bed where I could easily take them out for play and also hide them away from my mother," she recalled. "I knew I liked insects.”
But credit a cricket named Chester with really getting her into entomology.
Chester? He's the main character in George Selden's Newbery award-winning book, A Cricket in Times Square.
Young Ivana encountered the book in the second grade and learned the definition of "entomologist."
"I was pretty thrilled that to find out that there was actually a job in which you get to study insects," related Li, who was born and reared in Monterey Park, near east Los Angeles. "That was the best. It still is.”
After graduating from Schurr High School in Montebello, Li enrolled as an entomology major at UC Davis. Now a fourth-year entomology major and president of the UC Davis Entomology Club, she was just announced as the recipient of the Department of Entomology’s 2012 Outstanding Undergraduate Award.
And well deserved!
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey presented her with the coveted award at a recent departmental barbecue. A perpetual plaque, displayed outside the department's administration office on the third floor of Briggs Hall, now bears her name.
Ivana Li does love bugs! When she's not in class, you'll find her working in the Bohart Museum of Entomology, home of more than seven million insect specimens.
Said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and a professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology: “Ivana has worked for me for several years. She is a gifted student with many impressive talents, and a maturity well beyond that of her peers. She will go far.”
As for career choices, Ivana Li hasn't’ decided yet, but it will be either “forensics or ecology.”
“Both,” she said, “are appealing at this point in my life.”
Most scorpions glow under an ultraviolet light, but now a discovery on Alcatraz Island reveals that a certain species of millipedes will, too.
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, who does fly research on Alcatraz, said that bait laced with a non-toxic fluorescent dye to estimate the rat population in February yielded the expected result: the glow of rat urine and feces.
But something else was glowing nearby: millipedes.
Had they consumed some of the rat bait?
No. An experiment at the Bohart Museum of Entomology on the UC Davis campus showed that these millipedes (Xystocheir dissecta (Wood) glow under black lights, just like scorpions.
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and a professor of entomology at UC Davis, said the species is a relatively abundant species in the Bay Area. “This particular species of millipedes glowed all along, but nobody was paying any attention to it,” she said.
She suspects that the millipedes on Alcatraz Island originated from soil transported over from the nearby Angel Island when “The Rock” was just that—rock with little or no soil.
Meanwhile, if you attend the Bohart Museum's open house from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 3 at 1124 Academic Surge, California Drive, you'll see scorpions and millipedes glowing.
And there's something else to draw you in: a special live display of the California dogface butterfly by naturalist/photographer Greg Kareofelas of Davis. If all goes as planned, an adult will emerge from its chrysalis. If this doesn't happen (well, you can't tell a buttterfly when to emerge!) you can watch the life cycle on his PowerPoint presentation, to run continuously throughout the open house.
And, you can ask Kareofelas all about the California dogface butterfly (Zerene eurydice), which, by the way, is close to royalty--it's California's designated state insect.
If you head over to the UC Davis Department of Entomology's displays at Briggs Hall and at the Bohart Museum of Entomology on Saturday, April 21 during the campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day, you'll find them.
Bug doctors. Lots of them. They'll be there from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey will be behind a sign that says "Dr. Death" in Room 122 of Briggs Hall. (Briggs is located off Kleiber Hall Drive.) There you can ask him all kinds of questions about forensic entomology and he'll let you peer through his microscope. Ask him about CSI!
Out in front of Briggs Hall will be a "Bug Doctor" booth where you can "bug" the experts about bugs. Entomology faculty and graduate students will rotate shifts.
The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) will have a team of experts at Briggs, too, to answer all sorts of questions. "We will do our usual display of information and tools for managing pests in homes and gardens," said Mary Louise Flint, the UC IPM's associate director of urban and community IPM and an Extension entomologist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology. "We'll give advice on managing pests with less toxic, environmentally sound IPM methods. We will have Quick Tips to hand out, people can try out our touch screen IPM kiosk to answer questions and we will also be distributing live lady beetles (aka ladybugs) for children."
Over at the Bohart Museum in Room 1124 of Academic Surge on California Drive, you'll meet the team of bug experts headed by director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology. You can examine the specimens (there are more than seven million housed in the museum) and they'll even let you hold the critters in their live "petting zoo" which includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks.
Yes, there will be doctors in the house, but you know what? They will be far, far outnumbered by insects. (See the UC Davis Department of Entomology website for the full list of activities.)