If you visit the Jepson Prairie Reserve near Vacaville-Dixon in Solano County, keep your eyes out for Andrena (mining) bees on the meadowfoam (Limnanthes).
We were out there Monday morning and saw a mining bee nestled inside a white flower cup. The bee, about the size of a grain of rice, wasn't moving.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, and a noted expert on "Vernal Pool Flowers and their Specialist Pollinators," identified the bee below as a male Andrena (mining bee) and "most certainly Andrena pulvera, the species whose females specialize on Limnanthes as their pollen source."
The males have no burrows. "They spend the night inside the meadowfoam flower cups so they are frequently encountered as 'sleeping' inside them early in the morning. As soon as the sun warms them up, they go about their business searching for meadowfoam patches for females."
A short distance away, we spotted another Andrena doing the same thing.
Life is good.
It's not just high temperatures that play a significant role in the transmission of dengue, a deadly mosquito-borne disease that strikes millions of people in tropical and subtropical countries.
The size and pattern of fluctuations in daily temperature have a large effect on pathogens transmitted by mosquitoes, according to groundbreaking research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The research, led by French, Thailand and U.S. scientists and conceived by medical entomologist Thomas Scott (right) of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, targets the transmission of spread of dengue.
Lead author Louis Lambrechts (left) of the Institut Pasteur, France, who did postdoctoral research in the Scott lab, points out that the influence of average temperatures on dengue virus transmission has long been known–the higher the temperature, the more efficient the virus transmission—but this is the first study linking temperature fluctuations to the transmission of the disease.
Dengue, transmitted by the daybiting Aedes aegypti mosquito, globally infects 50 to 100 million people yearly. At risk are some 2.5 to 3 billion people, primarily in tropical and sub-tropical countries. The most severe form of the disease, dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF), strikes half a million a year and kills an estimated 5 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Scott said the study helps to explain a long-standing enigma: “What are the underlying causes of seasonal fluctuations in dengue incidence?” Experiments showed that mosquitoes die faster and are less susceptible to virus infection under large temperature swings, which is typical of the low dengue season, than under moderate temperature variation, which is typical of the high dengue season.
Scott, a noted dengue expert whose goal is to save lives through research, surveillance and implementation of disease prevention strategies, has a longstanding interest in the factors that drive seasonal and annual fluctuations in diseases caused by mosquito-transmitted pathogens. “Traditional explanations for the seasonal increase in dengue are not consistent with my experience in Thailand, Peru, and Puerto Rico,” Scott said.
If you're looking for something to do tomorrow (Saturday, April 16), it's UC Davis Picnic Day, a campuswide annual event.
Over at Briggs Hall, Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology Department faculty will be offering a taste of honey to visitors. Actually, more than one taste of honey. First, there's the honey derived from orange blossoms, clover, cotton, starthistle and other plants that you can sample. And then there's the taste of honey via samples of Gimbal's Fine Candies, San Francisco. The company donates funds to UC Davis for honey bee research.
Honey tasting time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The place: Briggs Hall courtyard. Cost: Free!
News flash: Mussen will be wearing his "Show Me the Honey" t-shirt.
Human beings aren't the only ones who love honey. Drones (male bees) do, too.
Today bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey was conducting a class at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road when a few drones escaped.
Several wound up by a window, and someone (yours truly) offered them a taste of honey. You think drones are fed only by their sisters, the worker bees? No. They can sip honey, too.
The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven is not only a haven for honey bees; it's a haven for bumble bees and other native pollinators.
A yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) buzzed around in the Bee Bliss salvia today, sharing the blossoms with honey bees.
The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven is a half-acre bee friendly garden located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. It's an educational and research garden that provides year-around food for the Laidlaw bees and other pollinators.
On any given day, you'll see honey bees, sweat bees, carpenter bees, bumble bees and butterflies. As the weather warms, along will come crab spiders and praying mantids. Another highlight is all the art work created by the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, directed by entomologist-artist Diane Ullman and artist Donna Billick and the six-foot-long bee sculpture, Miss Bee Haven, by Billick.
The garden is open from dawn to dusk. Folks can stroll the gardens on self-guided tours (no admission) and check out the labeled plants. Picnic tables offer places to have lunch--while the native pollinators have theirs.
"You can never be too rich, too young, too blonde or too thin," a quote often attributed to Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor.
Well, you can never have too many ladybugs, aka lady beetles, in your garden.
These colorful beetles devour aphids and other soft-bodied insects. It's a war of the predators and their prey.
Fortunately, when there are scores of aphids sucking the very lifeblood out of your plants, you're likely to see both ladybugs AND soldier beetles. Both like to dine on aphids.
Soon the ladybugs and soldier beetles do what comes naturally. (Unfortunately, so do the aphids.)
More ladybugs, please! More soldier beetles, too!