It's not your average garden variety calendar.
It's absolutely bee-utiful.
Native bees reign supreme in “Garden Variety Native Bees of North America,” a calendar produced by University of California alumni as a benefit for two non-profit organizations.
The perpetual calendar, the work of native bee enthusiast Celeste Ets-Hokin and entomologist/photographer Rollin Coville, both of the Bay Area, features native bees found throughout North America, including the leafcutter bee, bumble bee and sweat bee.
The macro photography is simply stunning. Through these photos, you can get up close and personal with bees you may never have even noticed. The ultra green sweat bees are especially spectacular.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, provided “considerable insight into the biology and ecology of several native bee genera,” said Ets-Hokin.
Also contributing extensively were UC Berkeley faculty members Gordon Frankie and Claire Kremen. Frankie shared his extensive knowledge of native bees in urban gardens. Kremen provided crucial information on native bee crop pollination services, based on her studies in Yolo County.
A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Great Sunflower Project, a national pollinator monitoring and conservation program based in San Francisco, and the Portland, Ore-based Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, which protects native bees and their habitat throughout the United States.
Each native bee comes complete with information, such as the genus, common name, pollen/nectar sources, emergence time, nesting habit, and distinguishing characteristics.
For instance, you'll learn that bumble bees are excellent crop pollinators; they pollinate such crops as tomatoes, cranberries and blueberries better than honey bees.
You can attract bumble bees to your own garden by planting such pollen/nectar sources as giant hyssop (Agastache); manzanita (Arctostaphylos), ceanothus (Ceanothus); California poppy (Eschscholzia), sunflower (Helianthus); and beard tongue (Penstemon).
It's all there--all there on the calendar.
Coville, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley in 1978, has been photographing insects and spiders for more than 25 years. He is collaborating with Thorp and Frankie on a number of projects, including a book on urban bees. It's due out next year.
Ets-Hokin, a UC Berkeley zoology graduate, devotes her time to the public awareness and conservation of native bees. For the past several years, she has collaborated with the Alameda County Master Gardeners in establishing a native bee demonstration garden at Lake Merritt, Oakland.
Coville takes many of his images there and now he has Ets-Hokin hooked on photography.
Preview the calendar here. Want to order one or more? Go to the printer's website.
Dengue is one of them.
Dengue, transmitted by the daybiting Aedes aegypti mosquito, globally infects 50 to 100 million people yearly, according to dengue expert Tom Scott, professor of entomology at UC Davis. 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.
Those alarming statistics are why scientists like Scott and Kathryn “Kathy” Hanley devote their lives to studying the emergence and control of dengue.
Hanley will speak on “Fevers from the Forest: Dynamics of Sylvatic Dengue Virus and Chikungunya Virus in their Primate Hosts and Mosquito Vectors in Southeastern Senegal from 12:10 to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 30 in 122 Briggs Hall.
Scott will introduce Hanley, an associate professor at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, and now on sabbatical (she's working in the Scott lab).
The Hanley lab investigates the molecular biology, evolution and ecology of emerging RNA viruses like dengue and influenza, with the goal of using this basic knowledge to design better methods to control the spread of these dangerous pathogens.
Abstract of Her Talk:
"Mosquito-borne dengue virus exists in two ecologically and evolutionarily distinct transmission cycles: an ancestral sylvatic cycle in which the virus is transmitted between non-human primates and arboreal Aedes, and a derived human cycle in which the virus is transmitted by domestic and peridomestic Aedes, primarily Ae. aegypti. This seminar will present current research on the evolutionary and ecological factors that promote, and constrain, the emergence of sylvatic dengue virus into transmission among humans."--Kathryn Hanley.
Kathryn Hanley, who joined New Mexico State University as an assistant professor of biology in 2004 and was promoted to associate professor in 2010, says she is a proud native of New Jersey, and "yes, I stand by that statement." She received her bachelor of arts degree from Amherst College where she majored in biology and minored in English poetry. After graduating magna cum laude, she entered a Ph.D. program at UC San Diego. Her dissertation research on host-parasite interactions in parthenogenetic lizard species involved fieldwork across the islands of the South Pacific. Hanley received her Ph.D in biology in 1994, and subsequently conducted postdoctoral research at UC Davis, the University of Maryland and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
She credits NIH for initiating her investigation of the emergence and control of dengue virus that remains the focus of her research today.
The Scott lab was recently featured on National Public Radio. The lab's research on daily temperature fluctuations drew international attention last April when the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published that work. The research, Scott said, helped explain why dengue increases during certain times of the year in “tropical areas where mosquito-borne diseases inflict an enormous burden on human health."
If you miss Hanley's lecture, you can probably view it on UCTV. Professor James R. Carey is recording research seminars and posting them on UCTV.
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.
In the bug world, we're all grateful for the people who study insects, monitor them, and share information to impart scientific data and help save declining species.
Take butterfly expert Art Shapiro, professor of ecology and evolution at the University of California, Davis (of Art's Butterfly World).
How he does it, we'll never know, but he has monitored butterflies in the area for more than three decades and knows when a population is declining or increasing.
On a trip to Vacaville on Nov. 12, Shapiro discovered six gulf fritillaries (Agraulis vanillae) in gardens on Buck Avenue, and one at the base of Gates Canyon (that's only the second he's seen; the first he saw in May of 1984).
That's great news!
"I suspect the colony has expanded into the upscale hillside neighborhood off Foothill but had no time to go looking," Shapiro commented.
Meanwhile, he says, there are fewer gulf frits in Sacramento this year than in the last two years.
The gulf frit is one of the showiest butterflies in California. The bright orange-red butterfly, with a wingspan that can reach four inches, was first recorded in the Bay Area before 1908. Shapiro says it became established there only in the 1950s.
The last time we saw gulf frits in Vacaville was a couple of months ago, on Sept. 14. They were all over a passionflower vine (Passiflora)--the adults, the pupae, the larvae and the eggs--in a Buck Avenue garden. Later we saw several nectaring lantana.
Now they appear to be expanding their territory in Vacaville.
We all ought to be attracting them! The larval hosts include passionflower vines, such as the maypop (Passiflora incarnata), blue passionflower (P. caerulea), and corky-stemmed passionflower (P. suberosa). As an adult, the gulf frit nectars on such plants as lantana (Lantana camara), tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis), pentas (Pentas lanceolata), drummond phlox (Phlox drummondi) and something called "tread softly" (Cnidosculous stimulosus).
If you're interested in native bees, you'll want to read the newly published University of California research article, "Tiny Saviors in Our Backyard."
Native pollinator specialists Robbin Thorp and Neal Williams of the UC Davis Department of Entomology are featured in the article as is conservation biologist Claire Kremen of UC Berkeley.
Author Erik Vance describes Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology, as "the patriarch of a rag-tag group of scientists who have pioneered research on non-honey bees that just may hold a solution to the world’s pollination problems."
Williams' work with conservation biologist Claire Kremen of UC Berkeley involves monitoirng which native bees are effective on Yolo County farms.
It's great to see so much attention on native bees.
As Vance says, "Honey bees get most of the buzz, but some native bees are better at spreading pollen. They may hold the solution to world pollination problems that affect important crops."
Honey bees are often considered "native" bees but they are not. English explorers brought them to America beginning in the 1620s.
The Xerces Society of Invertebrate Conservation, based in Portland, Ore. (and celebrating 40 years of conservation this year), is rightfully pleased with the UC scientists' work.
“The work out at the UC is some of the best work in the country right now,” Mace Vaughan, who oversees national pollinator work for Xerces, told Vance. “They are actually demonstrating the benefits.”