The 40 mile-per-hour howling wind didn't seem to bother the syrphid fly, aka hover fly and flower fly.
It clung to a blossom on the tower of jewels, Echium wildpretii, and proceeded to nectar. Its wings sparkled in the morning sun.
This is a pollinator and one that's often mistaken for a honey bee.
A honey bee it isn't. It's a fly.
If you want to read more about them, be sure to check out entomologist Robert Bugg's UC ANR publication, Flower Flies (Syrphidae) and Other Biological Control Agents for Aphids. Click on the link for access to a free 25-page PDF.
So began Joe South in his hit song, "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden," popularized by country singer Lynn Anderson in 1970.
That was Joe South's rose garden. What UC Davis has is an eight-acre field of roses, and you're invited to celebrate "Roses: the "Eyeconic Weekend" on Saturday and Sunday, May 4-5. It's a free event, with free training/informational sessions. The best part, however, is you can tour the rose field and select and buy a wide variety of container roses for your own garden.
The California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH), part of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis, sponsors this annual fundraiser.
The rose sale takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5 at Foundation Plant Services, 455 Hopkins Road, west of the central campus.
Rose field tours will be given from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. on both days. Free mini floribunda roses will be handed out to the first 250 attendees, says CCUH executive director Dave Fujino.
Fujino invites the public to attend the free informational sessions, offered both days at the same site. No registration is required.
The agenda for Saturday, May 4 for the free informational sessions:
- 11 a.m. to noon: New rose varieties
- 1 to 2 p.m., Roses 101 (placement, planting and feeding)
- 2 to 4 p.m., Pruning
- 3 to 4 p.m.: Pest management
The agenda for Sunday, May 5 for the free informational sessions:
- 11 a.m. to noon: New rose varieties
- 1 to 2 p.m.: Roses 101 (placement, planting and feeding)
- 2 to 4 p.m.: Pruning
- 3 to 4 p.m.: Disease Identification (Bring your diseased specimens in a sealed baggie)
These "Rose Days" are what folks look forward to every year. Want to check out the beauty and fragrance? Want to learn how to prune roses? Want to ask a question about a pest or a beneficial insect? This is the place.
A rose catalog is online to aid you in your choices. There you'll see photos of such roses as Yabba Dabba Doo, Big Momma, Tiddly Winks, Wild Blue Yonder, McCartney Rose, Passionate Kisses, and Oh My!
Also available for sale ($10) will be the UC ANR book on "Healthy Roses."
No, this isn't Joe South's rose garden. This is the UC Davis eight-acre field of roses.
That's when butterfly expert Art Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis, will be speak at the Northern California Entomology Society meeting, to be held at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
The meeting will begin at 9:15 a.m. with registration for club members and guests, and conclude at approximately 2:30 p.m. The group, which meets three times a year, is comprised of university faculty, researchers, pest abatement professionals, students and other interested persons.
Shapiro will lead off the program at 9:45 a.m. with his talk on “History of the Sacramento Valley Butterfly Fauna.” A noted butterfly expert, he has monitored butterflies for more than 35 years in the Central Valley and maintains Art's Butterfly World website.
Chemical ecologist Steve Seybold of the USDA Forest Service, Davis, and an affiliate of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, will speak on “Goldspotted Oak Borer in California” at 10:30 a.m.
Following the lunch from noon to 1 p.m., Jason Leathers of Pest Detection/Emergency Projects, California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), will cover “Pest Control Approaches and Evaluations on Success of 2012 Insect Eradication Programs in California.”
At 1:45 p.m., Stephen Brown, CDFA, and Anthony Jackson, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), USDA, will discuss “California and Federal Regulations Concerning Importing Living Plant Pests.”
The society meets three times a year: the first Thursday of February at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), Sacramento; the first Thursday of May, at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis; and the first Thursday of November in the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District conference room, Concord.
Membership is open to the public; dues are only $10 year. President is Robert Dowell, a staff environmental scientist at CDFA.
More information about the meeting is available from Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. Serving as the society’s treasurer, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by (530) 752-0472.
The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha hales), a native of Asia, was first discovered in the United States in Allentown, Penn., in 2000.
Since then, it's been making a big stink. Literally. It's a major agricultural threat that feeds on vegetables and fruit, says UC Davis associate entomologist/chemical entomologist Jeffrey Aldrich. USDA has estimated $21 billion worth of crops are at risk. This includes apples, peaches, tomatoes, grapes, cotton, corn, green peppers, soybeans and other crops.
Aldrich also calls it a "pervasive residential nuisance." It may select your home as its wintering site, creating an infestation. That prompted The New York Times to declare "Move Over Bedbugs: Stink Bugs Have Landed."
Aldrich will discuss the insect's invasion and its semiochemistry at the UC Davis Department of Entomology seminar on Wednesday, May 1, from 12:05 to 1 p.m. in Room 1022 of the Life Sciences Addition, corner of Hutchison and Kleiber Hall drives. Professor Frank Zalom and Ph.D candidate Kelly Hamby of the Zalom lab are the hosts.
Aldrich will describe the history of the discovery; its subsequent spread across the country; and also detail the discovery of the bug's chemical communication system and ongoing pheromone commercialization efforts. He then will present results of laboratory experiments using native egg parasitoids exposed to the stink bug eggs.
An expert on BMSB, Aldrich established that the insect in the U.S. is cross-attracted to the pheromone of a congeneric species; he facilitated commercialization of this cross-attractant lure; and he led the team that identified the pheromone of the BMSB. The research is potentially useful in systems to mass trap and/or attract-and-kill BMSB.
Aldrich's 40-year career on insect chemical ecology has taken him to Brazil, Australia, Japan and Italy. He served as a research entomologist for the U.S. Department of Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, MD, from 1980 to 2011, including five years as a laboratory research leader (1999-2004).
His work has been published in such journals as Science, Journal of Chemical Ecology, Chemoecology, and Environmental Entomology. He also travels around the nation and world, presenting lectures at technical organizations, universities, government agencies, and to lay groups.
A member of the Entomological Society of America since 1972, Aldrich is a past president of both the International Society of Chemical Ecology and the Entomological Society of Washington, D.C., and was appointed associate editor of the Journal of Chemical Ecology in 2009.
The New York Times, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Discovery, U.S. News and World Report, and Organic Gardener have interviewed him about his work. In addition, he's been interviewed by a number of radio and TV stations in the United States and Brazil.
The May 1 seminar should be a real eye-opener about a major agricultural pest that continues to invade the United States. If you miss the seminar, plans call for video-recording the seminar for later posting on UCTV Seminars website.
When there's so much pain, grief and sorrow in the world, it's time to shut off the TV, log off the computer, exit the house, and photograph honey bees.
Watching honey bees foraging in the tower of jewels, Echium wildpretii, is therapy enough. They are sisters, sisters with a job to do, and so little time to do it. Buzzing from one blossom to another, gathering nectar and pollen, they are a symphony of color, grace and sound, unlike the cacophony that savagely screams from the 10 o'clock news.
"The murmuring hum of bees on a warm afternoon is surely part of everyone's mental picture of a perfect summer day," write Christopher O'Toole and Anthony Raw in their book, Bees of the World. "But that relentless hum, soporific perhaps, to the idling human, is in reality the produce of a machine-like urge to work--to work against the clock of the seasons, to gather enough pollen and nectar before the weather breaks, before the blooms fade."
What they do every day is for the greater good--the good of the colony. They set an example that the human race should follow.
Yet the winter of 2012-2013 may prove to be the worst yet for the declining bee population, according to Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Meanwhile, we all need to bee-lieve that the worst is over.
In more ways than one.