Bugs do rule, and they'll rule at the 59th annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America (ESA), to take place Nov. 13-16 in the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, Reno.
At the event, the UC Davis Department of Entomology will be one of the most honored departments in its history.
Professor Frank Zalom, in line for the presidency of the 6000-member association, will be installed as vice president-elect and will begin his term Nov. 16. Professor James R. Carey and Diane Ullman, professor and associate dean for undergraduate academic programs in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, will be inducted as ESA fellows, an honor limited to 10 persons per year.
Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology, will receive the Distinguished Achievement Award in Horticultural Entomology, and professor Walter Leal, the Nan-Yao Su Award for Innovation and Creativity in Entomology.
Harry Kaya, emeritus professor of entomology and nematology, will be honored at a special seminar titled “Entomopathogenic Nematodes: Their Biology, Ecology, and Application. A Tribute to the Dynamic Career of Harry K. Kaya.” Ed Lewis, acting chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, is among the coordinators.
Three other faculty members are moderating/organizing or co-conducting symposiums. They are James R. Carey, “Insect Demography: Emerging concepts and Applications”; Neal Williams, “Biodiversity, Global Change and Insect-Mediated Ecosystem Services,” and Walter Leal, “Insect Olfaction and Taste: Identifying, Clarifying and Speaking about the Key Issues.” Each will also deliver a lecture.
Leal and Parrella are among the most active UC Davis members of ESA. Leal is serving on the Presidential Committee on the International Congress of Entomology (ICE), to be held Aug. 19-25 in Daegu, South Korea. Parrella holds a seat on the ESA Governing Board, representing the Pacific Branch of the ESA.
Graduate students will also be quite involved at the ESA meeting. The UC Davis Linnaean Team will participate in the annual competition. The team includes Matan Shelomi, who studies with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology; Meredith Cenzer, who studies with Louie Yang; Andrew Merwin, who studies with Michael Parrella; Mohammad-Amir Aghaee, who studies with Larry Godfrey; and Hanayo Arimoto, with studies with Ed Lewis. The team earlier won first place in the Pacific Branch competition.
Another highlight is a student debate: “Identify...Clarify...Speak Out! Land Grant Mission, Organic Agriculture & Host Plant Resistance Programs.” UC Davis entomology graduate students will team to argue the pro side: Matan Shelomi, Mohammad-Amir Aghaee; Andrew Merwin; Meredith Cenzer, and Kelly Hamby (she studies with major professor Frank Zalom).
There's also the fun side. A video created by UC Davis undergraduate student Heather Wilson, who works in the Frank Zalom lab, is entered in the open division category of the ESA YouTube Contest. Her entry, “I Wanna Be an Entomologist,” is a a parody of the hit song, “I Wanna Be a Billionaire.” Wilson filmed the video in the Zalom lab and the Bohart Museum of Entomology. On the serious side, she'll present her research on the Spotted Wing Drosophila: “Seasonal Movements of Drosophila suzukii (Diptera: Drosophilidae) in a Multi-Crop Setting.” Watch Heather Wilson's video
In addition, scores of other UC Davis representatives--faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars--will present their work.
Yes, bugs do rule!
Are you afraid of bees?
Not apiculturist Norman Gary, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis and a professional bee wrangler.
He worked behind the scenes in a new Animal Planet program, “My Extreme Animal Phobia,” scheduled to be broadcast Friday, Nov. 11 at 10 p.m. (Sacramento area listing) on the Animal Planet Channel.
“It is a story about a man who is extremely afraid of bees,” Gary said. “He is treated successfully by various exposures to bees and consultation with a psychologist.'
Although Gary played a central role in the treatment of the man’s phobia, he may or may not appear in the program.
But the bees he trained will.
Some of the filming was done at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
According to TV Guide, the program will be repeated on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 5 a.m. and on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 10 p.m. in the Sacramento area. See schedule.
Gary also did bee wrangling for another episode of Fear Factor, which enters a new season in December.
“Keeping bees is far more challenging than caring for common pets,” says Gary, who retired in 1994 from UC Davis after a 32-year academic career and is the author of a newly published book on beginning beekeeping titled “Honey Bee Hobbyist: The Care and Keeping of Bees.”
Gary trains bees to perform action scenes in movies, television shows and commercials. His credits over the last 35 years include 18 films, including “Fried Green Tomatoes”; more than 70 television shows, including the Johnny Carson and Jay Leno shows; six commercials, and hundreds of live Thriller Bee Shows in the Western states.
He once trained bees to fly into his mouth to collect food from a small sponge saturated with his patented artificial nectar. He holds the Guinness World record (109 bees inside his closed mouth for 10 seconds) for the stunt.
Norm Gary is definitely a guy who loves his bees.
Butterflies are good learners--just ask Martha Weiss.
Weiss, associate professor of biology at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., will discuss "Lepidopteran Learning and Memory: Caterpillars, Butterflies, and the Mysterious In-Between" at the UC Davis Department of Entomology seminar on Wednesday, Nov. 16 in 122 Briggs Hall.
Her lecture, from 12:10 to 1 p.m., will make you think.
"Despite a common perception to the contrary, lepidopterans are very good learners," says Weiss, who received her bachelor's degree in geological sciences from Harvard University in 1980 and her doctorate in botany from UC Berkeley in 1992. "Indeed, learning and memory are apparent across the entire lepidopteran life cycle. Caterpillars can associate tastes or odors with the presence of food, and can also learn to avoid cues associated with aversive stimuli."
"A capacity for rapid and flexible associative learning allows butterflies to adjust their foraging efforts in response to variable floral resources and to locate appropriate host plants for oviposition," she says. "Butterflies can associate colors, patterns, and even shapes with nectar rewards or oviposition cues, and can also learn to avoid aversive stimuli."
And the pupal stage? Can a caterpillar learn something that a butterfly or moth will remember? "Perhaps surprisingly," Weiss says, "the answer is YES -- memory of larval experience can persist in the pupa over a month, and is clearly expressed in the emergent adults."
That's not all. "Lepidoptera provide terrific opportunities, well beyond the familiar painted lady life cycle, for hands-on elementary science education."
Her talk is scheduled to be recorded and then posted on UCTV.
So, the next time you see a butterfly, such as a Western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus), landing on a Tithonia or other blossom, just remember that "butterflies can associate colors, patterns and even shapes with nectar rewards or oviposition cues."
Butterflies are good learners!
Well, there is that "ick" factor.
"If you have a grizzly bear or a beautiful bird, many people are engaged right away," Mace Vaughan, director of the Pollinator Conservation Program of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation told Nuwer. The Xerces Society, headquartered in Portland, Ore., protects invertebrates, especially pollinators.
"People think all invertebrates have an ick factor," Vaughn commented, "but in fact almost all don't."
People who don't like bugs sometimes run, stomp or scream--not necessarily in that order.
But at the Bohart Museum of Entomology on the UC Davis campus, there's a sense of awe and wonderment. See, the Bohart Museum is home to a global collection of more than seven million insects but a popular attraction is the "live petting zoo," comprised of assorted Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and the like.
And children do "like."
Bob Dunning of Davis recently brought along three of his children, Molly, 9, Emme, 8, and Mick, 6, to enjoy a Bohart open house.
Emme, especially, was drawn to the Madagascar hissing cockroaches, aka hissers. She watched one crawl up her arm and around her neck. She didn't flinch. Right on cue, brother Mick let his hisser do the same. Molly? She preferred to watch.
Bohart volunteer Ralph Washington, who received his bachelor’s degree in entomology from UC Davis, told them that these cockroaches are native to Madagascar. The Madagascar hissing cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa) is one of the largest cockroach species and can reach two to four inches in length.
“They’re like goodwill ambassadors to the Bohart and the cockroach family,” said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach director, who estimated the museum holds about 40 to 50 Madagascar hissing cockroaches at any given time.
“Some visitors think of them as big beetles, and when we tell them they’re cockroaches sometimes they get a little concerned," she said. "They’re thinking of the pest species.”
An added attraction is that Madagascar hissing cockroaches, aka “hissers,” make a noise—they hiss.
“They hiss for a variety of reasons,” Yang said. “The males hiss at each other over territory and they hiss to attract females. When we pick them up, they do an ‘alarm hiss’ so we will leave them alone and put them down.”
Sometimes they’re so used to being handled that they don’t readily hiss. That’s when the museum staffers raid the personal collection of entomology graduate student Emily Bzdyk, who keeps some in her Bohart office.
The Bohart Museum, located at 1124 Academic Surge on California Drive, is directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis. It's open for visits Monday through Thursday.
To draw in folks who can't attend on weekdays, the Bohart Museum offers special weekend open houses.
The next weekend open house is Saturday, Nov. 19 from 1 to 4. The theme: “Thankful for Bugs.” Want to attend? It's free. And, you'll have a buggy good time.
But be sure to bring your camera. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture of a bug on a kid ought to be worth at least 10,000.
Lynn S. Kimsey is an entomologist, and has been one for most of her life.
It's an interesting piece. Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis, traces her interest in entomology to age 5, when she received her first butterfly net.
"I've pretty much had a burning passion for insects ever since, except for a brief foray into marine biology as an undergraduate," she told LiveScience.
Kimsey recently drew international attention with her discovery of gigantic "warrior wasps" on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.(The male measures about two-and-a-half-inches long, Kimsey says. “Its jaws are so large that they wrap up either side of the head when closed. When the jaws are open they are actually longer than the male’s front legs.)
And what is "the most important characteristic a researcher must demonstrate in order to be an effective researcher?"
"A burning curiosity and the need to know."
Kimsey is also quick to point out the societal benefits of her research. "Understanding insects, where they occur and the ecosystem services they provide, is critical for our how important insects are to us. They are our principal competitors — they feed on us and our animals, they make us sick and yet provide critical pollination, recycling and nutritional services."
We're glad to see LiveScience singling out scientists for a "behind-the-scenes" look. It humanizes the scientists who do such intriguing research.
We remember when apiculturist Marla Spivak, a 2010 MacArthur Foundation and Distinguished McKnight Professor and Extension entomologist with the University of Minnesota, shared some of her thoughts with LiveScience.
When asked "If you could only rescue one thing from your burning office or lab, what would it be?" Spivak answered "My students." Then, showing a trademark sense of humor, she added "If there were bees in the lab, I would grab them, too."
Kimsey, too, has a honed sense of humor. The Bohart Museum is the home of a global collection of seven million insect specimens and what she calls "the live petting zoo"--insects you can touch and handle. They include Madagascar hissing cockroaches, a rose-haired taranatula, and walking sticks.
We thought she might gleefully answer "walking sticks" when she was asked what she would RUN out of burning building with, but no.
Kimsey replied: "My external hard drive: My entire research life, my brain, is in that drive."