Some 3000 researchers, professors, graduate and undergraduate students, extension service personnel, administrators, research technicians, consultants, and others from around the globe will gather at the 61st annual lmeeting of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) "for four days of science, networking and fun," according to ESA spokesman Richard Levine. "This is the most important annual conference anywhere in the world for the science of entomology."
The theme: “Science Impacting a Connected World."
At the conclusion of the conference, integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, a professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will assume the duties of president of the 6500-member organization. He'll preside over the 62nd annual meeting, to be held in 2014 in Portland, Ore.
Zalom will become the second UC Davis entomologist to head the international organization, which is comprised of members in educational institutions, health agencies, private industry and government. The first president from UC Davis was Donald McLean, former professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, who was elected ESA president in 1984.
Zalom has been heavily involved in research and leadership in integrated pest management (IPM) activities at the state, national and international levels. He directed the UC Statewide IPM Program for 16 years (1988-2001) and is currently experiment station co-chair of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) National IPM Committee.
Zalom focuses his research on California specialty crops, including tree crops (almonds, olives, prunes, peaches), small fruits (grapes, strawberries, caneberries), and fruiting vegetables (tomatoes), as well as international IPM programs. The IPM strategies and tactics Zalom has developed include monitoring procedures, thresholds, pest development and population models, biological controls and use of less toxic pesticides, which have become standard in practice and part of the UC IPM Guidelines for these crops. In his three decades with the UC Davis entomology department, Zalom has published almost 300 refereed papers and book chapters, and 340 technical and extension articles. The articles span a wide range of topics related to IPM, including introduction and management of newer, soft insecticides, development of economic thresholds and sampling methods, management of invasive species, biological control, insect population dynamics, pesticide runoff mitigation, and determination of host feeding and oviposition preferences of pests. The Zalom lab has responded to six important pest invasions in the last decade, with research projects on glassy-winged sharpshooter, olive fruit fly, a new biotype of greenhouse whitefly, invasive saltcedar, light brown apple moth, and the spotted wing Drosophila. (See Frank Zalom's Video on Extending Orchard IPM Knowledge in California)
Zalom is a fellow of ESA, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the California Academy of Sciences and is the recipient of scores of other high honors.
Meanwhile, if you're an entomologist or a wanna-be entomologist, Austin is the place to be Nov. 10-13.
Truly, "Science Impacting a Connected World."/span>
"Would the extinction of honey bees lead directly to the extinction of humans?"
That's a recent question posed on Quora, where folks can ask questions and receive answers.
The answer is "no."
"We are a resilient species that existed before beekeeping and will exist after it… but our cuisine will be very different," wrote Matan Shelomi, a Harvard alumnus and UC Davis graduate student seeking his doctorate at the University of California, Davis.
"Assuming native bees and other pollinators do not take over the job of the honey bee Apis mellifera, many of our favorite fruits and vegetables will cease to exist, or will require the very labor intensive manual pollination we see in parts of China," Shelomi noted. "Kiss almonds goodbye, for example. Staple crops like wheat, corn, and rice are not bee pollinated, however, so starvation won't be an issue."
Shelomi, who has received international recognition for his answers on Quora, is "right on," said Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
"We've not always had honey bees here," Mussen pointed out. Indeed, the European colonists brought the honey bee to what is now Virginia in 1622. The Native American Indians had no honey bees, but they did have lots of other pollinators, including native bees. (We Californians did not obtain the services of the honey bee in our state until 1853; that's when the first honey bees arrived.)
Unfortunately, people are falsey quoting Albert Einstein as saying "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.” Al Gore never invented the Internet, and Albert Einstein never said that about bees.
Without honey bees, our menu choices would be much different. But would the human race become extinct?
If you think people don't care about monarch butterflies, think again.
A recent survey published in Conservation Letters showed that Americans are willing to spend at least $4.78 billion to help conserve monarchs (Danaus plexippus), one of the most recognizable of all insects. Indeed, what is more spectacular than the multigenerational migration of monarchs heading from their breeding grounds in northern United States and southern Canada to their wintering grounds in central Mexico and coastal California?
The study of 2,289 U.S. households, led by Jay Diffendorfer of the U.S. Geological Survey, Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center, Denver, found that we Americans love monarchs so much that we're more than willing to plant milkweed, their larval host plant, to save them.
The article, published Oct. 28 and titled National Valuation of Monarch Butterflies Indicates an Untapped Potential for Incentive-Based Conservation, calls attention to the destruction of the monarch's habitat and the importance of conservation.
"Since 1999, the size of the overwintering colonies in Mexico and California have declined, and the 2012 survey in Mexico showed the lowest colony size yet recorded, which prompted wide-scale media reports," the authors wrote. "Habitat loss in the overwintering sites in Mexico and California is well-documented, although no direct empirical link between declining overwintering habitat and monarch numbers exists. In addition, the growing use of glyphosate-tolerant genetically modified crops has reduced larval host plant (milkweed, Asclepias spp) abundances in farm fields across United States and Canada. Increasing acreage of glyphosate-tolerant corn and soybeans are negatively correlated to monarch numbers, with the area of milkweed in farm fields in the United States declining from an estimated 213,000 to 40,300 ha."
Biologist Hugh Dingle, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, is among those studying their migration. (Read his quotes in the National Geographic cover story, "Mysteries of Great Migrations," published in November 2010. Dingle is now working on a much-anticipated book on migration from his headquarters in the Sharon Lawler lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Butterfly expert Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis, monitors butterflies in Central California. Here's what he has to say about monarchs on his website, Art's Butterfly World.
Meanwhile, a day before Conservation Letters published the survey, a lone monarch butterfly fluttered into our backyard to sip nectar from lantana. It lingered for 10 minutes.
What a treat to see!
Orange zinnias not only brighten our autumn days but glorify our gardens.
And when there's a bug on the zinnias, all the better.
This insect, identified by Senior Insect Biosystematist Martin Hauser of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is a fenale Eristalis hirta, aka hover fly or flower fly. It belongs to the family Syrphidae, order Diptera and is one of about 99 species in the genus.
Look for them on a flower near you. And oh, yes, they're pollinators, pollinating such fruits as apples, pears, blackberries and raspberries.
And speaking of plants and insects, if you're around UC Davis on Wednesday, Nov. 6, don't miss the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminar by Patrick Abbot, an associate professor of biological sciences at Vanderbilt University, Nashville. He'll speak on “Cooperation and Conflict at the Plant/Insect Interface” from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in 122 Briggs. Plans are to record the seminar for later posting on UCTV.
One of the most prominent and distant--as in far away--visitors to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis, was Mark Leech of Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.
Leech visited the garden several years ago to research his book, Bee Friendly: A Planting Guide for European Honeybees and Australia Native Pollinators for the Australian Rural Industries R&D Corp (RIRDC).
"The book," he told us, "is to encourage planting for bee forage across the landscape from urban to the rural environment and all climate zones."
Leech recently provided us with a copy of the finished work, which is absolutely magnificent. It's informative, educational and colorful and is bound to make a difference.
On Page 1, he writes: "The world has become aware of the plight of the honeybee. The reported collapse of honeybee population in North America and Europe, and the fear of a food crisis, have led people around the world to become concerned. Shrinking resources, increased urbanization, ever expanding corporate agriculture with its push for monoculture, greater use of insecticides and herbicides, changes to grazing practices, a global warning trend and climatic chare are all placing pressure on honeybee and native pollinator population. It is in this context that this book was produced, to guide planting decisions in favour of plants theat benefit honeybees and native pollinatiors."
He devotes one page to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, which was planted in the fall of 2009 and is operated by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. "In response to colony collapse and threats to the US apiary industry, Häagen-Dazs, a well-known ice cream brand, launched the Häagen-Dazs Loves HoneyBees' campaign in February 2008, committing significant funding to both the University of California, Davis and Pennsylvania State University for honeybee research. Its contribution to UC Davis resulted in a bee garden as a demonstration, education and research tool."
"The purpose of the Honeybee Haven garden is to provide a year-round food source for honeybees," Leech continued. "One of the design criteria in the competition that was held was that the Honeybee Haven should inspire the development of honeybee garens in a variety of settings, including backyards, public gardens, agricultural easements, urban rooftoops and other urban species."
For the front and back covers of the book, Leech chose an mage of a bee foraging on a pink zinnia (a photo taken by yours truly in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven).
His species pages contain 193 species, native and exotic, "that were chosen to represent a selection of useful bee forage. Many of the plants are known as top producers of both pollen and nectar, a few are nectar only, and some are pollen only."
Among those contributing to the book from the United States: Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture; bee scientist Marla Spivak of the University of Minnesota; and Kathy Kellison, executive director of Partners for Sustainable Pollination.
It's a book well worth reading. You can download a free PDF of the book from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation website at http://www.rirdc.gov.au/. Go to publications and look under honeybees. You can also order a bound copy through Mark Leech at email@example.com.