We probably won't see the Gulf Fritilliary (Agraulis vanillae) laying eggs any more this year on our passion flower vine.
Cool weather has set in, the rains are coming, and the butterfly season is ending.
But just for a little while, the Gulf Frit obliged us with its shadow. It fluttered over our passion flower vine and then soared over a fence, just ahead of its shadow.
Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis, says the Gulf Frit was introduced into southern California in the 19th century, and was first recorded in the Bay Area before 1908. Sacramento area residents saw a lot of it in the 1960s, but not in the 1970s, '80s and '90s. It disappeared.
But, since 2009, it's been making a comeback.
And leaving behind its shadow...
It's no secret that bees are fond of germanders or Teucrium, a genus in the mint family, Lamiaceae.
And it's no secret that praying mantids are fond of bees.
Although it's a little late in the season for praying mantids, we spotted this one hiding in a bush germander last Friday in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee garden located on Bee Biology Road next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, University of California, Davis.
The mantid's abdomen bulged. She was very much pregnant.
Nearby honey bees from the nearby Laidlaw apiary nectared on the blue flowers. One bee tucked herself inside the blossom, oblivious of the nearby predator.
Current score: Praying mantis: 0. Honey Bee: 0.
But tomorrow is another day.
Note: The garden is open from dawn to dusk for self-guided tours. Groups who'd like a guided tour may contact Christine "Chris" Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
It will be a gathering of beekeepers next week in California.
And it promises to be informative, educational and inspiring.
Assistant professor Brian Johnson and Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology will speak at the 2012 California State Beekeepers Association’s annual convention, set Nov. 12 through Nov. 15 in Cabazon. The meeting will take place in the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa.
Johnson will discuss “Completed and Ongoing Research at the Laidlaw Bee Research Facility” during the Nov. 15th session. He will be presenting information on two sets of experiments he and his associates conducted at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, headquartered on Bee Biology Road.
“First we collected data suggesting that high fructose corn syrup blends are not harmful to colonies and that they may even be preferable to sucrose solution in the context of commercial beekeeping,” Johnson said. “Second, we showed that rates of multiple and single viral infection are higher in commercial beekeepers than in queen breeders or small scale hobbyists. This suggests that management practices can strongly affect rates of pathogen infection and that future efforts should be directed to mitigating these effects.”
Mussen, who also serves as parliamentarian on the CSBA governing board, will speak on “Honey Bee Nutrition” on Tuesday, Nov. 13 and “Keeping Your Bees in the Hive” on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
“The nutrition talk basically is to provide the beekeepers with information on the complexity of nutrients that are found in both pollens and nectars of various blooming plants,” Mussen said. “The complexity of the macro- and micro-nutrients is what makes the pollens so valuable to a complete bee diet. The complexity also is the reason why we have not developed a man-made substitute that can adequately replace pollens in honey bee diets.”
“In the honey bee colony’s quest to obtain adequate nutrition, the foraging bees visit an acre equivalent of flower blooms that they seek out in the 50-square mile area over which the foragers can range,” Mussen said.
In his other talk, “Keeping Bees in the Hive,” Mussen will discuss how “not to allow honey bee colonies to swarm.” He also will tell why strong colonies require an abundant supply of good pollens and nectar all the active season. “And finally, I will mention ways in which bees can be confined to the hive for short periods of time to avoid pesticide exposure or for moving the hives to new locations.”
Following the board of directors’ meeting--time permitting--Mussen will deliver a talk on “Africanized Honey Bees,’ tracing the history of the bees to 1956 when entomologist/professor Wawick Kerr imported 26 queen honey bees into Brazil from South Africa. Warwick hoped to hybridize tropical (African) and temperate climate (European bees) to obtain high honey production and better disposition. However, a beekeeper inadvertently released some of the descendants into the Western Hemisphere and they are now established in southern California and moving into central California.
Some of the bees trucked from all over the country, including Arizona and Texas, to pollinate California's 800,000 acres of almonds are Africanized bees.
So, beekeepers will hear about research, malnutrition, pests, parasites, pesticides, diseases, migratory stress and other topics.
There's a lot troubling the bees--and the beekeepers--today.
If you like Pokémon, you know the insect connection.
Satoshi Tajiri of Japan, who developed Pokémon, collected insects in his childhood and initially toyed with the idea of becoming an entomologist.
He never forgot his love of insects and showcased them in Nintendo's Pokémon, now the world's second most successful video game-based media franchise, eclipsed only by Nintendo's Mario.
Enter three young entomologists at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis. What they did is amazing.
They published a humorous take on the evolutionary development and history of the 646 fictional species depicted in the Pokémon media over the last 16 years.
“We made a very real phylogeny of the very fake Pokémon creatures,” commented lead author Matan Shelomi, the UC Davis entomology graduate student who conceived the idea.
The article, “A Phylogeny and Evolutionary History of the Pokémon,” appeared in the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), a tongue-in-cheek journal meant “to make people laugh and then think,” according to the editors. In keeping with the “laugh-and-then-think” concept, the journal also awards the infamous IG Nobel Prizes.
Shelomi, a graduate of Harvard where the IG Nobel Prizes are awarded, said he based his idea “in part on other AIR papers like the phylogeny of Chia Pets and the taxonomic description of Barney the Dinosaur.”
Until now, however, no one has traced the evolutionary history of the 646 fictional species, let alone develop a 16-generation phylogenetic or evolutionary tree.
The Pokémon project is the work of Shelomi; Andrew Richards, a junior specialist at the Bohart Museum; and Ivana Li, an entomology student/artist who works part-time at the Bohart.
Oh, wait! There's a fourth author, too--Yukinari Okido, whom Pokémon fans may recognize as the Japanese name of one of the fictional Pokémon professors from the game/TV show, Professor Oak.
How did it all come about? “I had a lull in my dissertation research and decided to spend the weekends and downtime making this phylogeny,” said Shelomi, who is studying for his doctorate in entomology with Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis. “It took at least a month to actually collect all the data, which I did manually by scrolling through Pokémon websites.”
What about reader reaction? “The paper is slowly making the rounds,” Shelomi said. “We've had quite a few people disagree with the tree, as some of the conclusions violate Pokémon canon, and we do have the usual phylogenetic problems of long-branch attraction, etc. The disconnect between the tree and Pokémon mating groups is a problem, but I argue that the Biological Species Concept should not be assumed for Pokémon and I stand by my tree.”
“So far, one scientist--a linguist in Japan--has asked for a copy of the dataset to use in a class on phylogram building," Shelomi said, "and he apparently came up with a different tree.”
“It would be nice to see a wide set of articles responding to this one,” Shelomi said. “I think it would be quite easy to fill a journal of Pokémon science, although much harder to justify creating one.”
Want to see the phylogeny? Click on the link or see it at the Bohart Museum, 1124 Academic Surge, Crocker Lane, UC Davis.
Some folks like to watch the grass grow, flowers bloom, or clouds drift.
Others just like to sit back and look for insects.
We spotted this seven-spotted lady beetle (aka ladybug) last Monday morning in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre pollinator garden on Bee Biology Road at the University of California, Davis.
It's a predator, a beneficial insect, and an icon. As one of the most recognizable of all insects, it inspires clothing, art and jewelry themes; home décor; and video games, not to mention all things entomological and the citizen-scientist Lost Ladybug Project. It even prompted five states--Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Tennessee--to declare it their official state insect. Never mind if these states are, in the political sense of the word, red or blue, denoting Republicans or Democrats. When it comes to state insects, they're all red!
Lady beetles are especially known for their voracious appetite for aphids, scale insects, mealybugs, mites and other soft-bodied insects. A gardener's friend. A biocontrol dream. An aphid's nightmare.
It's easy to see why the seven-spotted lady beetle, Coccinella septempunctata, is so named. Seven large black spots dot its red wing covers or elytra.
Indeed, if you know Latin, you know that its scientific name, septempunctata, means seven (septem) and spot (punctus).
We watched our seven-spotted friend prowl for aphids on a color-coordinated California fuchsia (Zauschneria californica mexicana).
It was "walking the line," Johnny Cash-style, keeping a close watch on...tasty aphids.