Just call it a case of identity theft at the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
But wait! Before you ask "Is everything okay?" and suggest contacting law enforcement immediately, not to worry. This is a different case of identity theft.
Insects! Camouflaged insects!
Take the walking stick. This insect looks so much like a twig, that you not only THINK it's a twig, you KNOW it is.
Question: Is the insect masquerading as a twig or is the twig masquerading as an insect?
You can learn about insect camouflage if you attend the Bohart Museum's open house from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, March 10. The theme: "Hide 'n' Seek: Insect Camouflage." The event is free and open to the public. The site: Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on California Drive, UC Davis campus.
"We will have specimens from the collection like leafy katydids and bark-like moths and butterflies with clear wings," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator at the Bohart Museum.
"There will be live walking sticks to hold and touch," Yang said. And, she said, visitors will "have a chance to make some stick insects from pipe cleaners that they can take and hide around their homes."
The walking stick (below is a Great Thin Stick Insect (Ramulus nematodes). Said Yang: "We like to call them Avatar Stick Insects, because the males are long, skinny and blue."
Staff and students will be on hand to answer questions.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology, and founded in 1946 by her major professor, Richard Bohart (1913-2007), houses a global collection of more than seven million insect specimens, the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of insect biodiversity.
If you should miss the March open house, there are three more this academic year:
Saturday, April 21: 10 to 3 p.m., UC Davis Picnic Day
Saturday, May 12, 1 to 4 p.m., “Pre-Moth’ers Day”
Sunday, June 3, 1 to 4 p.m., “Bug Light, Bug Bright…First Bug I See Tonight.”
Regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The museum is closed on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
More information is available on the Bohart website or by contacting Tabatha Yang at email@example.com or (530) 752-0493. Due to limited space, group tours will not be booked during the weekend hours.
When you see the blow fly (below), what do you think?
Well, that depends on who you are and what you do--or maybe your earliest negative/positive insect recollections.
If you hate flies, particularly blow flies, and you despise their larvae (maggots), your response is probably "Yecch!"
If you're an artist, you might think, "Look at that metallic green sheen and those red eyes!"
If you're a photographer: "What kind of camera and macro lens did you use?" (Nikon D700, 60mm)
If you're into flowers, you might say "Ah, a New Zealand tea tree--Leptospermum scoparium. Fly? What fly? Is there a fly there?"
If you're a beekeeper and see only the Leptospermum scoparium: "Manuka honey!"
If you're a medical doctor and treat wounds: "Maggot therapy!"
If you're an entomologist, particularly a forensic entomologist: "Nice!"
And if you've ever visited the UC Davis Department of Entomology displays at Briggs Hall during the annual campuswide Picnic Day, you''re probably thinking "Maggot Art!" and "When's Picnic Day?" (Note: this year's Picnic Day is April 21, and yes, you can create Maggot Art (take a bow, Rebecca O'Flaherty).
However, if you're an entomologist with a keen interest in insect ecology and insect/plant interactions, the blow fly will bring out the "P" word in you: "Pollinator!"
Honey bees, native bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, bats and the like are all pollinators. But so are flies, including syprhid flies and yes, blow flies.
The public, says entomologist Kris Godfrey, needs to become more aware of the threat of invasive species.
And, she adds, we need to educate people and organizations about the incoming pests and pests that are already here.
With that in mind, she's coordinating an all-day conference, themed “Educating the Public about New Invasive Species Threatening California’s Plant Ecosystems,” set Tuesday, April 24 in the UC Davis Conference Center.
The goal? "To bring together biologists, social scientists, and communication experts to discuss how to educate all segments of society about the threat of invasive species and how to assist in their exclusion and detection,” said Godfrey, an associate project scientist with the Contained Research Facility at UC Davis.
Godfrey, formerly with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, says conference attendees will learn about developing and delivering effective and consistent messages about invasive species to a variety of audiences. They also will learn how to access the resources available to conduct effective outreach programs on invasive species.
Among the pests to be discussed: the golden spotted oak borer, Asian citrus psyllid, European grapevine moth, Japanese dodder, sudden oak death, and zebra and quagga mussels.
Some of the speakers:
- "Predicting the Next Pest Invaders and How To Prevent Their Introduction," Joseph DiTomaso, UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences
- “New Pest Plants,” Doug Johnson, California Invasive Plant Council, Berkeley
- “New Arthropod Pests,” Kevin Hoffman, California Department of Food and Agriculture, Sacramento
- ”New Plant Pathogens,” Richard Bostock, UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology
- ”Zebra and Quagga Mussels,” Ted Grosholz, UC Davis Department of Environmental Science and Policy
- “European Grapevine Moth,” Lucia Varela, UC Cooperative Extension, Sonoma County
- ”Asian Citrus Psyllid/Huanglongbing,” Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC Riverside Department of Entomology
- “Sudden Oak Death and Buy-Where-You-Burn Campaigns,” Janice Alexander, UC Cooperative Extension, Marin County, Novato.
- “Japanese Dodder, “Ramona Saunders, Sacramento County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office
- “Newspaper Perspective,” Matt Weiser, Sacramento Bee.
More information, including the full list of speakers, is available at http://crf.ucdavis.edu. Conference registration is taking place online at https://registration.ucdavis.edu. Bin at right shows Huanglongbing (HLB) symptoms caused by Asian citrus psyllid. At left: normal fruit.(Photo by S. Halbert, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services). For additional information, contact Kris Godfrey at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 754 2104.
The conference, supported with a grant from the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ 2011 Spring Programmatic Initiative, is a cooperative project of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the UC Davis departments of Plant Pathology, Entomology, Plant Sciences, and Food Science and Technology, the California Center for Urban Horticulture at UC Davis, the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, and the UC Riverside Department of Entomology.
A side note: take a look at the oranges below and see the damage that the Asian citrus psyllid causes. The bin on the right shows small lopsided fruit, typical of HLB infection. The bin on the left shows normal-sized fruit. These photos were taken in Florida.
Honey bee guru Eric Mussen talks a lot about the declining honey bee population.
After all, he's served as the Extension apiculturist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology since 1976.
Over the last several weeks, however, he's been fielding scores of phone calls from the news media and delivering presentations to various groups. Last Tuesday, he addressed the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Pollinator Workshop in Woodland.
This morning he discussed bee health with a news team from KGO Radio, San Francisco.
Everyone wants to know how the bees are. Just as we greet folks daily with "How are you?" Mussen hears a daily "How are the bees?"
So, when the KGO news team telephoned him at 7 this morning, Mussen knew the topic: Bee health.
"Are we making any progress to finding out what causes colony collapse disorder (CCD)?" Mussen was asked.
CCD is a mysterious malady characterized by adult bees abandoning the hive.
"I think things are a little bit better...but we don’t know what causes CCD," Mussen told KGO. "And what the beekeepers have found, however, is that malnutrition seems to be pretty important. One beekeeper told me that $45 invested in food for the bees--artificial food, you know because we can’t really substitute for pollen--made his bees considerably better.
"And the second thing they’re finding is that it seems to go in a two-year cycle. The young colonies don’t seem to have that so much of a problem but the second year ones do, so now what they’re doing is breaking those second-year colonies down into smaller ones starting them over again and keeping them young and that helps too."
Mussen believes that CCD is linked to multiple factors, including parasites, pesticides, diseases, malnutrition and stress. The end result: a compromised or weakened immune system.
Some folks finger a class of pesticides, the nicotine-based neonicotinoids, as "the cause" of CCD. Not "the cause," says Mussen.
When the KGO news team quizzed him about this systematic pesticide--how France banned it and then "saw a return of the bees within a year"--Mussen responded: "Well, by the same token, there were some researchers in France that took sugar syrup and laced it with sublethal doses of the particular chemical you’re talking about and fed it to the bees all year and those bees were fine that year, through the winter and then into the next spring."
At Tuesday's meeting in Woodland, Mussen cautioned that adjuvants (materials added by a pesticide applicator to a product "to make it work better") may be causing brood and queen-bee rearing problems. "Adjuvants--especially the organosilicone 'superspreaders'--seem to make non-toxic fungicides toxic to honey bee brood," Mussen said. 'These superspreaders can penetrate the waxy cuticle on Eucalyptus leaves. And the No. 1 bee protection is their waxy cuticle."
Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation demand acute toxicity tests before a pesticide is marketed, still there are concerns, Mussen told the Woodland crowd. For one, the contact/ingestion studies last only 48 hours and "that's too short of a time period" to see what happens to the bees. "Sublethal effects are not required, chronic exposure to sublethal doses is not required, and synergism is not studied," he said.
Look for him to expand on the issue in his next from the UC Apiaries newsletter, available free on the UC Davis Department of Entomology website.
If you've ever watched honey bees work the blossoms, you'll probably see them packing pollen in their pollen baskets and cleaning their tongue as they buzz from flower to flower.
Pollen is protein, and nectar, carbohydrates. Worker bees collect both, plus water and propolis (plant resin) for their colony.
"Pollen in the plant world is the equivalent of sperm in the animal world," writes UC Davis emeritus professor Norm Gary in his book, Honey Bee Hobbyist: The Care and Keeping of Bees. "Fertilization and growth of seeds depend upon the transfer of pollen from the male flower parts (anthers) to the receptive female parts (stigmas). For many species, such as grains and nuts, pollination occurs by airborne pollen that is produced in great quantity and characterized by very small, lightweight pollen grains. Airborne pollen causes most human allergies."
That's what he calls "Pollen 101."
"Inexperienced foragers quickly learn the most efficient movements to dislodge pollen grains from the anthers," writes Gary, who spent 32 years in the academic world of teaching, research and public service and continues to be a professional bee wrangler. "This frequently involves the use of their tongues and mandibles in licking and scraping the anthers, which slightly moistens the pollen."
"After becoming coated in pollen grains, the bees meticulously brush pollen from the body hairs with the comblike hairs on their legs. This process gradually transfers the pollen to the hind legs, where it accumulates as two 'pellets,' adhering to the outer surface of the pollen baskets on their hind legs."
A pollen-collector can collect a full load in about 10 minutes, Gary says. Number of pollen-collecting trips a bee can make in a day? Ten is typical.
Gary, who has amassed more than six decades of beekeeping experience, marvels at how the bee transfers pollen from its body to its pollen basket. It's "choreography that almost defies description," he writes.