Native on native.
That's when you get when you see a yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) on a penstemon, also known as "beard's tongue."
Both the bee and the flower are native to North America.
Native Americans reportedly used the penstemon, formerly classified in the Scrophulariaceae family and now considered a member of the Plantaginaceae family, to relieve toothaches.
Whether it relieves toothaches or not, the penstemon, with its two-lipped tubular flowers, is quite attractive to bumble bees!
Beekeepers describe their honey bees as "my girls" or "my beautiful girls."
It's a term of endearment.
Now take the green metallic sweat bee, Agapostemon texanus. If honey bees are beautiful (and they are) then these bees are spectacular.
Sometimes called ultra green sweat bees, the females are metallic green from head to thorax to abdomen. The males, however, are metallic green from head to thorax. Their abdomens are striped.
This is one of the bees that native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, studies. When he monitors the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre bee friendly garden next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis, he finds these periodically.
The Agapostemon are members of the Halictinae family, described in the book, Bees of the World, by Christopher O'Toole and Christopher Raw, as a world-wide group of bees. They are "often called sweat bees because in hot weather they are attracted to human perspiration, which they lap up, probably for the salt it contains," they write.
Some of the family's many genera, including Agapostemon, are restricted to the New World. Halictus and Lasioglossum "are common to the Old and New Worlds," according to O'Toole and Raw.
We captured these images below at the Mostly Natives Nursery in Tomales, Marin County./span>/span>
How blue can it be?
We spotted a metallic blue bug, one of nature's most amazing colors, last Sunday.
It was in the Mostly Natives Nursery in Tomales, a Marin County site frequented by many University of California entomologists and staff as they work on their urban bee research and publications. They come by to check out the native plants and the insects.
This blue bug was crawling up and down a Euphorbia (genus Euphorbia, family Euphorbiaceae), an unusual plant in itself because it appears to have green blossoms.
What was this bug?
We asked Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at the UC Davis. Kimsey surrounds herself with more than seven million insect specimens, and I swear she can recite the genus and species of everyone of them.
(At least we all think so!)
So, what was this bug?
She and senior museum scientist Steve Heydon initially identified it as a juvenile harlequin bug, family Pentatomidae. Kimsey later said--and confirmed--that it's a bordered plant bug, family Largidae.
How blue can it be?
Sometimes you'll see him sitting cross-legged on the floor, circled by first graders. They're asking questions like "What is an insect?" and "How long do insects live?" and "What do they eat?"
Sometimes you'll see him holding Madagascar hissing cockroaches and explaining why they hiss.
Other times he's engrossed in answering questions from a fellow scientist, a walk-in visitor or a journalist.
Very dedicated, committed and enthusiastic. That's Steve Heydon, senior museum scientist at the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis.
That's why we're glad to see Heydon receive the top award in the general contributions category at the UC Davis Staff Assembly's Citation for Excellence awards ceremony, held Aug. 2 at the chancellor's residence.
Chancellor Linda Katehi presented him the award.
Heydon was among two other individuals and two teams singled out for distinguished awards. Their names will be engraved on a perpetual plaque at the Walter A. Buehler Alumni and Visitors' Center.
Katehi praised them for their time, efforts and investments. “I’m so proud of you,” she told them. Rob Kerner, Staff Assembly president, read the accolades and described them as the “cream of the crop” of UC Davis employees.
“Steve is a true UC Davis goodwill ambassador in that he takes pride in the university, his department, his colleagues, and his work, which in itself, has drawn national and international acclaim, Kerner said, in announcing the award.
His colleagues, who nominated him for the award, lauded him for bringing out “the best in everyone” and as someone who “sincerely cares." They added: "In his collaborations with other universities and government agencies, he is known for his almost intuitive competency and his quick response to queries. In short, he is a prized employee, the best of the best.”
Anyone who knows Steve Heydon (who has a doctorate in entomology) knows that he is "always willing to drop what he’s doing to help out a scientist, reporter, staff member, volunteer or the public," his colleagues wrote. "Steve treats everyone with the utmost respect and understanding, an earmark of an outstanding UC Davis employee."
Steve Heydon joins other outstanding UC Davis employees as 2012 recipients of the distinguished awards.
Individual Award, Supervision: Kathy Canevari, a former supervisor with UC Davis Extension who retired earlier this year.
Individual Award: Campus Service: Paul Cody, coordinator of the Campus Union Center for Student Involvement.
Team Award: General Contributions: School of Veterinary Medicine Dean’s Office, Curricular Support, comprised of Mike Beech, Melinda Carlson, Robin Houston, Linda Royce, Erin Seay, Linda Souza, Teresa Suter, and Ken Taylor.
Team Award: Campus Service: Office of Student Development management team comprised of Catrina Wagner, Courtney Robinson, Richard Ronquillo, Chuck Huneke, and Lisa Papagni.
What's it all about? The Staff Assembly annually seeks nominees for these honors. UC Davis employees must have distinguished themselves in one or more of the three areas of outstanding achievement: general contributions, campus service or supervision.
Hats off to all the winners and nominees who make UC Davis proud!
These displays inform, educate and entertain.
The California State Fair, Sacramento, traditionally features an Insect Pavilion, which includes exotic and invasive species. This year's state fair also showcased UC Davis displays: insect specimens (and live ones, too) from the Bohart Museum of Entomology and a bee observation hive from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
For the last several years, the Dixon May Fair's Floriculture Building has housed Bohart specimens and a Laidlaw bee observation hive.
The 63rd annual Solano County Fair, Vallejo, now under way, is also bee-and-bug friendly. If you head over to McCormack Hall, the first thing you see is a skep or dome-shaped bee hive. (Beekeepers in many parts of the world still use skeps, commonly made of twisted straw.)
The McCormack Hall skep symbolizes "Home, Sweet Home," the theme of the fair.
Last Sunday we watched McCormack Hall superintendent Elisa Seppa and assistant superintendent Gloria Gonzalez prepare the ceramic skep/bees/bears display (on loan from the California State Fair), as another Solano County Fair employee Deborah Miller lent her artistic touch to the exhibitor displays.
The fair, which opened Wednesday, Aug. 1 and continues through Sunday, Aug. 5, also includes a number of insect-themed work from exhibitors. This is sort of like BYOB (Bring Your Own Bug.)
Rachel Dalmas, 15, of Fairfield is exhibiting a close-up image (and a best-of-division winner) of a flameskimmer dragonfly. Desirae Rivas, 8, of the Travis Youth Center, painted a ladybug and titled it quite succinctly: "Lady Bug Painting." It won a blue ribbon.
Is there a (future) entomologist in the house?