The Entomological Society of America (ESA) just announced that among the 2011 award recipients are two UC Davis faculty: Michael Parrella and Walter Leal.
Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology is the recipient of the ESA's Distinguished Achievement Award in Horticultural Entomology.
Chemical ecologist Walter Leal, professor and former chair of the Department of Entomology, is the recipient of the ESA's Nan-Yao Su Award for Innovation and Creativity in Entomology.
They'll receive the awards at the 59th Annual ESA Meeting, set Nov. 13-16 in Reno. Each award comes with a cash prize and a plaque.
Both Parrella and Leal have done so much for the wide world of entomology that their accomplishments could easily fill several books.
The fact that they were singled out from a 6000-member international organization for these coveted awards says a lot about them, their work, their commitments, their passions, and the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
The Nan-Yao Su Award goes to an ESA member who has demonstrated, through projects or accomplishments, "an ability to identify problems and develop creative, alternative solutions that significantly impact entomology."
The Distinguished Achievement Award in Horticultural Entomology, sponsored by Gowan Company, singles out an entomologist who has contributed greatly to the American horticulture industry.
Parrella, who also has a joint appointment in the Department of Plant Sciences and is a former associate dean with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, has developed an internationally recognized program focused on advancing integrated pest management and biological control for the floriculture and nursery industry.
Parrella is a past president of the Pacific Branch of the ESA and represents the Branch on the ESA Governing Board. He has held numerous offices and has authored more than than 375 publications.
Leal is a pioneer in the field of insect communication and on the cutting edge of research. He examines how insects detect smells, communicate with their species, detect host and non-host plants, and detect prey.
Leal has designed and synthesized complex pheromones from many insects, including scarab beetles, true bugs, longhorn beetles and the citrus leafminer. He and his lab discovered the secret mode of the insect repellent DEET.
A past president of International Society of Chemical Ecology, Leal has published his work in more than 161 peer-reviewed journals in the general field of insect pheromones, insect chemical communication, and insect olfaction, many widely cited by his peers.
Hail to the chairs--the current chair and a past chair.
Or an entomologist?
UC Davis Regents Scholar Heather Wilson, a researcher/lab technician in the Frank Zalom lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology, was listening to (I Wanna Be a) "Billionaire," the lead single from Travie McCoy's Lazarus album when she came up with an idea for the Entomological Society of America’s YouTube video contest.
In the hit tune, "Billionaire," McCoy zeroes in on what it might be like to become a billionaire, or rather, what he will do WHEN he becomes a billionaire. He'll be on the cover of Forbes magazine, "smiling next to Oprah and The Queen."
"I wanna be a billionaire, so freakin' (insert alternative adjective here) bad," McCoy sings.
Enter Heather Wilson, a senior majoring in biological sciences. She answered the (I Wanna Be a) "Billionaire" video, created by McCoy and guest vocalist Bruno Mars, with a video of her own.
"I wanna be an entomologist, so freakin' bad," Wilson sings.
"I wanna be on the cover
Of Economic Entomology
Smiling next to Frank and Jim Carey..."
That would be Frank Zalom and James "Jim" Carey, longtime professors in the UC Davis Department of Entomology. Zalom, former vice chair of the department, is in line for the presidency of the 6000-member ESA.
Wilson's video begins rather quietly. A spider prowls its web for unsuspecting insects. Honey bees buzz in and out of a hive. A butterfly flutters into a bush.
A bucolic scene, right?
Wait! The fun is about to begin. Wilson opens a car trunk, retrieves an insect net, and holding it upright like a flag, sprints down a country road like a cartoon character.
She goes on to "count bugs" in the Zalom lab (where she's doing research on the Spotted Wing Drosophila). Then she heads over to the Bohart Museum of Entomology where she wears a resident walking stick on her T-shirt. She cradles a rose-haired tarantula and a Madagascar hissing cockroach. She hugs a display tray of butterfly specimens.
And she does all this with unabated glee.
It's easy to see why Wilson was voted "class clown" at her high school in Anaheim, Calif. But she's also a top scholar. The Regents Scholarship she received is the most prestigious scholarship on the UC Davis campus and is based solely on academic and personal achievements.
Someone asked us "What's this all about, craving so badly to become an entomologist?"
Well, you have to watch the "Billionaire" video to know what's going on. It's a parody! And Heather Wilson pulls it off perfectly.
Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum of Entomology and an avid fan of all things entomological, points out that "It's unrealistic that we can ALL become billionaires. But honestly, we can all set our sights on becoming an entomologist. Now that’s a realistic dream.”
Meanwhile, Wilson is preparing a research presentation on the Spotted Wing Drosophila for the 59th Annual ESA Meeting, to be held Nov. 13-16 in Reno.
And meanwhile, her video is going viral.
If you don't know what it is, don't kill it.
That insect in your garden could very well be a beneficial insect.
If you operate on the "shoot-first-ask-questions later" or "the only good bug is a dead bug," no telling how many insects--and generations--you'll be destroying.
Butterfly expert Art Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis, tells this story that's worth remembering.
"Last week I was walking across Capitol Park in Sacramento when I observed a smartly dressed young woman in her 20s stomp a praying mantis and grind it into the sidewalk. She exclaimed to her phenotypically similar friend: 'Did you ever see such an ugly, icky bug?'"
And, many years ago, Shapiro encountered a man in College Park, Davis, in the act of stomping a Tiger Swallowtail.
Shapiro asked him why he was doing this.
The man replied: "This is the bug that has the big green caterpillar that eats my tomato plants!"
When Shapiro told him it wasn't, the man told him to check his information, and that "I'm right and you're wrong."
There is indeed a lot of misinformation and misidentification out there.
Tabatha Yang of the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis relates the story about an avid gardener who absolutely loved ladybugs (aka lady beetles) because of their voracious appetites for aphids. But when our avid gardener came across "some weird black and orange bugs," she promptly killed them.
Little did she know that she was killing immature ladybugs.
Then there's the story about a UC Master Gardener who encountered a "green-eyed golden bumblebee-like" insect that frightened her because it buzzed so loudly around her flower beds. So, she killed it. Turns out it was a pollinator, a male Valley carpenter bee, also known as a "teddy bear."
And, can you imagine what goes through people's minds when they meet up with a Jerusalem cricket in the mud after a rain? Whoa! Bug-o-mania!
Here's where the Bohart Museum, 1124 Academic Surge on California Drive, UC Davis campus, can help. If you live in California and see an insect and wonder if it's beneficial insect or a pest--or just want to know what it is--take a photo of it and email it to the Bohart. Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum (home of more than seven million specimens) and professor of entomology at UC Davis, identifies insects in between research, teaching, administering the Bohart Museum, and other duties. Her email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maybe, just maybe, this will save a few praying mantids, ladybugs, Valley carpenter bees and Jerusalem crickets./span>
It wasn't much of a fight.
The assassin bug scored a TKO.
Here's what happened: an assassin bug ambushed a spotted cucumber beetle in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Faciility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
It was "good guy vs. bad guy."
It was "beneficial insect vs. major agricultural pest."
The assassin bug (Zelus renardii) is a force to be reckoned with, especially when it comes to a spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata).
The assassin bug wears no white hat but it should. A cunning predator, it lies in wait and stabs an unsuspecting prey with a lethal toxin powerful enough to paralyze and dissolve tissue.
Then it's all over but the feeding.
The assassin bug sort of looks like a cartoon character, with its beady eyes, long beak (proboscis) and its long, slender antennae.
The spotted cucumber beetle looks a little like a ladybug (aka lady beetle) except for its coloration. It's a 12-spotted greenish-yellow insect. And a pest. Diabrotica dines on young, tender plants like cucumbers, squash, pumpkins and melons (cucurbits). It also transmits a virus.
So it was the good guy vs. the bad guy. Zelus vs. Diabrotica.
This time the good guy won.
That loud cheering sound you hear is from all the melon growers out there.
It's off to Berlin for integrated pest management (IPM) specialist Frank Zalom, professor and former vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and soon-to-be-president of the 6000-member Entomological Society of America (ESA)
Zalom is one of three Americans invited to speak at an international IPM workshop, Oct. 16-19, in Berlin, Germany.
Zalom, invited by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection of Germany, will speak on “Stimulating Use of Professional IPM Consultants in Agriculture, Benefits for Farmers and Society,” on Monday, Oct. 17.
That's indeed quite an honor.
The event is sponsored by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), which helps governments of the developed countries tackle the economic, social and governance challenges of a globalized economy. The OECD is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
At the OECD workshop, to be held in the Julius Kuhn Institute, Federal Research Center for Cultivated Plants, invitees will develop recommendations related to the workshop themes, adoption and implementation of IPM in agriculture, contributing to the sustainable use of pesticides and to pesticide-risk reduction.
Wolfgang Zornback, chair of the OECD Working Group on Pesticides, German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, will welcome the group.
The speakers will include noted IPM specialists from Australia, Denmark, Canada, Germany, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, The Netherlands and the UK.
In other words, the top-notch IPM specialists in the world...
About 100 participants were either nominated by their governments or invited by the OECD. Half of the participants will include government representatives working on pesticide regulation, and half of the participants will include representatives from international/regional organizations: European Commission, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO), International Organization for Biological Control (IOBC), bio-pesticide industries, environmental and consumer organizations and academia.
Americans joining Zalom in Berlin will be Tom Green of the US/IPM Institute of North America in Madison, Wis., who will discuss “IPM in U.S. Schools: Challenges, Opportunities and Implications for IPM in Agriculture” and James VanKirk of the Southern Region IPM Center, North Carolina State University, who will address “IPM Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education.”
The OECD workshop will conclude with a visit to the German chancellery.
Zalom will begin a four-year commitment to ESA this fall when he will be inducted as vice president-elect at the organization’s 59th annual meeting, set Nov. 13-16 in Reno. He will subsequently move up to vice president and president and then serve a year fulfilling the duties of past president. The UC Davis entomologist will become president at the end of the 2013 annual meeting and then will serve as president at the 2014 meeting in Portland, Ore.
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 (1986 -2001) and is currently experiment station co-chair of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) National IPM Committee.
He 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 Zalom lab has responded to six important pest invasions in the last decade, with research projects on the glassy-winged sharpshooter, olive fruit fly, a new biotype of greenhouse whitefly, invasive saltcedar, light brown apple moth, and the spotted wing Drosophila.