Emcee Tom Turpin of Purdue University stood at the podium and acknowledged he might mispronounce an entomology student's name. "If it sounds anything like your name and I’m looking at you, that’s you."
So began the Linnaean Games, a college-bowl type competition that's as lively as it is entertaining and educational.
And it's all about insects, entomologists and entomological facts.
The Linnaean Games, held at the annual Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting, is an event that pits student-teams against one another until a winner is declared. The 2010 event, hosted in San Diego, ended with Ohio State University winning the championship.
Students buzz in with the answers to questions such as:
What’s the loudest insect in the world? What is the egg case of a cockroach called? Kissing bugs, in the family Reduviidae, are vectors of what disease? About how long have insects been on earth? Give three official common names for Helicoverpa zea.
Ohio State defeated UC Davis, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Georgia and finally, in the championship game, toppled the University of Nebraska.
But first, the Ohio team of Joshua Bryant, Glene Mynhardt, Kaitlin Uppstrom and Nicola Gallagher had to get by the UC Davis team of Meredith Cenzer, Matan Shelomi, Andrew Merwin, and Ralph Washington.
As the crowd cheered them on, the two teams tied the score several times. Finally, with the score knotted at 90-90, Ohio correctly answered the final question to advance to the next round.
Tom Turpin of Purdue emceed the program while a trio of judges--J. E. McPherson of Southern Illinois University, Carol Annelli of Washington State University and Susan Weller of the University of Minnesota--scored the answers.
Each ESA branch sponsors a Linnaean Games competition and sends up to two teams to the nationals.
Pacific Branch sent UC Davis and Washington State University.
Southeastern Branch: University of Georgia and University of Florida
Eastern Branch: Pennsylvania State University (University of Maryland also won at the branch level but did not participate in the nationals)
North Central Branch: Ohio State University and the University of Nebraska
Southwestern Branch: New Mexico State and Texas A&M
Answers to the above questions (see sixth paragraph):
What’s the loudest insect in the world?
African cicada (Brevisana brevis); it has been measured at 106 decibels, (equivalent to a gas mower at 3 feet away).
What is the egg case of a cockroach called?
Kissing bugs, in the family Reduviidae, are vectors of what disease? Answer:
About how long have insects been on earth?
Some 400-380 million years ago.
Give three official common names for Helicoverpa zea?
Corn earworm, tomato fruitworm, and cotton bollworm
Other questions and answers included:
Which sexes of cicadas have tymbals and which have tympana?
Males have both. Females have only tympana.
What term is used to describe the antennae found on male mosquitoes? Answer:
Crickets are well-known music makers. What are the names of the two specialized structures that allow them to make that wonderful noise and where specifically on the body are they located?
File and scraper, located on the forewings.
At what American school was the first entomology class taught and who was the teacher?
Harvard (1805-1822) W.D. Peck.
In the Amazon rain forest, what are the common names of two groups of insects that make up about 1/3 of the biomass of all animals in the habitat?
Ants and termites.
Problems with honey bee hives in what state led to the recognition of colony collapse disorder?
Name two orders of insects that are entirely predatory.
Odonata and Mantodea
The monarch is actually the second-most popular state insect. What insect is the most frequently adopted state insect?
Robert Frost wrote a poem that begins with the lines: “An ant on a table cloth ran into a dormant moth of many times his size.” As you might guess the poem is about ants. What is the title of the poem?
It's worth a pitcher of beer or the equivalent if you win Arthur Shapiro's 40th annual Cabbage White Butterfly Competition, which begins Jan. 1, 2011.
Shapiro (right), a noted butterfly expert and a professor in the Department of Evolution and Ecology (EVE) at the University of California, Davis, sponsors the annual contest to draw attention to Pieris rapae and its first flight.
Why does he do this? "I am doing long-term studies of butterfly life cycles and climate," he said. "Such studies are especially important to help us understand biological responses to climate change. The Cabbage White is now emerging a week or so earlier on average than it did 30 years ago here."
Shapiro, who is in the field more than 200 days a year, enlists public involvement "because I have that much more confidence that I am tracking the actual seasonality of this common 'bug.'"
The butterfly must be turned in alive to the receptionist in the Department of Evolution and Ecology, 2320 Storer Hall, UC Davis, during the business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The receptionist will certify that it is alive and then notify Shapiro, who will confirm the identification.
Collectors must include the precise location and time of their find (such as corner of Buck Avenue and West Street, Vacaville, Solano County, 7:44 a.m., Jan, 2, 2011) and provide their name and contact information (e-mail and/ or telephone).
"First flight dates in the past have varied between Jan.1 and Feb. 22," Shapiro said. "The first record in 2010 was on Jan. 27. Sight records without a capture are interesting but not eligible to win since the species cannot be verified."
"If you capture a Cabbage White on a weekend or holiday when the EVE office is closed, or cannot deliver it the day you catch it, refrigerate it; do not freeze it," he said. "It will keep up to a few days that way. Again, it must be alive when turned in to be eligible. If no receptionist is on duty when you arrive, ask any member of the EVE office staff to take care of it."
Oh, if you win a pitcher of beer, it's your choice of the brand. If you don't drink or you're a minor, not to worry. You'll get the equivalent in cash.
For more information, contact Shapiro at email@example.com, phone (530) 752-2176, or fax him at (530) 752-1449.
Speaking at the 58th annual Entomological Society of America's meeting in San Diego, Marley
related that he grew up in Oregon
hating bugs--especially their all encompassing, intertwining legs that seemed to be everywhere: on, near or around him. Later, while serving two years as a missionary in northern Chile, he continued to hate every bug that he encountered.
Gradually, his viewpoint changed. After studying fashion design at Brigham Young University and embarking on a fashion designer career that took him to scores of countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas, he began to look at them in a different light. He began to appreciate them for their beauty, design, color, structure, texture, pattern, size and shape.
And their drama and diversity.
His first attempts to incorporate them into art were not easy. "I needed tweezers to handle the tweezers," he said of his initial efforts to overcome the emotional barrier.
Today Christopher Marley is an author and an artist with an art gallery, fittingingly named "Pheromone" in Salem, Ore.
"Pheromones," he explained, "are chemical stimulants that insects release to attract one another -- and they’ve been known to seduce the occasional human, too."
Deeply interested in entomology, Marley can tell you the scientific name of many insects, their host plants, what the larvae eat, and when, where and how to find them.
Marley drew the entomologists into his kaleidescope world with photo after photo of his work featuring insects collected in such faraway places as Malaysia, Borneo, New Guinea and Kenya. The crowd sat mesmerized. You could almost hear a scarab beetle drop.
His 256-page book, "Pheromone: The Insect Artwork of Christopher Marley," has drawn worldwide attention in the print and electronic media. He sells his work (including colorful calendars) at hundreds of galleries and stores in the United States and abroad.
Marley told the entomologists he wants folks to appreciate insects--and he hopes that his art will inspire, educate and enlighten them.
Collecting insects is not as simple as hiring collectors, he said. He acknowledged that he fills out "reams" of paper work for the collecting permits, export permits and import licenses.
Not everyone likes the fact that he collects insects for art. One person once told him: "I love insects and I’d rather see YOU in the frame of that book."
And not everyone likes the fact that he employs catchers to collect the insects. Some insects found in the faraway corners of the world are quite rare or rarely seen.
"But it's not so much 'rare' species as 'rare' ecosystems or habitats," Marley told the entomologists.
Marley said by employing people from other countries as catchers, he is contributing to their well-being and that of their families; aiding the poverty-stricken areas; and teaching humankind to protect the habitat that provides those insects.
Marley quoted Baba Dioum: “In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”
"I believe," Marley said, "that we will only love what we've experienced."
Leal, a chemical ecologist and professor of entomology, recently organized and moderated a symposium with professor John Hildebrand of the University of Arizona on "The Diversity in Olfaction and Taste" at the 58th annual Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting.
Among the nine speakers at the San Diego conference: Bert Hoelldobler of Arizona State University who discussed "Communication and Social Organization Among Insects Via Chemical Cues"; Kristin Scott of UC Berkeley, "Taste Recognition in Drosophila (Flies)"; Julien Pelletier of UC Davis, "Conserved and Diverse Mosquito Odorant Receptors"; Hildebrand, "Olfactory Mechanisms Underlying Moth-Host Plant Interactions"; and Leal, who covered "Odorant Receptors from Moths, Flies and Mosquitoes." (Note the communication between a male and female silkworm moth in the accompanying photo by Samuel Woo of UC Davis.)
It's an exciting field--the field of olfaction and taste. And now the Leal lab has an opening for a postdoc trained in biochemistry/molecular biology to join a group of scholars (http://chemecol.ucdavis.edu/) investigating at the molecular level how insect perceive the world true small chemical molecules like pheromones, oviposition attractants, repellents, etc.
Leal, a fellow of the ESA and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and former president of the International Society for Chemical Ecology, is focusing his current research on the molecular basis of insect olfaction, with particular emphasis on odorant binding, release, and inactivation in the peripheral nervous system and chemical ecology.
Leal has published more than 150 papers in peer reviewed journals, 16 invited chapters and review articles, 28 Japanese patents and 2 US patents. Some of the recent publications:
Postdoc scholars who want to apply can email their CV and a letter of application to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Indeed, we can take lessons from the ants, according to ecologist Rob Dunn (right), assistant professor in the Department of Biology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh.
Dunn, author of Every Living Thing: Man's Obsessive Quest to Catalog Life, from Nanobacteria to New Monkeys, will open the UC Davis Department of Entomology's winter seminar series on Wednesday, Jan. 5 with a presentation on “Using Collaborative Approaches to See the Geography and Future of life: Lessons From Ants.”
Dunn will speak from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in 1022 Life Sciences Addition (LSA), corner of Hutchison and Kleiber Hall. His host is Bonnie Blaimer of the Phil Ward lab.
Be sure to check out Dunn's website, where you'll find his newly published research on ants and information on a troubling ant (Asian needle ant) in the hardwood forests of eastern North America.
The Department of Entomology seminars, coordinated by graduate student Ian Pearse of the Rick Karban lab, will be held every Wednesday from 12:10 to 1 p.m. through March. 9 in 1022 LSA, a change from last quarter's seminars (held in 122 Briggs Hall). UC Davis graduate students are hosting the individual presentations.
All presentations will be webcast live and then archived on this page. Graduate students James Harwood and Amy Morice of the Jim Carey lab donate their time to webcast the seminars.
The entire list of speakers, beginning with Dunn:
Jan. 5: Rob Dunn, assistant professor, Department of Biology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh. Topic: “Using Collaborative Approaches to See the Geography and Future of Life: Lessons From Ants.” Host: Bonnie Blaimer
Jan. 12: Amanda Hodson, UC Davis postdoctoral scholar. Topic: “Ecological Influence of the Entomopathogenic Nematode, Steinernema carpocapsae, on Soil Arthropods in Pistachio Orchards.” Host: Brittany Mills
Jan. 19: Jonathan Pruitt, Center for Population Biology Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Davis Department of Ecology and Evolution. Topic: “From Individuals to Populations to Communities: When Does Personality Matter?” Host: Meredith Cenzer.
Jan. 26: Angela Smilanich, adjunct faculty in biology at University of Nevada, Reno, and affiliate associate research faculty at the Desert Research Institute, Reno. Topic: "Self-Medication vs. Self-Toxicity in Generalist and Specialist Herbivores.” Host: Ian Pearse.
Feb. 2: Don Miller, associate professor, Department of Biological Sciences, California State University, Chico. Topic: "Strategies of Tamalia Aphids: Freeloading, Gall Induction, Adaptive Sex Allocation.” Host: Scott McCluen
Feb. 9: Roger Vargas, research entomologist, USDA-ARS. Topic: "Area-Wide Fruit Fly Programs against Fruit Flies in Hawaii, French Polynesia and California." Host: James Harwood
Feb., 16: Gary Blomquist, professor and department chair, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Nevada, Reno. Topic: "Pheromone Production in Bark Beetles." Host: George Kamita.
Feb. 23: Tom Turner, assistant professor of ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, UC Santa Barbara. Topic: "Evolutionary Functional Genomics: How Can We Find the Natural Genetic Variants Affecting Interesting Traits in Model Insects?" Host: Jackie Wong
March 2: Stan Faeth, professor and head, Department of Biology, University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Title: "Asexual Endophytes in Native Grasses: Tiny Partners with Big Community Effects.” Host: Ian Pearse.
March 9: Jeffrey Feder, professor, Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame. Title: (To be announced.) Host: Meredith Cenzer