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?
The ESA Governing Board today announced the new fellows, who will be recognized Nov. 11, 2012 at the ESA’s annual meeting in Knoxville, Tenn.
Page, the vice provost and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, since July 2011, is a pioneer in the field of evolutionary genetics and the social behavior of honey bees.
Page did much of his research at UC Davis. He received his doctorate in entomology at UC Davis in 1980, learning from his major professor Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. (for whom the UC Davis bee research facility is named). He then joined The Ohio State University faculty before returning to UC Davis as a faculty member in 1989.
He chaired the UC Davis Department of Entomology from 1999 to 2004.
Page, who studies the evolution of complex social behavior in honey bees, from genes to societies, left UC Davis in 2004 to be the founding director of the new School of Life Sciences. Arizona State University, where he built a Social Insect Research Group that is now recognized worldwide.
Page was trained as an entomologist, evolutionary population geneticist, classical animal breeder, and mechanistic behaviorist, according to a news release issued by the ESA. "This training has defined his research approach of looking at the genetics and evolution of complex social behavior. He has taken a vertical approach to understanding the mechanisms of honey bee social foraging and how it evolves."
His work is contained in more than 225 research articles. Page has also co-edited three books and authored or co-authored two. Page is a highly cited ISI (Institute for Scientific Information) author in plant and animal science. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the German National Academy of Science, and the Brazilian Academy of Science. In 1995 he was awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Research Prize by the government of Germany.
Although Page resides in Arizona, his research bees are UC Davis-based residents. Bee breeder-geneticist Michael “Kim” Fondrk, who worked with Page at Ohio State University, UC Davis and ASU, manages the specialized genetic stock, which today includes 90 hives.
Of the 90 hives, about 70 have instrumentally inseminated queens as part of their pollen-hoarding breeding research program.
Back in 2006, Page told us: "Davis is still home to me. I raised my family there, my closest friends and colleagues are still in the entomology department there. I still feel very strong attachments.”
Former department chair Robert Washino remembers him fondly. He recently recalled that "Rob chose to return to UC Davis in 1989 to be with his former major professor (Harry H. Laidlaw Jr.). He later cared for him and his wife, Ruth, in their declining years. We all remember Rob’s scholarly side and his humanitarian side.”
Page joins three other UC-affiliated entomologists in the ESA Fellows Class of 2012: Joseph Morse, professor of entomology at UC Riverside; Henry H. Hagedorn, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1970; and R. Michael Roe, who trained at the UC Davis Department of Entomology from 1981 to 1984 as a National Institutes of Health fellow in cellular and molecular biology.
And interestingly enough, Page is following in the footsteps of Harry H. Laidlaw Jr., who himself was elected an ESA fellow in 1991.
With the addition of Page, the UC Davis Department of Entomology now has 16 fellows who are current or former faculty members. The first was Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007), for whom the Bohart Museum of Entomology is named. He received the honor in 1947. Fifteen others followed: Donald McLean, elected in 1990; Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. (1907-2003), 1991; John Edman, 1994; Robert Washino, 1996; Bruce Eldridge, 2001; William Reisen, 2003; Harry Kaya, 2007; Michael Parrella and Frank Zalom, 2008; Walter Leal, 2009; Bruce Hammock and Thomas Scott, 2010; James R. Carey and Diane Ullman, 2011, and now Robert E. Page Jr., 2012.
Walter Leal isn’t participating in the Olympics, but he medaled just the same.
It was not for athletic prowess, but for scholarly achievements—the scientific equivalent of an international gold medal.
Leal, a chemical ecologist and a professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, is the recipient of the coveted Silver Medal, the highest award given by the International Society of Chemical Ecology (ISCE).
A native of Brazil and educated in Brazil and Japan, Leal researches how insects detect smells and communicate within their species. He is “one of the foremost authorities on the integration of chemical ecology with the molecular, biochemical and physiological interactions among insects and between insects and plants,” said chemical ecologist Coby Schal, professor at North Carolina State University, who nominated him for the award.
Bruce Hammock, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, wrote a letter of support, praising Leal for “his outstanding career achievements and excellence in moving chemical ecology forward." Hammock described him as “a world-renowned chemical ecologist, a pioneer in the field of insect olfaction, and on the cutting edge of research.”
ICSE president Paulo H. G. Zarvin of the Federal University of Parana, Brazil announced the award July 26 at the 28th annual ISCE annual meeting, held in Lithuania. It will be presented at the ISCE’s 29th annual meeting, set Aug. 19-22, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia.
Declaring Leal’s program, launched in 1990, as “one of the best in the world,” Schal lauded Leal as “one of the most energetic and collaborative scientists I know.”
“Chemical signaling is fundamental to all life forms, including microbes, plants and animals,” Schal said,” and chemical cues allow animals to appraise their environment; to detect food, toxins, prey, predators and pathogens; to identify kin; and to evaluate and base mate choice decisions of potential reproductive partners.”
“Walter’s research, in two decades, has addressed almost every aspect of chemical ecology,” Schal said. That includes “the semiochemistry of mites, thrips, scarabs, bugs, aphids, cockroaches, moths, wasps and plants.”
Leal, who joined the UC Davis faculty in 2000, has designed and synthesized complex pheromones from many insects, including scarab beetles, true bugs, longhorn beetles and the citrus leafminer. He identified the complex sex pheromone system of the naval orangeworm, a key agricultural pest responsible for multi-million crop damage annually in California. The sex pheromones he discovered are now being deployed in the agricultural field to disrupt chemical communication and control the navel orangeworm population through the environmentally friendly technique of mating disruption.
Leal and his lab discovered DEET’s mode of action, something that had puzzled and eluded scientists for half a century. Scientists long surmised that DEET, patented by the U.S. Army in 1946, works by masking the smell of the host, or jamming the insect’s senses, thus interfering with its ability to locate a host. Not so: in groundbreaking research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the Leal lab found that mosquitoes can indeed smell the chemical repellent but they dislike it so they avoid it.
Leal is one of only 23 scientists to receive the ISCE Silver Medal since its inception in 1986. Two other University of California scientists also won the award: Dave Wood of UC Berkeley in 2001 and Ring Cardé of UC Riverside in 2009.
The thing about predators and prey is that it's the nature of things.
Take spiders. The many different species have different methods of catching, killing, confining and eating their prey.
Have you ever seen an orbweaver snare a honey bee in its web and then wrap it in silk blankets? The spider injects the bee with poison, feasts on it and/or pulls the carcass out of sight for later consumption.
‘Most spiders have toothed chelicerae, which they use in combination with their movable fangs to mash their prey into a small unrecognizable mass,” write authors Charley Eiseman and Noah Charney in their book, Tracks and Signs of Insects and Other Invertebrates: A Guide to North American Species (Stackpole Books).
"Prey killed by hunting spiders such as tarantulas and wolf spiders have no silk on them, whereas orbweavers swaddle their prey with a thick white layer of white silk," they point out. "Jumping spiders and others eating soft-bodied flies may leave only the wings behind."
Those orbweavers work fast. They indeed "swaddle their prey with a very thick layer of white silk," so thick, so strong and so sticky that there's no escape.
That's the nature of things.
If your hummingbird feeders are filled with that oh-so-tantalizing sweet sugary syrup, you may be attracting not only hummers, but honey bees, too. In fact, the bees may be crowding out the hummers.
Just how do you keep your hummers happy and the bees away from the bird feeders?
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology is asked that often.
The trick, he says, is to make sure the hummers CAN reach the syrup, but the bees CANNOT.
"The hummers’ tongues are much longer than bee tongues," he says. "So find or make a feeder that has a little wire screen “hood” over and around the hole where the syrup is available. Eight-mesh is good. If the hummers can’t feed through it, try six-mesh; anything larger than that and the bees can crawl through. Feeders that have the hole pointing upward probably are best. Make sure that the bees cannot reach the syrup anywhere on the feeders--leaks--and your problems are solved."
Mussen adds: "If you are not an engineer and don’t wish to build your own, bee-proof hummingbird feeders can be found on the web. Some just use a tube that is too long for the bees to reach the syrup. That is great, unless the device leaks to the sides. Bees are happy to lick up spills. They do not need to reach the main source."