Entomologist/integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, will discuss the identification and biology of the light brown apple
moth (LBAM) at the next meeting of the Northern
See the LBAM photos provided by David Williams, principal scientist, Perennial Horticulture, Department of Primary Industries, Victoria, Australia. The male is at the upper right and the female, lower right.
Zalom will highlight two studies that he and his lab conducted on commercial caneberry and strawberry fields in 2009 and 2010 to “evaluate the efficacy of ground-applied mating disruption products for LBAM management.”
The meeting begins at 9:15 a.m. with registration and coffee in the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Plant Diagnostic Lab, 3288 Meadowview Road, Sacramento.
Zalom, who will speak at 9:45 a.m., is the first in a line-up of five speakers.
Zalom, who directed the UC Statewide IPM Program for 16 years, is a newly elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for “distinguished scholarly, educational and administrative contributions that have significantly advanced the science and application of integrated pest management in agriculture nationally and internationally.” He is also a fellow of the Entomological Society of America and the California Academy of Sciences.
Zalom 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 NorCal Society agenda also includes:
10:30 a.m. “Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies) of Argentina,” Natalia von Ellenrieder, associate insect biosystematist, Plant Pest Diagnostics, CDFA
11:15 a.m.: “Using New Biologically Produced Pesticides in Crop Pest Management,” Christopher Strutz, Crop Production Services, Sacramento
12 Noon: Lunch
1:15 p.m.: “Recent Developments in Controlling Olive Psylla, Euphyllura olivina (Costa),” Charles Pickett, Environmental Research Scientist, Biological Control, CDFA.
2 p.m.: “Impacts of Scale Insects on Humanity,” Gillian Watson, Senior Insect Biosystematist, Plant Pest Diagnostics, CDFA.
The Northern California Entomology Society is comprised of university faculty, researchers, pest abatement professionals, students and other interested persons. Newly elected president of the society is Leann Horning, an ag technician with the CDFA Biocontrol Program since 1990.
Luncheon reservations ($15 for a chicken meal from Poco Lollo) should be made by Feb. 1 with secretary-treasurer Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty. Mussen may be reached at ecmussen@ucdavis or (530) 752-0472.
The entomology group meets the first Thursday in February at the CDFA complex, Sacramento; the first Thursday in May at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility; UC Davis; and the first Thursday in November at the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District office, Concord. Membership dues are $10 per year.
Hear the buzz in the California almond orchards?
It's almost pollination time.
The season usually begins around Feb. 1. This year California has some 750,000 acres of almonds, and each acre requires two bee colonies to pollinate.
That's 1.2 million colonies needed to pollinate the almonds, according to honey bee guru Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Since California doesn't have that many colonies--the number is around 500,000--the remainder must come from beekeepers outside the state.
Christine Souza of Ag Alert, the weekly newspaper for California agriculture, wrote in the Jan. 19th edition that pollinating the state's $3.2 billion crop is not without problems: thieves steal bee hives. Beekeeper Brian Long, Madera County, reported losing 400 colonies last month, a total loss of $120,000, Souza said.
To thwart thieves, beekeepers brand their names and phone numbers on their boxes. (We know a beekeeper who also brands his driver's license.)
It's a good idea to store hives behind enclosed and locked gates, the Ag Alert article noted, and "to give nearby property owners descriptions of your vehicles so that they can report any suspicious activity or vehicles."
Perhaps those Hollywood producers looking for story ideas could take what's happening in the bee yards and film another version of "The Sting."
Honey bee expert Eric Mussen of UC Davis offers some good advice in a piece that he and commercial beekeeper Gene Brandi of Los Banos wrote in the current edition of CAPCA Advisor, published by the California Assoiciaton of Pest Control Advisors.
Mussen, an Extension apiculturist and member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty, and Brandi, a long-time beekeeping legislative advocate, emphasized these two points:
1. The best way to protect honey bees from damage by pesticides is to keep them from being exposed.
2. To prevent negative effects of pesticides of all types, do not apply them to blooming plants upon which the bees are foraging.
Pesticides can have "negative effects on queens, drones, developing brood and bee behavior that eventually result in weakened or dead colonies," they wrote.
Honey bees can die from injesting pesticides on plants and in contaminated water. Or they can be accidentally sprayed, such as when they cluster on beehives on hot evenings and are "hit by applications from directly overhead or by pesticide drift."
Bees carry pesticide residue back to the hive. "All types of pesticides contain some products that are toxic to developing honey bee brood," they wrote.
"It would be nice to think that we know all about the effects of pesticides on adults and immature honey bees, but that just is not the case."
What we do know is that honey bees pollinate about a third of the agricultural crops produced in the United States and the bee population is decreasing.
As a child, Angela Smilanich never harbored a “fascination or obsession for insects.”
That came later.
“My love for insects actually came later in life after visiting a lowland tropical rainforest in Costa Rica, where I was given my first project as a young scientist,” said Smilanich, a biologist at the University of Nevada, Reno who will speak on "Self-Medication vs. Self-Toxicity in Generalist and Specialist Herbivores” from 12:10 to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 26 in 1022 Life Sciences Addition, University of California, Davis.
“In a tropical rainforest, the diversity of insects literally smacks you in the face, and one cannot come away from this experience without awe and respect for nature. And I was no exception.”
Since then, she has dedicated her career to studying the intricate interactions between insects and their environment, mostly plants. “The research has never ceased to amaze or challenge me, and I cannot think of a life more fulfilling than discovering science and sharing it with others.”
Smilanich, who received her doctorate in ecology and evolution from Tulane University, New Orleans, in 2008. is now an adjunct faculty member in biology at University of Nevada, Reno, and an affiliate associate research faculty at the Desert Research Institute, Reno.
Her talk is part of the weekly seminars held every Wednesday noon through March 9 by the UC Davis Department of Entomology. It will be webcast live at http://uc-d.na4.acrobat.com/ucsn1/ and then archived on the department website.
“Specialist and generalist caterpillars are different in many aspects,” Smilanich says. “My research highlights these differences in a tritrophic context by focusing on plant chemistry and natural enemies. For example, quite often, specialist caterpillars are physiologically constrained to feed on plants with specific leaf chemistry. In addition, they have adapted to sequester plant compounds in their tissues thereby becoming toxic to predators.”
“In contrast, generalist caterpillars may encounter several different classes of plant chemistry over the course of a day. Given these differences in host plant chemistry, one question that I am interested in addressing is: What are the differences in physiological differences between specialist and generalist caterpillars?"
To answer that question, Smilanich has focused on the insect immune response, which she describes as “one of the most important defenses caterpillars have against natural enemies.”
In her UC Davis talk, she will show how host plant chemistry differentially affects a specialist caterpillar (Junonia coenia, buckeye) and a generalist caterpillar (Grammia incorrupta, woolly bear). In the case of the buckeye, she will show how ingesting and sequestering high concentrations of plant compounds negatively affects the immune response.
"With the woolly bear, there is evidence that plant compounds help the immune response; however, this question is still under investigation. “
Natural enemies, Smilanich says, may be influencing the evolution of the insect immune response.
Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture magazine, makes seven good points in his piece on honey bee health published in the Jan. 18th edition of The Daily Green.
Scientists, he writes, don't know what exactly causes colony collapse disorder (CCD), the mysterious phenomenon characterized by adult bees abandoning the hive, leaving behind the queen bee, brood and food stores.
But Flottum says, all this research on what ails them provides insight on what will help them. He lists seven key maladies that may be contributing to CCD.
One of them is poor nutrition.
"Honey bees forced to dine on only a single source of pollen have problems. Imagine living for a month on only Twinkies. The first one is great, the second good... the 123rd is disgusting, and, you are slowly starving to death. When researchers looked closely at the diet for our honey bees, they saw the problem and today--after four years--there are almost a dozen healthy food choices on the market we can feed our bees (including Megabee and Nozeivit, sold by Dadant; Ultra-Bee, sold by Mann Lake; and Feed Bee, sold by Ellingsons’s Inc.) That's progress. (But look at your grocery store and see how many kinds of dog food there are... wouldn't you think hard working honey bees should have the same choices?).
Flottum advocates diversity in the diet--and rightfully so.
"Make sure bees have a diverse and varied diet. Many floral sources are needed for a healthy, wholesome, season-long diet. And make sure those flowers have not been sprayed with the new insecticides and fungicides that are so detrimental to the young. And feeding bees is a good idea. Use one of the newer substitute diets available from the supply companies and feed whenever there's a food shortage or lack of variety. It will only help."
Check out the other six maladies contributing to a honey bee's poor health. We're all in this together, and together we can improve their health.