Insects--their beauty, their structure, their diversity--are inspiring noted fashion designers, but those fashion designers are way, way behind the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Students' Association (EGSA).
EGSA members are graduate student totally into bugs. They study them, research them and wear them. And yes, some do eat them. Can you say "chocolate chirp cookies? (made with cricket flour)?"
Every year EGSA conducts a t-shirt contest and the faculty, staff and students pick the winner. The good news is that the t-shirts--past and present--are for sale all year around, but folks take a special interest in them during the holiday season. Stocking stuffers!
The Beatles? Think The Beetles.
Instead of the English rock band John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Star crossing Abbey Road in single file (that's the iconic image on the cover of their album, Abbey Road), think of The Beetles (four insects) crossing Abbey Road in single file. Beneath the images of the beetles are their family names: Phengogidae, Curculionidae, Cerambycidae and Scarabaeidae. Think glowworm, snout, long-horned, and scarab beetles.
If you're not partial to beetles, how about honey bees, wasps, and "Entomology's Most Wanted?"
You're in luck.
"This year we are discounting some of our old designs from $15 to $10!" announced the officers, headed by Ph.D student and ant specialist Brendon Boudinot of the Phil Ward lab. "Order by Dec. 15th for delivery within the United States by the 23rd. If you are on campus and would like to pick up the shirt instead, please do not pay for shipping online and email Emily Bick at email@example.com (of the Christian Nansen lab) to schedule pick up. The online store will close on Dec. 17th until early January." The prices range from $10 to $15 to $17. Access their online store: https://mkt.com/UCDavisEntGrad/
It's for a good cause: helping the graduate students. The added bonus, you get to "bug" your friends, family and colleagues when you wear these t-shirts.
If you attended the 2017 Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting, held recently in Denver, you probably recognized a familiar face and his research.
This is the third year he has won first-place honors in the President's Prize competition, an opportunity for graduate students to present their research.
Boudinot, who studies classification and evolution of morphology, delivered a 10-minute oral presentation in the Systematics, Evolution and Biodiversity Section on "The Protopodal Theory of Genitalic Evolution in the Hexapoda (Arthropoda: Mandibulata: Pancrustacea)."
Judges evaluate the oral presentations on scientific content (50 percent) and presentation (50 percent). For scientific content, judges score them on introduction and background with pertinent literature cited; objectives clearly stated and concise; materials and methods (study design) clear and concise; results and discussion clear, concise and accurate; and significance of results to field of study. Judges evaluation the presentation on organization, slides and delivery.
For his work, he received a one-year free membership in ESA, a $75 cash prize, and a certificate.
Boudinot's previous President's Prizes were for presentations on the male genitalia of ants, and for providing the first male-based identification material for the ant genera of the New World.
"I study ants because they are a unique evolutionary radiation of wingless, social wasps; through the study of their genetic and morphological diversity, we are better able to understand the ecological and biogeographic components of the process of speciation," Boudinot said today. "I came to study ants through several years of work I did as an undergraduate sorting and identifying ants from thousands of leaf litter samples collected in Central America by the Leaf Litter Arthropods of MesoAmerica project, which I was involved in (see photo of him in Honduras during 2010, as well as a little blurb from the year before he joined UC Davis graduate program)."
Boudinot traces his initial interest in the taxonomic and morphological diversity of ants through direct observational experience. Now, as a member of the Ward Lab, he continues his work, which encompasses three components:
- the diversity and classification of male ants in the New World
- a reclassification of the Formicidae based on phylogenetic analyses combining fossils with living taxa, and
- a study of the morphological evolution of the abdomen of insects, borne out of work done in projects (1) and (2).
Boudinot completed his undergraduate work at the Evergreen State College, Olympia, Wash., and spent a year working as a research technician at the University of Utah before starting his graduate work in 2014 with advisor Phil Ward. He focuses his research on evolution and ecology, approached from the perspective of systematics. “I integrate several lines of inquiry to answer historical evolutionary questions, including morphological and molecular phylogenetics, paleontology, and traditional comparative morphology,” Boudinot related. “I specialize on the skeletomusculature system of the male genitalia of the Hexapoda and the classification of the Formicoidea.”
Ants are highly diverse, with more than 13,000 known species, Boudinot says. "They are, however, but one stitch in the diversity of all insects, and we are entering a new era for the study of morphology in the 21st century."
The genitalia of male insects are fascinating, he said. "Both male and female insect genitalia are derived from the appendages of a pair of abdominal segments. Evidence from the skeletomusculature indicates that these structures are really legs of a crustacean ancestor that have been modified for numerous reproductive tasks--from copulation and insemination, to singing and silk-spinning."
When he's not studying ants, you can find Brendon Boudinot serving as president of the Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA), his second term at the helm. In this capacity, he functions as student liaison to the faculty, and as chair or co-chair of several committees, both for departmental and graduate student events (including the Entomology Seminar Series, Retreat Committee, annual Graduate Student Recruitment Day, Picnic Day, and various graduate student social events).
UC Davis doctoral candidate Sarah Silverman of the James R. Carey lab joined Boudinot in the winners' circle at the ESA meeting. She won a second place award in the President's Prize competition, delivering a 10-minute oral presentation in the Diptera-Mosquitoes category of the Medical, Urban, and Veterinary Entomology Section, on “Population as Cohort: Interpreting the Mortality Patterns of Wild-Caught Adult Mosquitoes of Unknown Ages.”
Her work at UC Davis is in the field of insect demography. “I specifically study insect lifespan in the wild," she said, "as well as the the age-structure of insect populations in the wild using an innovative methodological approach: the capture of live-insects in the wild which are then maintained and observed in the lab until death." Silverman completed her bachelor's degree in environmental science at McGill University in Montreal. For her undergraduate thesis, she studied the phenology of wild Osmia bees./span>
If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a bug worth?
That question was neither asked nor answered at the 103rd annual UC Davis Picnic Day, a campuswide open house, held April 22, but just about everything else was!
Let's take a look back at all the bug activities at Briggs Hall, home of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. (We previously posted a UC Davis Picnic Day blog about the bugs at the department's Bohart Museum of Entomology).
Graduate student Brendon Boudinot, who is studying for his doctorate in entomology (working with major professor and ant specialist Philip Ward), chaired the Picnic Day Committee in between classes and ant research.
For some interesting alliteration, you could say "Brendon Boudinot's Bugs at Briggs."
Several thousand visitors climbed the Briggs Hall steps to
- cheer on the cockroach races (yes, cockroaches move fast!)
- participate in maggot art (dip a maggot into non-toxic, water-based paint and create a drawing. The term Maggot Art was coined by forensic entomologist Rebecca O'Flaherty, former UC Davis graduate student)
- watch fly-tying by the Fly Fishers of Davis
- observe the aquatic insects from the Sharon Lawler lab
- sample honey compiled by Extension apiculturist Elina Niño of the department's Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility (this exhibit won a special award, determined by popular vote)
- explore the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program tables (where the staffers displayed publications and gave away lady beetles, aka ladybugs)
- ask questions of The Bug Doctor (graduate student Ralph Washington Jr.); Dr. Death (forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey; the Nemotode Guy (Corwin Parker), and the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District (fight the bite)
- buy insect-themed t-shirts from the Entomology Graduate Students' Association (see website for sales)
- get their face painted by the UC Davis Entomology Club
- sample chocolate chirp cookies (think cricket!)
- greet ants (and uncles, too)
- pose as a cockroach, bee or fly behind the cutout boards
- marvel at the 40-foot-long black widow spider, which won the UC Davis Entomology Club the prize of "best float from an organization" at the UC Davis Picnic Day Parade
- take lots of selfies!
How many people trooped up the Briggs Hall steps? At least 3000.
How many bugs did they see? Hundreds and hundreds.
The cost? Free.
The memories? Priceless!
That was a popular refrain at the 103rd annual UC Davis Picnic Day, held Saturday, April 22.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology showed thousands of folks the honey at its Briggs Hall exhibit, "Honey Tasting." The line stretched out the door and into the lobby as eager folks--from pre-schoolers to senior citizens--waited for samples and an opportunity to talk to the scientists.
The crowd liked the meadowfoam honey the best, followed by citrus.
It was a team effort. Student scientists left their labs to staff the honey tasting table. Okay, they made a "bee line" there. In between handing out toothpicks coated with honey, they conversed with the public, answering questions about honey, bees, and beekeeping. One participant asked "What's good about honey?" Other questions included "How are the bees?" and "How can I become a beekeeper?"
It wasn't just about the honey. Scores of other insect-related events also took place at Briggs Hall (maggot art, cockroach races, and displays featuring ants, mosquitoes and bees, in addition to forensic, aquatic, and forest entomology.
Chairing the department's Picnic Day Committee was graduate student Brendon Boudinot (Phil Ward lab), an ant specialist seeking his doctorate in entomology.
Now for the good news: two of the department's exhibits were up for special awards--honey tasting at Briggs Hall, and the multiple displays at the Bohart Museum.
The results were announced today. The honey tasting exhibit, coordinated by Extension apiculturist Elina Niño, won the popular vote in its category, "Hungry Fix."
How sweet it is!
Fittingly, the theme of this year's UC Davis Picnic Day was "Growing Together." The annual event, drawing in surrounding communities, is really one gigantic open house, and a time to "come and experience the richness of diversity and achievement" of the university in "the areas of research, teaching service and campus life," organizers said.
Here's who won the special exhibit awards, as announced by exhibits coordinator Helen Xiu:
Best in Show:
- Harry Potter and the "Try"-Physics Tournament
Fun with Crafts:
- DNA and Bioluminescence
Arts and Humanities:
- The Joy of Writing: The University Writing Program Creates Fun with Words!
- Honey Tasting
Secrets of Nature
- Explore the Tree of Life
Congratulations to all! They were all special!
Speaking of special, mark your calendars to learn more about bees, honey and beekeeping:
- The inaugural California Honey Festival, coordinated by Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, will take place Saturday, May 6 in downtown Woodland. It's billed as a fun-filled day of honey, mead, music, beekeeping talks, kids' activities and more. Free and open to the public, it promises to be both fun and educational.
- The third annual UC Davis Bee Symposium: Keeping Bees Healthy is Sunday, May 7. It's sponsored by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. This is a "must" if you're keeping bees or want to do so--or if you just want to learn more about bees. Keynote speaker is noted apiculturist Steve Sheppard of Washington State University, Pullman, Wash. Registration is underway.
- The Western Apicultural Society (WAS), launched at UC Davis 40 years ago, will return to its roots for a conference Sept. 5-8. President of WAS (this is his sixth term) is co-founder Eric Mussen of UC Davis, Extension apiculturist emeritus. The organization is specifically designed to meet the educational needs of beekeepers in the United States but is open to anyone throughout the world. Registration will soon be underway. Check the website for more information.
They are, you know, everywhere.
However, when the 103rd annual UC Davis Picnic Day takes place Saturday, April 22, you'll find them primarily at the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's exhibits at Briggs Hall and at the Bohart Museum of Entomology,
"Show Me the Honey" and "Show Me the Bugs."
Two of the department's exhibits are in the running for special awards at the campuswide Picnic Day. One is “Honey Tasting” at Briggs Hall, and the other is “Bigger, Better, Buglier: Impressive Science” at the Bohart Museum.
“Honey Tasting" will feature a selection of varietal honeys in a display that's the work of Extension apiculturist Elina Niño and colleagues at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Facility.
"We will have the crowd favorites: coffee blossom, sweet meadowfoam, as well as some classics such as orange blossom and blackberry blossom and the 'love-it-or-hate-it' buckwheat honey," Niño said. "This year we will also be featuring our own 2016 crop of UC Davis honey from the apiculture program." The exhibit is one of six competing for awards in the category, "Hunger Fix.”
Overall, the UC Davis Picnic Day Committee selected 30 special exhibits to compete in five categories: "Best in Show," "Fun with Crafts," "Arts and Humanities," "Hunger Fix" and "Secrets of Nature," said UC Davis Picnic Day exhibits director Helen Xie.
The way it works: Picnic Day attendees vote for their favorite exhibits. Winning exhibits will be featured on social media pages such as Picnic Day website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat accounts after Picnic Day. They will also be featured next year, in preparation for Picnic Day 2018.
The poll will open beginning at 8 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. the same day.. All are welcome to vote at: https://orgsync.com/51524/forms/258052.
Last year the Department of Entomology and Nematology won two special awards. By popular vote, "Little Swimmers and Fly Tyers (Briggs Hall)," won the category, "Hidden Treasures," and "Real Insects and Mimics" (Bohart Museum) won the category "Family Friendly."
This year's Briggs Hall activities will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Bohart Museum of Entomology will swing open its doors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Graduate student Brendon Boudinot is chairing the department's Picnic Day Committee. (See list of activities at Briggs Hall in previous Bug Squad blog.)
Boudinot's special favorite at the UC Davis Picnic Day? Ants. He's studying for his doctorate with ant specialist Phil Ward and is helping with the ant exhibit at Briggs Hall.
It wouldn't be a picnic without ants.