Take the entries in Today's Youth Building at the 143rd annual Dixon May Fair, which opened Thursday, May 10 and continues through Sunday, May 13.
Some of the exhibitors focused on honey bees, butterflies, dragonflies, and bumble bees--and some ventured out of the insect arena and into spider territory.
- Bianca Currey, 8, of Dixon, wowed the judges with a dragonfly drawing, a blue-ribbon winner. She does crafts projects with the Dixon Grange.
- Beekeeper Ryan Anenson, 16, of the Tremont 4-H Club, Dixon, won a blue ribbon for his close-up photograph of a honey bee.
- Jake Vinum, 15, of Vacaville, scored a blue ribbon for his wall hanging, titled "Horseshoe Spider," cleverly crafted with a horseshoe and "spider legs."
- Khole Cahoon, 13, of Vacaville tempted the judges' sweet tooth with a chocolate ganache cupcakes, decorated with bees. The prize: a blue ribbon.
- Riley Mark, 13, of Fairfield, created a colorful butterfly drawing, garnering a red ribbon.
And then there were all the bumble bee pillows entered by Solano County 4-H'ers. The colors and creativity came through.
Beekeeper Francis Agbayani, 12, of the Vaca Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville, went one step farther by displaying his 4-H project, "Don't Bee Making Mistakes," a blue-ribbon winner. He touched on:
- Starting with only one hive
- Judging the health of a colony based on "bee traffic"
- Opening the hive too often
- Failing to identify a hive without a queen
- Harvesting honey too early
- Harvesting too much honey
Building superintendent Stephanie Hill of Yuba City and assistant building superintendent Pat Connelly of Vacaville expressed delight at all the talent.
Speaking of insects, if you want to see insect specimens and live insects at the Dixon May Fair, the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis will be staffing a table in the Floriculture Building on Friday, May 11 from 2 to 8 p.m., (entomologist Jeff Smith) and on Saturday, May 12 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Bohart associate Brennen Dyer, undergraduae student). Fairgoers can not only view the insect specimens but handle and photograph the permanent residents of the live "petting zoo," which includes such insects as Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks, but also tarantulas (spiders).
The four-day Dixon May Fair, themed "Home Grown Fun," opened Thursday, May 10 at 4 p.m. and concludes at 10 p.m. on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 13. Also known as the 36th District Agricultural Association Fair, it's located at 655 S. First St.. Hours are from 4 to 10 p.m. on Thursday; noon to 11 p.m. on Friday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, and from noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday.
The fair is the oldest district fair and fairgrounds in California, according to chief administrative officer Patricia Conklin. It is linked closely with the communities of Dixon, Vacaville, Fairfield, Rio Vista, Elmira, Woodland and Davis.
I did not save a spider yesterday.
Did not save one today, either.
Well, if I had seen one....
ESA usually focuses on insects (spiders are not insects) but ESA is all inclusive in this welcoming world of arthropod diversity.
Their online text is worth repeating:
"March 14 is Save A Spider Day in the U.S. and while Charlotte and Peter Parker have been fighting the good fight to redeem the spider's reputation, arachnophobia is still running rampant, especially in the United States. One study conducted during a freshman entomology class at Colorado State University found that "the most commonly mentioned specific factor in spider fear was bites and the perceived danger of spiders with figures indicat[ing] that spider fear levels of college students in Colorado are substantially higher than those reported from European general populations."But are spiders the nightmare they've always been portrayed to be? Do they bite? Do they carry diseases? Are brown recluse spiders everywhere just waiting to strike?
"First of all, a lot of those spider bites you've heard about weren't actually spider bites. A study in the Journal of Medical Entomology has shown that there are several medical conditions that can be commonly misdiagnosed as spider bites including "bacterial, viral, and fungal infections; vasculitis; dermatological conditions; bites and stings from other arthropods; and miscellaneous causes such as allergies or drug reactions, chemical burns, reactions to poisonous plants, or diabetic ulcers." The study also expanded on the idea that Hobo Spiders are disease-transferring which it turns out, they are not. Other common house spiders have also had their name cleared when it comes to spreading MRSA."
The ESA then turned to the brown recluse spiders, pointing out the misidentification and the false information about bites: "Take this study where an infestation of 2,055 brown recluse spiders was collected in a Kansas home that a family had been living in for many years, all without ever receiving a spider bite."
"So that spider in your cupboard?" ESA asks. "Probably not a brown recluse. It's probably not carrying a disease. And it may have just killed a tick for you. So try saving a spider today, it's worth it."
The last time I saw a spider was on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14. It was a jumping spider perched on an almond tree on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis. It had crossed paths with a winter ant (Prenolepis imparis). Neither wanted to be anyone's Valentine. Neither needed saving.
But I distinctly remember the other spiders I have seen and photographed in our pollinator garden. They didn't need saving, either.
Well, perhaps the prey needed saving...but everybody has to eat!
If you're addicted to insects or insect photography, you'll want to see the international award-winning images on the Insect Salon website. Each year the Peoria (Ill.) Camera Club hosts the contest in conjunction with the Entomological Society of America (ESA).
The subjects are primarily insects but can also include spiders and related arthropods, such as barnacles, crabs, lobsters, shrimp, centipedes and millipedes. For your work to be accepted in the Insect Salon showcase, it must score at least 12 points. Those who score 15 are selected medalists.
The ESA, a professional insect-science organization of some 7000 members, showcases these images at its annual conferences. This year's conference, set Nov. 5-8 in Denver, Colo., is appropriately themed "Ignite. Inspire. Innovate."
The winning photographers this year represent 16 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Malayasia, Slovenia, South Africa, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States. Some images are from ESA members, and some are from alumni of the BugShot Macro Photography Workshops.
Malaysia-based photographers anchored the winners' circle:
- The best-of-show medal went to Tommy Teh of Malaysia for "Hunger For Food 3"
- The medal for most unusual: Andrews Ruggen of Argentina for "Convivencia"
- The medal for best storytelling: Alek Low of Malaysia for "Craving For Food"
- The medal for best image from a non-ESA member: Kawawa Wong Yik Siang of Malaysia for "Hungry Jumping Spider"
- The medal for best image from an ESA member: Wei Fu of Ontario, Canada for "Bite Tightly"
- The medal for best image from a Peoria Club Camera member: John Weidman of Peoria, Ill. for "Argiope Securing Grasshopper"
You can view them all by accessing the Insect Salon website and then clicking on the image titles. The site includes the name of the photographer, city/country of residence, and the title of the image.
Due to copyright concerns, I'm not posting the winning images, but posting two of mine that were accepted for the 2017 Insect Salon showcase:
- "Faster than a Speeding Bullet" shows a long-horned bee (Melissodes agilis) in flight, speeding over a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia). This image received one of the 19 honorable mentions. (Image taken with a Nikon D500 camera with a 70-180mm lens. Settings: ISO 2500, f-stop 16, and shutter speed of 1/1000 of a second)
- "Under Attack!" shows a long-horned bee (Melissodes agilis) targeting a Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta), also on Tithonia. (Image taken with a Nikon D500 with a 70-180mm lens. Settings: ISO 2000, f-stop 7, and shutter speed of 1/3200 of a second.)
These might inspire you to enter the 2018 Insect Salon competition.
It's a Macro World out there!
That sign, “I am NOT afraid of spiders,” greeted Louisa Lo, executive administrative assistant for Bruce Hammock, distinguished professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, when she arrived to work a week ago at her office on the "garden level" of Briggs Hall.
Her recently retired colleague and good friend, Shirley Gee, principal investigator, lecturer, mentor and the longtime manager of the Hammock research lab, saw the sign in a local store and purchased it for her.
Halloween is gone, but the sign isn't, and the spiders may not be.
And, yes, despite the sign, she says she's still a “little” afraid of spiders. A touch of arachnophobia.
And why does she not like spiders? “Spiders are creepy!” she said, smiling. “Actually it's not only spiders I don't like, but almost all kind of bugs, especially those with multiple legs! THEY CRAWL ALL OVER THE PLACE! And ironically, I am working in the Entomology Department!”
She works for Bruce Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. Highly recognized by his peers for his research, inventions, teaching and mentoring, Hammock is a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors. which honors academic invention and encourages translations of inventions to benefit society. His many programs keep her busy.
Louisa is known as a treasure in the office--multi-skilled, personable and always helpful. "Louisa never failed to ask if she could help me," Gee recalled. "I'm going to miss her as a colleague, but mostly as a friend!"
Said Hammock: "Louisa brightened the office since the day she arrived. She somehow accomplishes the hard work of keeping the lab running under an appearance of always being ready to help. She makes new people feel welcome and lets alumni know they are missed. She even reminds me what day it is and when it is time to go home."
Lo considers this her dream job. “I love meeting and working with people with different backgrounds!” The Hammock lab draws scientists from all over the world. The 29-member international Hammock lab currently includes 1 undergraduate student, 1 graduate student, 7 postdoctorates, 7 research scientists, 8 visiting scholars and 3 staff. They represent 13 countries, including the United States, Turkey, Germany, China, France, India, Japan, Ukraine, Korea, Hong Kong, Canada, Brazil and Sweden.
Lo, who joined the Hammock lab on Aug. 17, 2011, will soon be moving to Michigan where her husband, Kin Sing Stephen Lee, a postdoc in the Hammock lab, has accepted a junior faculty position in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Michigan State University.
Is Lee afraid of spiders? "He better not be afraid of spiders," she said. "He is the one relocating them for me if any are in our house!"
Lo's last day is Dec. 16 at UC Davis. She already has a position awaiting her. “It will be a very similar position as what I am doing right now except it is in a department setting (Department of Family Medicine at Michigan State University) rather than working for a single unit,” Lo said. “I will be responsible of managing accounts, helping with grant proposals and providing administrative support to the department. “
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Louisa came to the United States in 2002 to attend college. She received a degree in advertising “so my first job was a copywriter in an advertising firm in Hong Kong. Then I moved back to United States when my husband was finishing up grad school.”
Then the couple moved to Davis in 2010. Louisa worked as a warehouse associate and an office manager in a clinic before accepting her current position with the Hammock lab.
She and her husband are enjoying life with their toddler son, Skyler, who is just learning to walk, run and ride a tricycle.
Odds are Skyler won't be wearing a Spiderman outfit any time soon.
We love looking at insect images.
Drum roll...the winning images for the Entomological Society of America's Photo Salon, a global competition, have just been announced. They will be shown at the ESA's meeting, Nov. 15-18 in Minneapolis, Minn. (The ESA theme this year is "Synergy in Science: Partnering for Solutions.")
You can see the list of winners and their images here: http://www.peoriacameraclub.com/Steve/Html/sect_1.htm
You'll see the best of show, a stunning butterfly image taken in Croatia. You'll see pests, prey, and predators. You'll see insects having a "happy meal." You'll see bug porn, or insects love caught in the act of reproducing more of the critters we love to shoot. You'll see insects you've never seen before--and probably will never see again.
They're spectacular. They're awe-inspiring. They're amazing.
As an aside, two of my photos were selected for the Photo Salon: One is of a bee fly that I titled "Pollen Power" and the other of two praying mantids ("Giddy Up").
Next year, you enter! Track that robber fly, follow that moth, and dash after that Blue Dasher. And don't forget the spiders. They're not insects, but arthropod images are also welcome in the Photo Salon competition.
If you want to learn more about macro photography, check out the Bug Shot Macro workshops at http://bugshot.net/. The instructors include noted insect photographers:
We attended the four-day workshop May 7-10, 2015 at Hastings Reserve, a biological field station owned and operated by the University of California, Berkeley. Texas-based Alex Wild and John Abbott and Oregon-based Thomas Shahan served as the instructors and shared their knowledge and research. By the way, Wild received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis and recently moved from Illinois to be the curator of entomology in the College of Natural Sciences, University of Austin. Wild specializes in ants; Abbott, dragonflies; and Shahan, jumping spiders. But they, of course, focus on other arthropods, too.
It was an incredible four days. More will come.
Ready, set, focus! Oh, no, where did that yellow-faced bumble bee go?/span>