- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Another book, pending publication in December, also will contain their work: the second edition of Pheromones and Animal Behaviour (Cambridge University) by Tristram Wyatt.
Saul-Gershenz, a PhD candidate in the Neal Williams lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and UC Riverside professor Jocelyn Millar and staff research associate Steven McElfresh study a group of solitary ground-nesting bees, in the genus Habropoda and its nest parasite, a blister beetle, Meloe franciscanus.
They are examining the host range of Meloe blister beetles and how these nest parasites cooperate to mimic the sex pheromone bees. The larvae of the parasitic blister beetle produce a chemical signal or a pheromone similar to that of the female solitary bee to lure males to the larval aggregation, said Saul-Gershenz. The larvae attach to the male bee and then transfer to the female during mating. The end result: the larvae wind up in the nest of a female bee, where they eat the nest provisions and likely the host egg.
- Keeping the Bees: Why All Bees Are at Risk and What We Can Do to Save Them by Laurence Packer and published in 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers, Ltd.
- Cuticular Hydrocarbons: Biology, Biochemistry and Chemical Ecology by editors A. Bagnères-Urbany and G. Bloomquist and published in 2010 by Cambridge University Press.
- The Other Insect Societies by James T. Costa, and published in 2006 by the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Saul-Gershenz is the lead author of “Blister Beetle Nest Parasites Cooperate to Mimic the Sex Pheromone of the Solitary Bee Habropoda pallida (Hymenoptera: Apidae)," peer-reviewed research co-authored by Millar and McElfresh and published in the April 2012 edition of the Mojave National Preserve Science News.
The solitary bee is the first native bee to emerge in the spring on the Kelso Dunes in the Mojave National Preserve, she said. The adult beetles emerge on the dunes in the winter months at Kelso Dunes and feed exclusively on the leaves of Astragalus lentiginosus, which leafs out in January.
The bee's emergence is synchronized with the onset of blooms of the Borrego milkvetch, which is the sole host plant of adults of the blister beetle at Kelso Dunes.
“The Mojave Desert ecosystem supports 689 species of bees, which is the highest bee diversity in North America,” the UC Davis scientist said. The wide variety of insects endemic, or known only to that area, include a fly, scarabs, crickets, weevils, a bee, aphid wasp and scores yet to be described.
Saul-Gershenz, Williams and Millar received several grants including one from the Desert Legacy Fund, California Desert Research Program at The Community Foundation to study digger bee ecology and conservation. They're working with SaveNature.Org, which Saul-Gershenz co-founded. The relationship between the bee and the blister beetle is part of the research.