- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
DAVIS--They're the national champs!
The UC Davis Linnaean Games Team, comprised of four graduate students in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, won the National Linnaean Games Championship at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Entomological Association of America (ESA), held recently in Minneapolis. See YouTube video at https://youtu.be/_hA05K0NET4.
They did so by correctly answering such questions as:
“What is the smallest insect that is not a parasite or parasitoid?”
“Nicrophorus americanus is listed under what legislative act?” and
“What are the three primary conditions that define eusociality?”
The UC Davis team defeated powerhouse University of Florida 130 to 70 to win its first-ever national championship in the 32-year history of the ESA's Linnaean Team Games.
The Davis team is comprised of captain Ralph Washington Jr., and members Brendon Boudinot, Jessica Gillung and Ziad Khouri, and is advised by faculty members Larry Godfrey, Extension entomologist, and Elina Niño, Extension apiculturist.
The Linnaean Games is a college-bowl type competition in which teams answer questions about insects and entomologists. The teams hold practice sessions throughout the year.
The UC Davis Linnaean Games Team earlier won the regional competition hosted by the Pacific Branch of ESA. They defeated Washington State University in the finals. Both teams competed at the nationals.
Washington is studying for his doctorate with major professors Steve Nadler and Brian Johnson, who respectively specialize in systematics and evolutionary biology of nematodes and the evolution, behavior, genetics, and health of honeybees; Boudinot with major professor Phil Ward, systematics and evolutionary biology of ants; and Jessica Gillung and Ziad Khouri with major professor Lynn Kimsey, who specializes in the biology and evolution of insects. Kimsey directs the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
“They played well and obviously studied hard,” said Gamesmaster Deane Jorgenson, who chaired the event and asked the questions. She is a research scientist at Syngenta, Burnsville, Minn.
Toss-Up Question: What is the smallest insect that is not a parasite or parasitoid?
Answer: Beetles in the family Ptiliidae.
Bonus Question:Some species of mosquitoes lay eggs that can undergo diapause or aestivation. Give at least three cues that trigger the aquatic eggs to hatch.
Answer: Temperature, immersion in water, concentration of ions or dissolved solutes.
Toss-Up Question: Chikungunya is an emerging vector-borne disease in the Americas. Chikungunya is derived from the African Language Makonde. What means Chikungunya in Makonde?
Answer: Bending up.
Toss-Up Question: A Gilson's gland can be found in what insect order?
Toss-Up Question: Certain Chrysomelid larvae carry their feces as a defensive shield. To what subfamily do these beetles belong?
Bonus Question: The first lepidopteran sex pheromone identified was bombykol. What was the first dipteran sex pheromone identified? Give the trade or chemical name.
Answer: Muscalure, Z-9-Tricosene. It is also one of the chemicals released by bees during the waggle dance.
Toss-Up Question: What famous recessive gene was the first sex-linked mutation demonstrated in Drosophila by T.H. Morgan?
Bonus Question: Cecidomyiidae are known as the gall flies. What is unique about the species Mayetiola destructor, and what is its common name?
Answer: Mayetiola destructor is the Hessian Fly, a tremendous pest of wheat. It does not form galls.
Toss-Up Question: Nicrophorus americanus is listed under what legislative act?
Answer: The Endangered Species Act
Toss-Up Question: In what insect order would you find hemelytra?
Answer: The order Hemiptera.
Toss-Up Question: The subimago stage is characteristic of what insect order?
Answer: The order Ephemeroptera
Bonus Question: A 2006 Science article by Glenner et al. on the origin of insects summarized evidence that Hexapods are nothing more than land-dwelling crustaceans, which is to say that the former group Crustacea is paraphyletic with respect to the Hexapoda. What hierarchical name has been used to refer to this clade?
Toss-Up Question: What are the three primary conditions that define eusociality?
Answer: Cooperative brood care, overlapping generations, and reproductive division of labor
A total of 10 teams competed in the 2015 Linnaean Games:
- Eastern Branch: Virginia Tech University and University of Maryland
- North Central Branch: Michigan State University and Purdue University
- Pacific Branch: UC Davis and Washington State University
- Southeastern Branch: University of Georgia and University of Florida
- Southwestern Branch: Oklahoma State University and Texas A&M
A YouTube video of the championship game will be posted soon. Last year North Carolina State University defeated the University of Florida to win the finals. The 2014 championship game is online at