It would never happen in real life.
A quail and a praying mantis together?
Except when one is a decorative metal sculpture.
A mantis, a carnivore, is known to eat hummingbirds (in addition to its regular diet of bees and butterflies, et al). And a quail, an omnivore, eats both plants and insects.
"Arthropods (e.g., insects and spiders) are a vital food source for quail in summer and fall, according to Texas A&M's Natural Resources Institute. "They serve as a 'meal ready to eat' (MRE), as they are a crucial source of energy, protein and water for laying hens and growing chicks in particular."
In the real world, a praying mantis and a quail are not a twosome.
In art world, yes. This praying mantis climbed to the top of a decorative garden sculpture, looked around, groomed herself, and jumped on another decorative garden sculpture.
If you look closely at one of the images below, though, it appears that the quail and the mantis are one.
Is Franklin's bumble bee extinct or is it just elusive?
Annual search parties conducted since 2006 have failed to locate the species.
Now scientists may learn its status via DNA "fingerprints."
A recent article in the National Geographic indicated: "For the past several years, the wildlife service (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and the U.S. Geological Survey have been developing a DNA fingerprint for Franklin's bumblebee. Once it's complete, scientists will be able to test flower samples for the bee's genetic material—they wouldn't need to see the bee to determine it's still alive and has recently visited a particular area."
Fascinating news, and news that the late Robbin Thorp (1933-2019), distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis and a global expert on bumble bees, would have treasured.
Franklin's bumble bee, Bombus franklini, inhabits--or did--a 13,300-square-mile area confined to five counties--Siskiyou and Trinity counties in California; and Jackson, Douglas and Josephine counties in Oregon. It's now on the list of federally endangered species, and Thorp (partnering with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation), helped put it there.
Thorp, a member of the UC Davis entomology faculty for 30 years (1964-1994) and co-author of the landmark Bumble Bees of North America: an Identification Guide, closely monitored the population for more than two decades. His surveys clearly showed the declining population. His sightings decreased from 94 in 1998 to 20 in 1999 to 9 in 2000 to one in 2001. Sightings increased slightly to 20 in 2002, but dropped to three in 2003. He saw none in 2004 and 2005; one in 2006; and none since.
We chronicled his many trips to the five-county area to search for the elusive bumble bee, and his never-fading optimism.
Thorp's determined hunt resulted in the CNN publication of "The Old Man and the Bee," a spin-off of Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea."
We remember his excitement every time folks telephoned or messaged him that "I think I found it!" (Here's what it looks like.)
"Don't give me a heart attack," he'd reply.
Named in 1921 for Henry J. Franklin (who monographed the bumble bees of North and South America in 1912-13), Franklin's bumble bee frequented California poppies, lupines, vetch, wild roses, blackberries, clover, sweet peas, horsemint and mountain penny royal during its flight season, from mid-May through September. The bumble bee "collects pollen, primarily from lupines and poppies, and gathers nectar mainly from mints," Thorp told us.
Fast forward to today. Is the species extinct, as many scientists think?
"Even after 15 years, it's not unrealistic to think Franklin's bumblebee will be found," Matt Kelly wrote in National Geographic. "There are notable examples of researchers rediscovering bees and other insects after they've been presumed to be extinct: The blue calamintha bee was found after nine years without a sighting in Florida; Fender's blue butterfly was found after 52 years in Oregon; and Wallace's giant bee, the world's largest, was rediscovered after 122 years in Indonesia. Of the more than 350 species rediscovered since 1889, the average time between the last sighting and rediscovery is 61 years, a 2011 study found."
The DNA fingerprints may reveal what Thorp has always thought: "It's out there somewhere."
What's a honey bee to do when one of her favorite flowers, cape mallow (Anisodontea sp. "Strybing Beauty") is not open for bees-ness.
Well, leave it to the bee to find a way.
We recently witnessed a honey bee encountering a yet-to-open flower in the early morning. No entry! No way? And right at the beginning of National Honey Month, too. (USDA's National Honey Board founded the event in 1989 to celebrate the beekeeping industry and honey.)
As for Anisodontea, it's a perennial shrub that likes full sun.
It likes bees that pollinate it, too. It just closes at night and reopens in the morning.
Interested in keeping bees or knowing more about bees? The California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP) lists a number of bee classes on its website. The program, launched and directed by Cooperative Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, educates and trains bee ambassadors. You can become a Master Beekeeper and "communicate the importance of honey bees and other pollinators" within your community and serve as mentor for other beekeepers. Master Beekeepers are the "informational conduit between the beekeeping communities throughout the state and the UC Cooperative Extension staff," according to Niño and program manager Wendy Mather on their website. (Email email@example.com for more information.)
Currently available are three online courses or webinars:
- Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, 9 a.m. to noon, South Coast Research and Extension Center, Irvine
- Event details
- Register here: https://registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/730
- Saturday, Oct 9, 2021, 10 a.m. to noon
- Event details
- Register here: https://registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/739
- Saturday, Oct 16, 2021, 9 a.m. to noon, South Coast Research and Extension Center, Irvine
- Event details
- Register here: https://registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/733
Unlike flowers that close, the California Master Beekeeping Program does not, despite the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to grip us. CAMBP has just found another way--online.
Yes? No? Maybe?
The items include…drum roll…chocolate-covered cicadas.
Chocolate, did someone say chocolate? Ooh, chocolate! Let me at ‘em!
During a break, Bohart scientists recently sampled/snacked on the delicacy.
- Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and distinguished professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- Brennen Dyer, UC Davis graduate in entomology and Bohart Museum lab assistant
- Iris Bright, Bohart associate, future professor and a researcher in the nearby lab of Jason Bond, the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- Maxwell Arnold, 4th year UC Davis undergraduate in entomology and a member of the forensic lab of Robert Kimsey, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- Amberly Hackmann, 3rd year UC Davis undergraduate in entomology and a student lab assistant at the Bohart Museum
How did you like the chocolate-covered cicada treats?
Kimsey: "Not much."
Dyer: "They're an interesting snack, for sure. But I'm not a big fan of them, honestly."
Bright: "I like them, maybe not my go-to chocolate treat, but not bad!"
Arnold: "I've eaten worse things. "
Hackmann: "It was a fun and tasty chocolate!"
What did they taste like? Description?
Kimsey: "Tasted like chocolate-covered paper." (The jars had previously been opened)
Dyer: "I mostly tasted the chocolate and flavorings since cicadas have quite hollow bodies, but I would say they have a light nutty flavor. Much more pleasant than crickets, which have a strange aftertaste in my experience."
Bright: "The spices in the chocolate were really nice and then the cicada itself just added a fun crunch but not much flavor, similar to a malt ball!"
Arnold: "Tasted like stale chocolate, the cicada only contributed by getting stuck in my teeth."
Hackmann: (Tasted) "Like chocolate with crunchy, flavorless fibers."
Would you eat them again?
Dyer: "I wouldn't eat them again, to be honest. I believe the wings were still attached, which don't have a nice texture. I'd be happy to try cicadas again but in another form. Perhaps a savory meal instead, like stir fry or fried rice."
Bright: "Definitely! That was actually my third one!"
Arnold: "If they were fresher, why not?"
Hackmann: "Yes, it's a good snack for when I didn't bring enough food to work. "
Have you eaten (or enjoyed) other insects?
Kimsey: "Mealworms are good, crickets not so much."
Dyer: "I've tried a few different insect foods, including gummy worms (the real deal), various mealworm snacks, chapul bars (cricket flour-based energy bars), and flavored crickets. I haven't had the chance to try full-on prepared meals that incorporate insects, though."
Bright: "I've eaten crickets, mealworms, and termites that tasted like cilantro (in Belize)! I've also accidentally eaten a Hemiptera that was hiding on a blackberry, which was not so pleasant."
Arnold: "I enjoy mealworms with butter and salt (tastes just like popcorn)"
Hackmann: "Yes, I've eaten mealworms, ants, and crickets as well."
Opinions differed at the Bohart tasting, but patrons at a chocolate shop in Bethesda, Md., loved them during the Brood X Periodical Circada explosion.
A Reuters news story related that chocolate-covered cicadas were literally flying off the shelves last June at a chocolate shop in Bethesda, Md. Owner Sarah Dwyer of Chouquette Chocolates pointed out a 10-day backlog of orders.
She froze, boiled, cleaned, crisped (in air fryer) and then fried them. She sprinkled some with cinnamon and others with Old Bay Spice, and then dipped them in chocolate.
“I did go to pastry school in Paris to learn my dipping technique," Dwyer told Reuters. "I'm pretty sure no one thought I would be using it on cicadas."
Bohart Open House on Entomophagy in 2019
The Bohart Museum, currently closed to the public due to COVID-19 pandemic precautions, hosted an open house in September of 2019 to give the public a taste of entomophagy. The theme: "Gobble, Gobble, Munch, Munch, Crunch: Entomophagy." Visitors ate crickets, earthworms and mealworms and received a button proclaiming "I Ate a Bug at the Bohart."
A display, titled "Bug Buffet," drew widespread interest: "Have you ever eaten ant pancakes or scorpion scaloppini? Well, eating bugs (entomophagy) is a lot more common than you might think. All round the world, people eat delicious and nutritious insect delicacies."
The dishes mentioned on the display:
- Locust Biscuits, featuring the brown locust, Locustana pardalina
- Mexican Caviar, starring the giant water bug, Abedus herberti
- Termite a la Carte, featuring termites, order Isoptera
- Maguey Worm Tacos, with Maguey worms, family Megathymidae
- Raw Cossid Moths, starring the larvae of the cossid moth, Xyleutes leucomochia
- Fried Pupae, presenting the pupae of the silkworm moth, Bombix mori
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It is home to the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. It also maintains a live "petting zoo," comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas; a year-around gift shop (now online), stocked with T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
More information on the Bohart Museum is available on the website at http://bohart.ucdavis.edu./span>
You've probably read the children's book, "Where's Waldo?"
Waldo wanders around the world, gets lost in the crowd or scenery, and it's your job to find him. Where'd he go?
If you have a praying mantis in your yard, you probably play "Where's Waldo?" a lot.
In our yard, it's "Walda." She's a gravid (pregnant) praying mantis and she never stays in one spot for long.
Camouflaged in the bushes, motionless, and deep in "prayer," she's a lost cause.
And then you see where she is. The Stagmomantis limbata. The bushes stir, and the next thing you know, she's gripping a bee in her spiked forelegs.
Right there. Right there.