The Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis, is sponsoring its annual "Parasitoid Palooza" open house on Saturday, Oct. 19 from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.
"An insect parasitoid is a species whose immatures live off of an insect host, often eating it from the inside out," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator of the Bohart Museum. "It is part of their life cycle and the host generally dies."
The event, free and family friendly, will include a display by senior museum scientist Steve Heydon, who studies Pteromalids, or jewel wasps, a group of tiny parasitoids. He will be available for questions about his research or parasitoids.
There are some 3,450 described species of Pteromalids, found throughout the world and in virtually all habitats. Many are important as biological control agents.
Also planned at the open house:
- A family craft activity, to be announced
- Sampling of Chirp Chips, from the Bohart Museum's recent entomophagy open house
- Display of orange and black Harlequin beetles (just in time for Halloween) from the Ian Grettenberger lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- Display of cucumber beetles, which can be a pest on squashes, cucumbers and other members of the cucurbits family
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It is also the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity.
Special attractions include a “live” petting zoo, featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, praying mantids and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold some of the insects and photograph them. The museum's gift shop, open year around, includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
The Bohart Museum holds special open houses throughout the academic year. Its regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
More information on the Bohart Museum is available by contacting (530) 752-0493 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or Tabatha Yang at email@example.com.
It's a party.
It's a pollinator party.
It's the Bay Area Bee Fair in Berkeley.
And it's the place to be on Sunday, Oct. 13 at the Berkeley Flea Market, located at Ashby BART.
The second annual event, free and family friendly, is set from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will feature a presentation on "How to Save the Bees" by UC Berkeley professor Gordon Frankie; educational and entertainment opportunities, kids' art activities, pollinator-themed art, and plant, book and bee condo sales, as well as honey and bee products, according to organizers Jackie Dragon and Mary Lynn Morales, who describe themselves as "Bee Fair dreamers."
The Bay Area Bee Fair is a time to "celebrate, educate and motivate the community about bees and other pollinators," they said. "Their health is vital to our health."
- 10 a.m.: Opening and welcome
- 11 a.m.: "How to Make a Pollinator-Friendly Garden Presentation" by Andrea Hurd, of Mariposa Gardening
- Noon: "How to Save the Bees" by bee scientist Gordon Frankie, UC Berkeley professor and co-author of California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists.
- 2:30 p.m.: Giant Puppets Pollinator Parade
- 3 p.m.: Closing
For more information, access:
The late Robbin Thorp, the renowned UC Davis distinguished emeritus professor of entomology and global bee authority who will be memorialized at a celebration of life on Friday, Oct. 11 at 6 p.m. in the Putah Creek Lodge, UC Davis, began his career studying honey bees.
Professor Thorp, who served as a member of the UC Davis entomology faculty for 30 years, from 1964-1994, continued to engage in research, teaching and public service until a few weeks before his death on June 7. In his retirement, he co-authored two books, both in 2014: Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide and California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists.
Thorp was a tireless advocate of pollinator species protection and conservation and known for his expertise, dedication and passion in protecting native pollinators, especially bumble bees, and for his teaching, research and public service. He was an authority on pollination ecology, ecology and systematics of honey bees, bumble bees, vernal pool bees, conservation of bees, native bees and crop pollination, and bees of urban gardens and agricultural landscapes.
The distinguished emeritus professor was also an authority on honey bees.
Said Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist emeritus: "We should not forget that Robbin originally was hired to work on honey bees, and he did. His greatest area of expertise was the use of honey bees in almond pollination. Robbin determined that until the colonies reached the population size of six frames of bees, they did not have enough spare bees to serve as foragers (pollinate almonds) since they were all needed to keep the brood warm."
"He also noted that the amount of pollen collected by the bees in a colony was pretty much in direct proportion to colony size, peaking at between 10 and 12 frames of bees," Mussen said. "It was obvious to Robbin that the bees still visited almond blossoms for nectar, days after there was no pollen left in the flowers and the stigmata were no longer young enough to be pollinated. Other studies determined which blossoms along the branches were pollinated earlier and later during the season. All of those studies were very well designed and the results contributed significantly to our recommendations to growers and beekeepers for obtaining maximum benefit from the bees."
“Robbin's scientific achievements during his retirement rival the typical career productivity of many other academic scientists,” said Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “His contributions in support of understanding bee biodiversity and systematics are a true scientific legacy.” (See more about Robbin Thorp)
Robbin Thorp was a treasure, a gem in the entomological world of bees and beyond./span>
It's a strikingly beautiful insect.
But in its larval stage, the alfalfa butterfly, Colias eurytheme--also known as the orange sulphur butterfly--is a pest.
If you grow alfalfa, you're not a fan of this butterfly, and rightfully so.
"Alfalfa caterpillars can consume entire leaves," according to the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) website. "The larger larvae are most destructive."
The butterfly lays its eggs "on the new growth of alfalfa that is less than 6 inches tall," UC IPM says. "Eggs hatch into green caterpillars in 3 to 7 days. Full-grown caterpillars are about 1.5 inches long and are distinguished from other caterpillars on alfalfa by their velvety green bodies with white lines along their sides."
"Caterpillar populations usually result from a flight of butterflies into the field when the alfalfa is less than 6 inches tall. Extremely large numbers of adults migrating between fields are often present from June to September in the Central Valley and from May to October in the southern desert."
We've been seeing lots of alfalfa butterflies sipping nectar on our African blue basil (Ocimum kilimandscharicum × basilicum 'Dark Opal').
Sometimes they don't notice you and you can edge toward them, camera in hand.
Sometimes they don't even notice that a honey bee is shadowing them. Honey bees are also quite fond of African blue basil.
Butterfly meet bee. Bee meet butterfly.
In the insect photography world, that's called a "two-fer"--a bonus of two insects in one photo.
Or more specifically, think "sculpture in front of the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis."
The Bohart Museum, which owns one of the world's largest tardigrade collections, plans to install a tardigrade sculpture to grace its entrance, says director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis.
The Bohart Museum Society has set up a GoFundMe account: see https://www.gofundme.com/f/waterbear-sculpture.
"The reason for this is that we have one of the world's largest tardigrade collections, which was compiled by (senior museum scientist) Steve Heydon's predecessor, Bob Schuster," Kimsey explained. "This collection is the result of years of collecting, mounting, imaging, and identifying by former collection manager Bob Schuster and emeritus professor Al Grigarick and their collaborators."
The Bohart collection includes some 25,000 slide-mounted specimens. Kimsey and collaborator Carl Johannsen work on a National Science Foundation grant to database and conserve the collection.
Kimsey says this about tardigrades:
- They belong to their own phyllum, the Tardigrada (meaning "slow steppers"), and to date there are some 1,500 described species throughout the world."
- They belong to one most peculiar and indestructible groups of animals known. Microscopic and nearly indestructible, they can survive being heated to 304 degrees Fahrenheit or being chilled for days at -328 F. And, even if they're frozen for 30 years, they can still reproduce." See video on EurekAlert.
- Tardigrades can survive high pressures of more than 1,200 atmospheres found in the bottom of the abyss. They can tolerate 1,000 times more ionizing radiation than other animals.
- In research published in 2016, geneticist Takekazu Kunieda and his colleagues from the University of Tokyo found that the water bear expresses a tardigrade-specific protein that binds itself to DNA. This acts like a "shield against x-ray radiation, preventing the DNA from snapping apart," according to an article published in Gizmodo.
- German zoologist Johann August Ephraim Goeze (1731-1793) first described the critters in 1773, referring to them as "kleiner Wasserbär," or "little water bears."
- They're easiest to find on lichens and mosses but they can also be found on beaches, in the subtidal zone, freshwater sediments, soil, hot springs and even on barnacles. They've been found high in the Himalayas to down in the deep sea. They've even been found in the interior of Antarctica.
- They mostly feed on plants or bacteria but some are predators on smaller tardigrades. They use the stylets in their tubular mouth (snout) to pierce individual plant or bacterial ells or small invertebrates.
- The stubby water bear sports a barrel-shaped body and eight pudgy legs. The adults usually range from 0.3 to 0.5 mm in length.
- They are really popular with kids in part because of their representation in the movies Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp, Star Trek and Family Guy.
Kimsey has been in touch with sculptor Solomon Bassoff (Faducciart) in Roseville. "He did the caterpillar in the Davis Central Park."
The donations are coming in.
- Alumnus and donor Stephen Clement commented: "I donated because of the mentoring I received from Al Grigarick (major professor for Ph.D) and from Bob Schuster for his taxonomic help (M.S. degree), 1970-1976."
- Donor Pablo Bleyer declared: "Tardigrades were some of my childhood friends."
- Donor Bob Goldstein: "Davis seems like a great place for a tardigrade sculpture! I'm inspired by the tardigradologists and nematologists I've admired there. A eutardigrade seems like it'd be less prone to causing injuries, but I can support a heterotardigrade :)"
"Tardigrades are awesome," Kimsey said, marveling that "They can dry out completely and then become immortal. In fact, SpaceIL may have left thousands of dried tardigrades on the moon when it crashed earlier this year."
Meanwhile, stuffed toy water bears, the scientific version of a teddy bear, are quite popular in the Bohart Museum's gift shop, which also includes insect-themed books, posters, t-shirts, jewelry, candy, and insect collecting equipment.
The museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, houses nearly 8 million insect specimens, collected globally. It also maintains a live "petting zoo" featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas.
And on the horizon: a one-of-a-kind, talk-of-the-campus tardigrade sculpture.