Butterfly guru Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, knows where they are. As mentioned in a previous Bug Squad blog, he spotted a cabbage white butterfly, Pieris rapae, on Jan. 16 on the UC Davis campus, just south of the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, located at 254 Old Davis Road.
As you probably know, Professor Shapiro always looks for rapae as part of his scientific research; he sponsors the annual Beer-for-a-Butterfly Contest to determine its first flight of the year. COVID-19 canceled this year's contest.
But did you also know that Shapiro found FOUR other butterfly species on his Jan. 16th rounds in Davis, which included Old Davis Road on the UC Davis campus, and residential Davis?
- Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta, seen in Lot 1 landscaping
- Gulf Fritillary, Agraulis vanillae, spotted in residential Davis, north central
- West Coast Lady, Vanessa annabella, seen on Old Davis Road near the campus hotel.
- Mourning Cloak, Nymphalis antiopa, spotted on Old Davis Road
The links on the species will direct you to his amazing research site, Art's Butterfly World, and the wealth of information.
Our butterfly-spotting record so far: Zero. Zilch. Nada.
But of course, what with the pandemic and all, we haven't been out much. The 100-acre UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden is a good place to stroll, observe and photograph. We remember spotting a Mourning Cloak in the Arboretum's Ruth Risdon Garden on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016 on an identification sign for the silver anniversary butterfly bush, Buddleia “Morning Mist."
It was a good place to warm its wings.
Meanwhile, here are a few images of the butterflies that Shapiro saw on Jan. 16. These images were taken in the two-county area of Yolo and Solano.
Agricultural Extension specialist Ian Grettenberger, coordinator of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's seminars, has lined up the remainder of the seminars, all to be held on Wednesdays at 4:10 p.m. (PST). Here are the speakers and dates. He'll be announcing other information and the Google form links to access the seminars.
Wednesday, Jan. 27
Charissa De Bekker
University of Central Florida, Biology Department
Title: "What Makes a Zombie Ant Tick? Connecting Genomes with Behavioral Phenomes in Ants, Manipulated by a Fungal Parasite."
Host: Ian Grettenberger
Wednesday, Feb. 3
University of Texas, Austin, Department of Integrative Biology
Title: "Plant-Insect Interactions and Ecosystem Services in the Context of Global Change"
Host: Charlie Nicholson, postdoctoral researcher, Neal Williams lab and Elina Lastro Niño lab
Wednesday, Feb. 10
UC Santa Cruz, Environmental Studies Department
Title: Pending (Her research lies at the intersection of agroecology and political ecology of agriculture to understand the socioecological entanglements of food production and biodiversity conservation in Mexico and the United States.)
Host: Marshall McMunn, postdoctoral fellow, Rachel Vannette lab
Wednesday, Feb. 17
Yale University, Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases
Title: Pending (His research focuses on acquiring a better understanding of the relationship between insect disease vectors and their associated micro-organisms.)
Host: Geoff Attardo, assistant professor
Wednesday, Feb. 24
Pennsylvania State University, Department of Entomology
Title: Pending (Her research focuses on mechanisms driving non-consumptive effects of natural enemies on aphid performance and behavior.)
Host: Ian Grettenberger
Wednesday, March 3
University of Nevada, Reno, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Title: Pending (Her research program investigates the fundamental questions related to vector biology and vector-parasite interaction. She is particularly interested in aspects of invertebrate reproductive physiology, nutrient allocation, and vector competence and population genomics.)
Host: Geoff Attardo, assistant professor
Wednesday, March 10
University of New England, School of Environmental and Rural Science
Title: Pending (She studies community ecology in agroecosystems)
Host: Neal Williams, professor
Questions? For questions, contact Grettenberger at email@example.com.
Shapiro spotted a cabbage white butterfly, Pieris rapae, at 1:55 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 16 on the UC Davis campus, just south of the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, located at 254 Old Davis Road.
“At 1:55 p.m., I saw a male rapae flying a linear path along the edge of the waste ground between campus parking lot 1 and the railroad track, heading east,” he wrote in an email. “It stopped to nectar at a large Raphanus (wild radish) plant. That was directly south of the Manetti-Shrem Art Museum. I did not have a net and, there being no contest requiring a voucher, I did not care. It was 72F and clear with a trace of NE wind. I kept going. This is the earliest rapae since i.16.16 (Jan. 16, 2016)."
"Wouldn't it have been nice for the first one to be on the day of Biden's inauguration?" he asked.
Colleague Matthew Forister, the Trevor J. McMinn Research Professor of Biology at the University of Nevada and a former graduate student of Shapiro's, analyzes and graphs the annual data. "The observed day (Jan. 16) is a couple of days earlier than the line would have predicted--in a funny twist of fate, before adding the new data point, the predicted day for this year was inauguration day!" Shapiro launched the contest in 1972 as part of his scientific research to determine the first flight of the Pieris rapae.
The traditional rules: if you collect the first live cabbage white butterfly of the year in the three-county area of Sacramento, Solano and Yolo, and deliver it to 2320 Storer Hall, UC Davis campus, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday (and detail the exact time, date and location of your capture), and it's judged the winner, you win a pitcher of beer or its equivalent. It's all in the name of research.
This year, however, Shapiro canceled the beer-for-a-butterfly contest "because (a) all the bars are closed open-endedly and (b) the level of circulating virus is so high that I am remaining in Davis and restricting myself to walkable sites to visit until it becomes less dangerous."
Since 1972, the first flight has varied from Jan. 1 to Feb. 22, averaging about Jan. 20.
In 2020, Shapiro spotted the first-cabbage-white-of-the-year at 11:16 a.m., Jan. 30 at Putah Creek Nature Park, Winters but didn't claim the prize as he didn't collect it. "It flew back and forth across Putah Creek and then departed the area, flying out of reach above the trees," he noted.
Shapiro, who usually finds the first butterflies, has been defeated only four times, and all by UC Davis graduate students: Jacob Montgomery in 2016; Adam Porter in 1983; and Sherri Graves and Rick VanBuskirk each defeated him in the late 1990s.
The list includes:
- 2019: Jan. 25: Art Shapiro collected the winner near the Suisun Yacht Club, Suisun City, Solano County
- 2018: Jan. 19: Art Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento, Yolo County
- 2017: Jan. 19: Art Shapiro collected the winner on the UC Davis campus
- 2016: Jan. 16: Jacob Montgomery, UC Davis graduate student, collected the winner in west Davis
- 2015: Jan. 26: Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento
- 2014: Jan. 14: Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento
- 2013: Jan. 21: Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento
- 2012: Jan. 8: Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento
- 2011: Jan. 31: Shapiro collected the winner in Suisun, Solano County
- 2010: Jan. 27: Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento
The butterfly inhabits vacant lots, fields and gardens where its host plants, weedy mustards, grow. In its larval stage, it's known as the imported cabbageworm, and is a major pest of cole crops, including cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale.
No doubt Shapiro will also remember Jan. 16 as a "five-in-one-day." He saw five different butterfly species as he walked around the Old Davis Road area and the north central residential area. The four others: Red admiral, Vanessa atalanta; Gulf Fritillary, Agraulis vanillae; West Coast Lady, Vanessa Annabella; and the Mourning Cloak, Nymphalis antiopa.
But thrips do pack a powerful punch.
A major pest of many agricultural crops, including lettuce, they damage plants by (1) sucking their juices and (2) transmitting viruses.
If you've been following the thrips damage in the lettuce production in the Salinas Valley, or want to know more about thrips, the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's virtual seminar on Wednesday, Jan. 20 should interest you.
Research entomologist Daniel Hasegawa of the Crop Improvement and Protection Research Unit, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, will speak on "Landscape and Molecular Approaches for Managing Thrips and Thrips-Transmitted Viruses in the Salinas Valley" at the department's first seminar of the winter quarter.
The hour-long virtual seminar, via Zoom, begins at 4:10 p.m., announced agricultural Extension specialist Ian Grettenberger, seminar coordinator. To access the seminar, fill out this Google form link at https://bit.ly/3oWYjnt. (Contact Grettenberger at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
"In 2019-2020, lettuce production in the Salinas Valley of California was devastated by thrips-transmitted impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV)," Hasegawa says in his abstract. "Due to the inherent challenges in managing thrips using conventional chemical tactics, and no direct means for managing the virus, there is a strong need for new management strategies."
This seminar, he says, will provide an overview of
- The challenges in managing thrips and INSV in lettuce production
- What we've learned about the epidemiology of thrips and INSV, and
- Opportunities to improve cultural practices and develop biotechnology tools, such as RNAi for managing thrips and INSV in the Salinas Valley.
Hasegawa joined the Salinas USDA-ARS team in May 2019 after serving as a postdoctoral research associate (molecular biology) for three years with the USDA-ARS in Charleston, S. C. He specializes in vector entomology, molecular biology and biotechnlogy. "My lab uses a variety of techniques to understand insect vector-virus relationships that impact plant health and agriculture," he says on Linked In. "We use molecular, genetic, and epidemiological concepts to understand drivers of vector-borne transmission of pathogens and utilize genetic technologies (e.g. RNAi and CRISPR), to improve agriculture productivity and sustainability."
Hasegawa received his bachelor of science degree in biochemistry in 2007 from UC Riverside and his doctorate in biology from Clemson University in 2013.
The mission of the Crop Improvement and Protection Research Unit is to improve germplasm of lettuce, spinach and melon, determine basic biology of viral, fungal and bacterial diseases affecting these crops, develop alternatives to methyl bromide as a soil fumigant for control of soilborne pests in strawberry and vegetables, reduce postharvest losses of lettuce, develop scientifically based organic crop production practices, and develop methods for control of weeds. (See more on the Pacific West Area website.)
"More than 90 percent of the lettuce sold in the United States is grown in California, and the majority of production from April through October occurs in the Salinas Valley, while production form November through March occurs in California's Imperial Valley," according to keepcaliforniafarming.org.
The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) says this about thrips: "Thrips, order Thysanoptera, are tiny, slender insects with fringed wings. They feed by puncturing the epidermal (outer) layer of host tissue and sucking out the cell contents, which results in stippling, discolored flecking, or silvering of the leaf surface. Thrips feeding is usually accompanied by black varnishlike flecks of frass (excrement). Pest species are plant feeders that discolor and scar leaf, flower, and fruit surfaces, and distort plant parts or vector plant pathogens. Many species of thrips feed on fungal spores and pollen and are often innocuous. However, pollen feeding on plants such as orchids and African violets can leave unsightly pollen deposits and may reduce flower longevity. Certain thrips are beneficial predators that feed on other insects and mites."
"Thrips can readily move long distances floating with the wind or transported on infested plants, and exotic species are periodically introduced," UC IPM notes./span>
When the UC Davis emeritus professor of entomology, a global authority on bumble bees, died June 7, 2019 at age 85, scientists found a way to memorialize him and what he loved.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology--where Thorp spend much of his time identifying bees, helping scientists, and encouraging guests at open houses to learn about the wonderful world of bees--decided to memorialize him with an annual Robbin Thorp Memorial First-Bumble-Bee-of-the-Year Contest. The first person to photograph a bumble bee in 2021 in the two-county area of Yolo and Solano would win.
And it is only fitting that Charlie Casey Nicholson, who studied bees with Thorp, won. He photographed a black-tailed bumble bee, Bombus melanopygus, in a manzanita patch at 3:10 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 14 in the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden to claim the honor. The site is near Old Davis Road.
Due to inclement weather, bumble bees are not easy to find this time of year. Neither are they easy to photograph.
In fact, Nicholson noted this was his seventh observation field trip to look for the first bumble bee of the year. He had searched six previous times (three 10-minute observations on the manzanita on each of two other days, Jan. 6 and 7).
As the winner, Nicholson will receive a special Bohart bumble bee coffee cup and a face mask, said contest coordinator Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and a UC Davis professor of entomology.
"It is truly an honor to win the contest," said Nicholson. "I was a student of Robbin's during the 17th annual Bee Course in Portal, Ariz. I will never forget him wielding his canopy net."
"The first night (8/17/2015) he gave the opening seminar--a whirlwind tour of what makes a bee. It was so exciting to be at this research station surrounded by people whose names you've read all the time.”
“Robbin helped me learn to pay close attention to the arolia of Anthidiini. As we moved into identifying bees, Robbin was a great teacher as we worked through the dichotomous keys in The Bee Genera of North and Central America: Hymenoptera Apoidea. He always had some morphological signpost that wouldn't give away the 'answer' but would certainly guide you in the right direction."
Charlie holds a bachelor of arts degree in biology (evolution, ecology and behavior), 2010, cum laude, from Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York. He received his doctorate in natural resources in 2018 from the University of Vermont, where he was a Gund Institute for Environment graduate fellow. In his dissertation, he examined how landscape and farm management affect the multiple benefits provided by wild bees.
Nicholson joined UC Davis as a postdoctoral scholar in the spring of 2019, and receives funding support from the USDA Invasive Species and Pollinator Health Unit. He recently co-authored a paper, “Natural Hazard Threats to Pollinators and Pollination,” published in the journal Global Change Biology, that analyzed 117 published research papers on natural hazards that threaten pollinators and pollination.
His other interests include multiple dimensions of biodiversity, conservation planning, agricultural management, ecosystem services, and community and landscape ecology.
Thorp, a member of the UC Davis entomology faculty for 30 years, from 1964-1994, died June 7, 2019 at his Davis home at age 85. A tireless advocate of pollinator species protection and conservation, Thorp was 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.
He achieved emeritus status in 1994 but continued to engage in research, teaching and public service until a few weeks before his death. In 2014, he co-authored two books Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide (Princeton University, 2014) and California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists (Heyday, 2014).
Every summer from 2002 to 2018, Thorp volunteered his time and expertise to be one of the instructors in The Bee Course. In a 2013 interview with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, Thorp said he loved teaching at The Bee Course and praised the co-instructors and students. "Ron McGinley who got his undergraduate degree at UC Davis does most of the initial student contact and scheduling for the course. Steve Buchmann, who got his PhD at UC Davis in 1978, is one of the instructors. There are usually about eight instructors and 22 participants for the course. Most of the time is spent in the lab identifying bees to genus. At least three days are spent in the field so students can see various bees doing their thing, collect them and bring them back to the lab to identify them. It is a great experience for students to interact with instructors and especially with their peers from around the world. Instructors all donate their time to teach in the course, but benefit from the chance to get together with colleagues and a new cohort of interesting students each year. Every class is different (that is, it takes on its own personality) and each student brings something new and different to the mix."
Robbin Thorp would have been proud of what happened on Thursday, Jan. 14.