Back in 2010, two innovators with the UC Davis Department of Entomology (now the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology) decided that "The 12 Days of Christmas" ought to be replaced with insects.
Remember that iconic song, "The 12 Days of Christmas?" Published in 1780, it begins with "On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree?" Eleven more gifts follow: "2 turtle doves, 3 French hens, 4 calling birds, 5 gold rings, 6 geese-a-laying, 7 swans-a-swimming, 8 maids a'milking, 9 ladies dancing, 10 lords-a-leaping, and 11 pipers piping."
The two innovators--Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen (with the department from 1976-2014 and now emeritus) and yours truly (with the department since 2005)--decided that "5 gold rings" ought to be "five golden bees." The duo also figured that varroa mites, and other pests of California agriculture, should be spotlighted. Don't know what happened to the varroa mites! Hey, Eric, where did you put the varroa mites?
They penned the lyrics for the department's holiday gathering. Then Mussen, who sings with a Davis-based doo wopp group, led the department in song.
That was supposed to be the end of it. Not so. It went viral when U.S. News picked it up.
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a psyllid in a pear tree.
On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, 2 tortoises beetles and a psyllid in a pear tree
On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, 3 French flies, 2 tortoise beetles and a psyllid in a pear tree
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, 4 calling cicadas, 3 French flies, 2 tortoise beetles and a psyllid in a pear tree
On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 5 golden bees, 4 calling cicadas, 3 French flies, 2 tortoise beetles and a psyllid in a pear tree
On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 6 lice a'laying, 5 golden bees, 4 calling cicadas, 3 French flies, 2 tortoise beetles and a psyllid in a pear tree
On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 7 boatmen swimming, 6 lice a'laying, 5 golden bees, 4 calling cicadas, 3 French flies, 2 tortoise beetles and a psyllid in a pear tree
On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 8 ants a'milking aphids, 7 boatmen swimming, 6 lice a'laying, 5 golden bees, 4 calling cicadas, 3 French flies, 2 tortoise beetles and a psyllid in a pear tree
On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 9 mayflies dancing, 8 ants a'milking aphids, 7 boatmen swimming, 6 lice a'laying, 5 golden bees, 4 calling cicadas, 3 French flies, 2 tortoise beetles and a psyllid in a pear tree
On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 10 locusts leaping, 9 mayflies dancing, 8 ants a'milking aphids, 7 boatmen swimming, 6 lice a'laying, 5 golden bees, 4 calling cicadas, 3 French flies, 2 tortoise beetles and a psyllid in a pear tree
On the 11th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 11 queen bees piping, 10 locusts leaping, 9 mayflies dancing, 8 ants a'milking aphids, 7 boatmen swimming, 6 lice a'laying, 5 golden bees, 4 calling cicadas, 3 French flies, 2 tortoise beetles and a psyllid in a pear tree
On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 12 deathwatch beetles drumming, 11 queen bees piping, 10 locusts leaping, 9 mayflies dancing, 8 ants a'milking aphids, 7 boatmen swimming, 6 lice a'laying, 5 golden bees, 4 calling cicadas, 3 French flies, 2 tortoise beetles and a psyllid in a pear tree
"On the 13th day of Christmas, Californians woke to see: 13 Kaphra beetles, 12 Diaprepes weevils, 11 citrus psyllids,
10 Tropilaelaps clareae, 9 melon fruit flies, 8 Aedes aegypti, 7 ash tree borers, 6 six spotted-wing Drosophila, 5 five gypsy moths, 4 Japanese beetles, 3 imported fire ants, 2 brown apple moths, and a medfly in a pear tree."
Mussen, although retired in 2014, keeps bee-sy. A co-founder of Western Apicultural Society (WAS), he completed his sixth term as president in 2017. WAS, which serves the educational needs of beekeepers from 13 states, plus parts of Canada, was founded in 1977-78 for “the benefit and enjoyment of all beekeepers in western North America."
Mussen also continues to answer bee questions from his office in Briggs Hall and recently updated the "13 Bugs of Christmas" lyrics with some more agricultural pests:
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a psyllid in a pear tree.
One the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, two peach fruit flies
On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, three false codling moths
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, four peach fruit flies
On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, five gypsy moths
On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, six white striped fruit flies
On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, seven imported fire ants
On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, eight longhorn beetles
On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, nine melon fruit flies
On the 10th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, ten brown apple moths
On the 11th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, eleven citrus psyllids
On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, twelve guava fruit flies.
On the 13th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, thirteen Japanese beetles
Yesterday on Bug Squad we featured holiday gifts available at the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis--from calendars, t-shirts and sweatshirts to books, jewelry, posters, and insect-collecting equipment. Monarchs, honey bees, lady beetles, dragonflies--and more--grace the shirts. (Note: the museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, is closed to the public Dec. 21-Jan. 6.)
Ready for Part II of entomological gift-giving craze?
The UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA) offers a variety of innovative and creative t-shirts, all designed by graduate students.
The EGSA, comprised of UC Davis graduate students who study insect systems, is an organization that "works to connect students from across disciplines, inform students of and provide opportunities for academic success, and to serve as a bridge between the students and administration," according to EGSA president Brendon Boudinot, an ant specialist/doctoral candidate in the Phil Ward lab.
As a year-around fundraising project, they sell t-shirts, which can be viewed and ordered online at https://mkt.com/UCDavisEntGrad/. They're especially popular during the holidays.
One of the favorite bee t-shirts depicts a honey bee emerging from its iconic hexagonal cells. It's the 2014 winner by then doctoral student Danny Klittich, now a California central coast agronomist.
Jill Oberski, a graduate student in the Phil Ward lab, designed an award-winning onesie, “My Sister Loves Me." It's an adult ant, “loosely based on Ochetellus, a mostly-Australian genus,” she says. Oberski serves as the t-shirt sales coordinator. She can be reached at email@example.com for more information on the t-shirts. (For holiday gifting, they should be ordered now--or at least by Dec. 20)
Over at the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, directed by Amina Harris, the focus is on honey, mead-making classes, the honey flavor wheel and insect-themed note cards. The center is located in the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Sciences on Old Davis Road, UC Davis campus.
Interested in learning how to make mead (an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey)? The center is offering a Mead-Making Bootcamp from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24, in the Robert Mondavi Institute Brewery, Winery, and Food Pilot Facility and Mead Making 101 on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 25-26 in the Sensory Theater of the Robert Mondavi Institute. (Click on links above for more information).
The Honey and Pollination Center is also selling varietals of honey: orange blossom, coriander and wildflower (purchase here) and offering free recipes. Think "Honey Roasted Carrots," "Bourbon and Honey Chocolate Lollipops" and "Lemon and Ginger Infused Honey."
Honey Flavor Wheel
The Honey Favor Wheel, published by the Honey and Pollination Center, enables folks to define and describe their honey tasting experience. "This wheel will prove invaluable to those who love honey and want to celebrate its nuances," Harris says. "The front of the colorful wheel has all of the descriptors – the back explains how to taste honey and shares four honey profiles so the consumer can get an idea of how to use this innovative product!" Purchase here.
The Honey and Pollination Center is selling insect-themed cards (photographs by yours truly, Kathy Keatley Garvey). Purchase here. A set includes the following eight cards:
- California Buckeye Butterfly on Sedum
- Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly on Mexican Sunflower
- Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee on Red Buckwheat
- Monarch Butterfly and Honey Bee on Mexican Sunflower
- Honey Bee visiting Tower of Jewels
- Hover Fly (Syrphid) on Gaillardia
- Brilliant Male Green Sweat Bee on a Seaside Daisy
- Female Sweat Bee on Purple Coneflower
For inquiries, contact Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Something sweet. Something neat.
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, is open to the public Mondays through Thursdays except on holidays. It will be closed Dec. 21 through Jan. 6.
It's directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis.
Here are some of the ways you can think entomological!
- Donate to the Bohart Museum Society. Thanks to public support last year, "we have created internships for high school students, expanding our K-12 outreach programs, incorporated newly donated collections of beetles and butterflies and have two awesome imaging systems that have made it possible for us to provide Bohart Museum scientists and visiting researchers with high quality images of insects in our collections," related Kimsey. "We have big plans for the coming year and your continue support will make it possible for us to add a second session to our summer camp for junior high students, train undergraduate and graduate students in entomology and educational outreach, continue to improve our website, and educate the public about insects, spiders and their relatives."
Bohart Museum membership categories include individual ($25), student ($15), student families ($25), family ($40), patron ($100) and additional donations. Checks can be made out to the Bohart Museum Society, c/o Bohart Museum of Entomology, Room 1124 Academic Surge Building, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616. There's also a museum BioLegacy sponsorship ($2000 and up) that enables you to name an insect after yourself or a loved one.
Calendars. For donations of $50 or more, the Bohart will provide you with its 2019 calendar illustrated by entomology student/artist Karissa Merritt and featuring her humorous interpretations of actual sentences from term papers in Professor Kimsey's classes. Example, regarding mayflies: "The swarmers are attracted to lights and tend to expose themselves in the evenings.” (See illustration below.) It also acknowledges the birthdates of famous entomologists. The calendar is available separately for $12, plus tax.
- Peruse the Bohart Museum gift shop, which includes insect-themed t-shirts and sweatshirts, graced with everything from monarch butterflies to Hercules beetles to lady beetles (ladybugs) and dragonflies. You'll also find in the gift shop: insect-themed books, jewelry, posters and candy, plus insect-collecting equipment.
Books in the gift shop include The Story of the Dogface Butterfly, a 35-page children's book authored by Fran Keller, former doctoral student at the Bohart Museum, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and now assistant professor at Folsom Lake College. It includes illustrations by former UC Davis student Laine Bauer and photographs by Bohart associate Greg Kareofelas and Keller. The California dogface butterfly is the state insect.
Plush toys in the gift shop include tardigrades (much in demand), bedbugs and flies.
Posters include the California dogface butterfly, the work of Bohart associates Fran Keller and Greg Kareofelas.
Butterfly habitats, zippered and netted, are perfect for rearing monarchs, Gulf Fritillaries and other butterflies.
In addition, the Bohart Museum is a good place to see, photograph and hold many of the occupants in its live "petting zoo," which includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, tarantulas, and praying mantids.
The Bohart Museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. It is closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and on major holidays. Admission is free. For more information, access the website or Facebook page or email email@example.com or telephone (530) 753-0493.
Her research already has.
She just won the prize for best student presentation at the recent 9th International Congress of Dipterology in Windhoek, Namibia.
Gillung delivered her presentation on “Phylogenetic Relationships of Spider Flies (Acroceridae) – Discordance, Uncertainty and the Perils of Phylogenomics.” Acrocerid adults are floral visitors, and some are specialized pollinators, while the larvae are internal parasitoids of spiders.
Approximately 350 delegates attended the conference; the scientists focus on the Diptera order, which includes houseflies, mosquitoes, and gnats. Gillung was among 40 students presenting their research.
Gillung studies with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; mentor Shaun Winterton of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; and collaborator Phil Ward, UC Davis professor of entomology.
UC Davis doctoral students Charlotte Herbert Alberts and Socrates Letana, who both study with Kimsey, also presented their work; Alberts delivered an oral presentation on her research (she studies Asilidae (Assassin flies), and Letana displayed a poster on bot flies.
Presenting the award to Gillung was Professor Thomas Pape of the Natural History Museum of Denmark and chair of the Council for the International Congresses of Dipterology, which organizes the conferences. The next Congress takes place in 2022 in California.
In her abstract, Gillung described spider flies “as a monophyletic group of lower Brachycera currently classified into three subfamilies, 55 genera and ca 530 species.”
“The group has long been considered a rogue taxon and its placement within the Diptera tree of life remains uncertain,” she wrote. “Phylogenetic relationships among lineages of spider flies are by contrast relatively well established, with hypotheses proposed based on molecular data from both Sanger and high-throughput sequencing. Phylogenomic estimation of spider fly relationships yields different topologies, depending on whether data is coded and analyzed as nucleotides or as amino acids. The most significant difference among the two data types is in the monophyly of Panopinae; a morphologically and ecologically recognizable group, that is recovered as monophyletic only in the analyses of nucleotides. This study uses Acroceridae as a system to explore the effects of potential confounding factors in phylogenomic reconstruction. This research takes advantage of modern and powerful statistical approaches, including posterior predictive simulation, to understand the effects of conflict, uncertainty and systematic error in the estimation of evolutionary relationships using the standard phylogenomic toolkit.”
Fast forward to her exit seminar, which she will deliver at 2 p.m., Friday, Dec. 14 in 122 Briggs Hall, located off Kleiber Hall Drive. The title: “Evolution of Fossil and Living Spider Flies (Diptera, Acroceridae): A Tale of Conflict and Uncertainty."
"Parasitoid flies," Gillung wrote in her abstract for her Dec. 14 seminar, "are some of the most remarkable, yet poorly known groups of insects. Represented by over 10,000 species distributed in 21 families, dipteran parasitoids comprise over 100 independent lineages, offering an unparalleled system to understanding the origin, evolution and diversification of the parasitoid life history. My dissertation research unraveled the systematics, evolution and biology of a lineage of dipteran parasitoids specialized in spiders, Acroceridae, commonly known as spider flies. My research resulted in a monograph of fossil spider flies, and a robust hypothesis for the pattern and timing of spider fly evolution based on high throughput sequencing. Through the combination of DNA sequence data obtained via Sanger sequencing with morphological characters, I also estimated their relationships among spider fly genera using an extensive taxon sampling which culminated in a new taxonomic classification for the family.”
Gillung has accepted a postdoctoral position at Cornell University, Ithaca, beginning Jan. 2. She will be working with Bryan Danforth on Apoidea (stinging wasps and bees) phylogenomics, evolution and diversification.
She recently was named the recipient of the prestigious 2018 Student Leadership Award, presented by the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America (PBESA), which represents 11 states, seven U.S. territories, and parts of Canada and Mexico.
A native of Brazil, Jessica holds a bachelor's degree in biology from the Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil and a master's degree in zoology from the University of São Paulo, Brazil. She speaks four languages fluently: Portuguese, Spanish, English and German.
Next July: a major occurrence in the world of pollinators:
UC Davis will host the seventh annual International Pollinator Conference, a four-day conference focusing on pollinator biology health and policy. It is set from Wednesday, July 17 through Saturday, July 20, in the UC Davis Conference Center.
The conference, themed “Multidimensional Solutions to Current and Future Threats to Pollinator Health,” will cover a wide range of topics in pollinator research: from genomics to ecology and their application to land use and management; to breeding of managed bees; and to monitoring of global pollinator populations. Topics discussed will include recent research advances in the biology and health of pollinators, and their policy implications.
Keynote speakers are Christina Grozinger, distinguished professor of entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research, Pennsylvania State University, (the research center launched the annual pollinator conferences in 2012) and Lynn Dicks, Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Research Fellow, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, England.
Grozinger researches health and social behavior in bees and is developing comprehensive approaches to improving pollinator health and reduce declines. Dicks, an internationally respected scientist, studies bee ecology and conservation. She received the 2017 John Spedan Lewis Medal for contributions to insect conservation.
Other speakers include:
- Claudio Gratton, professor, Department of Entomology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Quinn McFrederick, assistant professor, Department of Entomology, UC Riverside
- Scott McArt, assistant professor, Department of Entomology, Cornell University
- Maj Rundlöf, International Career Grant Fellow, Department of Biology, Lund University, Sweden
- Juliette Osborne, professor and chair, Applied Ecology, University of Exeter, England
- Maggie Douglas, assistant professor, Environmental Studies, Dickinson College
The UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, directed by Amina Harris, is playing a major role in the international conference. The center's events manager, Elizabeth Luu, is serving as the conference coordinator. For more information on the conference, access the UC Davis Honey and Pollination website at https://honey.ucdavis.edu/pollinatorconference2019 and sign up for the newsletter for up-to-date information.