It was a great day to get acquainted with insects and arachnids and learn how to raise them.
And the nearly 300 visitors did just that at the recent UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology open house, "Arthropod Husbandry: Raising Insects for Research and Fun." The guests held the critters, photographed them, and asked questions of the scientists.
At first they didn't see the praying mantids reared by entomologist and UC Davis alumnus Lohit Garikipati. They were there, all right, but camouflaged amid the leaves and branches.
The five species of mantids Garikipati displayed included a tropical shield praying mantis, Choeradodis stalii, also known as a hooded mantis or leaf mantis, and a spiny flower praying mantis, Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii.
UC Davis entomology student Andrew Goffinet, a former UC Davis Bio Boot Camper, discussed rearing butterflies and moths. He showed the visitors a display of Gulf Fritillaries, caterpillars and a chrysalis.
Entomology alumnus Nicole Tam, showed her beetle-mimicking roaches and talked about rearing insects in the Geoffrey Attardo lab. Doctoral student and Bohart associate Ziad Khouri explained how to rear tarantulas and millipedes. Entomology student Ben Maples kept the crowd interested with the "hissers"--Madagascar hissing cockroaches.
Jeff Smith, who curates the Lepidoptera section, and naturalist Greg Kareofelas, opened the drawers of butterflies and moths. Entomology student Ian Clark staffed the family crafts activity, assisting youngsters in making decorated finger puppets from Seker-donated silkworm cocoons.
Entomologist Ann Kao, a 2019 UC Davis graduate and newly employed by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, crafted and displayed her insect jewelry.
Tabatha Yang, educational and outreach coordinator, coordinated the open house. The Bohart crew also included Bohart associates Emma Cluff, James Heydon, Brennen Dyer and Xiaofan Yang.
Special guests included 40 students from the Samuel Jackson Middle School and the James Rutter Middle School, Elk Grove Unified School District, in a program offering special educational opportunities and mentoring. The youths wore t-shirts lettered with "The Power of Us" on the front, and "Resilient, Authentic, Passionate" on the back.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology, 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. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum.
In addition to the specimens, the Bohart Museum maintains a live "petting zoo," featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks or stick insects and tarantulas. The museum's gift shop, open year around, is stocked with T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
Silkworm moth expert İsmail Şeker, a Turkish medical doctor and author of a book showcasing his hobby, displayed the eggs, larvae, pupae, adults, as well as silk fabric, and fielded questions from the audience.
Seker showed his newly produced 13-minute video detailing the history of the silkworm moth and its life cycle. The crowd marveled at his macro photography and exquisite videography. Assisting him at the presentation were his grandson, Emre, 7, and granddaughter, Ruya, 4. Their father, Erkin Seker, is an associate professor in the UC Davis Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
The silkmoth, Bombyx mori, domesticated in China more than 5,000 years ago, belongs to the family Bombycidae, The life cycle: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Their food: mulberry leaves.
The caterpillars are celebrated for spinning silk; each cocoon is comprised of a single strand of raw silk from 1000 to 3000 feet long. It takes about 2000 to 3000 cocoons to make a pound of silk. Worldwide, silkworms produce some 70 million pounds of raw silk, requiring nearly 10 billion cocoons.
The adults cannot fly, and neither eat nor drink. They mate, lay eggs, and the cycle continues.
Seker donated cocoons for the Bohart Museum's family craft activity and watched visitors gleefully turn the cocoons into decorated finger puppets.
Among the visitors: 40 students from the Samuel Jackson Middle School and the James Rutter Middle School, Elk Grove Unified School District, in a program offering special educational opportunities and mentoring. The youths wore t-shirts lettered with "The Power of Us" on the front, and "Resilient, Authentic, Passionate" on the back. Academic mentor Keishawn Turner said the group toured the campus, had lunch, and ended the day by attending a UC Davis football game.
(More photos of the open house pending in the next Bug Squad)
The Bohart Museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane. It 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. The Bohart Museum maintains a live "petting zoo," featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks or stick insects, tarantulas, and praying mantids. The museum's gift shop, open year around, includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
Director of the museum is Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis. The staff includes Steve Heydon, senior museum scientist; Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator; and Jeff Smith, who curates the Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) section.
Some people are born good-looking. Some have the gift of gab. And some are lucky enough to be born smarter than the rest of us. Whether we like it or not, Mother Nature does not dole these characteristics out evenly.--Simon Sinek
That applies to butterflies, too. Nobody said Mother Nature is perfect.
If you're rearing butterflies, such as Gulf Fritillaries (Agraulis vanillae), expect to see some defects, deformities and death. That chrysalis you've been watching? A butterfly may never eclose. In the cycle of life, the transformation from egg to larva to pupa to adult may never occur.
Nobody said Mother Nature is perfect.
The chrysalis is a withered grayish-brown, perfectly camouflaged on the butterfly's host plant, the passionflower vine (Passiflora). Sometimes you see a burst of reddish-orange wings and sliver spangled underwings, the remains of a butterfly that struggled to eclose.
Then you wait for one that will, one that will eclose.
The next one will take your breath away. Mother Nature is like that.
- Walter Leal, distinguished professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and former chair of the Department of Entomology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology
- Cristina Davis, the Warren and Leta Geidt Endowed Professor and Chair, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
NIA honors and encourages academic inventions that benefit society. Between the two UC Davis faculty members, they hold 42 patents: Davis with 12; and Leal with 28 Japanese and 2 U.S. patents.
Davis is a world leader in trace chemical sensing, while Leal is a leading global scientist in the field of insect olfaction and communication, investigating how insects detect odors, how they detect host and nonhost plant matter, and how they communicate within their species.
Leal's research, spanning three decades, focuses on insects that carry mosquito-borne diseases as well as agricultural pests, such as the Asian citrus psyllid and the orange navelworm. He and his lab drew international attention with their discovery of the mode of action of DEET, the gold standard of insect repellents.
We remember when Leal and a group of 18 students hosted a Zika Public Awareness Symposium in 2016 on the UC Davis campus. It was an amazing symposium that drew attention to Aedes aeqytpi, which transmits the disease. Soon thereafter, Brazilian-born Leal and his colleagues in Brazil, detected the Zika virus in wild-caught Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes in Recife, the epicenter of the Zika epidemic.
We also remember when Leal identified the sex pheromones of the navel orangeworm (Amyelois transitella), a pest of almonds, figs, pomegranates and walnuts, the major hosts. This led to practical applications of pest management techniques in the fields.
Those are just several examples of the work he does. And still, he found time to co-chair the 2016 International Congress of Entomology meeting, "Entomology Without Borders," in Orlando, Fla., that drew the largest delegation of scientists and experts in the history of the discipline: 6682 attendees from 102 countries.
We're not sure how Leal can find the time to do all this (see news story on the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology). We figure he must have a clone! Make that multiple clones!
At any rate, Leal is the second faculty member affiliated with the entomology department to be selected an NIA fellow. The other scientist: Bruce Hammock, distinguished professor, who holds a joint appointment in the Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. Hammock is the co-founder and chief executive officer of EicOsis LLC, a Davis-based company that is developing a non-opiate drug to relieve inflammatory pain in companion animals and target chronic neuropathic pain in humans and horses.
As Hammock said: “When Walter Leal reached UC Davis (in 2000), he came with the reputation of being a 'one man army in research.' This reputation was well deserved. I know of no one at UC Davis who matches Walter in taking his remarkable fundamental advances in science and translating them to increase the safety and magnitude of world food production.”
The beetle? The walnut twig beetle, Pityophthorus juglandis.
In association with the fungus, Geosmithia morbida,it causes the insect-pathogen complex known as "thousand cankers disease," which wreaks havoc on walnut trees.
Audley will share his research at his exit seminar, "Semiochemical Interruption of Host Selection Behavior of the Invasive Walnut Twig Beetle, Pityophthorus juglandis," set for 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 4 in 122 Briggs Hall, UC Davis campus. It's open to all interested persons.
Jackson, who joined the UC Davis doctoral program in September 2015, investigates behavioral chemicals that repel the walnut twig beetle from landing on English walnut trees. He conducts his research in a commercial orchard near Winters.
Audley says in his abstract: "The walnut twig beetle (WTB) is an invasive bark beetle pest of walnut trees in California and throughout much of its recently expanded range across the North American continent. Feeding by the beetle and canker development by the associated fungal pathogen, Geosmithia morbida, constitute the progressive and often fatal, thousand cankers disease. Management efforts to protect walnut trees are currently lacking. Here I present work related to understanding and manipulating WTB chemical ecology. First, we investigate the beetle's host-searching behavior in the context of a dense, native riparian forest habitat. The goal was to establish WTB's inflight sensitivity to host and non-host cues. Next, I present the results of flight-intercept behavioral assays of four potentially repellent volatile compounds: limonene, chalcogran, concophthorin and verbenone, first individually and then in compounds in reducing trap captures in the context of WTB aggregation phermone.
"Finally, we tested the most effective combination on whole walnut trees in a commercial, English walnut orchard. We compared beetle landing rates on treated and untreated trees as a correlate for WTB attacks. I report that we effectively reduced the number of WTB landing on treated trees; however, the repellent effect was spatially limited. Thus, further testing is required prior to recommending a management schedule. This work did provide proof of concept of semiochemical interruption in a hardwood attacking bark beetle system."
Audley, on a path to receive his doctorate in entomology this month, studied with Steve Seybold, who tragically died Nov. 15 of heart disease. Seybold was a lecturer and faculty affiliate with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and a forest entomologist and chemical ecologist with the Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Davis.
Louie Yang, associate professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and Professor Richard “Rick” Bostock of the UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology serve as mentors. The Bostock lab is heavily involved with the chemistry side of Audley's repellent research.
A native of Washington, D.C., Jackson spent most of his childhood in Atlanta, Ga. He was first introduced to forest entomology while studying at the University of Georgia, Athens, where he received his bachelor of science in wildlife biology and natural resource recreation and tourism in 2009. He went on to receive his master's degree in forestry in 2015 from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he focused his thesis on managing the walnut twig beetle in cut black walnut logs, live edged boards, and nursery stock.
He recently received the 2019 Western Forest Insect Work Conference Memorial Scholarship Award for his research on the chemical ecology of the walnut twig beetle.
His career plans? “I plan to devote my career to conducting chemical ecology-based research of bark and wood boring beetles that threaten trees in forest landscapes in the western U.S.,” Audley said. “In this capacity, I plan to continue adding to the scientific understanding of bark beetle ecology and management.”
Audley aims to engage with the scientific community and public alike in the arena of forest health issues and sound forest management practices. “Our western forests are in dire need of sound forest management to return them to a healthier state, and I plan to conduct and disseminate research to help achieve that goal.”
Community ecologist Rachel Vannette, assistant professor, is coordinating the weekly seminars. (See list of seminars)