And rightfully so. It's a stand against racism and a step toward a more diverse and inclusive organization.
And frankly, it's a more appropriate name.
ESA, founded in 1889, launched the games in 1982, naming them for Swedish scientist-physician Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), the father of taxonomy. He was a botanist and zoologist as well as a physician.
ESA describes The Games as a "fast-paced, college-bowl style contest in which students from various colleges and universities test their knowledge by answering questions on insect science. Students compete first at the regional branch level, and then the winning teams compete each year at the national level at ESA's Annual Meeting."
A petition on Research Gate drew some 1500 approvals for the name change. However, many members began seeking a name change several years ago.
Here's why: Linnaeus' classifications of the human race.
Linnaeus made "offensive, race-based classifications of humans that helped form a basis for racism in science," according to a Request for Change on Research Gate. "The recent police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and too many other Black Americans have put a national spotlight on racial injustice in our country. White supremacy and racism have existed in academic and scientific institutions since their advent, but these events have catalyzed heightened reflection and action around justice within academia."
Other points involving the name switch from Linnaean Games to Entomology Games:
- Linnaeus was not an entomologist
- The trivia questions deal mostly with insect science and entomologists, not taxonomy.
- Most people outside the world of entomology probably cannot relate to the meaning of the Linnaean Games, but they can to "Entomology Games"
As ESA president Alvin Simmons, a research entomologist at USDA-ARS, U.S. Vegetable Laboratory, Charleston, S.C., said in the ESA news release: “National events this year have brought issues of diversity and inclusion within our discipline and our Society to the forefront. Ultimately, the board believed that the loss of any student competitors who felt unwelcome because of the name of the Games went against ESA's commitment to diversity, inclusion, and students as the future of entomology. A name can be replaced, but each entomologist brings a unique and valuable contribution to our Society that is irreplaceable. The Entomology Games will continue ESA's traditions of fun, competition, and school pride.”
ESA published a statement on Why Black Lives Matter to Entomology on June 1, which said in part: "Historically, people of color have been less likely to choose careers in the life sciences, and even today black entomologists make up 2.7 percent of the ESA membership, up from 2 percent in 2012. Every time a person is kept from contributing to our understanding of entomology due to systemic inequities, our entire discipline is impoverished."
Meanwhile, due to the coronavirus pandemic, ESA will conduct its 2020 ESA meeting in a virtual format. From its website: "We are excited to embrace the virtual format and build an exceptional meeting that will truly embody the spirit of Entomology for All—a meeting where all insect scientists can participate and share their work, regardless of location, specialty area, or ability to travel. Entomology 2020 will feature multiple live-streams running simultaneously November 16-19. On-demand content will be available from November 11-25."
University of California teams have done well in the The Games. A UC Davis team won the national championship in 2015, and a UC Berkeley-UC Davis team won two national championships, one in 2016 and one in 2018. The 2016 Games were deemed international as it occurred during a joint meeting of ESA and the International Congress of Entomology (ICE) in Orlando, Fla. (Walter Leal, UC Davis distinguished professor and USDA-ARS research entomologist Alvin Simmons co-chaired the ICE meeting.)
The 2019 UC team made it to the finals but didn't place. It was captained by Ralph Washington Jr., a UC Berkeley public policy graduate student who received his bachelor's degree in entomology at UC Davis. He was joined by three UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology doctoral students: Brendon Boudinot, Zachary Griebenow and Jill Oberski, all of the Phil Ward lab, and alternates Miles Dakin of the Christian Nansen lab and Hanna Kahl of the Jay Rosenheim lab.
Washington captained all four recent teams, and Boudinot helped anchor all of them.
- 2018: UC won the national championship (this links to a UC Davis news story) in Vancouver, B.C., defeating Texas A&M Graduates, with Washington captaining the team and joined by UC Davis graduate students Boudinot, Oberski and Griebenow of the Phil Ward lab, and Emily Bick of the Christian Nansen lab. (No video of the championship round)
- 2017: The UC team did not compete. (Texas A&M won the national championship; see championship round on YouTube)
- 2016: UC won the national and international championships at the joint meeting of ESA and ICE in Orlanda, Fla., defeating the University of Georgia. (See championship round on YouTube)
- 2015: UC won the national championship at the games held in Minneapolis, Minn., defeating the University of Florida. (See championship round on YouTube)
The Bohart Museum will live-stream the free open house on Facebook. Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the 500,000 Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) collection, will show specimens and answer questions.
"We started holding a moth-themed open house near Mother's Day in May, because people who are enthusiasts for moths are called moth-ers,” said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum. “We then switched our programming to align with National Moth Week. This year's Moth Week is July 18-26. The annual event is celebrated throughout the world with private and public events.
Bohart Museum officials are preparing videos on black-lighting and how to spread and pin moths.
During the Facebook Live program, viewers can type in their questions on moths.
Smith is expected to answer questions such as:
- What is the largest moth?
- How do butterflies and moths differ?
- What is so unique about moths?
- Why should we be concerned with moth diversity?
LynnKimsey, director oftheBohart Museum and UC Davis professor of entomology, nominated Smith for the award. “You could not ask for a better friend than Jeff Smith,” she said, noting that he has “brought us international acclaim and saved us $160,000 through donations of specimens and materials, identification skills and his professional woodworking skills. This does not include the thousands of hours he has donated in outreach programs that draw attention to the museum, the college and the university.”
Kimsey, who has directed the museum since 1989, remembers when Smith joined the museum. “When Jeff was working for Univar Environmental Services, a 35-year career until his retirement in 2013, he would spend some of his vacation days at the museum. Over the years Jeff took over more and more of the curation of the butterfly and moth collection. He took home literally thousands of field pinned specimens and spread their wings at home, bringing them back to the museum perfectly mounted. To date he has spread the wings on more than 200,000 butterflies and moths. This translates into something like 33,000 hours of work!” The numbers have since increased.
“About a decade ago, Jeff began helping us by assembling specimen drawers from kits that we purchased,” Kimsey related. “This substantially lowered our curatorial costs, from $50/drawer to $16/drawer. We use several hundred drawers a year to accommodate donated specimens, research vouchers and specimens resulting from research grants and inventories. More recently, he's been accumulating scrap lumber and making the drawers from scratch at no cost to us. Overall, he has made more than 2000 drawers. Additionally, he makes smaller specimen boxes with the leftover scrap wood, which are used by students taking various field courses in the department. We simply could not curate the collection without his contributions.”
Kimsey praised Smith for completely reorganizing the butterfly and moth collection. “It's no small feat to rearrange this many specimens, housed in roughly one thousand drawers,” she said. “Many thousands of the specimens needed to be identified, and the taxonomy required extensive updating and reorganization.”
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus, 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.
The Bohart Museum is the home of a “live” petting zoo featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas, and a gift shop stocked with T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
It's all about insect courtship rituals and intimacy, or what entomologists sometimes call "insect wedding photography."
The Bay Area-based SaveNature.Org, a non-profit conservation organization, and its Insect Discovery Lab will sponsor an "Insect Palooza Happy Hour!" on Thursday, June 25 from 4 to 5 p.m. on the Zoom live video platform.
"Professor Norm" (that's Norman Gershenz, chief executive officer and co-founder) will preside and answer questions.
"Insects inspire our emotions--find out about mate guarding and courtship rituals," says Gershenz, who estimates the world insect population at more than 50 million species.
The Insect Palooza is limited to 25 adult participants. Registrants (register here at $15 per person).will receive a unique link. The virtual event will start exactly at 4 p.m., with 5-10 minutes allocated for questions and answers at the end of the program.
Gershenz and his wife, Leslie-Saul Gershenz, Ph.D., a bee scientist with the USDA laboratory on the UC Davis campus (she holds a doctorate in entomology from the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology), co-founded SaveNature.Org. Their work has drawn a number of awards as well as international attention from National Geographic, Time magazine, ABC's "World News Tonight," and other news media.
SaveNature.Org, dedicated to international conservation, has raised more than $4.7 million to help preserve thousands of acres of rain forest, coral reef and desert habitat around the world, said Gershenz, who created and developed the first Adopt-an-Acre program in the United States, as well as the award-winning Conservation Parking Meter. His credentials include 18 years with the San Francisco Zoo as an educator, member of the animal care staff, fundraiser, and researcher. In addition, he has worked as a field biologist and naturalist in Borneo, Malaysia, India, Nepal, Costa Rica and Namibia.
Together they won a total of seven communication awards in a competition hosted by the international Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Life and Human Sciences (ACE).
Steve Elliott, communications coordinator for the Western Integrated Pest Management Center, Davis, won one silver (second-place) and two bronze (third-place) for his writing and photography;
- Writing for the Web, silver award for “IPM in Yellowstone”
- Photo Essay, bronze award for “Growing in Guam”
- Social media, bronze award for single blog post, “To Communicate Better, Start with Audience”
Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist for the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, won two silvers for her writing and photography;
- Writing for Newspapers, silver award for “Paying It Forward,” about the successful career of award-winning academic advisor Elvira Galvan Hack
- Picture Story, silver award for “Kira Meets a Stick Insect” (at Bohart Museum of Entomology)
Diane Nelson, communication specialist for the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, won a bronze for her writing:
- Writing for the Web, bronze award for "Can Science Save Citrus?"
Ricardo Vela, Miguel Sanchez and Norma de la Vega of UC ANR's News and Information Outreach in Spanish won a bronze award for a video:
- Diversity 6, Electronic Media and Audio for Targeted Audiences, bronze award for Breakfast - Desayuno de Campeones - English and Spanish videos
The awards will be presented Wednesday, June 24 during ACE's virtual conference, which opened June 22 and continues through June 25.
ACE is an international association of communicators, educators and information technologists who focus on communicating research-based information. The organization offers professional development and networking for individuals who extend knowledge about agriculture, natural resources, and life and human sciences.
How do you keep ants off your hummingbird feeders?
That was a question a Bug Squad reader asked: "I was wondering if you had any tips on how to keep ants off and out of the hummingbird feeder? I've put Vaseline on the line it hangs from, and that helped for a long time. But now I have a different type of and, similar to a big red and who is not deterred, they just walk right over the Vaseline. I've even freshened it up. Any ideas?"
We asked "Ant Man" Brendon Boudinot, an authority on ants--and who just received his doctorate in entomology, studying with major professor Phil Ward of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Boudinot's response: "Teflon. In the ant research community, this is one of our favorite surface protectors against ants, as they cannot get a grip. Alternatively, Tanglefoot would work, but may also be dangerous for the birds if they come into contact with it. Teflon will need to be reapplied after there is evidence that its efficiency is being reduced, often due to exposure to water or extended humidity. The easiest thing to do will be to find the trail and give the surface a good wash, as the chemical trail will be removed. Ants are not able to remember the location of food sources without their trails. They will have to be lucky to rediscover the feeder."
The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) offers information on ants in its Pest Notes section, "How to Manage Pests, Pests of Homes, Structures, People, and Pets."
"Ant management requires diligent efforts and the combined use of mechanical, cultural, sanitation, and often chemical control methods. It is unrealistic and impractical to attempt to totally eliminate ants from an outdoor area. Focus your management efforts on excluding ants from buildings or valuable plants and eliminating their food and water sources. Reducing outdoor sources of ants near buildings will reduce the likelihood of ants coming indoors."
"Remember that ants often play a beneficial role in the garden. Become aware of the seasonal cycle of ants in your area and be prepared for annual invasions by caulking and baiting before the influx. Different species of ants respond to management practices differently. For management information specific to a particular species, see the Key to Identifying Common Household Ants. See also the videos related to ant management in the home." (See more information on management of ants.)
On another note, we recently received a curious email about ants that began with: "I hope this mail finds you and your family well and healthy regarding the current pandemic situation. I am sending you this email regarding the OUTRAGEOUS ASSUMPTION THAT YOU IMPLY THAT ANTS MIGHT HAVE A REMOTE RESEMBLANCE TO FEELINGS."
Who me? I rarely write about ants or photograph them (they seem to avoid me and my camera). To my knowledge, I've never thought, written or implied that ants "have a remote resemblance to feelings."
"Ants may not be sentimental," Boudinot told us, "but they sure respond to noxious stimuli in ways which indicate that their little neural systems communicate something which would roughly correspond to the sensation of pain. Indeed, there may be some basic inherited molecular link between ant, human, and earthworm aversive feelings."
Meanwhile, I'm heading back out to the family pollinator garden to fill our empty hummingbird feeders. Neither a hummer nor ant in sight...and no remote resemblance to feelings, either....