Home from the World War II battlefields, he enrolled in Compton Community College and then the University of California, Berkeley.
A family friend promised him a job in his termite control business once he finished his studies.
His college associates, however, couldn’t envision “Vern and termites” in the same sentence.
Neither could he.
“There were better things to do in life than crawling under a house looking for termites,” quipped Burton, who is known for his wry sense of humor. (Photo at right was taken circa 1980)
So began a 38-year career that would encompass 10 years as a Kern County Farm Advisor and 28 years as an Extension entomologist affiliated with the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
During his career, Burton, now 85, worked with crops such as alfalfa, beans, cotton, potatoes, small grains and sugar beets and helped resolve pest problems through integrated pest management (IPM) strategies and close associations with university researchers. “I always enjoyed helping people in ag and urban settings with their insect problems,” Burton said, “or their perceived problems.”
Tuber worms in potatoes? Check. Lygus bugs in seed alfalfa? Check. Spider mites on dry beans? Check. Nematodes in cotton? Check. Green peach aphids in sugar beets? Check. Burton helped recommend the guidelines in several of the Statewide IPM Program’s commodity manuals. His collaborative research also appears in California Agriculture and other publications.
“Vern was dedicated to California growers, and worked tirelessly to provide new and useful information to them,” said IPM specialist Frank Zalom, professor and former vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America. “He understood the research-extension continuum better than most people ever could, having served the university as an extension entomologist in the county and also here on campus.”
Read more about Vern Burton and what he's doing today.
Yes, he's in the computer age!
Making a difference--that's what it's all about.
An integrated pest management (IPM) team from the United States is in Central Asia for the third Integrated Pest Management Stakeholders' Forum, June 1-5 in Bishhek, Kyrgystan.
Among the team members is UC Davis entomology professor and IPM specialist Frank Zalom. He'll be participating in the stakeholders' forum and a pest diagnostics training workshop.
The event is sponsored by a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Collaborative Research Support Project (CRSP) grant. Zalom, a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America and a noted IPM specialist, is a co-investigator on the grant.
Scientists from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajkistan, as well as Kyrgystan are conferring with Zalom and his IPM colleagues from Michigan State University, Ohio State University, Montana Stae University, and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDIA).
The stakeholders' forum will include talks by key governmental and agricultural officials, and updates on IPM progress and concerns in the four Central Asian countries.
Joy Landis of Michigan State University's IPM Program is chronicling the travels on her blog.
In one blog, she wrote:
When we tell people the IPM project collaborates with colleagues in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, they are often unsure where these countries are. But, if we say they are located by all the other "stan" countries, then we get a flash of recognition.
The suffix "stan" means "land of," so Uzbekistan is the land of the Uzbeks, and Tajikistan is the land of the Tajiks and so forth. These countries have overlapping populations of various ethnic groups with distinct cultures. During the 20th century, they were part of the Soviet Union until it was dissolved in the early 1990's.
Be sure to read Joy Landis' blog for the latest updates.
Making a difference--that's what it's all about.
One of the highlights of the Entomological Society of America's 56th annual meeting, held Nov. 16-19 in Reno, was the presentation of the Fellow awards.
This year two of the 10 recipients came from the University of California faculty--or more specifically, from UC Davis.
Entomology professor Michael Parrella, associate dean of the Division of Agricultural Sciences, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and a former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, and professor Frank Zalom, an integrated pest manageament specialist, former director of the UC Integrated Pest Management Program (16 years), and a former vice chair of the Department of Entomology, received the honors.
Fellows are selected for their outstanding contributions in entomological research, teaching, extension or administration, said ESA spokesperson Richard Levine. Up to 10 entomologists from among the 6000-member organization are singled out for the annual award.
President Michael Gray presented the awards.
As Lynn Kimsey, chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, said: "These are highly prestigious awards, granted only to 10 or fewer entomologists every year. Michael Parrella and Frank Zalom are carrying on our department’s tradition of excellence and commitment." Eight other UC Davis entomologists have received the honor since 1947.
The Zalom and Parrella accomplishments are many. The agricultural community and the academic world are quite appreciative of their work.
This was a highlight not only of the ESA meeting, but of their outstanding careers.
A toast to professors Parrella and Zalom!
When the Entomological Society of America's 56th annual meeting takes place Nov. 16-19 in Reno, UC Davis entomologists will be out in force.
And they'll be highly honored.
Entomology professors Michael Parrella and Frank Zalom will be inducted as Fellows, which means they are among the top insect scientists in the world. The 5700-member ESA, formed in 1889, is a non-profit organization that includes representatives from educational institutions, government, health agencies, and private industry.
As Lynn Kimsey, chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology said: “These are highly prestigious awards, granted only to 10 or fewer entomologists every year. Michael Parrella and Frank Zalom are carrying on our department’s tradition of excellence and commitment."
Eight other UC Davis entomologists have received the honor since 1947.Richard M. Bohart (1917-2007), for whom the Bohart Museum of Entomology is named, was the first UC Davis entomologist to be selected an ESA Fellow (1947). Seven others followed: Donald McLean, 1990; Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. (1907-2003), 1991; John Edman, 1994; Robert Washino, 1996; Bruce Eldridge, 2001; William Reisen, 2003 and Harry Kaya, 2007.
Parrella is the associate dean of the Division of Agricultural Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. Zalom is a former director of the UC Integrated Pest Management Program and the former vice chair of the department. Zalom also was nominated for ESA president recently by the ESA's Pacific Branch.
You can read about their many accomplishments here.
Both entomologists will be honored by their peers on Sunday night, Nov. 16 at the ESA's plenary session in the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.
Zalom also will be honored as part of the UC's seven-member Almond Pest Management Alliance IPM Team that will receive the Entomological Foundation’s 2008 Award for Excellence in IPM. Other members are Carolyn Pickel, UC Cooperative Extension, Sutter-Yuba counties; Walter Bentley, UC Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier; UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors Mario Viveros, Kern County, Roger Duncan, Stanislaus County, and Joe Connell, Butte County; and scientist Barat Bisrabi, Dow AgroSciences. Both Pickel and Bentley are UC IPM advisors.
Another high honor at the same plenary session: UC Davis chemical ecologist Walter Leal will receive the ESA's coveted Recognition Award in Insect Physiology, Biochemistry and Toxicology for his innovative and creative research involving insect communication. His lab recently discovered the mode of action for the mosquito repellent, DEET.
Among other UC Davis folks to be honored during the conference:
Mosquito researcher Chris Barker, who received his doctorate earlier this year, is the winner of the John Henry Comstock Graduate Student Award from the Pacific Branch of the ESA.
Noted entomologists Maurine and Catherine Tauber, retired from Cornell and now affiliated with UC Davis, will be honored for their diverse entomological accomplishments at a special symposium. Lester E. Ehler, emeritus professor, will speak on their life's work. In addition, other faculty and graduate students will deliver presentations at the conference.
Congratulations to all! Very well deserved!
They are among the reasons why the Chronicle of Higher Education selected UC Davis the No. 1 entomology department in the country (November 2007).
LBAM is back in the news.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture announced Aug. 29 that it has established a 19-square-mile quarantine straddling portions of two counties after the light brown apple moth (LBAM) was found July 23 in Napa County and Aug. 10 in Sonoma County.
That's bad news all around.
As a leafrolling caterpillar, the light brown apple moth loves grapes. And just about everything else from A to Z: apple, apricot, beans, caneberries (blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, raspberry), cabbage, camellia, chrysanthemum, citrus, clover, cole crops, eucalyptus, jasmine, kiwifruit, peach, pear, persimmon, plantain, pumpkin, strawberry, tomato, rose and zea mays (corn).
It's a herbivorous generalist.
When I attended the Northern California Entomology Society meeting in May of last year, Alameda County acting ag commissioner Gregory Gee commented about its polyphagous nature: "It even likes pine trees."
Pine trees! Even!
Fact is, Gee said, the pest (Epiphyas postvittana) likes other landscape trees, too, including oak, willow, walnut, poplar, cottonwood and alder.
A native of Australia, LBAM has been found in a dozen counties since retired UC Berkeley entomologist Jerry Powell, a moth taxonomist, first detected the pest in his Berkeley backyard on July 19, 2006.
Controversy swirls over how long the pest has actually been in California and how to battle it. UC Davis entomologist James R. Carey says it's probably been here for years--maybe even decades. Carey doubts that the foreign invader can be eradicated.
But there's no controversy about its appetite.
UC Davis entomologist Frank Zalom, an integrated pest management specialist who researches tree crops, small fruits, vegetables and invasive species, said LBAM's appetite spans 250 hosts--and the spectrum of known hosts continues to grow.
Meanwhile, the moth even has its own song, a no-spray message played by KGO Radio as bumper music. The tune, "Ain't No Moths on Me," written and performed by the Bay Area group, Charity and the JAMband, is as catchy as the Muhammad Ali quote, "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."
LBAM has no stinger but it definitely stings.
A USDA study indicates that, if California becomes generally infested, the moth could cause billions of dollars in crop damage annually. Additionally, it would hinder export opportunities and interstate commerce due to quarantine restrictions, as demonstrated by the quarantines already enacted by Canada and Mexico. California agricultural exports to the two countries totaled more than $2.4 billion in 2006. Source: CDFA press release.