If not, you're probably in the wrong state. Or not there at the right time.
Brood X is appearing in 15 eastern-central states of our nation (Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.) These periodical circadas have spent the last 17 years underground feeding on sap and underground roots. They emerge when the soil temperatures reach about 64 degrees.
Once they emerge, they spend two to four weeks "courting, mating, flying, driving people crazy, being eaten by everything," Michael Raupp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of Maryland told USA Today in a May 18th news story.
So we asked UC Davis alumnus Kelly Hamby if she could send us a few photos of Brood X for a brief Bug Squad blog.
Hamby, an associate professor/Extension specialist in the University of Maryland's Department of Entomology, captured these images of Brood X in Maryland in mid-May. She photographed two aggregations at the Patuxtent Research Reserve, Laurel, and an individual one at the Horsepen Branch Park, Bowie.
Hamby, who studied for her doctorate with major professor Frank Zalom, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology and a former president of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America (ESA), received her PhD from UC Davis in 2014. Her dissertation on "Biology and Pesticide Resistance Management of Drosophila suzukii in Coastal California Berries" covered monitoring, yeast associations, chronobiology,chronotoxicity of insecticides, and the implications of this work to managing a recent invader, the spotted wing drosophila. An excellent scholar and entomologist, Hamby received the 2014 John Henry Comstock Award, the highest graduate student honor in the Pacific Branch of ESA, which covers 11 western states, parts of Canada and Mexico, and seven U.S. territories.
If you've been following the news, you know that there are three species of these 17-year Brood X cicadas: Magicicada septendecim, M. cassinii and M. septendecula. You also know the cicada is considered one of the world's loudest insects; that males calling for mates are unaware of any noise ordinance violations or human sleeping preferences.
What's better than a mint on your pillow?
A mint moth in your garden!
We ran across this colorful mint moth, Pyrausta californicalis (as identified by UC Davis distinguished professor Art Shapiro) on May 20 in a Vacaville bed of tall lavender.
"Although native, it occurs almost exclusively in gardens, where it breeds on any species of Mentha (mint)," Shapiro says. "It has multiple broods, most of the year. When we grew mint we had it up the yazoo in our garden. Pretty little thing!"
Pretty? Yes, it is.
It's in the family Crambidae. We've never seen it feeding on Mentha species. We've seen it only on lavender, sharing nectar with buzzing honey bees.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis hosts an annual Moth Night (but hasn't during the pandemic due to restrictions).
National Moth Night will be observed July 17-25 this year. That's when entomologists and insect enthusiasts celebrate the beauty, life cycles and habitats of moths.
On the National Moth Night website, you'll learn
- Moths are among the most diverse and successful organisms on earth.
- Scientists estimate there are 150,000 to more than 500,000 moth species.
- Their colors and patterns are either dazzling or so cryptic that they define camouflage. Shapes and sizes span the gamut from as small as a pinhead to as large as an adult's hand.
- Most moths are nocturnal, and need to be sought at night to be seen – others fly like butterflies during the day.
- Finding moths can be as simple as leaving a porch light on and checking it after dark. Serious moth aficionados use special lights and baits to attract them.
Make mine mint...
Renowned wasp expert Marius Wasbauer (1928-2021) studied them for about six decades. When he died this spring in Brookings, Ore., his family donated his collection of specimens to the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology.
It's a massive collection of more than 50,000 aculeate (stinging) wasp specimens, primarily spider wasps.
Wasbauer, a retired senior scientist/systematist at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, in a career spanning 34 years, was a global expert on spider wasps and a scientific collaborator with Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology. He was a member of the Bohart Museum Society and a strong supporter of the museum.
Spider wasps, also known as spider-hunting wasps or pompilid wasps, belong to the family Pompilidae. The worldwide family is comprised of some 5,000 described species in six subfamilies.
“A U-Haul was needed to transport the collection from Brookings to Davis last weekend,” Kimsey said. “The donation consists of a diversity of aculeate wasps but 95 percent are spider wasps (Pompilidae), an estimated 50,000 specimens from all over the world, in 180 drawers, in 13 24-drawer cabinets,” Kimsey said. “This is material he had been accumulating since the 1960s.”
Wasbauer studied entomology and biosystematics at UC Berkeley, where he received his bachelor's degree and doctorate (1958). “Like many entomologists of his generations,” Kimsey said, “Marius was an instructor in preventive medicine in the U.S. 7th Army Medical Service at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.” He joined the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) as a systematist in September 1958.
“He published nearly 50 papers in wasp taxonomy and the biology of a diversity of insects,” Kimsey noted. “His taxonomic research focused on several groups of aculeate wasps, including Pomplidae, nocturnal Tiphiidae and myromosid wasps. Other studies included walnut serpentine leaf miners, tephritid fruit flies, bumble bees and even crane flies.”
Wasbauer was a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences; president and secretary of the Pacific Coast Entomological Society; research associate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), a member of Sigma Xi, the scientific research honor society; a member of the Biosystematists Society; and a research associate at UC Davis.
“He was generous with his time, and worked with many scientists and students around the world,” Kimsey said. “However, aside from his family and wasps, his other greatest love was fishing.”
Marius and his wife, Joanne, longtime supporters of the Bohart Museum, frequently offered annual challenge grants of $5000, matching donations of other donors up to $5000. They hoped to inspire others to give.
The Wasbauers participated in a Bohart Museum Bioblitz to Belize in 2017, a trip led by entomologists David Wyatt, a professor at Sacramento City College, and Fran Keller, now a professor at Folsom Lake College. Keller, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, is a Bohart Museum research associate.
A trio of entomologists—Lynn Kimsey and her husband, forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the Department of Entomology and Nematology; and Bohart Museum research associate Brennen Dyer—prepared a space in the Bohart for the large donation. They unloaded the truck with Kimsey friends, retired Placer County Sheriff Mike Whitney and his wife, Becky.
The Bohart Museum, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, houses a global collection of nearly eight million insect specimens, plus a live “petting zoo” comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. The Bohart Museum also inclues a year-around gift shop stocked with insect-themed t-shirts, sweatshirts, posters, books, jewelry and insect-collecting equipment.
Temporarily closed due to COVID-19 pandemic precautions, the Bohart is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.
Nothing says National Pollinator Week more than a honey bee coated in pollen.
Make mine yellow. Yellow pollen.
There's plenty of time to prepare. National Pollinator Week is June 21-27.
You can register your activities--make that "socially distant activities" to the official Pollinator Week events map.
You can request local buildings to light up yellow and orange in support of pollinators.
You can sign and mail proclamations to your governor in support of Pollination Week.
And, you can celebrate the week by taking an image of a pollinator.
We ventured over to the UC Davis Ecological Garden, Student Farm, Agricultural Sustainability Institute, to capture these two images of a honey bee blanketed with pollen as she foraged--appropriately--on a blanket flower, Gaillardia. The plant is a member of the sunflower family, Asteraeae, and native to North and South America.
The Pollinator Partnership, which sponsors National Pollinator Week, points out that about 75 percent of all flowering plant species "need the help of animals to move their heavy pollen grains from plant to plant for fertilization."
PP also relates that:
- About 1000 of all pollinators are vertebrates such as birds, bats and small animals.
- Most pollinators (abut 200,000 species) are beneficial insects such as flies, beetles, wasps, ants, butterflies, moths and bees.
- Pollinators are often keystone species, meaning that they are critical to an ecosystem.
Are you ready for National Pollinator Week?
This male made its appearance in our Vacaville pollinator garden on May 17, and hung around long enough for me to capture several images.
Like a lens to a flame...
When folks talk about seeing "a red dragonfly," they might not know the species, but they do know it's firecracker red.
"It was red! Firecracker red!"
Ten fast facts about dragonflies, as provided by the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis:
- Dragonflies date back before the dinosaur age.
- The largest known prehistoric species of dragonfly, living 300 million years ago, was the Meganeura monyi. Its wingspan measured more than two feet long.
- The largest species today is a South American dragonfly with a wingspan of 7.5 inches. The smallest modern species is an east Asian dragonfly, the libellulid dragonfly, Nannophya pygmaea, with a wingspan of about 3/4 of an inch.
- California is home to approximately 108 species. More than 5000 species are found worldwide.
- Dragonflies help control pests such as mosquitoes, midges and flies, but will also dine on honey bees and butterflies.
- The adults feed by hawking their prey. They dart off a perch to catch prey and often return to the perch to eat.
- Most dragonflies live around lakes, ponds, streams, and marshes; their larvae, known as “nymphs,” are aquatic. Some dragonfly larvae live in bromeliad flowers.
- Dragonflies usually do not bite or sting humans, but if grasped by the abdomen, they may bite to escape.
- The dragonfly is thought to have better eyesight than any other insect. Its compound eyes take up much of the insect's head. Each compound eye has up to 30,000 facets or sensor modules, arranged to provide nearly a 360-degree field of vision. That's why it's difficult to sneak up on them.
- Dragonflies are a common motif in Native American art, displayed on Zuni pottery, Hopi rock art and on Pueblo necklaces. In Japan, they are considered symbols of courage, strength and happiness.
The Bohart Museum, directed by UC Davis distinguished professor Lynn Kimsey, is celebrating its 75th anniversary. It's the home of nearly eight million insect specimens; a live "petting zoo," comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects (aka "walking sticks"), and tarantulas; and an online gift shop stocked with insect-themed t-shirts, jewelry, books, posters, collecting equipment and the like.
It's temporarily closed due to COVID-19 pandemic precautions. But just you wait...good things are going to happen!