Where's the best spot for the new residents of my garden?
I acquired two ladybugs last Saturday during the 99th annual UC Davis Picnic Day. Background: as part of the campuswide celebration, the Department of Entomology annually hosts an all-out bugfest at the Bohart Museum of Entomology and at Briggs Hall. And keeping with the Briggs Hall tradition, the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program gifted picnickers with the treasured ladybugs.
Now ladybugs aren't really "bugs"; they're beetles. Neither are they all "ladies"; some have manly qualities. (Gender issues may confuse us, but not the lady and gentlemen beetles.)
A ladybug is a good beneficial insect. It can devour an estimated 5000 aphids in its lifetime (three to six weeks).
So, every year for the past several years, I've adopted two ladybugs, chauffered them home, and tucked them in our garden. "Please eat the aphids," I tell them.
And they do.
They're good at following instructions.
Last year they took up residence in a bed of red roses. This year, they're coming up in the world--a high rise. A tower of jewels (Echium wildpretii) is "home sweet home."
Life doesn't get any better than this if you're a ladybug (and any worse if you're an aphid).
So says David Goulson, professor at the University of Stirling, U.K., who will speak on “The Ecology and Conservation of Bumble Bees” on Wednesday, April 24 at a UC Davis Department of Entomology seminar.
His seminar, set from 12:05 to 1 p.m. in Room 1022 of the Life Sciences Addition, corner of Hutchison and Kleiber Hall drives, promises to be well attended. It is scheduled to be videotaped and broadcast at a later date on UCTV.
UC Davis pollination ecologist/assistant professor Neal Williams will host him.
"I will discuss the main causes of their declines, which probably vary between regions," said Goulson, who founded the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in 2006.
"In Europe, the primary driver is thought to be habitat loss and other changes associated with intensive farming," Goulson said. "In the Americas, declines of some species are likely to be due to impacts of non-native diseases.
“I will then turn to possible links between poor bee health and pesticides, particularly a class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids. A controversy is currently raging on both sides of the Atlantic; I will give my view on the evidence for environmental impacts of these pesticides.”
Goulson works mainly on the ecology and conservation of bumble bees. He has published more than 200 scientific articles on the ecology and conservation of insects, with a particular focus on bumble bees. He is the author of Bumblebees: Their Behaviour, Ecology and Conservation, published in 2010 by Oxford University Press, and of A Sting in the Tale, a popular science book about bumble bees, published in 2013 by Jonathan Cape.
Goulson received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Oxford University, followed by a doctorate on butterfly ecology at Oxford Brookes University. Subsequently, he lectured in biology for 11 years at the University of Southampton, before moving to Stirling in 2006, and then to Sussex in 2013.
Meanwhile, what's not to like about bumble bees? The dwindling population of many species...
You'll probably like lima bean honey.
Lima beans are a honey production crop, and this varietal is one of the six honeys to be sampled at the UC Davis Department of Entomology's free honey-tasting event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 20 at Briggs Hall. It's all part of the 99th annual UC Davis Picnic Day.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen has been staffing the activitity at the UC Davis Picnic Day for more than three decades.
Every year Mussen tries to offer something new and/or different for visitors to taste. He's gathered everything from cotton honey to starthistle honey. (Starthistle, by the way, is his favorite, and is also favored by many beekeepers.)
This year, in addition to lima bean honey, the varietals are manzanita, pomegranate, orange blossom, almond blossom and northern desert shrub (from Nevada). (See the National Honey Board website for information on varietals.)
Honey bees are trucked to California from all over the country to pollinate the state's 800,000 acres of almonds. But have you ever sampled almond blossom honey? Most people haven't. It's rather strong and leaves an aftertaste, Mussen says.
What many folks are also eager to try is the reddish-tinged honey from the northern desert shrub.
The honey tasting will take place in the courtyard of Briggs Hall, which is located just off Kleiber Hall drive. Each person will be given six toothpicks, one for each varietal. Due to popular demand, two tables will be set up to accommodate everyone.
Guess which one will be the last honey to be sampled? Almond blossom honey. That's because of the aftertaste.
Bugs will rule at the 99th annual UC Davis Picnic Day this Saturday, April 20.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology is planning lots of "bug" activities as part of the campuswide celebration.
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, coordinator of the department’s Picnic Day activities, says there will be cockroach races, termite trails, ant colonies, Maggot Art, face-painting, fly-tying, honey tasting, T-shirt sales, and much, much more at Briggs Hall.
Briggs is located off Kleiber Hall drive, near the campus police and fire stations, while the Bohart Museum is in Room 1124 Academic Surge on Crocker Lane.
The Bohart Museum, home of nearly eight million insect specimens, will feature wasp nests in its new display case. Displayed will be nests once occupied by European paper wasps, yellow jackets, carpenter bees and bumble bees. The Bohart also will include a live “petting zoo” where visitors can hold Madagascar hissing cockroaches, a rose-haired tarantula, and walking sticks. Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, directs the Bohart Museum.
At Briggs, you can also expect to see forensic, medical, aquatic, apiculture, and forest entomology displays, as well as a honey of a honey tasting. In the courtyard, Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen will share six varieties of honey: manzanita, lima bean, pomegranate, almond blossom, orange blossom, and Northern desert shrub Nevada), a reddish honey. In Room 122, staff research associate/beekeeper Billy Synk of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility will provide a bee observation hive.
One of the most popular activities at Briggs is Maggot Art, a term trademarked by forensic entomologist Rebecca O’Flaherty, a former doctoral candidate in entomology at UC Davis. This involves dipping a maggot in non-toxic, water-based paint. “Artists” pick up a maggot with special forceps, dip it in the paint and then let it crawl on white paper. O’Flaherty launched Maggot Art in 2001 at the University of Hawaii as a community outreach project when she was teaching entomology to youths.
The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) will set up its traditional display in front of Briggs Hall where visitors can learn about managing pests in their homes and garden. In addition, UC IPM will give away live lady beetles (aka ladybugs) to children.
Plans at Briggs Hall also call for a “Bug Doctor” to answer insect-related questions. The doctor is in! Last year’s “Bug Doctors” included Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
So, bugs will rule!
Bradley White, assistant professor at UC Riverside, will speak on “Ecological Genomics of Malaria Mosquitoes” at the UC Davis Department of Entomology seminar from 12:05 to 1 p.m. in Room 1022 of the Life Sciences Building, corner of Hutchison and Kleiber Hall drives.
Professor Gregory Lanzaro of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine will introduce White. Plans call for video-recording the seminar for later posting on UCTV.
"Anopheles gambiae is the most important malaria vector in the world,” White says in is abstract. “Remarkable adaptive flexibility has enabled this mosquito to track humans across the diverse ecoclimates of sub-Saharan Africa where it thrives in both highly mesic and xeric conditions. These rapid, recent ecological adaptations have driven incipient speciation into two ecotypes, which differentially exploit permanent and temporary larval habitats. Within each nascent species, abundant chromosomal inversion polymorphisms facilitate adaptation to local conditions along latitudinal environmental gradients."
“To elucidate the genetic basis of ecological adaptation in Anopheles gambiae, we performed a series of genome-wide divergence scans, which revealed candidate regions subject to recent natural selection. Dissection of one of these genomic regions established a link between naturally occurring allelic variation and an adaptive phenotype. In the context of evolutionary genomics, these studies shed light on the maintenance of inversion polymorphisms and also provide insight into the genomic architecture of reproductive isolation. From a public health standpoint, this work demonstrates how divergent ecological selection can impact the vectorial capacity of Anopheles gambiae -- with consequences for malaria epidemiology and control.”
White began working on mosquitoes as an undergraduate at Oberlin College in Ohio. “At the time, West Nile virus (WNV) was sweeping through the midwest and during the summers I participated in a project to identify the Culex vectors of WNV and to determine environmental factors affecting their abundance,” he said. “After leaving Oberlin, I spent the next seven years in Nora Besansky's lab at Notre Dame where I focused on the population genomics of the African malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae."
White, who joined the UC Riverside Department of Entomology faculty in 2011, focuses his research on quantitative and functional genomics of Anopheline malaria vectors.
More information? Check out his website at http://www.mosquitogenomics.org.