Honey bees own the flower beds at the Solano County Fair, 900 Fairgrounds Drive, Vallejo.
But bees and other insects claim the exhibit halls, as well. They're depicted on everything from quilts and photos to graphic arts displayed in McCormack Hall.
Indeed, pollinators are an integral part of the exhibits at the 70th annual Solano County Fair, which opens Thursday, June 27 and continues through Sunday, June 30. The annual family-based fair aims to inform, educate and entertain.
Gloria Gonzalez, superintendent of McCormack Hall, and a community leader with the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, called attention to the colorful bees framing a 9-patch maple leaf quilt showcased in the adult division. It is the work of Tina Frothy of Vallejo.
And some of the youth entries?
- Jessie Means of the Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville, entered a close-up photo of a honey bee.
- Maya Prunty of the Pleasants Valley 4-H Club submitted a photo of a caterpillar.
- Alana Boman of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club sketched a moth.
- Madeline Giron of Benicia drew a bee.
Butterfly guru Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, identified it as Parthenos sylvia ssp. lilacinus from Southeast Asia. "Its English name," he said, "is the Blue Clipper."
Locally, you can see Blue Clipper specimens in the Bohart Museum of Entomology in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis. "We have 11 specimens of this subspecies and specimens of 4 other subspecies of Parthenos sylvia, as well as specimens of two other species in the genus," said entomologist Jeff Smith, curator of Lepidoptera at the Bohart. He describes the butterfly as "beautiful with a strong wingbeat." Smith remembers collecting one in Thailand when he was serving with the U.S. Air Force.
Gonzalez said some of the items entered in the fair are tagged for the silent auction; the highest bidder takes the entry home.
Admission to the Solano County Fair is free all four days. Parking is free the first day only. Gates are from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, and from noon to 8 p.m., Friday through Sunday. See more information on the website.
Cheers to 70 years! And cheers to the exhibitors who picked pollinators!
Oh, you didn't get yours?
Well, Delsin Russell, 9, of Vacaville, did, and he and his mother journeyed Saturday, Jan. 12 to the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house on the University of California, Davis, campus, to show it to scientists and perhaps get it sexed. Male or female? That's still uncertain.
Russell, wearing a purple t-shirt lettered with "Easily Distracted by Bugs," said Santa knew what he wanted and delivered his much-wanted--and now much-cherished--tarantula to him.
According to Wikipedia, the Mexican redknee tarantula, as the name implies, is a native of Mexico: "It's a popular choice as pets among tarantula keepers."
No strangers to the Bohart Museum, Delsin and his mother, Beth Russell, attended the insect museum's open house last August featuring extreme insects. (Delsin wore an insect-themed shirt, "I like big bugs; I cannot lie.") The open house featured "insects that can live in intense heat, cold, acidity or salinity." A wide variety insects, including flies, beetles, wasps and more, can live in these extreme conditions. Some species are even attracted to fire, said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and UC Davis professor of entomology.
As for Delsin, he aims for a career as an entomologist. Currently, he's enrolled in a beekeeping project in the Vaca Valley 4-H Club--and taking very good care of his Mexican redknee tarantula.
Goes to prove that Santa isn't afraid of tarantulas. They're welcome in his sleigh.
Three More Open Houses Scheduled at Bohart Museum
The Bohart Museum is planning three more open houses during the academic year.
- Saturday, Feb. 16, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., during campuswide Biodiversity Museum Day.
- Saturday, March 9, from 1 to 4 p.m. for its "Eight-Legged Wonders" (This is a spider theme, featuring the work of the Jason Bond lab)
- Saturday, April 13 from 10 to 3 p.m. as part of the UC Davis Picnic Day.
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus, is the home of nearly eight million insect specimens, plus a year-around gift shop and a live "petting zoo" (think Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas) and a year-around gift shop. It is open to the general public Mondays through Thursdays, from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m. It hosts occasional, weekend open houses. Admission is free. Further information is available on the Bohart Museum website at http://bohart.ucdavis.edu/ or contact (530) 753-0493 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spider Glue Seminar, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Wednesday, April 24 is the date of a UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminar to be presented by postdoctoral researcher Sarah Stellwagen of the University of Maryland, College Park. She will speak on “Toward Spider Glue: From Material Properties to Sequencing the Longest Silk Family Gene" from 4:10 to 5 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall, located on Kleiber Hall Drive. (See new story on spider glue.) Medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is coordinating the seminars.
It was the third day of the Western Apicultural Society's 40th annual conference, and Oliver was there to show beekeepers how to determine the levels of Nosema or Varroa mite infection in their hives. He brought along his microscope, his four decades worth of beekeeping experience, and his humor.
His credentials: He owns and operates a small commercial beekeeping enterprise in the foothills of Grass Valley, Northern California. He and his two sons manage approximately 1000 colonies for migratory pollination, and they produce queens, nucs and honey.
Oliver holds two university degrees (BS) and master's (MS), specializing in entomology.
He is an avid scientist. He researches, analyzes and digests beekeeping information from all over the world in order not only to broaden his own depth of understanding and knowledge, but to develop practical solutions to many of today's beekeeping problems. He then shares that information with other beekeepers through his bee journal articles, worldwide speaking engagements and on his website, www.scientificbeekeeping.com. Oliver says on his website, "This is not a 'How You Should Keep Bees' site; rather, I'm a proponent of 'Whatever Works for You' beekeeping." He is never without a research project; he collaborates with the nation's leading bee scientists, and is a stickler for data. "I'm a 'data over dogma' guy, and I implore my readers to correct me on any information at this website that is out of date or not supported by evidence."
But back to his presentation. Got bees? Yes.
Oliver calmly reached into a hive and brought out a handful of nurse bees (the foragers were out foraging) as Sonoma County Beekeepers' Association newsletter editor Ettamarie Peterson watched. A longtime beekeeper and 4-H leader, she owns Peterson's Farm, Petaluma, a certified bee friendly farm. She marveled at the bees on his hand.
Seeking to share the bee-utiful bees, Oliver handed them over to her as photographers chronicled the encounter.
"See, they don't sting!" he said.
They did not. Here's proof!
We recently watched McCormack Hall superintendent Gloria Gonzalez of Vallejo, and her crew set up the exhibits in preparation for the crowds that will flow through the building next week.
Butterflies appear in many of the entries, including quilts, vests, needlework, paintings, photographs, and arts and crafts. As the crew worked, a butterfly fluttered through the open door, hovered over a display table, and then fluttered out. An omen?
One of the eye-opening, jaw-dropping displays is a butterfly-themed quilt made by LaQuita Tummings of Rodeo. Judges wrote, in part: "Wow, incredible design!" Indeed it is!
The adult division exhibits include a colorful vest of brilliant blossoms and majestic butterflies, sewn by Linda Douthit of Fairfield, a veteran seamstress, 4-H leader and longtime exhibitor. Laura Ryan of Vallejo entered her intricate needlework showcasing bees and blossoms; you can almost hear the bees buzz. Tina Waycie, Vallejo, is showing her quilling (paper arts); the attention to detail is amazing. In adult collections, Joanne Dalton of Vallejo, entered her case of 93 thimbles, and yes, a butterfly motif adorns one of them.
Theme of this year's Solano County Fair, established in 1949, is "This Fair's for Ewe." The grounds are located at 900 Fairgrounds Drive, Vallejo. Directors of the Solano County Fair Association, appointed by the Solano County Board of Supervisors, aim for a "positive experience for the public" through "educational, cultural, artistic, commercial and recreational programs."
The fair is open from from 3 to 11 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, and from noon to 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. The schedule and ticket prices are listed on the fair website, but note the three free admission days:
- Seniors' Day: Free admission all day on Wednesday, Aug. 2 or seniors 60 and better
- Kids' Day: Free admission all day on Thursday, Aug. 3 for kids ages 12 and under
- Military and First Responders Appreciation Day: Free admission all day on Friday, Aug. 4 for military, law enforcement, firefighters and their dependents
When you go, be sure to look for the monarchs in McCormack Hall. If you're lucky, a butterfly--maybe a monarch, Gulf Fritillary or Western tiger swallowtail--will flutter into the building.
Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. --Nathaniel Hawthorne
Teachers ask their students to make an insect collection. The project is considered a "rite of passage." However, often the students--whether they be middle school, high school or college level--don't know where to begin. Ditto for 4-H'ers enrolled in entomology projects.
What to do?
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology to the rescue. There, on the home page, students can access short, clear, concise videos on how to create an insect collection. They can watch and download them for free.
The story behind the story: Back in 2010, James R. Carey. professor of entomology, wanted to teach UC Davis students how to create and produce short videos that could tell the story in a minute or less. And he did just that.
The entire series, totaling 11 clips ranging in length from 32 seconds to 77 seconds, can be viewed in just less than 10 minutes.
“So in less than 10 minutes, someone can learn how to make an insect collection,” Carey says. The clips are tightly scripted, with an emphasis on brevity, simplicity and low cost.
The project continues to draw widespread interest and won an award from the Entomological Society of America. Carey, now a distinguished professor in the Department of Entomology and Nematology and active in research, teaching and public service, went on to win the ESA's 2015 national teaching award. It will be presented at the ESA's November meeting in Minnesota. The "How to Make an Insect Collection" project was just one of the many factors considered. (See his many other projects on his website.)
So, how do you make an insect collection? Easy!
Here are the videos:
Hand Collecting (32 seconds)
Using an Aspirator (34 seconds)
Ground Collecting (54 seconds)
Aquatic Collecting (58 seconds)
Using Nets (58 seconds)
Killing (51 seconds)
Pinning (43 seconds)
Point Mounting (50 seconds)
Labeling Specimens (48 seconds)
Spreading (77 seconds)
Storage and Display (32 seconds)