Ant specialists and other researchers also hone in on big-eyed ants for their relationships with plants.
Those attending a UC Davis seminar this week on big ants will learn all about them, including the phylogenetic morphology.
Brendon Boudinot, a Ph.D. candidate in the Phiil Ward lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will speak on "Phylogenetic Morphology of the Big-Eyed Tree Ants and Kin (Formicidae: Pseudomyrmecinae)" at 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 28 in 122 Briggs Hall.
This is one of the seminars hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology for the winter quarter.
"Like their closest relatives, the infamous bulldog ants of Australia, the big-eyed tree ants have a nasty sting, but this isn't what draws our attention to them," he says. "Rather, many species of big-eyed ants have intimate relationships with plants. In the most extreme cases, the ants act as the plants' personal body guards, raining down upon perceived threats as a deluge of stings, and even pruning away competitive vegetation, forming eerily still 'satan's gardens' in South America.'
"In some cases, the plants contribute to the social wellbeing of the ants by investing in public housing, with the ants making their nests in preformed cavities within the plants, such as in the swollen thorns of various Acacia," Boudinot points out. "Indeed, these same Acacia provide the sole nutrition for their protectives ants, in the form of small, yellow, protein-rich food bodies at the tips of their leaves---in other words, the ants have become full vegans. Current evidence suggests that these tight relationships have evolved perhaps a dozen times within the big-eyed ants. However, the adaptations of these ants to living in state-sponsored societies is uncertain. It is one of the objectives of the present research to understand how the bodies of big-eyed ants have transformed over time, allowing the ants to optimize their relationship with plants."
Boudinot will be illustrating his seminar with stunning photos of big-eyed ants, the work of Alex Wild, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis (studying with Phil Ward). Wild is now curator of entomology, University of Austin, Texas.
The UC Davis Entomology and Nematology's series of seminars for the winter quarter are coordinated by assistant professor Rachel Vannette; Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño and Brendon Boudinot.
Capture images of the bees, create sculptures from beetle galleries, and depict insect motifs on clothing...
Don't miss the unique exhibition, It's Bugged: Insects' Role in Design, set Jan. 8-April 22 at the UC Davis Design Museum in Room 124 of Cruess Hall, UC Davis campus.
Beginning at noon, Monday, Jan. 8, you can view the art-and-design installation that explores the connections between people and insects. The exhibition is free and open to the public. Hours are from noon to 4 p.m. weekdays, and from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sundays through April 22.
You'll see work by UC Davis Department of Design faculty and graduate students, as well as displays from the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
The Bohart Museum will showcase insect specimens from its collection, and images from celebrated insect photographer Alex Wild, curator of entomology at the University of Texas, Austin. Wild received his doctorate in entomology in from UC Davis in 2005, studying with major professor Phil Ward.
The Design Museum exhibition also ties in with the Bohart Museum's open house, “Bug Art @ the Bohart," from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 21 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane. This will overlap with the Design Museum's hours on Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m., so visitors can explore both museums, said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator.
“The inspiration we draw from the natural world is endless,” said McGraw. “The challenge in the exhibit was focusing our story to the links between insects and textiles and forms. We selected key pieces from UC Davis' Joann C. Stabb Design Collection and works from collaborating artists, so the connection to insects could then be explored. Some of these relationships are centuries old, while other ways people are using insects and insect behavior is relatively new. What's exciting to me is to think about all the new products, designs, and technologies that are still to come as people continue to be inspired by insects. And what better place to encourage that than a university setting where so much creative work is already going on?”
The exhibition includes the work of several Department of Design faculty and graduate students, including professor emerita Ann Savageau and master-of-fine-art students Alicia Decker, Cory Wolffs and Lauren Kelly.
For the exhibition, Savageau created a trilogy of wall pieces made from hornet nest paper, and a set of sculptures made of wood etched into striking patterns by bark beetle larvae. The Bohart Museum open house on bark beetles featured her work last August.
Savageau describes herself as an environmental artist who creates mixed-media sculpture and installations. Her work deals with the natural world, human culture, and their intersection. Her current interests include global warming and environmental destruction; consumer culture and wasteful consumption; and artistic transformations of waste. Ann's Stanford anthropological training, her interest in the natural world, and the many places she has lived are reflected in her art.
Ann received her bachelor's degree from Stanford University, and her master of fine arts from Wayne State University. She taught at the University of Michigan Residential College from 1978-2002. She joined the faculty at UC Davis in 2003, retiring as a professor of design in 2014. She currently works as a full-time studio artist. Ann has exhibited her work in more than 80 exhibitions, both nationally and internationally. She has given numerous lectures and workshops and has juried many exhibitions. (See more of her work at http://annsavageau.com/)
Alex Wild describes himself as a "Texas-based biologist who started photographing insects in 2002 as an aesthetic complement to my scientific work on ant taxonomy and evolution." His photographs have appeared in numerous natural history museums, magazines, books, television programs, and other media, including the New York Times, Science, Nature, Washington Post, National Geographic and the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), among others. He and colleagues teach a BugShot Macro Photography Workshops. Wild shared some of his photography techniques when he presented a UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminar in 2008. (See his seminar posted on UCTV and his images on his website.)
A reception heralding the opening of the Design Museum exhibition is set from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 11. Savageau will give a presentation on the show at 6:30 p.m. in Room 256 of Cruess Hall.
(Visit the Design Museum for map and parking information.)
Remember the Spruce Goose? Technically known as the Hughes H-4 Hercules, it was built by the Hughes Aircraft Company for transatlantic flight transport for use during World War II. Although it basically couldn't get off the ground, it made aviation history as (1) the largest flying boat ever built, and (2) the largest-ever wingspan. If you want to see it, it's on display at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, McMinnville, Ore.
Just like the Spruce Goose, the bumble bee doesn't look flight-worthy, either.
But it is.
We saw scores of bumble bees in May of 2015 when we attended a BugShot Macro Photography Workshop, taught by noted insect photographers Alex Wild, John Abbott and Thomas Shahan at the Hastings Natural History Reserve, a biological field station owned by UC Berkeley in the upper Carmel Valley, Monterey County.
While at the four-day workshop, we had plenty of time to capture images of bumble bees in flight--and we did. We especially marveled at the yellow-faced bumble bees (Bombus vosnesenskii) foraging in a lush meadow of vetch and lupine. It was bumble bee heaven! We posted some of the images on Bug Squad.
Enter aerodynamics expert Phillip Burgers of the School of Arts and Sciences, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, San Diego. He asked for--and received--permission to use one of the bumble bee images for his research paper for an aerospace journal.
"Your photograph is perfect, as it shows those wings flapping back-and-forth, highlighting their kinetic energy concept I am introducing in my paper," he wrote. He signed off as "Phillip Burgers, Ph.D., Aerodynamics & Performance Flight Technologies, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc."
You can read his paper, published July 29 in a special issue, Flapping Wings, Aerospace 2016, 3(3), 24; doi:10.3390/aerospace3030024. See http://www.mdpi.com/journal/aerospace/special_issues/flapping_wings#published
His illustration, titled "Evaluating the capability of generating lift by flapping wings during hover & forward flight," points out "lift," "wing reference area," "kinetic energy of wings" and "air density."
It's good to see the focus on bumble bees--whether in flight or in the Aerospace journal.
The event takes place May 12-15 in Austin and will be taught by noted insect photographers/entomologists Alex Wild, Piotr Naskrecki and John Abbott. (See information on instructors.)
"BugShot courses are designed to help you improve your macro photography technique in the field and in the studio, regardless of your equipment or experience," the organizers say. It covers, among other topics:
- Macro-and microphotography equipment
- Lighting and flash
- Working with live insects
- Introduction to insect biology (track 1) or Introduction to photography (track 2)
- Special techniques: focus-stacking, time-lapse and video
- Digital asset management and workflow
- Field sessions in beautiful natural habitats
- Evening photo-sharing presentations
- Photography in social media
Who should attend BugShot workshops?
- Entomologists who aspire to improve their photographic skills for work or pleasure
- Photographers who wish to learn arthropod- specific techniques
- Naturalists, beekeepers and gardeners who enjoy the little things
- Bug bloggers, social media users, and BugGuide.net contributors who'd like to spice up their online imagery
We attended BugShot Hastings 2015 at the Hastings Natural History Preserve in the Carmel Valley last May. Operated by UC Berkeley, Hastings is a biological field station with much to offer and much to photograph. We fanned out to capture images of everything from bumble bees to honey bees to ants. The instructors-- Texas-based Alex Wild and John Abbott and Oregon-based Thomas Shahan--not only offered instructions and fielded questions but each delivered an evening program--Wild on ants (he received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis with ant guru/professor Phil Ward; Abbott on dragonflies, and Shahan on jumping spiders.
We love looking at insect images.
Drum roll...the winning images for the Entomological Society of America's Photo Salon, a global competition, have just been announced. They will be shown at the ESA's meeting, Nov. 15-18 in Minneapolis, Minn. (The ESA theme this year is "Synergy in Science: Partnering for Solutions.")
You can see the list of winners and their images here: http://www.peoriacameraclub.com/Steve/Html/sect_1.htm
You'll see the best of show, a stunning butterfly image taken in Croatia. You'll see pests, prey, and predators. You'll see insects having a "happy meal." You'll see bug porn, or insects love caught in the act of reproducing more of the critters we love to shoot. You'll see insects you've never seen before--and probably will never see again.
They're spectacular. They're awe-inspiring. They're amazing.
As an aside, two of my photos were selected for the Photo Salon: One is of a bee fly that I titled "Pollen Power" and the other of two praying mantids ("Giddy Up").
Next year, you enter! Track that robber fly, follow that moth, and dash after that Blue Dasher. And don't forget the spiders. They're not insects, but arthropod images are also welcome in the Photo Salon competition.
If you want to learn more about macro photography, check out the Bug Shot Macro workshops at http://bugshot.net/. The instructors include noted insect photographers:
We attended the four-day workshop May 7-10, 2015 at Hastings Reserve, a biological field station owned and operated by the University of California, Berkeley. Texas-based Alex Wild and John Abbott and Oregon-based Thomas Shahan served as the instructors and shared their knowledge and research. By the way, Wild received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis and recently moved from Illinois to be the curator of entomology in the College of Natural Sciences, University of Austin. Wild specializes in ants; Abbott, dragonflies; and Shahan, jumping spiders. But they, of course, focus on other arthropods, too.
It was an incredible four days. More will come.
Ready, set, focus! Oh, no, where did that yellow-faced bumble bee go?/span>