This is the story of how two native bees from Vacaville, Calif., traveled 1872 miles to Oklahoma City.
But a photo I took in Vacaville of two Melissodes agilis bees zipping over a Mexican sunflower, Tithonia rotundifola, happened to win a top prize at the 63rd North Central Insect Photographic Salon, co-sponsored by the North Central Branch of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) and the Photographic Society of America.
Judges scored it "Best Image by an ESA Member." All 7000 ESA members are invited to contribute, as are non-members. I wasn't planning to enter--this was my first time--but Insect Salon coordinator/ESA member Tom Myers posted a note on Facebook seeking images to be showcased at the 2023 Joint North Central and Southwestern Branch meeting in Oklahoma City. The theme: "Branch Cross-Pollination: Seeking Hybrid Vigor in Science through Communication, Collaboration, and Societal Impact."
The North Central Branch covers Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, plus parts of Canada (Manitoba, Nunavut, Ontario) while the Southwestern Branch encompasses New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, and all of Mexico, except Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa and Sonora.
To be accepted for display, a photo must score 85 points or more. The image of the male and female bees, which I titled "Catch Me If You Can," scored 94 points, and two other Garvey images, one of a golden dung fly (Scathophaga stercoraria), "Checking You Out," and the other titled "I Do," of two Gulf Fritillaries (Agraulis vanillae), tallied 92 and 89 points, respectively. "Checking You Out" earlier won "Best Image by an ESA Member" in the 64th annual International Insect Salon competition.
The M. agilis species are fun to photograph, but set your shutter speed high. These bees are the Usain Bolts of the bee world. Catch me if you can!
I captured the image of "Catch Me If You Can" with a Nikon D500, mounted with a 200mm lens. Settings: shutter speed set at 1/8000 of second, f-stop 5, and ISO 800.
For "Checking You Out:" Nikon D500 with a 105mm lens, 1/320 of second, f-stop 9, and ISO 800.
For "I Do": Nikon D500 with a 70-180 lens (110 focal length), 1/640 of a second, f-stop at 10, and ISO of 800.
All were taken in our family's pollinator garden. (No tripod, no flash.) The added benefit of planting a pollinator garden includes capturing images of the residents and visitors.
Me? I'm just a guest in their habitat. I don't poke 'em, prod 'em or pin 'em. I just photograph them. When. They. Let. Me.
She--and any others near them--will smile every time!
Fact is, Rob Page is our favorite honey bee geneticist, and he was just named the recipient of the 2023 C. W. Woodworth Award, the highest honor accorded by the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America (PBESA).
It's an honor well deserved. And a honey of an award.
“Dr. Page is a pioneering researcher in the field of evolutionary genetics and social behavior of honey bees, and a highly respected and quoted author, teacher and former administrator,” wrote nominator Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Page is the 12th UC Davis recipient of the award, first presented in 1969. His mentor, and later colleague, Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. (for whom the UC Davis bee biology research facility is named), won the award in 1981.
The PBESA awards ceremony will take place at its meeting, April 2-5, in Seattle. The organization encompasses 11 Western states, and parts of Canada, Mexico and U.S. territories.
“One of Dr. Page's most salient contributions to science was to construct the first genomic map of the honey bee, which sparked a variety of pioneering contributions not only to insect biology but to genetics at large,” Nadler related. “It was the first genetic map of any social insect. He was the first to demonstrate that a significant amount of observed behavioral variation among honey bee workers is due to genotypic variation. In the 1990s, he and his students and colleagues isolated, characterized and validated the complementary sex determination gene of the honey bee; considered the most important paper yet published about the genetics of Hymenoptera. The journal Cell featured their work on its cover. In subsequent studies, he and his team published further research into the regulation of honey bee foraging, defensive and alarm behavior.”
Page's career at ASU led to a series of top-level administrative roles: founding director, School of Life Sciences (2004-2010), vice provost and dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (2011-2013) and university provost, 2014-2015.
Nadler praised Page's strategic vision, his leadership and his contributions to science. He built two modern apicultural labs (in Ohio and Arizona), major legacies that are centers of honey bee research and training. The Social Insect Research Group (SIRG) at ASU is regarded as “the best in the world,” according to the late E. O. Wilson. ASU Professor Bert Hoelldobler, in an ASU news release, declared Dr. Page as "the leading honey bee geneticist in the world. A number of now well-known scientists in the U.S. and Europe learned the ropes of sociogenetics in Rob's laboratory.”
While at UC Davis, Page worked closely with Harry H. Laidlaw Jr., the father of honey bee genetics, and together they published many significant research papers and the landmark book, “Queen Rearing and Bee Breeding” (Wicwas Press, 1998). It is considered the most important resource book for honey bee genetics, breeding, and queen rearing. Page is now in the process of updating it.
For 24 years, from 1989 to 2015, Page maintained a honey bee-breeding program, managed by bee breeder-geneticist Kim Fondrk. Their contributions include discovering a link between social behavior and maternal traits in bees. Their work was featured in a cover story in the journal Nature. In all, Nature featured his work on four covers from work mostly done at UC Davis.
A 2012 Fellow of the Entomological Society of America, Page has held national and international offices. He served as secretary, chair-elect, chair, subsection cb (apiculture and social insects) of ESA from 1986-1989; president of the North American Section, International Union for the Study of Social Insects, 1991; and a Council member, International Bee Research Association, 1995-2000.
Among his many honors:
- Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
- Awardee of the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award (the Humboldt Prize - the highest honor given by the German government to foreign scientists)
- Foreign Member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences
- Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
- Elected to the Leopoldina - the German National Academy of Sciences (the longest continuing academy in the world)
- Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
- Fellow of the Entomological Society of America
- Awardee of the Carl Friedrich von Siemens Fellowship
- Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences
- Fellow, Carl Friedrich von Siemens Foundation, Munich, Germany, September 2017-August
- Thomas and Nina Leigh Distinguished Alumni Award from UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- James Creasman Award of Excellence (ASU Alumni Association)
- UC Davis Distinguished Emeritus Professor, one awarded annually
- Distinguished Emeritus Award, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, one awarded annually
In his letter of support, colleague and research collaborator James R. Carey, distinguished professor of entomology at UC Davis, described Page as "one of the most gifted scientists, administrators, and teachers I have had the privilege to know in my 42 years in academia.”
Bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey of Washington State University, former manager of the Laidlaw facility, emphasized Page's importance to the bee breeding and beekeeping industry. Cobey, who has based her career on the Page-Laidlaw Closed Population Breeding, wrote that: “The beauty of this system is that it is practical and addresses the unique challenges of honey bee stock improvement. Queens mate in flight with numerous drones and selection is based upon complex behaviors at the colony level, influenced by the environmental. Hence, traditional animal breeding models do not apply well to honey bees.”
Nadler also noted that “Dr. Page was involved in genome mappings of bumble bees, parasitic wasps and two species of ants. His most recent work focuses on the genetic bases of individuality in honey bees; demonstrating genetic links between pollen and nectar collection, tactile and olfactory learning characteristics, and neuroendocrine function. This work provides the most detailed understanding to date of the molecular and genetic bases to task variation in a social insect colony.”
Nadler added: "Not surprisingly, Dr. Page humbly considers his most far-reaching and important accomplishment, the success of his mentees, including at least 25 graduate students and postdocs who are now faculty members at leading research institutions around the world."
Charles William Woodworth (1865-1940), is considered the founder of both the UC Berkeley and UC Davis departments of entomology. William Harry Lange Jr., (1912-2004) was the first UC Davis recipient of the Woodworth award (1978). Other recipients: Harry Laidlaw Jr., (1907-2003), 1981; Robert Washino, 1987; Thomas Leigh (1923-1993), 1991; Harry Kaya, 1998; Charles Summers, (1941-2021), 2009; Walter Leal, 2010; Frank Zalom, 2011; James R. Carey, 2014; Thomas Scott, 2015; and Lynn Kimsey, 2020.
Joining Rob Page in the 2023 PBESA winners' circle from UC Davis: community ecologist Louie Yang, professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, recipient of the Distinction in Student Mentoring Award; and UC Davis student Gary Ge, of the UC Davis Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology, who won the second annual Dr. Stephen Garczynski Undergraduate Research Scholarship.
The complete list of this year's PBESA recipients is posted here.
Who takes images of flies? Raise your hand! No, not the hand with the flyswatter.
Well, almost anything is fair game for my camera.
That includes golden dung flies.
I am humbled to learn that my image of a golden dung fly won the Entomological Society of America (ESA) medal for "Best Image by an ESA Member" in the 64th annual International Insect Salon competition.
ESA showcased the winning images on Sunday, Nov. 13 at its joint meeting of the Entomological Society of Canada and the Entomological Society of British Columbia, which opened Nov. 13 and continues through Nov. 16 in Vancouver, British Columbia.
I captured the image of the fly, Scathophaga stercoraria, perched on a lavender stem in our family's pollinator garden in Vacaville and titled it “Checking You Out.” Scathophaga play an important role in the natural decomposition of dung. UC Davis distinguished professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, identified the fly.
The Peoria Camera Club, Illinois, sponsors the Insect Salon in conjunction with ESA and the Photographic Society of America. Coordinator Joe Virbickis of the Peoria Camera Club said the images are restricted to insects, spiders, and related arthropods (such as barnacles, crabs, lobsters, shrimp, centipedes, and millipedes.) Each photographer may submit up to four entries. "The range for acceptances is 33-35 percent of eligible images," he said.
This year's competition drew 254 entries. Judges gave acceptances to photographers from 17 countries: Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, England, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Scotland, Singapore, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and United States. (See acceptances and awards at https://insectsalon.peoriacameraclub.com/results/2022/Html/sect_1.htm)
Best of Show. Best of show medal went to Kenneth Gillies of West Lothian, Scotland, United Kingdom, for his “Peppermint Shrimps Inside a Sponge.”
Gillies was joined by the five other top winners:
- Medal for Most Unusual Image: Weihua Ma of Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province, China, for “Pretending to be a Branch.”
- Medal for Best Storytelling Image: Dre Van Mensel of Tielen, Antwerpen, Belgium, for “It's Mine.”
- Medal for Best Image by a ESA member: Kathy Keatley Garvey of UC Davis/Vacaville, Calif., for “Checking You Out.” (as earlier mentioned)
- Medal for Best Image by a non-ESA member, Tim Sanders of Bideford, Devon, England, for “At Work.”
- Medal for Best Peoria Camera Club member: Ladean Spring of Creve Coeur, lll., for “Hummingbird Moth.”
ESA member and noted insect photographer Tom Myers of Lexington, Ky., displayed the Insect Salon images at the ESA meeting. Virbickis assisted in preparing it. Myers is a frequent recipient of Insect Salon awards. His acceptances this year: "European Hornet Vespa Crabro" (honorable mention); "Chalcid Wasp 1"; and "Brood X Cicada Magicicada Sp."
The 7000-member ESA, founded in 1889 and located in Annapolis, Md., is the world's largest entomological organization. It is affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry and government. Members are researchers, teachers, extension service personnel, administrators, marketing representatives, research technicians, consultants, students, pest management professionals, and hobbyists.
The insect? It's native to Asia and primarily targets soft-skinned fruits in the berry industry, such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and cherries. The tiny insect, about 1/12 to 1/8 inch long, invaded the continental United States in 2008.
The authors? They're from eight countries: United States, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom and represent perspectives from universities, federal and state laboratories, growers, and pest product companies.
Thirteen UC Davis scientists or former affiliates are among the authors who contributed.
“All of the papers were by invitation of the co-editors of the special collection—Jana Lee, Cesar Rodrigue-Saona, and me,” said journal editor-in-chief Frank Zalom, a UC Davis distinguished professor emeritus and recall professor in the Department of Entomology and Nematology. Zalom's research includes the insect, Drosophila suzukii.
Lee, formerly with the UC Davis laboratory of the late chemical ecologist Steve Seybold, is a research entomologist with the Horticultural Crops Research Unit, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Corvallis. Rodriguez-Saona, who received his doctorate from UC Riverside, is an Extension entomologist with the Department of Entomology, Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey.
One paper, Spatio-temporal Variation of Spinosad Susceptibility in Drosophila suzukii (Diptera: Drosophilidae), a Three-year Study in California's Monterey Bay Region, is from the Zalom lab and includes co-author, molecular geneticist and physiologist Joanna Chiu, professor and vice chair of the Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Since 2008, "D. suzukii has become a key economical pest of raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and cherries in the United States and worldwide," the editors wrote in their introductory remarks. "Not surprisingly, the number of publications has proliferated from 29 publications as of 2010 to 978 additional publications between 2011 and 2021 from a Web of Science search for ‘Drosophila suzukii.' While many publications are available, this special collection will highlight advances in D. suzukii pest management since its U.S. invasion. We solicited papers by open call and received 66 abstracts, and selected 14 papers covering: 1) review, 2) monitoring and risk, 3) behavioral control, 4) biological control, 5) cultural control, and 6) chemical control."
The editors pointed out that “Given that 14 years of research has accumulated since the continental U.S. invasion, it was fitting to include two reviews that provide a different scope than was covered in prior reviews on D. suzukii biological control (Lee et al. 2019, Wang et al. 2020), trapping (Burrack et al. 2020), cultural control (Schöneberg et al. 2021), and chemical ecology (Cloonan et al. 2018). This special collection is anchored by Tait et al. (2021), a review of the most promising methods as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy against D. suzukii across the world since 2008. The effectiveness, impact, sustainability, and present stage of development and implementation are discussed for each of the considered techniques, and insights for continued development are presented.”
The researchers related that the pest is a significant threat to California's berry production industry, which the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) valued at more than $2.8 billion in 2019. Caneberries, in particular, "are a preferred host of D. suzukii, and California accounts for 89.4 percent of all production in the United States, with the Monterey Bay region producing about half of the state's raspberries and blackberries (CDFA 2020). This pest has now spread to all major berry and cherry growing areas of the United States."
The collection is meant to serve "as a key reference point for entomologists across many institutions (e.g., academia, government, and industry) on important advances in D. suzukii pest management," according to the Entomological Society of America. "The articles in this collection will also provide scientists information on potential research gaps that will help guide future research directions on this important pest. The goal is to preserve and catalog articles on various aspects of D. suzukii pest management, i.e., monitoring, cultural control, chemical control, behavioral control, and biological control, that will be shared among entomologists."
"Kleptopharmacophagy, a newly described behavior recently observed in milkweed butterflies, is characterized by adult butterflies feeding on milkweed caterpillars. What type of alkaloids do the adult butterflies presumably gain as a result?"
What's the answer? Pyrrolizidine alkaloids.
What, you ask, are the Entomology Games? A lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competition on entomological facts played between university-sponsored student teams, as ESA says.
If you've ever been to the Entomology Games (formerly the Linnaean Games), you know how wonderfully educational and purely entertaining they are. Check out the list of YouTube videos in the championship matches. The 2018, 2016 and 2015 videos are there. The UC Entomology Games Team (UC Davis and UC Berkeley) won the nationals in 2018, and UC Davis in both 2016 and 2015.
Next month is the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America (PBESA) competition, with the championship team and runner-up team eligible to complete in the nationals.
The PBESA meeting takes place April 10-13 in the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country. Santa Rosa. The preliminary round is from 5 to 6 p.m., April 10. Plans are to hold three rounds with questions from each of the 10 categories: Biological Control, Behavior and Ecology, Economic and Applied Entomology, Medical-Urban-Veterinary Entomology, Morphology and Physiology, Biochemistry and Toxicology, Systematics and Evolution, Integrated Pest Management and Plant-Insect Interactions, History of Entomology, and Entomology in Popular Culture. (See 2021 sample questions.)
The final round is from 8 to 10 p.m., April 11. Then the top two PBESA teams will head to the nationals. The Nov. 13-16 ESA meeting n Vancouver, British Columbia is a joint meeting with the Entomological Society of Canada (ESC), and the Entomological Society of British Columbia (ESBC). The theme: "Entomology as Inspiration: Insects through Art, Science, and Culture."
Some of the questions asked at previous matches have involved the work entomologists affiliated with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology:
- Emerita Mary Lou Flint, a longtime leader of the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management (UC IPM) Program and an Extension entomologist based in the department;
- Rebecca Godwin, who received her doctorate from UC Davis and is now an assistant professor of biology at Piedmont University, Demorest, Ga.; and Jason Bond, the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair and associate dean, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
- Robbin Thorp (1933-2019), distinguished emeritus professor known for his expertise on bumble bees, including Franklin's bumble bees, now feared extinct
Q. Mary Lou Flint's textbook, IPM in Practice; Principles and Methods of Integrated Pest Management, cites the management of what invasive plant, first introduced to North America from Europe, as an "excellent example of classical biological control in the Western US?" This plant was controlled by importing the European chrysomelid beetle Chrysolina quadrigemina.
A. Klamath weed / St. John's Wort / Hypericum perforatum
Q: In early 2021, (Rebecca) Godwin and (Jason) Bond described 33 new species of the trapdoor spider genus Ummidia, including a species named in honor of what alt-country singer-songwriter, who was the most-nominated woman at the 2019 Grammy Awards? She has had success both as a solo artist and as a member of the all-female supergroup The Highwomen, and her annual music festival "Girls Just Wanna Weekend" is held in Mexico near the type locality of her namesake trapdoor spider. Name this singer.
A: Brandi Carlile
Q: What bee species, only known from California and Oregon, was added to the Endangered Species List in September 2021?
A: Franklin's bumble bee (Bombus franklini)
How about some more questions?
Q. Earwigs are known for their maternal care, but the species Anechura harmandi goes above and beyond in its support. What describes the extreme contribution of A. harmandi mothers to the success of their offspring?
A: Matriphagy; the survival rate of the offspring is increased when they consume their mother after parental care is complete
Q: Halictid bees parasitized by the strepsipteran species Halictoxenos borealis were recently shown to exhibit unusual behavior when visiting flowers. The parasitized bees did NOT collect or eat pollen; they instead bent their abdomens downward and pressed them against the flower. According to the authors of this study, how did this behavior directly benefit the first-instar strepsipterans living in the bees?
A: Pressing the abdomen against the flower makes it easier for the mobile first-instar strepsipteran larvae to move onto the flower and wait for a new host bee to arrive
Q: Developed during World War II by USDA employee Samuel Gertler, what widely used chemical compound can be synthesized using the reagents diethylamine and meta-toluic acid?
A: DEET / diethyltoluamide / n,n-diethyl-meta-toluamide / n,n-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide
Q: Most contact insecticides are able to penetrate the insect exoskeleton because they contain a fat-soluble compound. What is the term for this type of chemical compound?
A: Lipophilic compound
Q: The solitary bee Eucera pruinosa (formerly in the genus Peponapis) is an efficient pollinator of what crop? There are multiple correct answers, but one of them is particularly appropriate, considering what day it is.
A: Pumpkins, cucumbers, squash, and other cucurbits
Q: Animals in the livestock, poultry and aquaculture industries often consume feed that has been supplemented by insect protein. This protein frequently comes from Hermetia illucens, a dipteran known by what common name?
A: Black soldier fly
Q: The leafcutter ant, Atta cephalotes, has hardened, distinctly sharpened mandibles that allow it to efficiently cut leaves. What mineral found in the mandibles provides this distinct sharpness? This mineral is also a metallic element with atomic number 30 on the periodic table.
Q: What entomological acronym was used to refer to a group of American women who worked as auxiliary service pilots for the US during World War II?
A: WASP (Women Auxiliary Service Pilots)
Q: In 2018, Rachel Brosnahan won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, for playing a character with what dipteran nickname?
A: Midge (Miriam ‘Midge' Maisel from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Q: What British guitarist, who died in 2001, was memorialized by a pine tree planted in Los Angeles' Griffith Park? In an unfortunate, and somewhat ironic, development, the pine tree was later killed by an infestation of beetles.
A: George Harrison of The Beatles
Q: Keteoko is a traditional "honey feast" celebrated by the Enawene-Nawe people indigenous to the Brazilian Amazon. In order to collect large amounts of wild honey for the feast, the Enawene-Nawe have developed their own classification system, based on morphology, behavior, nest structure, and honey flavor, for identifying native species of what type of bee? Please answer with the common or scientific name of a tribe of Apidae.
A: Meliponini, stingless bees
Q: What insect family is essential for the production of iron gall ink? The ink is made using tannins extracted from oak galls, which are induced by larvae of this family.
Did you get them all correct?