The annual meeting, hosted by the Entomological Society of America (ESA), is taking place Nov. 5-8 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.
The theme: "Insects and Influence: Advancing Entomology's Impact on People and Policy."
At the helm of ESA this year--and influencing scientists, insects and the general public--are four women scientists:
- President: Marianne Alleyne, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Vice President: Jennifer Henke, Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District
- Vice President-Elect: Lina Bernaola, Texas A&M University
- Past President: Jessica Ware, American Museum of Natural History
Among the top honorees at Entomology 2023 is UC Davis doctoral alumnus Douglas Walsh, professor and Extension specialist in the Department of Entomology, Washington State University (WSU). He is one of six newly elected Fellows
"Walsh is known internationally for his research on the modes of action and resistance mechanisms of acaricides on spider mites and regionally in the Pacific Northwest for his extension and outreach efforts on specialty crops," ESA announced in a news release, citing that:
"Walsh has maintained a well-funded (more than $30 million) and productive program as the research director of the Environmental and Agricultural Entomology Laboratory located at the WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in the Yakima Valley near Prosser, Washington. Walsh is the Extension integrated pest management (IPM) coordinator for Washington State and the Washington State liaison representative to the U.S. Department of Agriculture IR-4 Project."
"Walsh has an extensive and varied integrated pest and pollinator management research and Extension program assisting regionally important commodities including hops, alfalfa, grapes, and mint. Walsh also directs environmental impact studies on alfalfa leafcutting and alkali bees, the key pollinators of alfalfa produced for seed. Walsh's efforts in IPM have resulted in the documented reduction of over 100,000 pounds of insecticide use in the Pacific Northwest annually."
Born in New York in 1963 and a resident of California since 1969, Walsh holds a bachelor's degree in biology from UC Santa Cruz (1985). He received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1998, studying with major professor Frank Zalom, who went on to become a UC Davis distinguished professor and president and Honorary Member of ESA. "He is very deserving," Zalom said. "I couldn't be more proud of all that he has accomplished." Zalom is now emeritus, but continues to do research.
"I was Frank's first PhD student," Walsh said. "Frank had one before me, Rachid Hanna. Frank picked up Rachid when Rachid was orphaned when his original professor left UC Davis. Rachid and I quibble about who was Frank's first student. I'm the first that went from start to finish with Frank."
Outstanding Graduate Student. Kaya remembers Walsh well. "He was studying integrated pest management at UC Davis and was an outstanding graduate student in Frank Zalom's lab," Kaya said. "Even as a graduate student, he published some significant papers on IPM research, and I had no doubt that he would excel in research in his post graduate years. He has not only done superb IPM research but has been a leader in the Entomological Society of America as well as other national and international organizations. He richly deserves being elected as an ESA Fellow."
Walsh joined the WSU Department of Entomology as assistant professor in 1998 and advanced to associate professor in 2003 and to professor in 2007. The author of more than 200 publications, he annually delivers more than 35 Extension presentations. He has mentored 12 doctoral students and 11 master's degree students.
Walsh served as president of the Pacific Branch of ESA (PBESA) in 2010 and represented PBESA on the ESA governing board from 2013 through 2019. Among his ESA awards: Excellence in IPM Award and he led two teams that received the IPM Team Award.
A WSU news story (Sept. 7, 2023) related that Walsh has "worked primarily on pest control issues, mostly on hops, grape vines, mint, and alfalfa. One of his first successes at WSU in 2005 involved developing a novel method for controlling cutworms, which climb up from the soil in spring to nibble on grapevine buds."
Walsh initially set out to become a botanist. “I was working in a local Extension office in California after I got my bachelor's degree," he told the WSU writer Scott Weybright. "That work involved battling spider mites on strawberries. I kind of fell into entomology, but I love the work and the creative solutions we find to help growers."
His wife, Catherine (Kikie) is a senior software engineer with Altera Digital, a hospital software firm. The couple, married 35 years, raised three children, Claire, Russ, and Jeff, all WSU grads. Claire is the lifecycle marketing manager with Niantic Labs; Russ is working toward his master's degree in teaching at WSU Tri-Cities: and Jeff is a site reliability engineer at TikTok.
Other newly inducted ESA Fellows are:
- Cassandra Extavour, Harvard University
- James Hagler, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service
- Alvin M. Simmons, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service
- Lukasz Stelinski, University of Florida
- Edward L. Vargo, Texas A&M University
Founded in 1889, ESA is a worldwide organization of more than 7000 members, who are 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."
Congratulations to Melody Keena, UC Davis alumna and entomologist extraordinaire.
Keena, a research entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service's Northern Research Station in Hamden, Conn., is a newly selected Honorary Member of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America (ESA), the organization's highest honor.
She joins two other Honorary Member recipients this year: Walter Soares Leal, UC Davis distinguished professor with the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and a former chair of the Department of Entomology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology), and research entomologist Alvin Simmons of the USDA Agricultural Research Service. (See UC Davis news story)
Keena, an international expert on the biology and behavior of the spongy moth (formerly known as the gypsy moth) and the Asian longhorned beetle, focuses her research on “developing the knowledge and tools needed for exclusion, eradication or control of non-native invasive forest pests and investigating basic biology, behavior, and population genetics,” according to the ESA officials who announced her Honorary Membership. "Honorary Membership recognizes extraordinary service by ESA members who have had significant involvement in the affairs of the Society for at least 20 years."
Keena may be the first Honorary Member to receive all three degrees in entomology from UC Davis: a bachelor's degree obtained in 1983, a master's, 1985, and a doctorate in 1988. Professor Jeff Granett served as her major professor for both her graduate degrees.
Keena initially chose to attend UC Davis because of its renowned School of Veterinary Medicine. An entomology course changed her plans. "I had taken a non-majors entomology class and liked it, so I took the first majors course and told myself that if I got an A in it that would be my major. Then I did work study, helping in entomology labs so I was exposed to research. That led me to do the masters to see if research was for me. Obviously, I got hooked on entomology."
At UC Davis, Keena worked on spider mite pesticide resistance management in the almond cropping system. After receiving her doctorate, she headed to Connecticut as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Connecticut. She's served as a research entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service in Hamden since 1992 and is now the lead scientist in the lab.
So, what sparked Melody Keena's initial interest in entomology? Fence lizards!
“They eat live insects so I had to find them,” said Keena, who was born in the Los Angeles area but moved at age 4 to Chico and then to Paradise as a teenager. “We fed them any insects we could find, since store-bought were too expensive. We fed them mostly crickets and grasshoppers. I also reared some mealworms at home for the winter.”
In a letter of support for her Honorary Member nomination, Frank Zalom, UC Davis distinguished professor, president of ESA in 2014, and an Honorary Member of ESA since 2021, said he has known Keena since 1983 when she "became a graduate student at UC Davis." He also served with her on a number of ESA committees.
"Melody is an internationally known researcher on biology and control of non-native forest insect pests with the US Forest Service, and has gained a number of significant accolades for her research and leadership," Zalom wrote. "Her CV illustrates the breadth and quality of her journal articles that present important biological studies of many of the most notorious invasive forest insects in North America this century. What sets Melody apart from other outstanding entomology researchers in my experience is the quantity, quality and impact of her service to our Society over her almost 40 years as an ESA member." (Read her accomplishments on Department of Entomology and Nematology website).
ESA has now singled out six UC Davis faculty members as recipients of its highest award:
- 2022: UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal
- 2021: UC Davis distinguished professor Frank Zalom
- 2001: Professor John Edman
- 1996: Professor Bruce Eldridge
- 1993: Professor and 1984 ESA President Donald MacLean (1928-2014)
- 1990: Professor Harry Lange (1912-2004)
Melody Keena may be in a class by herself. And that could be music to the Aggie Nation! Nobody else on the Honorary Member list appears to have received three entomology degrees from UC Davis.
It's a gathering of folks from both the almond and bee industries and beyond. See the agenda overview.
The late UC Cooperative Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen (1944-2022), based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, was heavily involved in honey bee health issues in the almond industry even after he retired as emeritus in 2014. He shared his expertise with the almond industry, spoke at their conferences and always looked forward to almond pollination season, which usually begins around Feb. 14.
ABC is a self-described "leader in the honey bee health conversation, partnering with more than 20 organizations to support bee health including universities, government agencies, nonprofits and beekeeping groups." That includes the University of California, Davis.
It's not just bees--or the lack of bees--that ABC worries about. Pests such as leaffooted bugs and brown marmorated stink bugs draw their ire. UC Cooperative Extension specialist Jhalendra Rijal and two colleagues, writing in a 2021 edition of the Journal of Integrated Pest Management, wrote about the "Biology, Ecology and Management of Hemipteran Pests in Almond Orchards in the United States."
Scores of university scientists work with ABC on various pests, including UC Davis distinguished professor and researcher Frank Zalom of the Department of Entomology and Nematology. He's an Honorary Member of the Entomological Association of America, (the highest ESA honor), and a past president of the 7000-member organization.
Regarding honey bees, ABC engages with universities, government agencies, nonprofits, and others "to ensure that honey bees are happy, healthy, and safe while they visit almond orchards," according to its website. The organization posted this in 2018: "Since honey bee health was made a strategic research priority of Almond Board of California (ABC) in 1995, the California Almond community has committed $2.6 million through 113 research projects to address the five major factors impacting honey bee health--varroa mites, pest and disease management, genetic diversity, pesticide exposure, and access to forage and nutrition. The California Almond community has funded more honey bee health research than any other crop group, and in 2017, six new bee research studies were funded, with a commitment of nearly $300,000 to improving honey bee health."
ABC established Honey Bee Best Management Practices (BMPs) for California Almonds to "provide key recommendations to everyone involved in the pollination process, from the beekeeper to the almond farmer and everyone in between, to make the orchard a safe and welcoming place for honey bees, while balancing the need to protect the developing crop."
"The Bee BMPs have garnered praise from leading bee health experts such as University of California, Davis Apiculturist Emeritus Dr. Eric Mussen and been held up as an example for other crops to follow."
In 2014, Mussen received a plaque, with an engraved clock, from ABC for 38 years of service. In presenting him with the coveted award, Robert "Bob" Curtis, then associate director of Agricultural Affairs, ABC, said: "Eric, we honor your service as a Cooperative Extension Apicultural Specialist. Your leadership has been invaluable to both the almond and beekeeping communities as the authoritative and trusted source for guidance on research, technical, and practical problem solving and issues facing both industries. Even now in your retirement you have been instrumental in the development of Honey Bee Best Management Practices for Almonds and extending this information to all pollination stakeholders."
During his years as a Extension apiculturist, Mussen served as a university liaison, Scientific Advisory Board member, reviewer of research proposals and a designated speaker (representative).
A Celebration of Life is planned for 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28 in the Putah Creek Lodge, UC Davis campus. The registration has closed, but a live webinar will be produced by UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and a former chair of the Department of Entomology. Registration is underway here at https://bit.ly/3czl5Am. It also will be on YouTube.
Family and friends suggest memorial contributions be made to the California State 4-H Beekeeping Program, with a note, "Eric Mussen Memorial Fund." Mary Ciriceillo, director of development for the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, said checks may be made out to the California 4-H Foundation and mailed to:
Tuesday, Nov. 2 will be a special day of celebration at the annual Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting, being held in the Colorado Convention Center, Denver.
Tuesday is when ESA will honor scores of award winners at its Founders' Memorial Lecture breakfast meeting. The theme of the Oct. 31-Nov. 3 meeting focuses on "Adapt. Advance. Transform."
A tip of the insect net to our UC Davis-affiliated award winners who will be honored Tuesday:
- Honorary Member: Distinguished professor and entomological giant Frank Zalom, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will receive the prestigious Honorary Member award, the highest ESA honor. A past president of ESA (2014) and a 47-year ESA member, he directed the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Program for 16 years, from 1986 to 2002. He is currently the Journal of Economic Entomology editor-in-chief, a position held since 2018. Zalom is the fifth UC Davis scientist to be selected ESA Honorary Member. W. Harry Lange (1912-2004) received the award in 1990; Donald MacLean (1928-2014), the 1984 ESA president, won the award in 1993; Bruce Eldridge in 1996, and John Edman in 2001. “Honorary membership acknowledges those who have served ESA for at least 20 years through significant involvement in the affairs of the society that has reached an extraordinary level,” an ESA spokesperson said. “Candidates for this honor are selected by the ESA Governing Board and then voted on by the ESA membership." (See more on Bug Squad blog)
- Fellow Award: UC Davis alumnus Kelli Hoover, a professor in the Department of Entomology at Pennsylvania State University (PSU), is internationally recognized for her research on invasive species biology and ecology, especially for the discovery of mechanisms underlying multitrophic interactions between host plants, insects, and insect pathogens or symbionts, ESA announced. She is a member of the Centers for Chemical Ecology and Pollinator Research as well as the Insect Biodiversity Center. Hoover received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1997. Fellows of ESA are individuals who have made outstanding contributions to entomology— via research, teaching, extension, administration, military service, and public engagement and science policy —and whose career accomplishments serve to inspire all entomologists, according to the ESA. (See more on Bug Squad blog.)
- Nan-Yao Su Award for Innovation and Creativity in Entomology: UC Davis affiliate Thomas C. Sparks, a retired research fellow at Corteva Agriscience, was the first graduate student of then UC Riverside faculty member Bruce Hammock, who joined the UC Davis faculty in 1980. Hammock is now a distinguished professor who holds a joint appointment with the Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. Sparks holds a doctorate in entomology (1978) from UC Riverside, focusing on insect physiology and toxicology. He is the first scientist from the crop protection industry to receive the Nan-Yao Su Award and the second Hammock lab alumnus to do so.ESA selected Bryony Bonning, a former postdoctoral researcher in the Hammock lab and now a professor at Iowa State University, for the award in 2013. Walter Leal, former chair of the entomology department and now a UC Davis distinguished professor with the UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, won the award in 2011.(See more on Bug Squad blog)
In other news, 12 UC Davis entomology graduate students presented either a speech or a poster in student competitions today (Monday). Winners will be announced soon. A shout-out to the students: Jill Oberski, Zachary Griebenow, Lacie Newton. Lindsey Mack, Danielle Rutkowski, Maureen Page, Xavier Zahnle, Erin Taylor. Kelly, Jasmin Ramirez Bonila, Madison Hendrick, Mia Lippey and Gabe Foote (See news story--and read their abstracts--at https://bit.ly/3CAOh22.)
The 7000-member ESA, founded in 1889, is the world's largest organization serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and those in related disciplines. Its members are researchers, teachers, extension service personnel, administrators, marketing representatives, research technicians, consultants, students, pest management professionals, and hobbyists. They represent educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government.