- Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator, wore a green mantis costume to greet guests and show them the Madagascar hissing cockroaches and stick insects in the live petting zoo
- Guest Kevin Murakoshi of Davis (UC Davis alumnus) gifted the museum with intricate origami mantises that he crafted from "mantis green" paper--one sheet per mantis.
- Guest Ian Alexander Levin of Sacramento displayed his enlarged images of mantises, including one of a mantis eating a bee that drew "oohs" and "aahs."
- Skylar Primavera, who studied praying mantises while attending UC San Barbara (bachelor's degree in biology, 2020) displayed a live mantis as well as life-cycle models (ootheca to the adult), and answered questions about the predatory insect.
- Sol Wantz, UC Davis entomology senior and president of the UC Davis Entomology Club, displayed a European mantis that she borrowed from a UC Davis garden
Guests viewed display drawers of both native and non-native mantises. At least 9 species of mantises in California, according to one display.
Five are native:
- The Arizona or bordered mantid (Stagmomantis limbata)
- Bistanta mexicana
- California mantid (Stagmomantis wheeleri=S. californica)
- Litaneutria ocularis=Litaneutria obscura
- Small gray mantid (Litaneutria pacfica)
Four are introduced:
- Chinese mantid (Tenodera sinensis)
- European mantid (Mantis religiosa)
- Mediterranean mantid (Iris oratoria)
- South African mantid (Miomantis caffra)
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, UC Davis, houses a global collection of eight million insect specimens, plus a live petting zoo and an insect-themed gift shop. The insect museum was founded in 1946 by Professor Richard Bohart of the UC Davis Department of Entomology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology).
(Editor's Note: Tomorrow's Bug Squad blog will feature the creative kids and the creative staffer at the family arts-and-crafts activity.)
It's about this yellow-legged hornet detected in Savannah, Ga., the first live species of Vespa velutina reported in the United States.
UC Davis distinguished professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, and the 2002-24 president of the International Society of Hymenopterists told us late last week: "This isn't the murder hornet. It's a slightly smaller species--Vespa velutina. It's about the same size and I think biology as the already established Vespa crabro, which has been in the southeastern U.S. for more than a century. Anything is possible as far as introductions go, but I think it's unlikely that it could establish since it is also native to regions with wet summers. I suspect it got into Georgia through one of the ports. Hitchhiking in/on cargo containers is too easy. Savannah takes in an estimated 4.5 million cargo containers annually. Its actually astonishing that more things don't make it in."
Kimsey, known for her expertise on wasps and other Hymenoptera, is accustomed to fielding questions from the news media. Praveena Somasundaram of the Washington Post interviewed her for an Aug. 18 piece, Invasive Hornet with "Reputation for Targeting Honey Bees Seen in U.S.
Though it is too early to tell how the yellow-legged hornet was introduced and whether it will be able to establish itself in the ecosystem, its presence in the state could have a “potentially huge” impact on Georgia's beekeepers, said Lynn Kimsey, an entomology professor at the University of California at Davis.
Bee colonies could be at risk if more yellow-legged hornets are found in Georgia. A honeybee colony is “basically a giant waffle of protein” for yellow-legged hornets, Kimsey said.
“There's so much food there,” she said. “So for a colony of these big hornets, honeybees would be fair game, and that's their reputation.
The Smithsonian Magazine, one of the first to call attention to the insect, headlined its news story, "Invasive Yellow-Legged Hornet Spotted in the United States for the First Time," and added a subhead, "The insect, detected in Georgia, can snatch bees from the air while hunting, posing a threat to native pollinators and agriculture."
The Georgia Department of Agriculture posted on its website: "The yellow-legged hornet poses a threat to honeybees and other pollinators in our state. These pollinators play a significant role in Georgia's agriculture industry, the state's main economic driver, and it is imperative that these invasive pests are tracked and eradicated. We are working with USDA APHIS and UGA to trap, track, and eradicate these pests and will continue to assess the situation as new information becomes available and allocate additional resources as need."
The insect, native to Southeast Asia, was accidentally introduced to Europe, Japan and South Korea. It was first detected in France in 2004--probably arriving in pottery boxes. It then became established throughout most of Europe. The hornets build egg-shaped nests.
According to Wikipedia, the hornet "significantly smaller than the European hornet. "Typically, queens are 30 mm (1.2 in) in length, and males about 24 mm (0.95 in). Workers measure about 20 mm (0.80 in) in length. The species has distinctive yellow tarsi (legs). The thorax is a velvety brown or black with a brown abdomen. Each abdominal segment has a narrow posterior yellow border, except for the fourth segment, which is orange. The head is black and the face yellow."
In its native range, the hornet mainly hunts Apis cerana, the Eastern honey bee. Bees there suffocate the hornet by balling it.
Will the Western honey bee, Apis mellifera, be able to cope if the yellow-legged hornets become established? The threat is real.
A green bottle fly lands on a tropical milkweed, Asclepias curassavica, in a Vacaville pollinator garden.
Houston, we have landed!
The fly, Lucilia sericata, begins to sip the nectar, unaware that a hungry praying mantis, a Stagmomantis limbata (as confirmed by mantis expert Lohit Garikipati) is watching.
The mantis slowly sneaks within striking distance, and waits for his prey to approach closer. Closer. Closer. Closer.
Whoosh! Gotcha! It wraps its spiked forelegs around it.
Houston, dinner is served! Fly à la carte.
Want to learn more about praying mantises?
The Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis is hosting an open house, themed "Praying Mantises," on Sunday, Aug. 27 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane. It is free and family friendly.
According to Kris Anderson of Las Vegas, an alumnus of Cornell University (master's degree in entomology) and author of Praying Mantises of the United States and Canada: "There are just 28 species of Mantodea found within the United States and Canada, the 7 largest of which are invasive species from other parts of the globe."
Some myths about praying mantises, as related by Anderson in his book, available on Amazon:
Myth: "Mantises sway back and forth while crawling to imitate vegetation blowing in the wind."
Truth: "The peering movement of mantises, demonstrated by the swaying back and forth of their body while ambulating or preparing to leap/take flight, is a behavioral adaptation to gain depth perception of their surroundings and has nothing to do with mimicry. Mantises blend into their environment by remaining motionless against a substrate that they morphologically resemble—not by moving. Peering movements causes the retinal images of nearby objects to be displaced more quickly than those of more distant objects, thus allowing the mantis to gain depth perception of its environment as it navigates forward."
Myth: "Mantises grab insects and immediately bite the neck/head to quickly kill their prey."
Truth: "The spinose forelegs of praying mantises are used to hold onto and prevent their prey from escaping. Once secured in their grip, the mantis will pull the prey forward and begin to meticulously chew upon whatever body part of the prey item is closest to their mouth—be it a leg, a wing, the thorax, abdomen, or head. No specific body region is exclusively targeted and the prey is always eaten alive, bit by bit, dying a slow death."
Myth: "Female mantises cannibalize the males while mating."
Truth: "With over 2,400 species of Mantodea worldwide, only a small fraction of species regularly engage in sexual cannibalism. Most do not. Of those that engage in this practice, the occurrence is not inevitable, as males typically escape and may mate with other partners."
The Bohart Museum, founded in 1946 and directed by UC Davis distinguished professor Lynn Kimsey, houses a global collection of eight million insect specimens, plus a live insect petting zoo (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas), and an insect-themed gift shop, stocked with t-shirts, hoodies, books, posters, jewelry and more.
The Bohart Museum is planning two other open houses this fall:
Saturday, Sept. 23: Household Vampires
Saturday, Nov. 4: Monarchs
All open houses are free and family friendly. At each event, the focus is on a special theme, but there's also a family arts-and-crafts activity, announced Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.
Long dangly legs, elongated body, and long, four-segmented antennae topped with a small club.
But there they were, stilt bugs, foraging on evening primrose at dawn in our "living laboratory"--a pollinator garden in Vacaville, Calif.
The "stilt walkers" belong to the family Berytidae, order Hemiptera (true bugs).
UC Davis distinguished professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis, confirmed that they are indeed stilt bugs.
Most stilt bugs are phytophagous, meaning they feed only on plants, but some are predaceous and feed on small insects, such as mites and aphids.
Stilt bugs are so-named because of their extremely long legs. Long legs? Check out this dorsal drawing of a stilt bug by Kathleen Schmidt of USDA's Agricultural Research Service.
Spined stilt bugs "are an occasional pest of greenhouse tomatoes that can cause flower and fruit abortion and unsightly feeding damage in mature fruits," according to Penn State Extension.
Real stilt walkers are known for their exceptional balance, agility and grace.
Their bug mimics, however, look as if they could "exceptionally" trip and fall flat on their clubbed antennae.
It's Friday Fly Day!
Time to post an image of a fly.
Or two flies. On a cockroach.
The scenario: a large cockroach drowned in a small water trough located near downtown Vacaville, Calif., and when the water drained, the roach slid out. It proved to be a feast for green bottle flies.
The roach? UC Distinguished Professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis, says it appears to be a Turkestan cockroach, a newer cockroach species in California.
The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) says this about the Turkestan cockroach:
"The Turkestan cockroach is an invasive species that is now very common in California's residential outdoor areas. With access to good habitat and food sources, they can quickly develop very high populations. Common habitats around homes are wood and debris piles, irrigation and water meter boxes, crevices in pavement or rock walls, and outdoor drainage pipes. They are also common in public storm drains and sanitary sewers. These habitats provide the dark, moist hiding places that cockroaches prefer. They come out at night to feed. While some may occasionally wander into homes, especially where outdoor populations are high, they will not establish indoor populations."
According to Wikipedia, it's a Shelfordella lateralis, often referred to as Blatta lateralis, It's also also known as the "rusty red cockroach" or "red runner cockroach." Native to an area from northern Africa to Central Asia, it can measure 1.2 inches in length. Says Wikipedia: "The Turkestan cockroach was first noticed in the U.S in 1978, around the former Sharpe Army Depot in California, followed shortly after by appearances at Fort Bliss in Texas and several other military bases. Researchers believe the species arrived on military equipment returning from central Asia, perhaps Afghanistan."
The Turkestan cockroach is also favored as pet food for reptiles.
If the green bottle flies don't get to it first!