Fleas? Ticks? Bed bugs? Mosquitoes?
The Bohart Museum of Entomology will host an open house, themed "Household Vampires," from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 23 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. It's free and family friendly. Parking is also free.
One of the presenters ready to answer your questions about mosquitoes is Carla-Cristina "CC" Melo Edwards, a first-year doctoral student in the laboratory of medical entomologist-geneticist Geoffrey Attardo, associate professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who also specializes in reproductive physiology and molecular biology.
In the Attardo lab, Edwards focuses her research "on investigating the physiological mechanisms underlying pyrethroid resistance in Aedes aegypti (the yellow fever mosquito)."
She was a McNair scholar at Baylor University, where she completed her undergraduate degree in cell and molecular biology in May 2021. "I got interested in the mosquito field through my undergraduate research of studying the sensory and oviposition responses of Aedes aegypti in relation to the compound geosmin," Edwards related.
"When I am not in the lab, I enjoy getting involved with my local community by helping out and doing outreach," Edwards said. This past summer she helped the city of Lubbock, Amarillo, and the Texas Public Health Department by identifying mosquitoes for West Nile surveillance. She also served as the outreach chair for the Texas Tech Association of Biologists during her masters' degree pursuit and enjoyed being a mentor for first-generation students.
"In my free time, I like getting coffee with my friends, running (currently training for the California International Marathon), and trying new crafts and recipes."
Attardo will be displaying images of mosquitoes. An image of mosquito larvae by UC Davis doctoral alumnus and macro photographer Alex Wild, curator of entomology at the University of Texas, also will be displayed.
Open house attendees can view the butterfly specimen collection, curated by entomologist Jeff Smith, and get acquainted with live Madagascar hissing cockroaches and stick insects, part of the Bohart Museum's insect petting zoo. A family arts-and-crafts activity is also planned.
The Bohart Museum, founded in 1946, houses a global collection of eight million insect specimens. It also maintains an insect-themed gift shop. UC Davis distinguished professor Lynn Kimsey, a UC Davis alumna, directs the museum.
Robbin Thorp (1933-2019), distinguished emeritus professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Leal, professor of biochemistry in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and former professor and chair of the Department of Entomology, said Thorp "epitomizes how emeriti contribute to UC Davis."
Thorp, a 30-year member of the entomology faculty, and a tireless advocate of pollinator species protection and conservation, retired in 1994, but he continued working until several weeks before his death on June 7, 2019, at age 85. In 2014, he co-authored two books: Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide (Princeton University,) and California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists (Heyday). He published more than 50 percent of his papers following his retirement."
“Robbin's scientific achievements during his retirement rival the typical career productivity of many other academic scientists,” said Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, at the time of the legendary entomologist's death. “His contributions in support of understanding bee biodiversity and systematics are a true scientific legacy.”
The video tribute is online at
It includes images and accomplishments of many of the emeriti, meant as a small representation of the achievements of all. (See news story)
In his message, Chancellor May told the new emeriti: "You played a central role in keeping UC Davis at the forefront of excellence. Your continued engagement through teaching, research, volunteering and philanthropy is vital to our continued growth and success. So I encourage you to stay engaged with campus. The UC Davis Emeriti Association is here with resources and support for this newest chapter of your career. Please take advantage of it. Thank you for our dedication to UC Davis and congratulations on reaching this milestone."
Among its many activities, UC Davis Emeriti Association (UCDEA) interviews and records emeriti who have made "significant contributions to the development of the university." (See Video Records Project.)
One of them is Robbin Thorp. (Watch the video here.)
It's Labor Day but "The Girls" continue to work.
"The Girls" are the honey bees, a great example of a matriarchal society. How many workers (girls) do you see foraging on your flowers? But inside the hive, "The Girls" are nurse maids, nannies, royal attendants, builders, architects, dancers, honey tenders, pollen packers, propolis or "glue" specialists, air conditioning and heating technicians, guards, and undertakers. And the males? Their responsibility is to mate with a virgin queen--and then they die.
In his newly published book, Honey Bee Biology (2023 Princeton University), UC Davis bee scientist Brian Johnson of the Department of Entomology and Nematology, covers everything from molecular genetics, development, and physiology to neurobiology, behavior, and pollination biology. It's meant for bee scientists, social insect biologists, beekeepers, and those who are just eager to learn more about honey bees.
Honey bees "evolved from the hunting wasp, a group of four clades of wasps that typically provision their offspring with insects or spiders," Johnson writes in his opening chapter, 'Natural History, Systematics and Phylogenetics.' Probably the most well known of the hunting wasps (to the nonentomologist) are the mud daubers that build their nests on the sides of people's homes."
"The split between these wasps and what evolved into the bees occurred about 120 million years ago," Johnson writes.
Basically, wasps continue to be meat-eaters, but honey bees "have gone vegetarian," as Johnson points out.
When you see honey bees foraging on flowers, gathering nectar and pollen, just remember that they are vegetarians. And especially, on Labor Day, remember how "The Girls" tend to the needs of the queen, their sisters and their brothers.
As a society, we could learn a lot from honey bees.
He is one of 33 recipients of the 2023 UC Davis Graduate Program Advising and Mentoring Awards.
"Your program selected you for this award due to your excellent service to your graduate program, as well as your positive impact on graduate students and your colleagues," wrote Jean-Pierre Delplanque, vice provost and dean of Graduate Studies, in a congratulatory letter. "We thank you for your investment in advising and mentoring graduate students and contribution to their success."
The nomination letter extolled his contributions: "What sets Louie apart are these three qualities: (1) He is honest to the unique needs and interests of each student. He knows that the diversity of ideas and perspectives fuels scientific progress. He respects each student's unique perspective and interests He gives his students opportunities to view themselves as intellectual colleagues and contributors. (2) He facilitates intellectual independence in his drive to help students transition from being consumers of knowledge to becoming producers of knowledge. (3) He learns from his students. He knows that mentorship is a two-way street."
Another excerpt from the nomination letter: "It is unusual and truly special, to find a mentor that perfectly balances generous, unwavering support with a deep appreciation for his students' independence. His supportive advising style, almost paradoxically, allows his students to develop a high degree of independence and self-motivation."
The recipients of the award include 14 from the College of Letters and Sciences; 7 from the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, 5 from the College of Biological Sciences, 6 from the College of Engineering, and one from the School of Medicine. (See news story)
Yang, who received his bachelor's degree in ecology and evolution from Cornell University in 1999, and his doctorate in population biology from UC Davis in 2006, joined the UC Davis faculty in 2009.
He co-directs and mentors students in the Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology (RSPIB), a campuswide program that he and Professors Jay Rosenheim (now a UC Davis distinguished professor) and Joanna Chiu (now chair of the Department of Entomology and Nematology) co-founded in 2011 to help students learn cutting-edge research through close mentoring relationships with faculty. The program crosses numerous biological fields, including population biology; behavior and ecology; biodiversity and evolutionary ecology; agroecology; genetics and molecular biology; biochemistry and physiology; entomology; and cell biology. The goal: to provide academically strong and highly motivated undergraduates with a multi-year research experience that cultivates skills that will prepare them for a career in biological research.
Professor Yang is the second recipient of the campuswide award from the Department of Entomology and Nematology. Last year Rosenheim, who specializes in insect ecology, received the honor.
Highly honored for his advising and mentoring, Yang earlier received the 2023 Distinction in Student Mentoring Award from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America (PBESA), which encompasses 11 Western states, parts of Canada and Mexico, and U.S. territories. He was praised for "being a strong advocate for his students and fostering creative and critical thinking." His other honors include the 2017 Eleanor and Harry Walker Academic Advising Award from CA&ES. In 2018, he received the regional (Pacific Region 9, California, Nevada and Hawaii) Outstanding Faculty Academic Advisor from NACADA, also known as the Global Community for Academic Advising, and then went on to win NACADA's international award for the Outstanding Faculty Academic Advising Award.
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.