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 book was released in the UK on Oct. 3, 2023, and it will be released in the United States on Jan. 9, 2024.
RTÉ, or Raidió Teilifís Éireann, is an Irish public service broadcaster that produces and broadcasts programs on television, radio and online. Launched in January 1926 and headquartered in Donnybrook, Dublin, it is known as one of the world's oldest continuously operating public service broadcasters.
At the onset of the 11-minute interview, an RTÉ announcer noted that The Lives of Butterflies "showcases extraordinary diversity of world's butterflies, while exploring their life histories, behavior, conservation and other aspects of these most fascinating and beguiling insects."
Listen to the butterfly podcast here: https://www.rte.ie/radio/radio1/clips/22294525/
Éanna Ní Lamhna is a biologist, environmental consultant, radio and television presenter, author an educator. "She is one of the best-known public figures in Ireland in the area of nature and the environment, and was listed as one of Ireland's 'Influential 100' in 2012," according to Wikipedia. She is a mainstay on RTÉ's "Mooney Goes Wild." Lamhna holds a doctorate in botany from UCD--no, not the University of California, Davis, but University College Dublin.
WSU biosketch: "David James developed a passion for entomology at the age of 8 in England by rearing caterpillars in his bedroom. He studied zoology at the University of Salford near Manchester, then migrated to Australia to work for the New South Wales Department of Agriculture on ways of controlling agricultural pests like locusts and mites. A PhD on the winter biology of monarch butterflies in Sydney followed and a career as a biocontrol scientist in horticulture blossomed." (See more here). He studies the migration of Pacific Northwest monarchs to the overwintering sites along coastal California.
What Did They Discuss?
- What exactly is a butterfly and how is it different from a moth?
- Are there more moths in the world than butterflies?
- How do butterflies hear?
- What's the largest butterfly in the world?
- What sets butterflies apart from other insects?
- What kind of digestive system do butterflies have?
- Why do some butterflies land on your arm and drink your sweat?
- Why do male butterflies feed on crocodile tears?
- Why did British scientist Miriam Rothschild call male monarchs "male chauvinist pigs?"
- How do you tag monarchs and what have we learned?
It's an excellent podcast--and you'll love listening to the lilting Irish accent of Éanna Ní Lamhna, coupled with the distinguishable English/Australian accent of David James.
And the answers to the above questions...
Question: What's better than seeing a monarch butterfly?
Answer: Seeing two monarch butterflies sharing the same blossom on a butterfly bush!
Scenario: Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) from the Pacific Northwest are fluttering through Vacaville, Calif. and stopping in our pollinator garden for some flight fuel before heading off to their overwintering sites along coastal California.
Background: I am watching for tagged butterflies from the migratory monarch project of Washington State University entomologist David James. (After all, one tagged by his citizen scientist Steven Johnson of Ashland, Ore., on Aug. 28, 2016, fluttered into our yard seven days later. James said it flew 285 miles in 7 days or about 40.7 miles per day.)
Menu: In our pollinator garden, the flight fuel includes nectar from the Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifola), tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii), and Zinnias, a genus of plants of the tribe Heliantheae within the family Asteraceae.
Action: On Sept. 27, a male monarch touches down on our butterfly bush and begins sipping nectar. Soon, another joins him.
The two monarchs engage in what appears to be a territorial battle. It's a kaleidoscope of orange and black wings, tumbling, wobbling, recovering.
And then, wings up! The monarchs take flight.
They are a beautiful sight.
Hopefully, tagged migratory monarchs from the research project of entomologist David James of Washington State University, will pass through--as they do every year from the Pacific Northwest--on their way to their coastal California overwintering sites. They are tagged on a discal cell.
Meanwhile, scientists in the Northeast are tagging monarchs (heading for Mexico) in a different way. They're attaching "small, lightweight tracking devices to nearly 50 strong and healthy butterflies," according to the New Hampshire Public Radio, in a piece published Sept. 12. "Towers can then ping their location when the small creatures are nearby."
The article related that "Scientists across the country are studying their migration patterns through a project funded by the federal government. This is the second full year that the New Hampshire Audubon Center is participating in a monarch tracking program."
The article by Olivia Richardson quotes Diane De Luca who works at the center: “The thought behind tagging monarchs here in the Northeast is to get a better sense of what they actually do when they're first starting their migration."
The tracking devices are lightweight, but the scientists seek out "strong, younger butterflies" without tattered wings. (See more on the website)
One tracked butterfly flew 60 miles in one day.
"De Luca said last year a butterfly they tagged traveled to Massachusetts and stopped at Lynnfield Marsh, one of the state's largest freshwater marshes," Richardson wrote. "De Luca said purple loosestrife, a type of flower considered an invasive species, is abundant at the marsh and it's attractive to monarch butterflies, who feed off of it."
Aren't monarchs fascinating?
Ping! There goes another butterfly!
If you live in California, tagged monarchs from the migratory research project of entomologist David James of Washington State University may be heading your way.
One tagged monarch, a male, fluttered into our Vacaville pollinator garden on Sept. 5, 2016. Citizen scientist Steven Johnson of Ashland, Ore., tagged and released it on Aug. 28. It nectared on Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia rotundifola) and a butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) before heading to an overwintering site in coastal California.
The tag read “Monarch@wsu.edu A6093.”
James later told us: "So, assuming it didn't travel much on the day you saw it, it flew 285 miles in 7 days or about 40.7 miles per day. Pretty amazing."
If you see a tagged monarch ("quite a few are being tagged in southern Oregon," James says), try to take an image. Then detail the information (where spotted and when) and send it to the WSU entomologist at email@example.com. Read more on his Facebook page, Monarch Butterfies in the Pacific Northwest.
Meanwhile, we've been seeing monarchs daily in our garden since late August. We spotted one monarch laying eggs on our tropical milkweed, Asclepias curassavica, on Aug. 10. (That was her choice of milkweed: she ignored the narrow-leafed milkweed, A. fascicularis; the showy milkweed, A. speciosa; and the butterfly weed, A. tuberosa.)
On Sept. 5, two monarchs, a male and a female, eclosed, while a male monarch patrolled overhead. The newcomers dried their wings and fluttered off. Both managed to escape several predators: Western scrub jays, praying mantises, and assorted crab spiders.
Welcome to the world!