Water a bush or a plant frequently visited by bees and other pollinators, and if they're in there, they're likely to emerge.
Such was the case when a male praying mantis, Mantis religiosa, emerged from our pomegranate bush. No spray zone, please.
Frankly, he looked a bit irritated.
The next week a female M. religiosa emerged from a plant in our neighbor's yard. She, too, looked a bit irritated.
Praying mantis expert, Lohit Garikpati, a UC Davis entomology student who rears mantids and volunteers at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, confirmed their identities and gender.
The European mantis, or Mantis religiosa, belongs to the family Mantidae ("mantids"), the largest family in the order Mantodea. As all insect enthusiasts know, they derive their common name by their distinctive posture of "praying." (Some entomologists like to think of them as "preying" mantids.)
The females are usually larger and heavier but the antennae and eyes of the males outsize the females.
"Along with the forward directed compound eyes there are also simple eyes to be found on the head," Wikipedia tells us. "These three dorsal ocelli are also more pronounced in males than in females.Male individuals are often found to be more active and agile whereas females are physically more powerful. One of the outcomes of these morphological variations is that only males and very young females are able to fly. Adult females are generally too large and heavy for their wings to enable a take-off."
In Germany, M. religiosa is listed as ‘threatened' on the German Red List. That means finders aren't supposed to be keepers: don't catch it or keep it as a pet.
The status of the male and female mantids in our neighborhood? They're still there in their respective yards. If they meet, however, the male may lose his head in the well documented phenonomen of sexual cannibalism...nature's way of better survivability--not for the male but for his offspring!
"Eating her mate provides the female with a lot of nutrients she doesn't have to hunt for," according to Wikipedia. "She has a prey item available that is bigger than the prey she would be able to catch in the manner she usually hunts. The meal also takes place during or shortly after she was fertilized giving her more resources for the faster production of a large ootheca with large eggs, increasing the chance of her offspring to survive. Males have also been known to be more attracted to heavier, well-nourished females for this reason."
There's a lesson in there somewhere!
That sign greets visitors to the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis, and that's exactly what Noah Crockette, 18, an intern there since age 11 and the winner of an international beetle research award as a teenager, plans to do.
This week he's already gone far--a distance of more than 2700 miles--from Davis to Ithaca, N.Y., where he is majoring in entomology at Cornell University.
Fondly known as “The Beetle Boy,” Noah won the 2015 Coleopterists' Society Award (senior division) for his project, “Survey of the Dung Beetles of Stann Creek, Belize.”
He volunteers at the Bohart Museum, home of nearly eight million insect specimens, and a live petting zoo of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. He has helped out with open houses, outreach programs and collecting trips.
“Yes, Noah has been volunteering here for quite a few years,” said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis. “We've seen him go from a middle school kid to a very mature 18-year-old. He's a great kid, always ready with a big smile, great attitude and really hard working. Smart, too. He should do very well at Cornell. We already miss him.”
Two Cornell University alumni--Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator, and UC Davis doctoral candidate student Emily Bick of the Christian Nansen lab, serenaded him with the Cornell fight song. Yang's degree is in general biology, and Bick's degree in entomology. After they sang the fight song, they told him how cold the winters are!
His major advisor is drosophila (fruit flies) expert Patrick O'Grady, who taught at UC Berkeley for 12 years before joining the Cornell faculty last year. His ecology professor is UC Davis alumnus Anurag Agrawal, an ecologist who received his doctorate in 1999, studying with Richard Karban.
His acceptance into Cornell, one of the top-ranked entomology programs in the country, came in 2017. Noah graduated in 2017 from The Met Sacramento High School, and Cornell offered him a one-year student transfer contract for the fall of 2018.
“I have always been interested in bugs but my interest in entomology started in sixth grade,” Noah said. “I mostly became interested in insects through my internship at the Bohart and participating in the undergraduate UC Davis Entomology Club (open to all interested persons). Before then I had only known that I was interested in zoology and started going to the Ent Club after learning about it from talking to (UC Davis forensic entomologist and club advisor) Robert “Bob” Kimsey at UC Davis Picnic Day. After attending the club for awhile, Danielle Wishon (club president and entomology major) and Bob got me connected with the Bohart to start the internship from which my interest grew.”
Career plans? Noah is keeping his options open as to specialty, but he wants to work in research. Beetles fascinate him, especially scarab beetles. “I have a tendency towards scarab beetles,” he said. “I particularly like the tribe Cyclocephalini, the masked chafer beetles. I really like that they are a Dynastines like the Hercules beetles but lack any sort of horns or other glitzy features. Even though they are small and brown, I love the subtle beauty of the markings which remind me of the Rorschach ink tests.
”I also really love venom so I have also thought about going into venom research but would like to grow more familiar with it before considering it more.”
As a Bohart Museum intern and associate, Noah collected insects twice in Belize on Bohart-affiliated collecting trips “where I was able to get field work experience in entomology as well as herpetology and ornithology.” Fran Keller, assistant professor, Folsom Lake College, and David Wyatt, an entomology professor at Sacramento City College, led the collecting trips. Keller, who served as his mentor, received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, studying with Lynn Kimsey.
“My last trip to Belize," Noah said, "was when I completed my Coleopterists' Society project in which I designed and constructed 12 baited pitfall traps which I used to survey the dung beetle species on the property as well as determine their preferred bait, between human feces, pig feces, chicken manure, rotten chicken, and rotten fruit."
In his freshman year, Noah taught an entomology class to elementary students, and as a senior project, organized a museum day at Shriners Hospital for Children.
Outside of entomological pursuits, he enjoys hiking, kayaking and birdwatching. “I really love the outdoors,” he said. “Last year after my trip to Belize I was also given the opportunity through my school to go on a month-long backpacking and kayaking trip through the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Alaska. I also played rugby for C.K. McClatchy High School during my senior year which was a fun experience and I now plan on continuing with the sport. At home I like to keep reptiles and invertebrates--mostly tarantulas--as pets and enjoy collecting zoology related books and objects.”
During the going-away party, a photo of Noah Crockette flashed on the wall-mounted computer screen. It pictured him at about age 14, enthusiastically working with insects.
Doing what he loves.
Not overlooked was the quote from noted scientist E. O. Wilson “Go as far as you can [young scientists]. The world needs you badly."
They go together like superman (Clark Kent) and supervillian (Lex Luthor). Or like Coccinellidae (lady beetles) and Aphididae (aphids).
Fact is, IPM specialist Frank Zalom, a distinguished professor of entomology and Extension entomologist at the University of California, Davis, targets pests. He solves pest problems the IPM way--using effective, biologically based pest management approaches.
Over the last four decades, he has honed an incredible career. Absolutely incredible.
And now he's receiving a well-deserved lifetime achievement award at the Ninth International IPM Symposium March 19-22 in Baltimore.
“Dr. Zalom continues to advance the science and implementation of IPM,” said Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “His integrity, service and respect for all are legendary.”
At the Baltimore seminar, Zalom will deliver a presentation on “The ‘I' in IPM: Reflections on the International IPM Symposium and Evolution of the IPM Paradigm.” He will reflect on his 16 years co-chairing the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities' National IPM Committee, the committee that launched the symposia. Zalom also played a role in organizing the first four IPM Symposia.
In addition, Zalom and fellow members of the UC European Grapevine Moth Team will receive an award of excellence for contributing to eradication of the pest in 2016--only six years after its discovery in California vineyards.
The only other lifetime achievement award recipient this year also has a UC connection: Peter Goodell, UC IPM advisor emeritus, affiliated with the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center. And a longtime friend and colleague of Frank Zalom.
Zalom, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, teaches arthropod pest management, targets pests using IPM methods, and develops major agricultural IPM programs for California's specialty crops.
Zalom is a past president of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America; co-founder of the International IPM symposia; and for 16 years, directed the University of California Statewide IPM Program, considered “the gold standard” of IPM programs.
Zalom's 16 years at the helm of the UC IPM program set the standard, nationally and globally, for subsequent IPM programs. He established a statewide, interdisciplinary IPM team of Cooperative Extension farm advisors, and oversaw development of the website's online degree-day tool, and the database of degree-day models that remains widely used by California's county-based extension staff and crop consultants.
“Advancing the science and implementation of IPM will reduce the impact of pests and pest control on agriculture and the environment,” Zalom said. “This is critical in California, where we grow more than a third of our nation's vegetables and two-thirds of our nation's fruits and nuts. California agriculture is a $42.6 billion industry that generates at least $100 billion in related economic industry.”
The Zalom laboratory has helped establish biologically based IPM programs for arthropod pests of California tree, vine, small fruit and vegetable crops valued at over $19 billion. The lab has addressed 17 invasive species introductions, among them southern green stink bug, silverleaf whitefly, glassy-winged sharpshooter, olive fly, invasive saltcedar, light brown apple moth, spotted wing drosophila, and most recently European grape vine moth, brown marmorated stink bug and bagrada bug. Specific programs have reduced insecticide use and pesticide runoff into surface waters, and resulted in more effective management of several key and invasive pests of specialty crops.
Zalom interacts broadly with research colleagues, extension educators, growers, consultants, environmental groups, and public agency personnel throughout the state, nation and world to advance the science and use of IPM. He has served on scores of national ad hoc committees of agencies and organizations that shaped IPM policy and directions. He was recently appointed to a new Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) task force that will produce a white paper on behalf of the organization on Integrated Pest Management. He previously served on the task force for the CAST Issue Paper, “Feasibility of Prescription Pesticide Use in the United States."
Zalom's professional goals are four-fold (1) to solve pest problems using effective, biologically based pest management approaches; (2) to provide IPM leadership at the regional, state, national and international levels, (3) to maintain a vigorous cutting edge research program in entomology, especially related to IPM and invasive species; and (4) to educate a new generation of IPM practitioners through effective undergraduate teaching and graduate student mentoring.
Zalom has pursued his goals through a combination of fundamental studies related to pest biology, physiology, and community ecology; problem-focused, hypothesis-driven management research; and community-oriented extension efforts. “I focus my research on exploiting weaknesses in the biology of a pest species and its niche in the agroecosystem or the broader landscape,” Zalom said.
Among his many accomplishments:
- Appointed the first Editorial Board chair of ESA's new Journal of Integrated Pest Management.
- Founding member of the steering committee for the USDA-NIFA Pest Management Information Platform for Extension (ipmPIPE), an effort intended to assess risk of disease and insect outbreaks.
- Co-principal investigator of the USDA grant for $3.49 million that originally funded the Western IPM Center, located at UC Davis
- Numerous leadership roles in the Entomological Society of America (ESA), including president in 2014, member of ESA's presidential line for four years and Governing Board member for four years. He also served as the president of the Entomological Foundation and first chair of ESA's new Science Policy Committee.
- Author of more than 350 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and books, and has served as major professor for 12 Ph.D. students and seven master's students.
- Recipient of multiple awards at UC Davis including one for his outstanding mentoring, of women graduate students and post-doctoral scholars.
- Co-chair of the International Entomology Leadership Summit in 2016 in Orlando,Fla.
Zalom is a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, Entomological Society of America, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Royal Entomological Society (London). Previous IPM awards include the Entomological Foundation's IPM Team Award and Excellence in IPM Award, and the Perry Adkisson Distinguished Speaker Award from Texas A&M University. He is the only entomologist to be awarded the BY Morrison Memorial Medal for horticultural research, presented by the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the American Society for Horticultural Science.
Zalom, who joined the UC Davis faculty in 1980, shortly after receiving his doctorate of entomology in 1978, earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees in zoology and ecology from Arizona State University, Tempe.
Now it's off to Baltimore to receive a well-deserved honor. Congratulations, Frank Zalom, champion of IPM!
The unique symposium, the work of chemical ecologist Walter Leal, professor in the UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and his 18 biochemistry students, drew an attentive crowd and scores of questions about the mosquito-borne virus, which is primarily transmitted by the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti.
In pregnant women, the Zika virus can cause fetal microcephaly and other severe brain anomalies, as well as a number of other medical issues. In adults, it can be sexually transmitted and can cause Guillain–Barré syndrome, a disorder of the immune system that damages the peripheral nervous system.
“I am certain that every person in attendance, either online or in Giedt Hall, whether specialist or not, knows more about Zika now then when the symposium started,” Leal said. “Mission accomplished! Those who did not attend and/or think that my statement is exaggerated or not accurate should go watch the recorded version of the symposium at https://video.ucdavis.edu/media/Zika+Virus+Public+Awareness+Symposium/0_n3aupf5c.”
“The highlight of the symposium, however, was the level of participation of the students," said Leal, a fellow of the Entomological Society of America and co-chair of the International Congress of Entomology meeting, set Sept. 25-30 in Orlando, Fla. "Clearly, new teaching approaches lead to students' engagement. This was an experiment that worked.”
A native of Brazil, Leal is a noted mosquito researcher (his lab discovered the secret mode of DEET) who collaborates with colleagues in Brazil. He recently participated in the international Zika scientific conference there.
What prompted the symposium? Leal and the 18 students decided that a scientific symposium would generate increased public awareness about the growing threat. They brought in speakers from the Brazilian frontlines (through Skype) and a Colorado State University researcher who contracted the Zika virus in Senegal and transmitted it to his wife. He was the first to discover that the virus is transmitted sexually.
The 18 students excelled, drawing praise from attendees and participants alike. In an email to Leal, James Carey, distinguished professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, wrote: "All were poised, confident, well prepared and articulate. You should be given a lot of credit for this creative outcome of your teaching efforts."
Symposium speakers included:
"The Zika Epidemic – An Overview"
Professor Walter S. Leal
UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
"Congenital Zika Syndrome"
Dr. Regina Coeli Ramos, University of Pernambuco, Brazil (remote)
"Zika Virus and Me"
Professor Brian Foy (remote)
Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University
Zika Virus: Looking into Mosquitoes' Vectorial Capacity
Professor Constância F. J. Ayres
Department of Entomology, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz-Pernambuco, Brazil (remote)
"Don't Let Mosquitoes Bug You with Zika – Repel Them"
Professor Walter S. Leal
UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
"DEET vs. Zika – I Would Go with the Former"
Dr. Emanual Maverakis
Department of Dermatology, UC Davis School of Medicine
"Keeping Mosquito at Bay, Not in Your Backyard"
Dr. Paula Macedo
Laboratory Director, Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District
"Friends Don't Let Friends Get Zika"
Dr. Stuart H. Cohen
Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and director of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control, UC Davis Medical School.
Some key points from the symposium
- Most people who contract Zika do not exhibit any symptoms whatsoever
- Zika virus is sexually transmitted; if you contract Zika, you can transmit it to your sexual partner.
- The mosquito, Aedes aegypti, is already in California, including the Clovis area and Palo Alto area
- Nearly 600 cases of Zika have already been reported in the United States, mostly in New York, Florida and California. Each case involved a U.S. traveler from a Zika virus "hot spot"
- Zika can persist up to 62 days in human semen
- Laboratory tests show that the common mosquito, Culex, can vector the virus and field tests are underway. Culex transmits West Nile Virus, Japanese encephalitis, and equine encephalitis.
- The two mosquitoes have varying feeding and breeding patterns: Culex feeds at night; and Aedes aegypti in the day, while Culex lays its eggs in polluted water, and Aedes aegypti in clean/clear water
- Culex quinquefasciatus, the southern house mosquito, is a potential vector; it has similar vector competence, and is much more abundant
The Zika virus was first isolated in 1947, in a rhesus monkey in a forest near Entebbe, Uganda. Brazil reported a human outbreak in early 2015. The virus is now spreading to other parts of South, Central and North America. The World Health Organization says the virus is likely to spread throughout most of the Americas by the end of the year. It is advising that people returning from known Zika outbreak areas to follow safe sex practices or abstain from sex for at least eight weeks.
He's an entomologist, trained to find ways to control insect pests, but now he aims to help humans with medical issues, including diabetes, high blood pressure and depression.
Bruce Hammock, distinguished professor of entomology at UC Davis, has just received the international John C. McGiff Memorial Award for his pioneering contributions to eicosanoid research.
The average person on the street probably has no clue what eicosanoids are. Well, as Hammock explains: "Eicosanoids are a particular class of fats that, rather than being nutritional or structural, are regulatory. They regulate blood pressure, childbirth, pain, inflammation, tissue repair and other biologies. By mass, more than 75 percent of the world's medications work on the eicosanoid pathway. These include such familiar drugs as aspirin, Advil, Ibuprofin and Motrin."
Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, received the award during the International Winder Eicosanoid (WEC) Conference, March 13-16 in Baltimore, Md. He delivered the McGiff Memorial Lecture on “Epoxide Hydrolase Inhibitors as Biochemical Probes and Drug Candidates.”
“The current drugs that alter the eicosanoid pathways block the formation of drugs that block natural fats that increase hypertension, increase pain and increase inflammation,” Hammock explained. “We have been working on a third branch of the pathway that reduces blood pressure, inflammation and pain. By blocking the degradation of these natural molecules we block harmful biologies. These new drugs are promising for control of diabetes, hypertension and other diseases. We are working to move some of these compounds that work outside of the brain to the clinic for both man and companion animals to control inflammatory and chronic pain.”
"However, we found that some of our compounds reach the brain where they can reduce complications from stroke and convulsions, including those from epilepsy. Based on these brain-penetrating compounds, Kenji Hashimoto's lab at the Chiba University Center for Forensic Mental Health, Japan, found that they are promising for depression, bipolar disorders and some other central nervous system effects. These compounds have proven valuable to numerous investigators to understand disease biology and are being followed by several drug companies.”
Using the newly discovered chemical in the Hammock lab, the UC Davis and Hashimoto researchers drew international attention on March 14 for their publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The result could be a new, innovative tool to control depression, a severe and chronic disease that affects 350 million persons worldwide, they said.
“The research in animal models of depression suggests that sEH plays a key role in modulating inflammation, which is involved in depression,” according to the UC Davis-issued news release. “Inhibitors of sEH protect natural lipids in the brain that reduce inflammation, and neuropathic pain. Thus, these inhibitors could be potential therapeutic drugs for depression.”
WEC is a group of scientists who have high standards of research, but freely collaborate and exchange reagents and ideas. It represents science at its best. "Never would we have made the advances we have at Davis without this friendship and collaboration of scientists from around the world,” Hammock said. This year's conference drew 150 scientists.
Bruce Hammock, who received his doctorate in entomology/toxicology from UC Berkeley in 1973, joined the UC Davis entomology faculty in 1980. With Sarjeet Gill (now at UC Riverside) he discovered that the enzyme, soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH), degrades fatty acid epoxides and plays an important role in human diseases. He and his lab have developed inhibitors of sEH that are anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive, analgesic and organ-protective. Recently he founded the company, Eicosis LLC, to target diabetic neuropathic pain. The company just received two large federal grants for translational drug development and aims to move one of the sEH inhibitors to human clinical trials.
The Hammock lab is the 30-year home of the UC Davis/NIEHS Superfund Research and Training Program, an interdisciplinary program funded by the National Institute of Environmental Sciences (NIEHS) that has brought in almost $60 million to the UC Davis campus. The Hammock lab is also the home of the NIH Training Grant in Biomolecular Technology. The lab alumni, totaling more than 100 graduates, hold positions of distinction in academia, industry and government as well as over 300 postdoctorals.
The UC Davis distinguished professor has authored or co-authored more than 1020 peer-reviewed publications, many in top journals. This includes 500 related to epoxide hydrolase, 80 related to esterase and amidase, more than 260 related to immunoassay, and 240 related to insect biology.
Hammock is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), which honors academic invention and encourages translations of inventions to benefit society. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the recipient of numerous other awards, including major teaching awards at UC Davis.
And yes, he's an entomologist. He's a fellow of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) and recipient of the ESA's Recognition Award for Insect Physiology, Biochemistry and Toxicology.
Bruce Hammock: from six-legged insect pests to two-legged Homo sapiens.