The excitement, the capture, the I-get-to-take-these-home-and-put-them-in-my-garden look.
Who doesn't love a lady beetle? (Besides the gentlemen beetles, of course!)
Karey Windbiel-Rojas, associate director for Urban and Community IPM and area Urban IPM advisor, and her colleagues are ready for the crowds that will descend on entomological displays at the all-day Picnic Day on Saturday, April 15, the 109th annual.
The Briggs Hall activities, organized by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, include cockroach races, maggot art, forensic entomology, and more. (See Bug Squad blog for events and activities at both Briggs Hall and the Bohart Museum of Entomology)
The UC IPM specialists will provide information information sheets on both endemic and invasive pests and will answer questions.
Note that it's not a bug; it's a beetle. Entomologists call them "lady beetles" because this insect is not a true bug. It belong to the family Coccinellidae. Scientists have described about 5000 species worldwide, and about 450 in North America.
"Lady beetles, or ladybugs, are round- or half-dome-shaped insects with hard wing covers," UC IPM writes on its website. "About 200 species occur in California and most are predators both as adults and larvae. Some species specialize on aphids or other groups; others have a broader diet."
Lady beetles, the good guys and gals in the garden, are natural enemies of aphids and other soft-bodied insects. Scientists say a lady beetle may eat around 50 a day, and as many as 5000 aphids in its lifetime. Sadly, the larvae, which look like mini-alligators, are often mistaken for pests.
Don't kill 'em! Treasure 'em!/span>
It wouldn't make the news, even if it were a "Slow News Day."
"Lady in Red Climbs Neon-Pink Petals in Search of Aphids."
Lady beetles, aka ladybugs, are coming out of their winter hibernation now and they're hungry. Aphid-hungry.
We spotted this lady beetle Feb. 7 in a flower pot containing an iceplant, Carpobrotus edulis, native to South Africa. Iceplant is an invasive plant.
"Iceplant was introduced to California in the early 1900s as an erosion stabilization tool used on railroad tracks, and later used by Caltrans on roadsides," according to an article, "Invasive to Avoid--Iceplant," posted by the California Fish and Wildlife. "It has been used as an ornamental for many years, and is still sold in nurseries. Unfortunately, iceplant spreads easily, and has become invasive in coastal California from north of Humboldt County to as far south as Baja California. When it establishes in a location, it forms a large, thick mat that chokes out all other native plants and alters the soil composition of the environment. Because it is a coastal invader, it competes with many endangered, threatened, and rare plants." (See what Calflora.org says about it.)
California has about 200 species of lady beetles. Check out the lady beetles on the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) to see many of the species. They are voracious consumers of aphids and other soft-bodied insects.
Meanwhile, a news flash: "Lady in Red Climbs Neon-Pink Petals..."
Now that the sun's out and the worst California storms are over, check your yard for lady beetles.
We saw several of them on our agave this morning. The center of the plant looked like bunched-up asparagus--red-tipped asparagus--and there they were, ruby-red lady beetles threading through the leaves.
Close, closer, closest...
Ready to see scores of beetle species? Be sure to attend the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house, themed "Beetles," from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 22 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. Open to the public, the event is free (both admission and parking) and family friendly.
Among the presenters will be UC Davis graduate student and burying beetle researcher Tracie Hayes of the laboratory of Professor Louie Yang, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; beetle specialist Fran Keller, biology professor at Folsom Lake College and a Bohart Museum scientist and UC doctoral alumna; and Cal Fire bark beetle specialist Curtis Ewing, a senior environmental scientist, Forest Entomology and Pathology.
The family arts-and-crafts activity will be to color a drawing of a carrion beetle, the work of Tracie Hayes.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, Department of Entomology and Nematology, houses a global collection of eight million insect specimens; a live petting zoo where you can photograph the residents (and pet some of them, including Madagascar hissing cockroaches and stick insects); and a year-around gift shop, stocked with insect-themed t-shirts, hoodies, jewelry, books, posters and collecting equipment.
Founded in 1946, the Bohart Museum is named for noted entomologist Richard Bohart (1913-2007), UC Davis entomology professor, is open to the public from 8 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 5 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays.
When you first meet Brandon DeGroot, 6, of Vallejo, he'll tell you "I love spiders and snakes" and he'll flash a big smile.
He's the kind of youngster that arachnologists, including Professor Eileen Hebets of the University of Nebraska and Professor Jason Bond, of the University of California, Davis, welcome to their fold.
Bond, associate dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is chairing the American Arachnological Society's meeting June 26-30 at UC Davis with Lisa Chamberland, postdoctoral research associate, Department of Entomology and Nematology, and Joel Ledford, assistant professor of teaching, Department of Plant Biology, College of Biological Sciences.
An open house, "Eight-Legged Encounters," set from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 25 at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, will kick off the conference. Hebets is co-hosting it as part of a U.S. National Science Foundation grant, “Eight-Legged Encounters,” that she developed as an outreach project to connect arachnologists with communities, especially youth. It's free, open to the public, and family friendly.
The open house promises to be one of the biggest events--if not the leggiest!--of the year on the UC Davis campus and beyond. A powerhouse of arachnologists, Bond said, will be at the open house. “There will be everything--spider specimens, live arachnids, activities, artwork, etc."
Some 20 exhibits and activities will be set up in the hallway of the Academic Surge Building, said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator. A popular activity at the Bohart is its live petting zoo, comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches or "hissers," stick insects and tarantulas. Youths, especially, delight in holding the hissers and stick insects.
But back to Brandon.
"Brandon has always loved spiders, insects and snakes, starting when he was a toddler looking for bugs in our yard," said his mother, Heather DeGroot. "Brandon was always in the dirt, and my other son, Mason, now 8, was always in the grass." Last Tuesday, June 7, while Heather kept busy coordinating the Solano County Fair exhibits at McCormack Hall, in preparation for the June 16-19 fair, Brandon kept busy looking for critters outside. When he'd find one, he'd excitedly announce his treasure, and even more excitedly, show it to all.
So, in between his bug hunts, we thought we'd interview Brandon.
Bug Squad: "How old are you?
Brandon: "I'm six and I go to kindergarten at Vallejo Charter School. I'm almost in the first grade." (He graduated from kindergarten June 9.)
Bug Squad: "Brandon, how long have you loved spiders and snakes?"
Brandon: "A long time."
Bug Squad: "Cool! Why do you love spiders?"
Brandon: "I like the poison and how they eat."
Bug Squad: "What do you want to be when you grow up, Brandon?"
Brandon: "I want to be a scientist about animals. See my snake tattoo on my arm?" (He displayed the washable tattoo that tattoo artist Jason Meyers of Concord created just for him.)
Bug Squad: "Fantastic! What makes you happy?"
Bug Squad: "Does your brother Mason like snakes and spiders?"
Brandon: "No, he only likes BMX." (Mason will be competing as part of Team USA at a BMX competition in Nance, France in July. The entire family will be there to support him.)
Bug Squad: "Why doesn't Mason like spiders and snakes?"
Brandon: "He doesn't want to get hurt by them."
Bug Squad: "Do you like bees?"
Brandon: "I like bees. They pollinate the flowers and make them change colors. I like ladybugs and I like letting them crawl on me. I like walking sticks. I saw them on YouTube and they look just like sticks."
Bug Squad: "Do you like ants?"
Brandon: "I like ants but I don't like fire ants." (He sees fire ants on family trips to Houston, Texas.)
Bug Squad: "Do you like butterflies?"
Brandon: "I like them because of their colors."
Bug Squad: "Do you like dragonflies?"
Brandon: "I like how fast they fly and they nibbled on my family at the Yuba River but they didn't nibble on me."
Bug Squad: "Brandon, do you like sports or play sports?"
Brandon: "I played basketball and I'm going to learn to play tennis."
Bug Squad: "Do you like girls?"
Brandon (raising his eyebrows): "No, I like dogs."
Bug Squad: "Do you have a dog?"
Bug Squad: What's your favorite food?"
Brandon: "Strawberries and chocolate."
And with that, he opened his lunch box, picked out a strawberry, and shared it with a bug that he had just collected in the McCormack Hall gardens.
"Here you go," Brandon told the bug, later identified by Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis, as an aphid. "I'm feeding you so you won't get hungry."
Call them ladybugs, call them ladybirds, call them lady beetles, call them Coccinellidae, or just call them aphid eaters or deluxe aphid eaters.
And while you're at Briggs Hall, check out the insect-related displays and activities planned and coordinated by entomology doctoral candidate Danielle Rutkowski of the UC Davis Graduate Student Association. The events range from Roach Races (cheer on your favorite roach) to Maggot Art (dip a maggot in non-toxic, water-based paint and create a masterpiece worthy of framing--or at least, it can join your refrigerator art).