The UC Davis Linnaean Games Team has successfully defended its national championship.
The team, comprised of three UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology graduate students, defeated the University of Georgia in the championship round.
The annual Linnaean Games, sponsored by the Entomological Society of America (ESA), took place at ESA's recent meeting in Orlando, Fla., held in conjunction with the International Congress of Entomology meeting.
UC Davis team members are captain Ralph Washington, a third-year graduate student; Brendon Boudinot, a third-year graduate student; and Emily Bick, a second-year graduate student. They defeated the University of Georgia, the 2012 winner, in the championship match (score, UC Davis 145; Georgia, 55). The UC Davis entomologists earlier outscored Ohio State University, North Carolina State University (champions in 2014), and Texas A&M in advancing to the finals.
Washington is studying for his doctorate with major professors Steve Nadler and Brian Johnson, who respectively specialize in systematics and evolutionary biology of nematodes and the evolution, behavior, genetics, and health of honey bees; Boudinot with major professor Phil Ward, systematics and evolutionary biology of ants; and Bick, with major professor Christian Nansen. Bick is working on ecosystem models to optimize pest management in two systems: invasive aquatic weed species water hyacinth and its biological control agent, Neochetina bruchi; and working to control Lygus bugs using alfalfa as a trap crop in strawberries. UC Davis Extension entomologist Larry Godfrey serves as the advisor.
- Question: “You have just moved into an apartment that has been vacant for weeks but whose prior owners had several cats and dogs. A very few days after you move in you are bitten by a huge number of cat fleas that seem to have appeared out of nowhere. What characteristic behavior of cat fleas biology is probably responsible for this?”
Answer: “Cat flea pupae eclose in response to the presence of a host.”
Question: Insects inhabiting a very thin water film such as splash zones marginal to streams are called what?
- Question: The insect order Notoptera unites what two former insect orders?
Answer: Notoptera unites Mantophasmatodea and Grylloblattodea
- Question: What are the two obvious clinical symptoms that someone is suffering from onchocerciasis?
Answer: Blindness and hanging tissue around lymph nodes, often times the scrotum.
- Question: What is the common name for the zygentoman pest that thrives in high humidity and high temperatures and is often found in boiler rooms?
Answer: The firebrat, Thermobia domestica.
- Question: Projection neurons travel across what two major regions of the insect brain?
Answer: The protocerebrum and the deutocerebrum.
(Editor's Note: The video of the 2016 Linnaean Games' championship match will soon be posted on the ESA YouTube channel. Meanwhile, here's a link to the 2015 championship game, won by UC Davis. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL21ACF32985978D25
DAVIS--They're the national champs!
The UC Davis Linnaean Games Team, comprised of four graduate students in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, won the National Linnaean Games Championship at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Entomological Association of America (ESA), held recently in Minneapolis. See YouTube video at https://youtu.be/_hA05K0NET4.
They did so by correctly answering such questions as:
“What is the smallest insect that is not a parasite or parasitoid?”
“Nicrophorus americanus is listed under what legislative act?” and
“What are the three primary conditions that define eusociality?”
The UC Davis team defeated powerhouse University of Florida 130 to 70 to win its first-ever national championship in the 32-year history of the ESA's Linnaean Team Games.
The Davis team is comprised of captain Ralph Washington Jr., and members Brendon Boudinot, Jessica Gillung and Ziad Khouri, and is advised by faculty members Larry Godfrey, Extension entomologist, and Elina Niño, Extension apiculturist.
The Linnaean Games is a college-bowl type competition in which teams answer questions about insects and entomologists. The teams hold practice sessions throughout the year.
The UC Davis Linnaean Games Team earlier won the regional competition hosted by the Pacific Branch of ESA. They defeated Washington State University in the finals. Both teams competed at the nationals.
Washington is studying for his doctorate with major professors Steve Nadler and Brian Johnson, who respectively specialize in systematics and evolutionary biology of nematodes and the evolution, behavior, genetics, and health of honeybees; Boudinot with major professor Phil Ward, systematics and evolutionary biology of ants; and Jessica Gillung and Ziad Khouri with major professor Lynn Kimsey, who specializes in the biology and evolution of insects. Kimsey directs the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
“They played well and obviously studied hard,” said Gamesmaster Deane Jorgenson, who chaired the event and asked the questions. She is a research scientist at Syngenta, Burnsville, Minn.
Toss-Up Question: What is the smallest insect that is not a parasite or parasitoid?
Answer: Beetles in the family Ptiliidae.
Bonus Question:Some species of mosquitoes lay eggs that can undergo diapause or aestivation. Give at least three cues that trigger the aquatic eggs to hatch.
Answer: Temperature, immersion in water, concentration of ions or dissolved solutes.
Toss-Up Question: Chikungunya is an emerging vector-borne disease in the Americas. Chikungunya is derived from the African Language Makonde. What means Chikungunya in Makonde?
Answer: Bending up.
Toss-Up Question: A Gilson's gland can be found in what insect order?
Toss-Up Question: Certain Chrysomelid larvae carry their feces as a defensive shield. To what subfamily do these beetles belong?
Bonus Question: The first lepidopteran sex pheromone identified was bombykol. What was the first dipteran sex pheromone identified? Give the trade or chemical name.
Answer: Muscalure, Z-9-Tricosene. It is also one of the chemicals released by bees during the waggle dance.
Toss-Up Question: What famous recessive gene was the first sex-linked mutation demonstrated in Drosophila by T.H. Morgan?
Bonus Question: Cecidomyiidae are known as the gall flies. What is unique about the species Mayetiola destructor, and what is its common name?
Answer: Mayetiola destructor is the Hessian Fly, a tremendous pest of wheat. It does not form galls.
Toss-Up Question: Nicrophorus americanus is listed under what legislative act?
Answer: The Endangered Species Act
Toss-Up Question: In what insect order would you find hemelytra?
Answer: The order Hemiptera.
Toss-Up Question: The subimago stage is characteristic of what insect order?
Answer: The order Ephemeroptera
Bonus Question: A 2006 Science article by Glenner et al. on the origin of insects summarized evidence that Hexapods are nothing more than land-dwelling crustaceans, which is to say that the former group Crustacea is paraphyletic with respect to the Hexapoda. What hierarchical name has been used to refer to this clade?
Toss-Up Question: What are the three primary conditions that define eusociality?
Answer: Cooperative brood care, overlapping generations, and reproductive division of labor
A total of 10 teams competed in the 2015 Linnaean Games:
- Eastern Branch: Virginia Tech University and University of Maryland
- North Central Branch: Michigan State University and Purdue University
- Pacific Branch: UC Davis and Washington State University
- Southeastern Branch: University of Georgia and University of Florida
- Southwestern Branch: Oklahoma State University and Texas A&M
A YouTube video of the championship game will be posted soon. Last year North Carolina State University defeated the University of Florida to win the finals. The 2014 championship game is online at
Those were some of the questions asked at the 2010 Linnaean Games, a college-bowl type game zeroing in on insects, entomologists and entomological facts. Graduate students from throughout the country compete on teams to determine the championship team
The team from the University of California, Davis, narrowly lost to Ohio State University, which advanced to the finals and then went on to win the championship. The event took place at the Entomological Society of America's 58th annual meeting in San Diego.
The UC Davis team, coached by Extension entomologist Larry Godfrey of the Department of Entomology faculty, consisted of Meredith Cenzer, who is studying for her doctorate with major professor Louie Yang; Matan Shelomi, studying for her doctorate with major professor Lynn Kimsey; Andrew Merwin, studying for his master's degree with major professor Michael Parrella, and Ralph Washington, who received his bachelor's degree in entomology earlier this year and plans to attend graduate school.
Ohio went on to defeat Pennsylvania State University, Georgia and finally, Nebraska to take home the championship. The Ohio team was comprised of Joshua Bryant, Glene Mynhardt, Kaitlin Uppstrom and Nicola Gallagher. Ryan Caesar later participated on the Ohio team.
One of the questions asked of Ohio State-Nebraska in the finals was “Name the individual who received the Entomological Foundation Award for Excellence in Integrated Pest Management.” Neither Ohio State nor Nebraska knew the answer, but UC Davis did. The answer: Frank Zalom, professor of entomology and an IPM specialist at UC Davis.
Tom Turpin of Purdue emceed the program as a trio of judges--J. E. McPherson of Southern Illinois University, Carol Annelli of Washington State University and Susan Weller of the University of Minnesota--scored the answers.
Each branch sponsors a competition and usually sends two to the nationals. Teams and their sponsoring ESA branch:
Pacific Branch: UC Davis and Washington State University
Southeastern Branch: University of Georgia and University of Florida
Eastern Branch: Pennsylvania State University (University of Maryland was also selected but did not participate)
North Central Branch: Ohio State University and the University of Nebraska
Southwestern Branch: New Mexico State and Texas A&M
Answers to the above questions.
What's the loudest insect in the world?
African cicada (Brevisana brevis); it has been measured at 106 decibels, equivalent to a gas mower at 3 feet away.
What is the egg case of a cockroach called?
Kissing bugs, in the family Reduviidae, are vectors of what disease?
About how long have insects been on earth?
Some 400-380 million years ago.
Give three official common names for Helicoverpa zea?
Corn earworm, tomato fruitworm, and cotton bollworm
Here are some of the other questions asked at the Linnaean Games:
Which sexes of cicadas have tymbals and which have tympana?
Males have both. Females have only tympana.
What term is used to describe the antennae found on male mosquitoes?
Crickets are well-known music makers. What are the names of the two specialized structures that allow them to make that wonderful noise and where specifically on the body are they located?
File and scraper, located on the forewings.
At what American school was the first entomology class taught and who was the teacher?
Harvard (1805-1822) W.D. Peck
In the Amazon rain forest, what are the common names of two groups of insects that make up about 1/3 of the biomass of all animals in the habitat?
Ants and termites.
Problems with honey bee hives in what state led to the recognition of colony collapse disorder?
Name two orders of insects that are entirely predatory.
Odonata and Mantodea
The monarch is actually the second-most popular state insect. What insect is the most frequently adopted state insect?
Robert Frost wrote a poem that begins with the lines: “An ant on a table cloth ran into a dormant moth of many times his size.” As you might guess the poem is about ants. What is the title of the poem?