Judges chose his photo as one of the 12 winning images from a field of 560 entries submitted by 133 photographers from multiple continents. Nguyen captured the image at the UC Davis Stebbens Cold Canyon Reserve in April 2017, using his Canon 7D camera and a MPE 65-mm lens.
Senior insect biosystematist Martin Hauser of the California Department of Food and Agriculture identified the hover fly as a male Platycheirus trichopus (Thomson, 1869).
“I naturally combine my love of insects with my interest in photography to exhibit the beauty and diversity of this often overlooked yet immensely important group of animals,” Nguyen said. “I have been specializing in macro photography ever since I got my hands on my first digital camera over 10 years ago. My body of work consists of mostly insects and related arthropods.”
Nguyen says he does “very simple post processing and extremely minor cropping of the frame, preferring to compose the photo through the lens than to a cheap crop as much as I can.”
Nguyen, who received his bachelor's degree in entomology from UC Davis in 2015, is an alumnus of the 2015 BugShot Macro Workshop, taught by noted insect photographers Alex Wild, John Abbott and Thomas Shahan, in the Hastings Natural History Preserve, a UC Berkeley-operated biological field station in Carmel Valley. “It really was an amazing photographic experience,” said Nguyen, who was awarded a student scholarship to attend the workshop. Alex Wild, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, is curator of entomology at the University of Texas, Austin.
Nguyen often volunteers as a photographer at the Bohart Museum of Entomology outreach events, capturing interactions between staff, fellow volunteers, and the public. “I recently have dabbled in more client-based photography, such as engagement and graduation portraiture, as I have had more time to expand my skill set but arthropod photography still take up the majority of my time.”
He recently launched a website, https://alexandernguyen.smugmug.com/, which serves as a portfolio and storefront for some of his favorite photos.
The hover fly that Nguyen photographed is “found all the way down the west coast and Rockies into the southern part of Mexico,” Hauser said. For a long time it was regarded as the western population of widespread P. obscurus (Say, 1824), but since the recent revision of Young (2016), it is considered a valid species. (P. obscurus is found from Newfoundland to the Great Lakes, south to Northern Mississippi and the Carolinas.)
“The larvae of these flies feed on aphids and the adults are pollinators while visiting flowers for nectar and pollen,” said Hauser, pointing out that “The eyes of the males meet on top of the head and the ripples and punctures in the white pollinose pattern on the face are characteristic for the species.”
Calendar contest coordinator Jeffrey Bradshaw, associate professor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, said the contest is highly competitive. “Entries usually go through two to three rounds of judging before we arrive at final photos for the calendar. Members of the judging panel also included ESA members Martin Rice, Ric Bessin, Bob Peterson, Fikru Haile, Tom Myers, “all experienced photographers who are looking for the highest aesthetic and technical quality,” Bradshaw said.
“For example, images must be sharp, properly exposed, framed well, etc.,” Bradshaw noted. “Additionally, some of the best photos show some action or behavior exhibited by the subject. Unusual and interesting specimens often pique the judges' interest as well. It is quite an intensive task to judge this many photos and there are often several very good photos that don't make the final cut. However, we encourage photographers to submit again if their photo wasn't selected this year.”
“Members might notice the inclusion of a couple spiders this year,” Bradshaw said. “They are exceptional photos so the committee choose to look past the extra legs.” Insects have six legs; and spiders (arachnids) have eight.
ESA communications manager Joe Rominiecki said that the photos selected for the 2018 calendar are the work of photographers in the United States, Colombia, South Africa, Italy, and Australia. Their subjects: a grasshopper, spider, katydid, damselfly, wasp, fly, mosquito, hover fly, moth, butterfly, praying mantis, bee, and a caterpillar.
Attendees at the ESA conference, set Nov. 5-8 in Portland, Ore., will receive a free copy of the 2018 calendar, and if they want additional copies, can fill out an order form while there, Rominiecki said. Others who wish to purchase the calendar can access www.entsoc.org/bookstore after the conference or call (301) 731-4535 x3017. The cost is $8 for ESA members and $12 for non-members. (Quantity discounts are also available.)
The annual calendar contest is open to members and non-members alike. Macro photographers are also invited to submit their work to the Insect Salon National Contest, coordinated by the Peoria (Ill.) Camera Club. The winning photos are showcased at the annual ESA conference's Insect Salon.
The 7000-member Entomological Society of America, founded in 1889 and based in Annapolis, Md, is the world's largest organization serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and those in related disciplines.
The Sacramento March for Science on Saturday, April 22, a march for solidarity with the national March for Science in Washington, D.C., is strongly endorsed by the 7000-member Entomological Society of America (ESA), a non-partisan scientific society founded in 1889.
“It is a really important time to be supporting science and scientists in the United States,” said UC Extension entomologist emerita Mary Lou Flint, the ESA's "point person" for the Sacramento march. "This march is nonpartisan and fully sponsored by the ESA.”
In Sacramento, participants will gather at 10 a.m. at Southside Park, 2115 6th St. for a pre-march program. At noon they will begin marching to the Capitol Mall, 1315 10th St. The post-march program will take place there from 1 to 4 p.m.
April 22 is also Earth Day and the same day as the 103rd annual UC Davis Picnic Day. Flint said she hopes that UC Davis faculty, staff, students and others interested in supporting science will join her in the march, or in part of the event.
“We'll have pins and stickers and signs,” said Flint, who may be reached at email@example.com for further information. Flint, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley, retired in June 2014 as an Extension entomologist and as a leader in the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management (UC IPM) Program: she served as the associate director for Urban and Community IPM.
The guiding principles of ESA "recognize that the discipline of entomology is global, that all of its members must be able to participate fully in the organization, and that entomologists must collaborate with government and the public to maximize the positive benefits insect science offers to the world," said ESA in a press release. "The stated goals and principles of the March for Science align closely with these strategic principles of ESA.”
ESA is the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. Its members 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, and hobbyists.
ESA has created a web page to share information on how members can participate in the March for Science in Washington, D.C., or at satellite events around the world. ESA is also planning a pre-March for Science webinar on April 19 at 2 p.m. (EDT). Speakers from ESA, Lewis-Burke Associates, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) will discuss the logistics of the March for Science, best practices for non-partisan advocacy on behalf of science, and advice for productively engaging with the media during and after the March.
In addition, ESA members and others can use an ESA template to print their own "Why I March for Science" sign. They are encouraged to take a selfie with it, and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. "Why I March" pictures will be shared on social media in the days leading up to the event.
The March for Science is not only intended to raise awareness, but to celebrate science and to support and safeguard the scientific community. The goals include advocating for open, inclusive, and accessible science, affirming scientific research as an essential part of a working democracy and, in general, supporting scientists.
From the Sacramento March for Science web page: "Recent policy changes have called science-based information into question. Science is not a partisan issue. Science is fact-based and provides objective results. It is time for people who support scientific research and evidence-based policies to take a public stand and be counted!"
"We come from all walks of life. We are of different races, religions, gender identities, sexual orientations, abilities, socioeconomic backgrounds, political perspectives, and nationalities - and we are united through our respect for science and our belief that it is crucial to the health and success of our society and our planet. Our diverse opinions, perspectives, and ideas are critical to the scientific process and are our greatest strength."
“Flowers feed the world, keep us healthy and make us smile,” says Buchmann, who received his doctorate in entomology in 1978 from UC Davis and is a longtime pollination researcher and adjunct professor in the departments of entomology and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona.
But flowers, especially red roses, the most commonly gifted flower on Valentine's Day, can't hold a candle to what most people never think about—that flowers feed the world, thanks primarily to honey bees, bumble bees, syprhid flies and other pollinators.
“Because pollinated and fertilized blossoms turn into nutritious fruits and seeds, these invaluable foodstuffs keep the world's 7.2 billion people from starvation,” Buchmann points out. “These resulting fruits also feed birds, bears and other wildlife.”
And flowers make us a smile. “Give someone flowers, and they flash a genuine Duchenne smile,” Buchmann promises. “Rutgers psychologist Dr. Jeanette Haviland-Jones has infused subliminal amounts of rose and gardenia vs. manmade scents into room air. Subjects use more enjoyment words and were more likely to approach or touch a stranger when the floral scents were present. Flowers may counteract the semiochemicals for fear, anger and anxiety that humans seem to constantly be emitting.
Other reasons for flowers, all detailed in his book, just released Feb. 9 in paperback by Simon & Schuster, include:
- Tasty and Nutritious. “Although the calories from starchy cereals and grain crops feed the world, we enjoy and need the ‘nutraceuticals' and antioxidants inside colorful cranberries, blueberries, oranges and apples,” he says. “They keep us healthy and happy.
- Edible flowers. “Some flowers--that is, roses, some marigolds--are great as edible garnish and foods.” His book relates “which ones can be eaten and what they taste like."
- Humans might never have evolved, or survived. “Early hominids certainly recognized that flowers were the harbingers of tasty fruits. Without flowers, perhaps no people today.”
- As costly as gold. “Saffron is the world's costliest spice and the subject of countless fake imitations,” Buchmann says. “The spice is the dried styles from crocus blooms. Hand-picking and the fact that this represents such a tiny fraction of the entire plant, make it so costly and precious.”
- For inspiration and romance. “Flowers have inspired generations of poets, writers and artists. Their myriad shapes, colors and scents enrich our lives with beauty. Their sexuality and alluring scents bring romance into our lives.”
- Most ancient. The world's earliest known flower is the 8-inch tall fossil Achaefructus that grew in China 130-160 million years ago. “It turns out that these and other early blooms were puny runts,” Buchmann says. “They wouldn't win best of show ribbons in any flower show.”
- Flowers in the service of science. “Without Gregor Mendel's crossing experiments with the humble garden pea, we wouldn't have learned about the laws of inheritance when we did. “
Buchmann has published more than 150 scientific articles and 11 popular nonfiction books, including The Forgotten Pollinators (a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist) with Gary Nabhan. His book, Honey Bees: Letters from the Hive, is a National Science Teachers' Association Outstanding Science Trade Book. He's also written a children's book The Bee Tree (with Diana Cohn), described as the true story of a family of honey hunters in peninsular Malaysia.
Buchmann's major professor at UC Davis was Robbin Thorp, now a distinguished emeritus professor of entomology who continues his research on native bees. Both continue to teach the annual American Museum of Natural History “The Bee Course,” along with several other colleagues.
"Steve has been on the cutting edge of many areas of pollination biology," Thorp said. "He jumps on to new ideas with great enthusiasm and explores them in depth. He has been a leader in areas like buzz pollination, the contribution of electrostatics in pollen harvesting by bees, and adaptations in bees that collect oils from specialized flowers. He raised important issues about the conservation of bees in co-authoring the benchmark book, The Forgotten Pollinators, a decade before colony collapse disorder in honey bees captured the attention of the media and general public. He enjoys new technologies and exploring ways they can be applied to pollination research. At the annual Bee Course in Arizona, he provides a very popular demonstration of life within carpenter bee nests."
Buchmann wears a number of hats. He assists documentary filmmakers as a “bee and flower wrangler,” and served as the chief scientist for the 2013 Disneynature film Wings of Life, narrated by Meryl Streep. He also produced a short film Honey for the Maya, which can be seen on YouTube.
Besides writing and his beloved buzz pollination research (funded by a National Science Foundation Grant), Buchmann enjoys macro and landscape photography, along with making small fine art bronzes in a Tucson foundry.
The former UC Davis doctoral student remembers “walking up and down the stairs to my office in the old insect museum in Briggs Hall; and chatting with botanist/evolutionist Dr. Ledyard Stebbins; studying the pollination of shooting stars (Dodecatheon) near Lake Berryessa, the area that is now the Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve; and riding “back and forth to UC Berkeley and the UC Davis libraries on the free library shuttle.”
He did field work for his doctorate in Arizona, California, Wisconsin and Panama (Barro Colorado Island), and recalls the “wonderful mentorship of Dr. Robbin Thorp and the late Grady Webster.”
And flowers? Yes, many memories of flowers. He fondly remembers “roaming the serpentine rock outcrops of Napa Valley and inhaling the wonderful wine-like floral aroma of western spicebush (Calycanthus occidentalis) and “opening flowers of Dutchman's pipe festooning trees near Lake Berryessa, “to find their fungus gnat pollinators.”
Tucker, 90, a longtime apiculturist, passed at Serenity Hospice House, Santa Barbara, on Oct. 17.
Born Aug. 8, 1924, to John and Jessie Tucker in Santa Barbara, Ken was one of seven brothers and sisters who grew up enjoying the beach and adjacent mountains. He graduated from Santa Barbara High School, where a teacher sparked his interest in keeping honey bees. He began beekeeping as a teenager and it became a lifelong career.
A World War II veteran, he served as a radioman in the U.S. Navy on a landing ship tank for two years in the South Pacific. Upon returning, he enrolled at the Riviera campus of Santa Barbara College for a term, then transferred to UC Berkeley, where his brother John was a graduate student in botany.
Ken Tucker transferred to the UC Davis campus as a graduate student in the honey bee laboratory (now the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility) and worked with Laidlaw. While at Davis he met Shirley Cotter, a botany graduate student, and they married in 1953. She received her doctorate in botany from UC Davis in 1956.
After obtaining his Ph.D., Ken Tucker worked as an Extension entomologist at the University of Minnesota, taught biology at Lake Forest College in Illinois, and then worked for many years as an apicultural scientist at the federal Honey Bee Laboratory in Baton Rouge, LA.
Tucker worked on Africanized bees in Venezuela and other South American countries before returning to the U. S. His wife, Shirley, was a professor of botany at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
He co-authored a manual on the instrumental insemination of queen bees, a subject he studied with Laidlaw (1907-2003), known as the father of honey bee genetics. He was Laidlaw's first graduate student.
The Tuckers enjoyed traveling to many parts of the world. They both retired in 1995, and moved to Santa Barbara. Ardent advocates for the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, they endowed a staff position for a plant systematist there.
Ken Tucker enjoyed classical music, the Humanists Society meetings, the Farmers' Market, as well as hiking, fishing and kayaking.
He is survived by his wife Shirley of 60 years, his brother Stanley (Marion), sister Mary Kraft, niece Linda Tucker, and many other nieces and nephews.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology on the UC Davis campus is planning an open house on "How to Be an Entomologist" from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 27. The insect museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building, Crocker Lane, off LaRue Road.
The event is free and open to the public and is family friendly. This is the first of nine open houses during the 2014-15 academic year.
Plans call for a number of UC Davis entomologists to participate--to show and explain their work, said Bohart Museum director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
"We will have a pinning and butterfly and moth spreading ongoing workshop with Jeff Smith and tips on how to rear insects," said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator. Smith, an entomologist in Sacramento, is a longtime donor and volunteer at the Bohart.
Representatives from the labs of molecular geneticist Joanna Chiu, assistant professor; bee scientist Brian Johnson, assistant professor; ant specialist Phil Ward, professor; insect demographer James R. Carey, distinguished professor; and integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, distinguished professor and current president of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America will share their research.
Other entomologists may also participate. "There will be a lot going on inside the Bohart and outside the Bohart," Yang said. "It will be very hands on."
Among the open house themes are “Parasitoid Palooza,” “Insect Myths” and “Pollination Nation." “Parasitoid Palooza” may be the first public celebration dedicated to parasitoids, “Parasitoids are animals that feed internally or externally on a host to complete their development to an adult, ultimately killing it,” Kimsey said. “These insects are important biological control agents. We use them as biological control agents because they kill the host, sometimes as an egg or a larva.”
Most of the open houses are from 1 to 4 p.m., except for an evening event, “Moth Night” on Saturday, July 18, and two events--Biodiversity Museum Day on Sunday, Feb. 8 and UC Davis Picnic Day on Saturday, April 18--which have extended hours.
- Saturday, Sept. 27: “How to Be an Entomologist,” 1 to 4 p.m.
- Sunday, Nov. 23: “Insect Myths,” 1 to 4 p.m.
- Saturday, Dec. 20: “Insects and Art,” 1 to 4 p.m.
- Sunday, Jan. 11: “Parasitoid Palooza,” 1 to 4 p.m.
- Sunday, Feb. 8: “Biodiversity Museum Day,” noon to 4 p.m.
- Saturday, March 14: “Pollination Nation,” 1 to 4 p.m.
- Saturday, April 18: UC Davis Picnic Day, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Sunday, May 17: “Name That Bug! How About Bob?” 1 to 4 p.m.
- Saturday, July 18: “Moth Night,” 8 to 11 p.m.
Kimsey, who became interested in entomology in pre-school, went on to receive her bachelor of science and doctorate in entomology (1975 and 1979) from UC Davis. She joined the faculty in 1989 after serving as a visiting professor/lecturer at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University. She has directed the Bohart Museum of Entomology since 1990 and served as vice chair and interim chair of the Department of Entomology.
The Bohart Museum, founded by noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007), houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens and boasts the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It also houses the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity.
The Bohart Museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
Special attractions include a “live” petting zoo, featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold the insects and photograph them. The newest attractions in the petting zoo are Texas Gold-Banded millipedes, Orthoporus ornatus, which are native to many of the southwestern United States, including Texas. Millipede enthusiast Evan White of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science arranged for the permanent residents.
The museum's gift shop (on location and online) includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.