Posts Tagged: wasps
Umm, a t-shirt? Right, you nailed it!
If you're trying to find something "buggy" for your friends and family, then you'll want to take a look at the design that won the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Students' Association (EGSA) t-shirt contest.
"Hymenoptera on a Bike" is the work of Stacey Rice, a junior specialist in the lab of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension specialist Larry Godfrey, who is based at UC Davis. Rice researches Bagrada bugs (Bagrada hilaris), an invasive stink bug from Africa known for attacking cole crops, including broccoli, cabbage, collards, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and mustard.
She is also an artist, and a very creative one at that. So when the EGSA announced its annual t-shirt contest, Rice decided to fuse art with science.
“I wanted to draw a penny-farthing, which is part of the UC Davis culture,” she said. "Then I wanted an insect that would be able to put its abdomen on the seat and have long enough legs to reach the pedals.”
An alumnus of UC Davis, Rice received her bachelor's degree in biological sciences with a minor in veterinary entomology in March 2015. Her goal is to attend graduate school and receive her doctorate, either in integrated pest management or forensic entomology.
She became interested in both fields after enrolling in a “behavioral ecology of insects” course taught by Edwin Lewis, associate dean for agricultural sciences in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and professor and former vice chair, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The t-shirt, now available to the public on the EGSA's website, sold well at the Entomological Society of America's recent meeting in Minneapolis. (For more information on the T-shirt and other EGSA t-shirts available, access the online store at http://mkt.com/UCDavisEntGrad or contact EGSA treasurer Cindy Preto at firstname.lastname@example.org. All proceeds benefit EGSA.)
And wasps? Think #wasplove.
When Amy Toth, an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, presented a seminar in May to the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, she covered her latest research on wasps and her enthusiasm was contagious.
We later asked her to list why she loves wasps (she coined the hashtag, #wasplove), and she obliged:
- They are pollinators
- They contribute to biocontrol of lepidopteran pests in gardens and on decorative plants
- They have been shown to carry yeasts to winemaking grapes that may be important contributors to the fermentation process and wonderful flavors in wine!
- They are the only known insect (Polistes fuscatus) that can recognize each other as individuals by their faces.
- They are devoted mothers that will dote on their young all day long for weeks, defending their families with fury.
- Their social behavior, in my opinion, is the most human-like of any insect. They know each other as individuals, and are great cooperators overall, but there is an undercurrent of selfishness to their behavior, manifest in nearly constant passive-aggressive interactions between individuals.
- They are artists. They make perfect hexagonal nest cells out of paper, which they make themselves out of tree bark + saliva.
- They are extremely intelligent. They're predators, architects, good navigators, and great learners. Among insects, they have large brains, especially the mushroom bodies (learning/memory and cognition area of insect brain).
- They are beautiful, complex, and fascinating creatures!
And to that list, we add No. 10: wasps are also photogenic!
Especially when they're riding a penny-farthing.
Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Junior specialist Stacey Rice of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology wearing the award-winning t-shirt that she designed. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A foraging European paper wasp, Polistes dominula. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
About 35 percent of the food we eat depends on the assistance of bees to pollinate plants and trees so they will produce fruit, nuts or vegetables. It takes 1.6 million colonies of honey bees to pollinate California's 800,000 acres of almond trees.
Our food choices would be dramatically reduced if bees weren't around to pollinate. To illustrate what the produce section of a grocery store would look like in a world without bees, Whole Foods Market removed the products that depend on pollination from one of its stores and took a photo. See the difference: http://ucanr.tumblr.com/post/84164840510/kqedscience-whole-foods-shows-customers-the. Without bees, more than half the fruits and vegetables were eliminated.
Honey bees and other pollinators are being threatened by the drought, disease, mites, loss of habitat and food sources, according to Eric Mussen, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at UC Davis and bee expert.
Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside and director of Lindcove Research and Extension Center, talks about the role of pollinators in California agriculture in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8suOt5PnzWc&feature=youtu.be.
To see photos of different kinds of pollinators and to learn more about how to help them thrive, visit our pollinator page. On May 8, help count the pollinators in your community and add them to the map at http://beascientist.ucanr.edu.
"The European paper wasp, which is about the same size (as the yellow jacket) but more slender, has built up to enormous numbers in some communities," said Lynn Kimsey, professor in the Department of Entomology at UC Davis. "They have been making their way out of the Sacramento area for the past 20 years."
Kimsey said the wasps have moved outward from Sacramento along river beds and water ways into the Sierra Nevada and along the delta toward San Francisco. In August, 345 wasp nests were removed in South Lake Tahoe.
European paper wasps dine on caterpillars, aphids and honeybees, but switch to mostly carbohydrates in the late summer for energy, said Andrew Sutherland, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in the Bay Area.
Vernard Lewis, UCCE specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, also contributed to the story.
"Where I normally eat my lunch is one of the biggest yellow jacket nests I've seen in years," Lewis said. "It's not just here. I'm getting reports from the Berkeley campus and from Richmond, Antioch and Rodeo. Something is up. It's not just yellow jackets. It's other pests, too, like cockroaches. It's the most I've seen in at least 10 or 15 years."
Fimrite added a link in his article to the UC Statewide IPM Program Pest Note on Yellowjackets and other social wasps.
Yellow jackets, like the one above, are often confused with European paper wasps. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
An article in the Merced Sun-Star today declares that wasps are in full force this summer. Reporter Carol Reiter set out to determine why and what to do.UCCE farm advisor Maxwell Norton told her he suspects the high number of local homes abandoned due to foreclosure has boosted the wasp population.
"So many abandoned homes means that they are multiplying unabated," Norton was quoted. "Garage eaves and home eaves give them a lot of places to build their nests and be undisturbed."
Reiter also spoke to Mary Louise Flint of the UC Integrated Pest Management Program. She said yellow jackets are aggressive and can pose problems for humans; paper wasps, on the other hand, won't usually sting unless they get trapped. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell the difference.
The UC IPM online guideline for "Yellowjackets and other social wasps" says some social wasps provide a great benefit by killing large numbers of plant-feeding insects and nuisance flies; others are exclusively scavengers. Wasps are only a problem when they threaten to sting.
The guideline provides information on preventing and trapping wasps, but the advice for spraying will probably discourage all but the most fearless homeowners from doing it themselves.
"Wasps will attack applicators when sensing a poison applied to their nests, and even the freeze-type products are not guaranteed to stop all wasps that come flying out," the guideline says.
UC Master Gardener wasp identification illustration.