Posts Tagged: Steve Heydon
Scorpions--to fear or to revere?
The Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house last Sunday drew visitors of all ages who marveled at the scorpions glowing under ultraviolet light.
UC Davis entomology major Alexander Nguyen flashed a UV light on the critters as his audience watched in amazement.
Most--but not all--of the world's scorpions glow under ultraviolet light, says Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum, which houses more than seven million insect specimens.
Scorpions are not insects, but arachnids, the same as spiders. Ranging in size from 9 mm to 21 mm, scorpions have eight legs (arachnid alert!) and grasping claws that help conquer their prey. But it's their venom that kills. And all scorpions possess venom.
UC Davis entomologist Bruce Hammock and his lab made the news back in 2003 when they published a study that showed that scorpions produce two venoms: a pre-venom to deter predators and immobilize small prey, and then the good stuff, the powerful venom that's meant to kill.
It's like saving the best for last or waiting for the venom glands to pump and reload, so to speak.
So, why do they glow?
Scientists believe it's because of the fluorescent material found in the scorpion's hard outer covering.
"The fact that they glow serves no physiological function," said Bohart senior museum scientist Steve Heydon. "It's probably a quirk of chemical makeup."
Great quote..."a quirk of chemical makeup."
Scorpion glowing under ultraviolet light at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
UC Davis entomology undergraduate student Alexander Nguyen flashes a UV light on a scorpion, as Professor Demosthenes Pappagianis, M.D., Ph.D., of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, watches. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Gotta love those entomologists and all the "bug people" who love bugs.
The folks at the Bohart Museum of Entomology on the UC Davis campus not only love their bugs but they're quite creative in showcasing them.
Take Fran Keller, a UC Davis Department of Entomology doctoral candidate who studies beetles with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart. Several days ago, during lunch, Keller crafted a colorful outline of a yule tree using assorted beetle specimens.
That was the tree. Then came the wreath.
Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, figured--and correctly so--that the metallic greens and reds would make a stunning wreath. So, she assembled a wreath starring carabids (ground beetles), scarabs, buprestids (metallic wood-boring beetles), a katydid and a praying mantis, among other insects.
James Heydon, 10, of Davis, whose father is a senior museum scientist at the Bohart Museum, thought it quite pretty as he watched Yang make the wreath on Friday, Dec. 23.
Will he become an entomologist?
“I’m not sure,” he said, but he does like bugs.
There’s no “Bah, humbug!” in his vocabulary.
Meanwhile, Bohart Museum personnel are gearing up for the next weekend open house, themed “A New Year, a New Bug, How Insects are Discovered.” Free and open to the public, the event will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14 at the museum, located at 1124 Academic Surge on the UC Davis campus.
The Bohart Museum, home of more than seven million insects, houses the seventh largest insect collection in North America. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum in 1946.
On any given day, visitors also can enjoy a live “petting zoo” with such permanent residents as Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks. A gift shop, where visitors can purchase t-shirts, sweatshirts, jewelry, insect nets and “insect candy,” is also open.
It's a fun and educational place to be.
The Bohart Museum launched its series of weekend openings for the fall season on Saturday, Sept. 24 with “Catch, Collect and Curate: Entomology 101.”
The remaining schedule for the 2011-2012 academic year:
Saturday, Jan. 14, 1 to 4 p.m.: “A New Year, a New Bug, How Insects Are Discovered”
Sunday, Feb. 12, 1 to 4 p.m.: “Bug Lovin’”
Saturday, March 10, 1 to 4 p.m.: “Hide ‘n’ Seek: Insect Camouflage”
Saturday, April 21: 10 to 3 p.m.: UC Davis Picnic Day
Saturday, May 12, 1 to 4 p.m.: “Pre-Moth’ers Day”
Sunday, June 3, 1 to 4 p.m.: “Bug Light, Bug Bright…First Bug I See Tonight.”
The Bohart's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. It is closed on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
More information is available on the Bohart website or by contacting Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 752-0493. (Due to limited space, group tours will not be booked during the weekend hours.)
James Heydon, 10, of Davis, admires a “bug” wreath made by Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The colors of the season at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
No, not the one below, a banded-winged grasshopper (family Acrididae and subfamily Oedipodinae) that we spotted west of the UC Davis campus--and identified by Steve Heydon, senior museum scientist at the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
These particular locusts will be something you've never seen before--and will probably always remember.
Sculptor Cyrus Tilton will display his work in a solo exhibition titled The Cycle that runs Oct. 4-29 in the Vessel Gallery, 471 25th St., Oakland. He's created a kinetic locust swarm and two 11-foot sculptures of mating locusts.
Morphologically correct, too.
Tilton will unveil his work at a press preview party on Saturday, Oct. 1. Until then, it's a surprise, but the photo below (of the work in progress) gives you a glimpse of what's to come.
Who is Tilton? He's an Oakland-based artist and the art director of the Scientific Art Studio in Richmond. His work includes a bas-relief of Barry Bonds' 500th home run. A 1998 graduate of the Art Institute of Seattle, Tilton was born in Palmer, Alaska in 1977 and spent his early years in a one-room cabin near Anchorage. His parents, he recalls, embodied the "back-to-nature movement" of the 1960s.
The Cycle "explores the parallels between locust swarms and humanity's habits of mass consumption and overpopulation, throiugh sculpture and site-specific installation," says Vessel Gallery director Lonnie Lee.
Of his work, Tilton says: "I am making a huge generalization but a lot of people I know work in offices and behind computers. I am not judging them because people have to make a living. But are we becoming more like insects? When I drive by an apartment building, I can’t help but see it as a hive. Seems like compartments for individuals to live in. We are connecting to one another in ways that look to me like we’re worker bees or worker ants, feeding the queen ant. Are we more insect-like in our behavior? And is that bad? Or maybe we are closer to insect hierarchies than we like to think.”
Lee describes Tilton's work as "a fine example of an artist who taps into the collective subconscious of humanity. The Cycle reveals the self-defeating and contradictory behaviors of society. Most will be moved to discomfort and reflection. Hopefully the audience will experience both an internal shift and a change of behavior. I urge everyone to see this show, as being enveloped by a giant locust swarm just might open pathways to our salvation.”
Fifty percent of the net sales of "Individuals" (the site-specific kinetic installation) will benefit the Alameda Food Bank.
Admission to show, which can be viewed Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Oct. 4-29, is free. A reception is set Friday, Oct 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. In addition, Tilton will talk about his work from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, discussing his processes, thoughts, and approach toward creating this body of work.
"Are we insect-like in our behavior?"
"Are we like worker bees or worker ants?"
The Cycle should prod us to ponder those questions.
This grasshopper, aka locust, is a banded-winged grasshopper, family Acrididae. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A work in progress by Oakland-based artist Cyrus Tilton. (Courtesy Photo)
If you see a patch of California native wildflowers known as "Tidy Tips," look closely.
The yellow daisylike flower with white petals (Layia platyglossa) may yield a surprise visitor.
You may see an assassin.
An assassin bug.
A member of the family Reduviidae, this is a long-legged, beady-eyed beneficial insect that stalks its prey and snatches it with its forelegs, somewhat like a praying mantis. It conquers its victim with a squirt of deadly venom from its beak (the collective term for its piercing, sucking mouthparts).
Once it has immobilized its prey, the assassin sucks the bodily contents, like a milkshake slurped through a straw.
The assassin bug, true to its name, ambushes, attacks and captures other insects, such as aphids, flies, crickets, mosquitoes, beetles, caterpillars and "sometimes a hapless bee," said Bohart senior museum scientist Steve Heydon.One thing about the Zelus assassin bug--it does not fly very fast. In fact, it totally ignored the camera poked close to its protruding eyes.
The camera neither looked like or acted like a predator or prey.
Patch of Tidy Tips
Sip of Nectar
Ladybugs are easy to "spot."
As soon as the weather warms and those dratted plant-sucking aphids emerge, here come the polka-dotted ladybugs. The prey and the predator. The pest and the beneficial insect. The bad and the good.
Actually, many folks have already reported ladybug sightings. Facebook friends are photographing them and posting macro images. Ray Lopez of El Rancho Nursery in Vacaville said he's seen scores of them this season. The building that houses Fox 40 in Sacramento is resplendent with them.
In fact, tomorrow morning (Wednesday, Feb. 24) senior museum scientist Steve Heydon of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis, will be interviewed by Fox 40 on that very subject: ladybugs! Look for a 7:20 a.m. live interview.
An article in today's Science Daily calls aphids "the mosquitoes" of the plant world. That's because they depend on the "blood" of plants to survive.
David Stern, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University, is quoted as saying "Look at this little insect, sitting on a plant and sucking plant juices. You don't realize that it is involved in a historic battle with plants for access to its life blood. All its genes have evolved to allow it to exploit its feeding relationship."
The article, about how an aphid's genome reflects its reproductive, symbiotic lifestyle, points out that an aphid can reproduce both sexually and asexually."
That's certainly a key factor in the aphids' evolutionary success.
All the more for the hungry ladybugs.
So, whether you call them "ladybugs" or "lady beetles" or by their family (beetle) name, Coccinellidae, they're found worldwide, with more than 5000 described species.
And they're coming to a garden near you...