Backyard Orchard News
Rachel Graham, a master's student in entomology at the University of California, Davis who loves photographing insects, recently submitted an image of a blue dasher, Pachydiplax longipennis, for the Entomological Society of America's 2014 World of Insects calendar.
Dashing news! It won a well-deserved spot in the calendar. It's the June "bug." The worldwide competition drew more than 400 photos from 84 photographers. Each attendee at ESA's 61st annual meeting, held Nov. 10-13 in Austin, Texas, received a calendar. (More calendars are available.)
Graham studies with integrated pest management (IPM) specialist Frank Zalom, newly inducted president of the nearly 7000-member ESA. (Zalom is only the second-ever ESA president from UC Davis.)
Graham captured the image at the Archbold Biological Station in Venus, Fla., in August 2010 when she was participating in a BugShot photography workshop organized by noted insect photographer/entomologist Alex Wild of Illinois. Wild, who received his doctorate in entomology from ant specialist Phil Ward, UC Davis professor of entomology, writes the popular Myrmecos blog and the Compound Eye blog for Scientific American.
Graham recalled that she photographed the blue dasher "on the very first day of the workshop" with her Canon 60D and a 100mm macro lens, shooting at an ISO of 200, f-stop of 6.3 and a shutter speed of 1/40. No flash. No tripod.
The dragonfly species is widespread throughout North America. It's common, but Rachel Graham's photo isn't!
This isn't Rachel Graham's first major photography honor, either. One of her images made the Cornell Ornithology Celebrate Urban Birds 2011 calendar. And earlier this year, she won the People’s Choice Award at the 6th annual UC Davis Graduate Student Symposium in Ecology. Her winning photo depicted a jumping spider eating a hover fly.
Graham, an IPM specialist who plans a career in science education and outreach, recalled that she "began photographing insects for a class assignment at UC San Diego in 2010, and have not been able to stop."
Let's hope she never does!
The image of a blue dasher, captured by Rachel Graham of UC Davis, appears in the Entomological Society of America's 2014 World of Insects Calendar.
As fall fades and winter beckons, we're still seeing skipper butterflies foraging in cosmos, lantana and other flowers.
Lepidopterans study 'em but we just admire 'em.
Distinguishing characteristics of skippers include "clubs" on the tips of their antennae, and those huge, compound eyes.
The skippers (family Hesperiidae) "are a worldwide family of about 3500 species that appear to be 'sister' to the rest of the 'true butterflies,'" says butterfly expert Arthur Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis, on his website. "The clubs on the tips of the antennae are usually hooked. Our California skippers fall into two or three subfamilies: the spread-wing skippers (Pyrginae), the folded-wing skippers (Hesperiinae), and the Heteropterinae."
The butterfly is one of the most popular of tattoes. Odds are, however, you'll see a graceful monarch or a striking western tiger swallowtail inked on someone's skin, not a common skipper.
Ask.com, when asked "What is the meaning of a butterfly tattoo?", replied (British version): "The butterfly tattoo symbolises grace and beauty. The beautiful patterns and colours on the wings of the butterflies are undeniably attractive. The connotation and symbolism of butterfly tattoo designs is as well related to psych and spirituality."
"Butterfly" means "psyche" or "soul" in Greek.
Next time you see a skipper, think of it as a "soul" on a flower. A clubbed soul.
A skipper on a cosmos. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of a skipper. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
All that glitters may be beetles--jewel beetles.
You'll want to attend the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house on Saturday, Nov. 23 from 1 to 4 p.m. to bask in the theme, "Beauty and the Beetles."
The museum, located on the UC Davis campus in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, houses nearly eight million insect specimens, plus a live "petting zoo" and a gift shop. The open house is free and open to the public. The museum is people friendly, family friendly and bug friendly.
And the beetles?
"Beetles are awe inspiring because they are so different,” said Fran Keller, who is completing her requirements this year for a doctorate in entomology. She studies with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
“As a human, I and the 7 billion people on the planet are only one species, Homo sapiens," Keller said. "But the insect Order Coleoptera, or beetles, has more than 360,000 species. Beetles have the greatest diversity of all the insects. Butterflies are big and showy, but beetles can be. too. On a ladybug, which is really a beetle and not a bug, those red and black spotted front wings are called elytra. Beetle elytra are not used for flying so beetles actually fly with one pair of wings. But those elytra help protect them because they can be very tough and sometimes incredibly flashy to warn off predators.”
Keller said that “If you can think of an ecological niche there is probably a beetle there taking advantage of the resources. Believe it or not, there is a beetle that is a parasite and lives in the butt of a beaver. Beetles are truly amazing and although I am partial to the flightless, black tenebrionids, I do collect and appreciate the beauty of all beetles. Okay, maybe I don't collect the beaver butt parasite beetle but wow, who would have thought beetles would be there!”
Keller, who noted that Darwin was an avid beetle collector and enthusiast, acknowledged that she has many "favorite groups of beetles," but "one of my favorites has to be the jewel beetles. Most of them are pests but they are very stunning, hence the name jewel beetle. There are so many different types of beetles that we know of or that have been described but there are still so many that await discovery."
So, all you beetle fans and would-be beetle fans, head over to the Bohart Museum on Saturday afternoon. There will be arts and crafts for the youngsters (and adults, too, if they wish!) Find out more here.
These jewel beetles will be displayed at the Bohart Museum's open house. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
How about “A Taste of Mead and Honey?”
That’s even better!
The UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center is planning a "Mid-Winter Beekeepers Feast: A Taste of Mead and Honey" on Saturday, Feb. 8 in the foyer of the Sensory Building, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.
The gala, one-of-a-kind event will take place from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and will include appetizers, drinks, salad, main course, cheese course with honey comb, and dessert and mead flight.
Amina Harris, executive director of the UC Honey and Pollination Center, teases us with: “It is early February. Pink and white buds are peeking out on the burnished branches of the almond trees all over central California. Bees come out to bask in the warmth of the afternoon sun following the dark, cool days of winter. They gather pollen and nectar to begin building their strength and their colony for the coming year. Each evening they return to the warmth of the hive.”
Wait, there’s more.
“Our night will begin with sparkling mead cocktails and end with a mead flight, guided by Darrell Corti. Music, a silent auction, and great food will fill the evening.”
Great food? Indeed! Check out the menu, the kind you’d find at a five-star restaurant.
Cracked Dungeness crab on Belgian endive, and shitake mushroom soup shots.
Sparkling mead, sparkling water and wine pairings with each course
Navel and blood oranges over winter greens and tupelo honey vinaigrette
Roasted lamb shank with dried fruit and rosemary infused sage honey, polenta squares with tomato and mushroom ragout, and oven-roasted Brussels sprouts with thyme butter
Cheese Cream with Honey Comb:
Honey comb paired with Laura Chenel Orange Blossom Chevre, and Point Reyes Blue and Manchego cheeses
Dessert and Mead Flight:
Three select meads, Häagen-Dazs Honey Vanilla Ice Cream, and old-fashioned butter cookies with pistachios
Designing the menu: Ann Evans, nationally known consultant in consumer food and agricultural education and founder of Slow Food Yolo County, and chef Mani Niall of the Sweet Bar Bakery, Oakland, and author of “Covered in Honey” and “Sweet." The Buckhorn of Winters is catering the event.
Tickets will be available Ded. 2 at http://rmi.ucdavis.edu/events. Single tickets are $125, and table for eight, $1250. (Contact Amina Harris at email@example.com or Tracy Disslin at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Is it February yet?
When February arrives, honey bees will be out pollinating the almonds. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Oh, the fun-loving, sun-loving cosmos.
A native of Mexico and a member of the sunflower family, Asteraceae, this plant brightens many a garden, attracting such pollinators as honey bees, bumble bees, sweat bees, hover flies and butterflies. Its common name and genus are the same: cosmos!
As the autumn days grow colder, its color seems to grow bolder. The vivid pinks, glorious whites, and cranberry reds are a delight to see. Some of the daisylike petals are striped like candy canes.
Last Sunday was a pollinator-perfect day for the cosmos planted in the Avant Garden, a community garden at the corner of First and D streets in Benicia. Insects couldn't seem to get enough of them.
"Spanish priests grew cosmos in their mission gardens in Mexico," according to a Texas A&M website. "The evenly placed petals led them to christen the flower, 'Cosmos,' the Greek word for harmony or ordered universe."
The website lists "The Top 10 Reasons Everyone Should be Growing Cosmos." They include easy to grow, best annual for hot, dry locations, best annual for poor soils and the like. And, it's a self-seeding annual that can be used for floral arrangements.
The Spanish priests probably thought so, too.
Honey bee visiting a cosmos. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee packing pollen, up, up and away. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)o
This honey bee is "in the pink"--pink cosmos. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)