Backyard Orchard News
It's no secret that bugs often get a bad rap.
Take the negative expression, "Bah, Humbug!" uttered by Ebenezer Scrooge, a Charles Dickens character.
Now it seems that everyone who dislikes Christmas says it, with an emphasis on "bug."
Why not turn things around and say "Ah, humbug!" Think of the hum of the buzzing honey bees on a warm summer day.
Or even a cold wintry day.
Yesterday as the temperature hovered at 48 to 49 degrees on the University of California, Davis, we took a noonhour stroll behind the Lab Sciences Building to look for insects. We spotted a lone honey bee buzzing around some spiderylike red flowers, and buds that looked like tiny balls of red yarn. The plant? Calliandra californica, also known as Baja fairy duster, according to Ernesto Sandoval, director of the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory.
Now bees don't usually leave their colony until the temperature hits at least 55 degrees (although we've seen them flying at 50 in our backyard).
This bee apparently wasn't aware of the "no fly" list.
This honey bee was not aware of the "no fly" list; bees don't usually fly when the temperature is 49 degrees, but this one did. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee gathering nectar on Calliandra californica, aka Baja fairy duster. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee continues foraging on Calliandra caifornica. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Daane and his research associates followed moth populations in organic and conventional fields to document this observed change and determine if there were any specific causes for increases in raisin moth densities. In a 2013 season study, UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center entomologists found that spring to early summer pheromone trap catches of raisin moths were prevalent across numerous vineyards, regardless of management practices. However, overall seasonal damage in 2013 was low.
“The primary difference between vineyard sites with or without raisin moth damage appeared to be well-timed and effective insecticide sprays,” Daane said. “One problem for organic sites may be the availability of insecticide materials that have long enough residual activity to control the larvae of adult moths entering the vineyard, and once the larvae are deep inside the grape cluster they are difficult to control.”
In addition to Daane’s report, the San Joaquin Valley Grape Symposium includes the following research updates:
- Rootstocks for raisin production by Sonet Von Zyl, Fresno State University
- Raisin production canopy management by Matthew Fidelibus, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, based at the UC Kearney Ag REC in Parlier
- Raisin grape breeding program by Craig Ledbetter, USDA Agricultural Research Service, based in Parlier
- Economics of producing raisins, by Annette Levi, Fresno State University
- Grapevine trunk diseases and grower survey
The symposium begins with registration at 7 a.m. and concludes following lunch at 1 p.m. at the C.P.D.E.S. Hall, 172 W. Jefferson Ave., Easton, Calif.
Registration is $15 in advance and includes lunch. Registration at the door is $20. To preregister, send the names of attendees and a check payable to UC Regents for $15 each to San Joaquin Valley Grape Symposium, 550 E. Shaw Ave., Suite 210-B, Fresno, CA 93710. To register with a credit card, fill out the online registration form at http://ucanr.edu/sjv2014.
Because that's what it is.
It's an event held in December, specifically Saturday, Dec. 7 from noon to 3 p.m. when the Bohart Museum of Entomology extends its weekday hours so folks can see the global insect collection, hold live critters from the "petting zoo," ask questions, and browse the gift shop.
Wouldn't it be interesting if "The December Event" drew a long line of bug lovers comparable to the swell of Black Friday shoppers? Can't you just see it? Families eagerly waiting in line for the the noon opening...the big dash when the doors swing open...smiles everywhere...
Science never looked so good...or so popular!
The Bohart Museum, home of nearly eight million specimens, is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. The building is near the intersection of LaRue Road and Crocker Lane.
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, was the last graduate student of noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart, for whom the museum is named.
So, Dec. 7 is a good time to stop in, check out the insect specimens, and maybe hold a Madagascar hissing cockroach, a walking stick, a rose-haired tarantula or a praying mantis. Bring your camera. The photo could wind up on a unique holiday card.
Bug lovers can also visit the year-around gift shop, which includes t-shirts, sweatshirts, posters, books, insect nets, butterfly habitats, and insect-themed candy. (Items can also be ordered online. Proceeds benefit the Bohart Museum.)
Wait, there's more! You can have your name or the name of a loved one "permanently attached" to an insect through the Bohart Museum's BioLegacy program.
BioLegacy supports species discovery and naming, research and teaching activities of the museum through sponsorships, said Kimsey. "At a time when support for taxonomic and field research is shrinking, researchers find it increasingly difficult to discover, classify and name undescribed species. Yet there are thousands yet to be discovered. Taxonomy is the basis of all biology and without species discovery and naming much of the world’s biodiversity will remain unknown and therefore unprotectable."
As noted on the BioLegacy website, the program
- Provides donors the opportunity to sponsor and give a scientific name to a newly discovered insect species;
- Provides researchers responsible for identifying the new species with names provided by donors;
- Ensures that names provide by donors are used in a scientifically sound and scientifically correct manner in accordance with International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature rules;
- Provides donors with documentary proof of their name for the new species in question;
- Ensures that donated funds go to the support of taxonomical research in the Bohart Museum of Entomology; and
- Publishes donor-named species and information about the research on its website.
Bottom line: the species naming is a "unique, lasting form of dedication." A minimum sponsorship of $2500 is requested.
A Bohart Museum volunteer at work. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Madgascar hissing cockroaches are a popular attraction at the Bohart Museum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Especially when the result is an auction item.
Take the case of "The Sting," a memorable lunch-hour photo that went viral. Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen and I were walking through the apiary of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis, when he stopped abruptly. "Kathy, get your camera ready," he said. "A bee is about to sting me."
The resulting image shows a trail of abdominal tissue, aka "guts."
It's copyrighted, registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, but after being named one of Huffington Post's Most Amazing Photos of 2012 and one of the World's Most Perfectly Timed Photos, it now appears on the Internet as owned by thousands of others--people with no qualms about removing my copyright; inserting their own copyright; uploading it; tagging it with the URL of their website; or trying to use it for commercial purposes.
All copyright infringements.
Meanwhile, the photo keeps traveling 'round the world, accompanied by assorted comments:
- "So, you sat around all day torturing bees to get that photo, right?" (Wrong. I've never killed a bee in my entire life, except for the one I accidentally stepped on in Hawaii.)
- "That poor guy. What kind of friend are you? Why didn't you put the camera down and help him?" (Sorry, that's not what happened.)
- "It's posed." (Nope.)
- "It's Photo-Shopped." (Nope.)
- "That abdominal tissue is fake. That's a piece of string." (Nope.)
- "It's a wasp." (Nope.)
- "It's not a real bee." (Wrong. It is--or was--a Carniolan bee reared by bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, now of Washington State University.)
Fast forward to November of this year. Eric and his wife, Helen, decided to offer the mounted image as an auction item at the California State Beekeepers' Conference, held Nov. 19-21 at Lake Tahoe. Both Eric and I signed it, hoping that it would net a few dollars for CSBA.
So, how much did CSBA receive?
Ready for this? $900.
John Miller of Newcastle, outgoing president of CSBA, placed the winning bid. "The photo," he said, "will be in my house for visitors to enjoy/squirm while viewing."
And yes, he's been stung like that, with the abdominal tissue trailing. Usually a bee sting is a clean break.
"If you keep bees – sooner or later – you're going to take an ugly stinging," Miller commented. "I feel sorry for the bee. Usually, she is merely reacting to my own behavior – which ran outside her ability to understand. I 'act out' - she dies."
You may remember John Miller from the book, The Beekeeper's Lament: How One Man and Half a Billion Honey Bees Help Feed America, written by award-winning journalist Hannah Nordhaus.
Nordhaus describes Miller as a guy who loves bees, spreadsheets, humor and his friends. He's descended from Nephi Ephraim Miller, a Mormon farmer known as "the father of migratory beekeeping" and the first beekeeper to produce "the nation's first million-pound crop of honey."
Miller, based in Gackle, N.D. and Newcastle, Calif., maintains one of the biggest beekeeping operations in the country. Nordhaus hints that it's not quite as big as South Dakota's Richard Adee, who has 80,000 hives.
Miller has a "Jimmy Stewart-like voice and an eternally bemused expression," Nordhaus writes. Miller doesn't cuss. No, indeed. Nordhaus points out that he uses "cowboy words" (especially when he gets stung).
Now "The Sting" is in Miller's house "for visitors to enjoy/squirm while viewing."
Me thinks that once they see his prized auction item, they will not only squirm, but utter a few choice words of their own. Non-cowboy words.
This image, "The Sting," drew $900 at the California State Beekeepers' Association auction. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
As its name implies, it's native to Asia. It was first detected in North America in Wisconsin in July 2000. Technically, it’s Aphis glycines Matsumura. In lay language, that's spelled "p-e-s-t."
Now found throughout much of the Midwest, it sucks.
With its mouthparts.
Enter George Heimpel, professor of entomology at the University of Minnesota's Department of Entomology. Heimpel, who received his doctorate in entomology in 1995 from UC Davis, will return to the UC Davis campus Wednesday, Dec. 4 to speak on “Specificity and the Process of Biological Control Using Aphid Parasitoids."
His seminar takes place from 4:10 to 5 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall. It is scheduled to be recorded for later posting on UCTV. (Editor's Note: The seminar was initially scheduled for noon, but due to midwest storms, Heimpel's flight was delayed.)
"Over the past 25 years or so, importation ('classical') biological control of arthropod pests has undergone a paradigm shift in which emphasis has shifted from an exclusive focus on efficacy to a focus on the actual and potential risks of biological control introductions," Heimpel says. "Host specificity testing is the cornerstone of risk assessment in this new paradigm, and only highly specialized agents are currently approved for release. Here, I describe the process of importation biological control of an invasive agricultural pest in the North-Central U.S.--the Asian soybean aphid."
"Numerous parasitoid species were imported from Asia as potential biological control agents and I focus on five species for which host-specificity testing was done," he says. "Each of these three species tells a different story in terms of host-specificity, the potential for biological control efficacy, and actual success of field releases. Together, these case studies illustrate some potential relationships between safety and efficacy in biological control, and the importance of various traits in mediating safety and efficacy of biological control agents."
Born in Germany, Heimpel grew up mainly in California. He received his bachelor’s degree in conservation and resource studies in 1988 from UC Berkeley and his master's degree in 1991 in entomology and applied ecology from the University of Delaware before heading over to Jay Rosenheim's lab at UC Davis to receive his doctorate in 1995. Heimpel then spent two years as a USDA post-doctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin in Mike Strand’s lab.
Heimpel now teaches biological control and insect behavior.
And one of his targets is the Asian soybean aphid.
Asian soybean aphid. (Courtesy Wikipedia, Claudio Gratton, University of Wisconsin)