Posts Tagged: Entomological Society of America
It's a buggy new year! One of the fascinating things about beginning the new year is the Entomological Society of America's "World of Insects" calendar. Amazing images of insects (and one spider!) jump out at you.
One of my favorites is a black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens, an image captured by entomologist Jena Johnson of Athens, Ga. It's "Mr. October."
Johnson writes: "Soldier flies, like many other dipterans, have beautifully patterned eyes attributable to cornea filters that cause colorful metallic reflections. Adults of this species are black with dark wings and are 14-17 millimeters long. Although harmless, they are somewhat similar in appearance to mud dauber wasps, and they even mimic their movements. They also have two distinctive translucent spots on their first abdominal segments that make them appear to have narrow, wasplike waists. The larvae develop in decomposing organic matter and are considered to be beneficial in helping to reduce large amounts of animal manure and other biological wastes. Soldier fly larvae are a good protein food source for livestock, exotic pets and even humans. In the summer, adults are often attracted to fluorescent lights, which is how this one was lured in for a photograph in Athens, Georgia."
"The first time I looked into the eyepieces of a microscope to see the magnified beauty of an insect I knew I would spend my life involved somehow in learning more about this diverse and fascinating group of animals," Johnson told Bug Squad. "After working at the University of Florida for a couple of years I went on to earn a master's degree at Clemson University. I worked as an entomology laboratory technician at the University of Wisconsin and am currently at the University of Georgia. For many years I photographed insects with a 35mm film camera but when digital cameras became more affordable a few years ago, my passion for insect photography was reignited. I photograph insects for the pure joy it brings me. I live in Athens, Georgia with my husband Michael Strand, who is also an entomologist."
Michael Strand, by the way, will be the featured speaker April 8 in the series of noonhour seminars hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. (See list of seminar speakers.)
Jena Johnson, who is currently hotographing a variety of mosquito species emerging from pupae at the water's surface, is an alumnus of BugShot, an insect photography workshop. One of the instructors is noted insect photographer Alex Wild, who received his doctorate in entomology at the University of California, Davis, with professor/ant specialist Phil Ward. Wild, who has just accepted a position at the University of Texas, Austin, blogs about insects at myrmecos.net and about photography at Compound Eye, Scientific American. Wild's Oct. 26 2011 seminar at UC Davis on "How to Take Better Insect Photographs" is the department's most viewed seminar on UCTV.
It's obvious that people like bugs, and people enjoy capturing macro images of bugs!
A colorful image of a clown grasshopper by Francisco Lopez-Machada of Cali, Colombia, graces the cover of ESA's "World of Insects" calendar. It also appears as "Mr. August."
The list of images and the photographers:
January: Spitting spider, Scytodes thoracica, by Daniel D. Dye II of Brooker, Fla.
February: Speckled-winged grasshopper, Arphia conspersa, by Johan Pretorius of Scottsbluff, Neb.
March: Imperial moth, Eacles ormondei peruviana, by Christopher Conland of Escondido, Calif.
April: Red dwarf honey bees, Apis florea, by Darren McNabb of Iowa City, Iowa
May: Stink bug, Edessa sp., by Francisco Lopez-Machado of Cali, Columbia
June: White-lined sphinx moth, Hyles lineata, by Keith Kennedy of Raleigh, N.C.
July: Dog-day cicada, Tibicen canicularis, by Keith Kennedy of Raleigh, N.C.
August: Clown grasshopper, Paramastax rosenberg, by Francisco Lopez-Machado of Cali, Colombia
September: Rove beetle, Philonthus caeruleipennis, by Tom Myers, Lexington, Ky.
October: Black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens, by Jena Johnson of Athens, Ga.
November: Luna moth, Actias luna by Tom Myers, Lexington, Ky.
December: Flameskimmer dragonfly, Libellula saturata, by Kathy Keatley Garvey of UC Davis
The 7000-member ESA recently held its annual meeting in Portland, Ore., with president Frank Zalom, distinguished professor of entomology and an integrated pest management specialist at UC Davis, presiding.
This photo of a black soldier fly, by Jena Johnson, is "Mr. October" in the ESA calendar. (Photo by Jena Johnson, used with permission)
The ESA calendar cover features this clown grasshopper by Francisco Lopez-Machado of Cali, Colombia. (Photo courtesy of ESA)
"Mr. December" in the ESA calendar is this image of a flameskimmer dragonfly, taken by Kathy Keatley Garvey of UC Davis.
It was Dangerfield (1921-2004), you know, who coined the catchphrase, "I don't get no respect."
Male ants don't either, says myrmecologist (ant reaseacher) Brendon Boudinot, a doctoral student in Phil Ward's Department of Entomology and Nematology lab, University of California, Davis.
Boudinot, who recently won a first-place President's Award for his presentation on “Revising Our Vision of Ant Biodiversity: Male Ants of the New World” at the 2014 Entomological Society of America meeting in Portland, Ore., is passionate about ants, particularly male ants.
Male ants get little respect or attention, said Boudinot, who aims to raise public awareness of their importance and demystify them through his scientific research.
“There are about 12,800 living species of ants described to date,” explained Boudinot, who enrolled in the UC Davis doctoral program after receiving his bachelor's degree at Evergreen State College, Olympia, Wash., in 2012. “Males are known for only 27 percent of these species, and no identification resource exists for identifying male ants for most bioregions.”
Addressing this concern, he provided the first male-based identification keys to subfamily and genus level for the New World. The keys cover 13 of the 16 subfamilies and 151 of the 324 genera. This, coupled with a global male-based key to all 16 ant subfamilies he submitted in November, will enable male ants to be identified by genus in the New World---encompassing North, Central, and South America---for the first time.
“This will facilitate the use of male ants in evolutionary, ecological, and taxonomic studies,” Boudinot said. “Moreover, it encourages a shift in the focus of myrmecology, the study of ants, by allowing male-specific collecting methods to be used and will encourage future workers to include males in their research.”
As for telling the difference between a male and a female ant, that's not easy, even for many ant researchers, Boudinot acknowledged. “Males and reproductive females, queens, usually have wings and look different from workers. Males are usually differentiated from females by having slightly different morphology. Besides having complex and strange genitalia, male ants also tend to have one more antennal segment, larger eyes, and in general look more ‘waspy.' "
The genitalia of male ants are fascinating, he said. “Think of a Leatherman or Swiss Army knife which has paired muscular claspers, graspers, and sawblades. Male ants have evolved winglessness and worker-like morphology at least five times in the ants, which has historically led to the accidental description of these wingless males as new species. This is a weird phenomenon which I will be focusing on for a chapter of my dissertation. Why have they evolved winglessness? What are the evolutionary patterns of skeletomuscular reduction? Are there trade-offs for a colony when they lose the ability to produce dispersing males? Anyway, this should be fun.”
Boudinot noted that the inaccurate portrayals of ants in Hollywood movies lead to lifelong misinterpretations. “There is a perception that there are two kinds of ants: red ants and black ants--and sometimes yellow ants--and that the workers of ants include both sexes, as in the Disney movies A Bug's Life and Antz,” Boudinot said. “Really, ants are incredibly diverse---which is why I am fascinated with them in part.”
Reproductory misinformation abounds in “A Bug's Life,” the 1998 American computer-animated comedy adventure film, Boudinot said. All worker ants are female and sterile, but Princess Atta marries a male, Flik. “Flik and Princess Atta wouldn't have married, and if they did, Flik wouldn't be the dad as chances are she, as a worker, would be able to lay only unfertilized eggs which would become clonal males.”
If there's one thing that Boudinot wants youngsters of today to know about ants, it's this: “There are remarkable things to discover everywhere, and unanswered questions abound. Discovery is borne out of observation, and there is so much to observe in any single square meter of Earth's surface. I like ants in this respect because they are everywhere! In tropical rainforests ants and termites (another group of social insects) may make up to one-third of the total animal biomass, dwarfing that of vertebrates such as panthers, birds, and amphibians. There are about 90 species of ants in Sonoma, Napa, Yolo, and Sacramento counties alone, including fungus-cultivating ants!”
Boudinot encourages people to check out AntWeb.org. “This website is a digital database of thousands and thousands of species of ants, many of which look like they are extraterrestrials or are strange beasts out of nightmares,” he said, adding “Okay, and some of which are just fluffy and adorable.”
Myrmecologist Brendon Boudinot in the field. This was taken at the Southwest Research Station in the Chiricahua Mountains near Portal, Ariz., by Roberto Keller, National Museum of Natural History and Science, Portugal.
Bee health is a challenge, and this hot topic tied in with ESA President Frank Zalom's theme "Grand Challenges Beyond the Horizons." Zalom, who just completed his presidential term and is now serving as past president, is a distinguished professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, and an integrated pest management specialist.
Debate topics are always lively and this one was no exception. The teams are given eight months to practice for the 45-minute debate. The end result: their work is published in the ESA journal, American Entomologist.
From all accounts, it was a fantastic debate, with both sides making key points. The UC Davis team, captained by Mohammad-Amir Aghaee, successfully argued that a ban on the insecticides in agriculture “will not improve pollinator health or restore populations, based on current science. Neonicotinoids are important for control of many significant agricultural and veterinary pests. Part of the solution is to develop better regulations that will protect the health of pollinators and retain the use of an important IPM tool.”
UC Davis won the debate, and then went on to win the overall ESA student debate championship for the second consecutive year.
“Neonicotinoids are important for control of many significant agricultural and veterinary pests,” Aghaee said at the onset. “Part of the solution is to develop better regulations that will protect the health of pollinators and retain the use of an important IPM (integrated pest management) tool.” The team also argued successfully that neonicotinoids (also known as neonics) are not all “created equal.” The insecticide, chemically similar to nicotine, is implicated in the mass die-off of pollinators. The European Union recently adopted a proposal to restrict the use of three pesticides belonging to the nenicotinoid family (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) for a period of two years. In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that by January 2016, it will ban the use of seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides and the use of crops improved through biotechnology throughout the 150 million acres managed by the National Wildlife Refuge System.
In addition to Aghaee, the UC Davis team included graduate students Margaret "Rei" Scampavia, Ralph Washington Jr., and Daniel Klittich. Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, served as their advisor. The Auburn team, captained by Olufemi Ajayi, included Adekunle Adesanya, Julian Golec, Matt Burrows, Scott Clem and alternate Zi Ye. Associate professor David Held served as their advisor.
The protocol included a seven-minute statement by each team; cross-examinations; rebuttals; and questions from the judges and audience.
The UC Davis team cited three main points:
- Pesticides are IMPORTANT tools used in modern agriculture
- Neonicotinoids were registered as reduced risk pesticide to replace the organophosphates, carbamates, and pyrethroids
- Banning neonicotinoids would increase of use of pesticides that have known non-target effects
The UC Davis entomologists agreed that acute and chronic studies "have shown that neonics are toxic to honey bees and bumble bees (Blacquiere et al. 2012)" but argued that “all neonics are not created equal (Brown et al. 2014)." They cited “inconsistent results with field-realistic doses (Cresswell et al. 2012)" and noted that “many other factors have been documented as contributing to pollinator decline (Epstein et al. 2012).”
It's not just insecticides that are killing bees, the UC Davis team pointed out. They listed the varroa mite (Varroa destructor), vectored pathogens, and the acaricides, antibiotics and fungicides that are directly added to the colony. They also mentioned American foulbrood and Nosema bombi; inadequate honey bee nutrition; insufficient food substitute; habitat fragmentation; land-use changes; and the increasing demand for pollination changes.
The UC Davis entomologists recommended that regulatory agencies need more thorough registration guidelines that incorporate bee toxicity data for all pesticides (Hopwood et al. 2012). This would encompass chronic toxicity, sublethal effects and synergistic effects. Another recommendation: mandate better management practices that follow IPM principles that protect bees on crops (Epstein et al. 2012). This would include banning certain application strategies, using less toxic neonicotinoids, and encompass the essential education and communication.
The UC Davis team summarized its argument with “There is NO definitive scientific evidence that neonicotinoids are the primary cause of pollinator declines. Neonicotinoids are important reduced risk pesticides for management of some of our most damaging pests. Neonicotinoids should be better regulated, not banned." They concluded: “Given the current state of knowledge, banning neonicotinoids is a premature and disproportionate response to a complex issue. This requires holistic scientific inquiry and interpretation, and cooperation among stakeholders. Any changes must be based on science rather than opinion, current trends, or fear.”
The Auburn team argued that neonicotinoids are causing the death of bees essential for pollinating our food crops, and that the use of neonicotinoids should end. They outlined six key points:
- Critical time for pollinators in the United States
- Lethal and sub-lethal effects
- Prevalence and exposure
- Effects on other pollinators
- Food Quality and Protection Act (FQPA) as a precedent
Expanding on the fact that this is “a critical time for pollinators in the United States,” the Auburn team pointed out that honey bees pollinate $15-20 billion worth of crops in the U.S., and $200 billion worldwide; that approximately $3 billion worth of crop pollination services are provided by native bees; and that CCD likely has many contributing factors but many of those are enhanced by neonicotinoids. They said that the honey bee population is declining. In 1947, the United States had 6 million bee colonies and today, it's down to 2.5 million.
The Auburn team keyed in on lethal and sublethal effects of neonics: synergistic interactions with other pesticides, including DMI (demethylation inhibitor) fungicides; increased susceptibility to pathogens (Nosema spp.); decrease in foraging success; decrease in overwintering queen survival; learning impairment consequences; and reproductive inhibition. They also called attention to prevalence and exposure to neonicotinoids. They discussed the neonicotinoid residues found on bee-pollinated crops and plants by various means of exposure: seed coating; foliar spray, soil drench, trunk injections; length of residue (soil vs. foliage and length of bee exposure); and single exposures resulting in season-long impacts. They also said the multiple means of exposure due to application can lead to multiple routes of exposure within bees: via pollen, nectar, guttation fluid and extrafloral nectaries.
In their concluding statement, the Auburn team said that current tools for risk assessment may not be adequate; and that limiting neonicotinoid use will not harm agriculture--"it will open the door for more sustainable agriculture and new insecticides." They emphasized that we must save our pollinators, especially in the United States. "The United States is a special case--globally there is an increase in bee colonies; however, the United States is at a critical point at which bee pollination services are being threatened irreversibly."
One of the several swaying arguments that led to UC Davis winning the debate was that not all neonics are created equal, and thus, they should not all be lumped together as "an equal" and all be banned.
The UC Davis team received a $500 cash award, a plaque and a perpetual trophy engraved with UC Davis. ESA president Frank Zalom presented the awards.
Next year's ESA meeting takes place Nov. 15-18 in Minneapolis. Its theme, chosen by ESA President Phil Mulder, professor and head of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Oklahoma State University, is "Synergy in Science: Partnering for Solutions." He says that the theme "represents a collaborative effort with the other societies, but genuinely keeps us focused on our three strategic principles; 1) our social responsibility to develop ALL members, 2) exploring global partnerships and relationships within our science, and 3) expanding our influence around the world to maximize the impact that entomology has on improving the human condition and our knowledge of the world around us."
The UC Davis team included (from left) Margaret “Rei” Scampavia, Ralph Washington Jr., Jenny Carlson, captain Mohammad-Amir Aghaee and Danny Klittich. At far right is ESA president Frank Zalom of UC Davis who presented the team with its award. (Photo by Trav Williams of Broken Banjo Photography)
The Auburn University team included (from left) alternate Zi Ye, and members Carl Clem, Julian Golec, Adekunle Adesanya, Matthew Burrows, and Olufemi Ajayi, captain.
Diane Ullman, professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, is known for her innovative, multidisciplinary teaching strategies that connect science and art programs.
So when she stepped on stage last month at the Entomological Society of America's meeting in Portland, Ore., to receive the coveted Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching, the crowd enthusiastically applauded. Well done! Congratulations!
Her colleague, ESA president Frank Zalom, a distinguished professor and an integrated pest management specialist in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, presented the award to her.
Key examples that showcase her work include the Art/Science Fusion Program (using experiential learning to enhance scientific literacy), the Career Discovery Group Program (training mentors to help students explore careers and select majors), and the national Thrips-Tospovirus Educational Network (training graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to mentor new scientists).
Ullman chaired the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 2004-2005, and served as an associate dean for undergraduate academic programs, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences from 2005 to 2014. There she led curriculum and program development, student recruitment and outreach, and she administrated all undergraduate academic activities.
Ullman's research revolves around insects that transmit plant pathogens, in particular plant viruses. She is best known for advancing international knowledge of interactions between thrips and tospoviruses and aphids and citrus tristeza virus. Her contributions have played a fundamental role in developing novel strategies for management of insects and plant viruses. She leads a $3.75 million Coordinated Agricultural Project, and has authored more than 100 refereed publications.
Highly honored for her work, Ullman is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2014) and ESA (2011). Among her many honors: the USDA Higher Education Western Regional Award for Excellence in College and University Teaching (1993), the UC Davis Chancellor's Achievement Award for Diversity and Community (2008), and the 2014 Distinguished Award in Teaching from ESA's Pacific Branch.
Ullman received her bachelor's degree in horticulture from the University of Arizona in 1976 and her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1985. She began her career in 1987 at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, relocating in 1995 to UC Davis' Department of Entomology and Nematology. Ullman also holds a joint appointment with the graduate programs of the Department of Entomology and Nematology, and the Department of Plant Pathology.
“Dr. Ullman is a world-renowned and highly respected teacher, but she is an outstanding mentor, researcher and administrator who combines innovation, energy, talent and dedication to help students learn, retain that knowledge, and succeed in class, college and life," the nominating team wrote. "They cannot praise her enough, and neither can we.”
Diane Ullman looking over students' work. The colorful bee boxes were then moved over to the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology operates the garden. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Diane Ullman talks about the art projects in the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, UC Davis, that she and colleague Donna Billick launched. Ullman and Billick co-founded the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Well, ICE is red hot.
The International Congress of Entomology (ICE) is gearing up for its 2016 conference, "Entomology without Borders," to take place Sept. 25-30, 2016 in Orlando, Fla., and the line-up of speakers should make all entomologists--and others interested in insect science--mark their calendars.
With a red-hot pen.
The ICE meeting will be co-located with the annual meetings of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) and the Entomological Society of Canada, along with events hosted by the entomological societies of China, Brazil, Australia, and others.
First of all, the ICE co-chairs, chemical ecologist Walter Leal of UC Davis and vegetable research entomologist Alvin Simmons of USDA/ARS, managed to book not one, but two Nobel Laureautes: Peter Agre (2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry) and Jules Hoffmann (2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine).
Then the next announcement. Last weekend at the ESA meeting in Portland, Ore., Leal revealed the list of ICE plenary speakers, selected from 77 nominated worldwide.
Carey, a distinguished professor of entomology with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is considered the world's foremost authority on arthropod demography. Page, provost of Arizona State University and emeritus professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, is considered the most influential honey bee biologist of the past 30 years.
“We are delighted to have the first Hispanic woman (Latina) to give a plenary lecture at ICE; likewise, the first kiwi (New Zealander), as well as the first native African to have the opportunity to highlight their work in this venue,” said Leal, professor in the UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.
The list of plenary speakers:
- Carolina Barilla-Mury, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Guatemala & USA, who will speak on medical entomology immunity
- Jacqueline Beggs, University of Auckland, New Zealand. Topic: biodiversity and biosecurity
- James R. Carey, University of California, Davis. Topic: insect biodemography
- Fred Gould, North Carolina State University. Topic: GMOs: crop and health protection
- Robert E. Page, Arizona State University. Topic: bee biology: Spirit of the Hive” (title of his latest book)
- José Roberto Postali Parra, ESALQ, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Topic: biological control.
- John A. Pickett, Rothamsted Research, UK. Topic: insect-plant interactions
- Baldwyn Torto, Centre of Insect Physiology & Ecology, based in Nairobi, Kenya. Topic: colony collapse disorder and pollination.
Capsule information on the UC Davis-affiliated entomologists:
James R. Carey has authored more than 250 scientific articles, including landmark papers in Science that shaped the way scientists think about lifespan limits and actuarial aging, and two articles in the Annual Review series that provide new syntheses on insect biodemography (2003, Annual Review of Entomology) and aging in the wild (2014, Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics). He directed a $10 million multi-university grant for more than a decade (2003-2013).
Carey is the author of three books, including Applied Demography for Biologists with Special Emphasis on Insects (Oxford University Press), the go-to source for all entomologists studying demography. Highly honored for his work, Carey received the 2014 C. W. Woodworth Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America (ESA), and the 2014 UC Davis Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award for innovative and creative teaching.
Carey chaired the University of California Systemwide Committee on Research Policy—one of the most important and prestigious committees in the UC system and served on the systemwide UC Academic Council. In addition, he serves as the associate editor of three journals: Genus, Aging Cell, and Demographic Research. In addition, he is the first entomologist to have a mathematical discovery named after him by demographers—The Carey Equality—which set the theoretical and analytical foundation for a new approach to understanding wild populations.
He is a fellow of four professional organizations: ESA, the Gerontological Society of America, the California Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Carey has presented more than 250 seminars in venues all over the world, from Stanford, Harvard, Moscow, Beijing to Athens, London, Adelaide and Okinawa. In addition, Carey is considered a worldwide authority on the demography and invasion biology of tephritid fruit flies, particularly the Mediterranean fruit fly; and a preeminent authority on biodemographics of human aging and lifespan. He is also a pioneering force advocating the educational use of digital video technology, work that he is sharing throughout much of the state, nation and the world.
Carey received his bachelor's degree (animal ecology, 1973) and master's degree (entomology, 1975) from Iowa State University, and his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley in 1980.
Robert E. Page Jr.
Page has published more than 200 reviewed publications, three edited books and two authored books. His latest book is "Spirit of the Hive." His lab pioneered the use of modern techniques to study the genetic bases to the evolution of social behavior in honey bees and other social insects.
Page was the first to employ molecular markers to study polyandry and patterns of sperm use in honey bees. He provided the first quantitative demonstration of low genetic relatedness in a highly eusocial species.
Among his other achievements involving honey bee research:
- Page and his students and colleagues isolated, characterized and validated the complementary sex determination gene of the honey bee; perhaps the most important paper yet published about the genetics of Hymenoptera.
- He and his students constructed the first genetic map of any social insect, demonstrating that the honey bee has the highest recombination rate of any eukaryotic organism mapped to date.
In addition, Page was personally involved in genome mappings of bumble bees, parasitic wasps and two species of ants. His most recent work focuses on the genetic bases to individuality in honey bees.
Page also built two modern apicultural labs (in Ohio and Arizona), major legacies that are centers of honey bee research and training. He has trained many hundreds of beekeepers, and continues to teach beekeeping even as provost of the largest public university in the United States. He is also the Foundation Chair of Life Sciences.
An internationally recognized scholar, Page is an elected foreign member of the Brazilian Academy of Science, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the oldest scientific academy of science, the Germany Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. He was elected to Leopoldina, founded in 1652, for his pioneering research in behavioral genetics of honey bees.
It promises to be an informative, educational and entertaining meeting in Orlando!
Worker bes cleaning out queen cells. Honey bee presentations will be part of the ICE program. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)