Posts Tagged: Lynn Kimsey
Two newly moulted insects in the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis, look just like leaves.
But these “leaves” are made for walking.
These are camouflaged insects (Phyllium giganteum), commonly known as "walking leaves." They're green, wide, and flat.
“They’re hard to detect among the leaves,” said senior museum scientist Steve Heydon. “It’s surprising how long it takes visitors to find them.”
The insects, natives of Malaysia, dine on bramble, oak, eucalyptus, raspberry, rose, and red/yellow salmon berry.
They mimic leaves in the wind by swaying as they walk, Heydon said. Females can reach a length of 5 inches.
“We got them as nymphs,” Heydon said. “They grow very slowly, probably the slowest of all the insects we’ve ever had at the museum. It took nine months for them to moult and become adults, and they each did it within a day of each other.”
The insects, splotched with red, look like green autumn leaves turning color. “With insect camouflage, there’s never a perfect leaf,” Heydon said. “You see simulated damage.”
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and UC Davis entomology professor, said she’s always craved walking leaves for the museum. “They are so incredibly bizarre-looking,” she said. “It’s amazing how this insect develops new skin when its abdomen is as flat as paper.”
The Bohart Museum of Entomology, founded in 1946 by the late Richard M. Bohart, former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, is dedicated to teaching, research and service. The insect museum houses more than seven million specimens, the seventh largest insect collection in North America.
The museum also includes live insects such as Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, and black widow spiders.
But for now, the walking leaves are the big attraction.
At the Bohart, you can actually "turn over a new leaf"--and it will be an insect.
So, you spot a bug crawling up and down a plant in your garden.
What is it?
Plant bug? No kidding.
The common name for certain members of the Miridae family is--you guessed it--"plant bug." Entomologist Lynn Kimsey, who directs the Bohart Museum of Entomology on the UC Davis campus, quickly identified this little bugger.
"It's a Hemiptera," Kimsey said. Hemiptera, the fifth largest order of insects, all have a tubular beak for piercing and sucking. They're among the seven million insects in the Bohart Museum.
"Members of the family Miridae are the commonest Hemiptera in most areas of California," write entomologists Jerry Powell and Charles Hogue of UC Berkeley in their book, California Insects. "Many species attain high population densities, and most are specific to certain plants."
They describe the critters as "small, soft-bodied, elongate or oval bugs with prominent eyes and long, thin antennae and legs."
Most mirids, they say, suck plant juices (with their long beak) but some prey on other soft-bodied insects.
In case you're wondering, California has recorded more than 150 species of miriads.
The others, as they say, "await discovery."
In their book, Powell and Hogue list some of the species of plant bugs: ornate plant bug (Closterocoris ornatus), black grass bugs (Irbisia) and tarnishesd plant bugs (Lygus).
You can't go wrong, however, by calling it a "plant bug."
Pretty in pink
The Baxter House is no more.
The UC Davis Fire Department burned it down yesterday.
It's gone, along with assorted black widow spiders, scattered crane flies, munchkin termites and maybe a meandering ant or wandering fly or two. (After all, this is a "bug" blog.)
The Baxter House, built in May 1938, was an abandoned, rundown house on Bee Biology Road, on the west end of the UC Davis campus. It stood east of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, the only other building on Bee Biology Road.
Once a private residence and then an avian lab research facility, the 1200-square-foot building went up in flames and down in embers.
Just like that.
In its place will be an access road to the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden to be installed later this year next to the Laidlaw facility.
The Baxter House was not only a troubling eyesore but a massive road bump in the UC Davis Department of Entomology's development plans.
Some 15 firefighters, including trainees in the UC Davis student residential firefighter program, participated in the training exercise, led by assistant chief Nathan Trauernicht, operations and training division.
The eyesore is gone. Bring on the bees and the honey bee haven.
Up in Flames
Sheridan Miller's gift to UC Davis for honey bee research was both generous and thoughtful.
The 11-year-old Bay Area resident raised $733 for the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility through the sale of jars of honey, candles, baked goods and a self-penned booklet on the plight of honey bees.
The fifth grader and her family (father Craig, mother Annika and sister Annelie, 8) traveled from their home in Marin County to present the check to Lynn Kimsey, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology. Bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey guided the group on a tour of the Laidlaw facility and apiary.
“It’s very thoughtful and generous of a little girl to think of the plight of the honey bees and to raise funds for research,” Kimsey said. "We are overwhelmed.”
Said Cooperative Extension Apiculturist Eric Mussen, a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology since 1976: “I really appreciate the fact that so many members of the general public have become concerned about the plight of honey bees. I am particularly impressed by individuals such as Sheridan who have devoted so much time and effort in really trying to improve the health and longevity of the honey bees.”
"Honey bees pollinate delicious fruits, vegetables and even nuts," Sheridan wrote. "If they were to disappear, our food source would consist of wheat, rice and corn."
Sheridan's dedication deeply illustrates what one person can do to help save the bees.
Sheridan cannot imagine a world without bees. Neither can we.
If you built it (a field of dreams), they will come.
And if you bring flowers, that's all the bettter.
Melissa "Missy" Borel, program manager of the California Center for Urban Horticulture, UC Davis, and a strong proponent of bee friendly plants, brought salvia, lavender (Otto Quast Spanish lavender) and some stalked bulbine (Bulbine frutescens) to a television interview today at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis.
Darsha Philips and camerman Andrew Faulk of Fox 40, Sacramento were there to interview her along with Lynn Kimsey, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology; and Cooperative Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, a 32-year member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty..
Missy Borel placed the three potted plants atop a hive while waiting for the interview. It didn't take long for the honey bees to find the unexpected treat! They lavished the lavender, salivated over the salvia, and stalked the stalked bulbine.
Meanwhile, concern about the declining honey bee population continues. A third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees. Bee nutrition has never been so important. The bees are seeking nectar, pollen and water to bring back to their hives.
Want to select bee friendly plants for your garden? Missy Borel compiled this list during the Haagen-Daz Honey Bee Haven Design Competition. (See pages 7, 8 and 9 of the PDF). See more information on the winning design on the UC Davis Entomology Web site. The new garden will be located next to all the hives at the Laidlaw facility.
When the half-acre bee haven is completed, the bees won't have far to go to gather nectar and pollen all year around. Look for the dedication sometime in October.
The Bee Man
Bee on Lavender
Bee Friendly Plants