Posts Tagged: Robbin Thorp
The feather-legged fly looks as if it were formed by a committee.
It's about the size of a house fly, but there the similarity ends.
Black head and thorax, hind legs fringed with a "comb" of short black hairs, and an abdomen that's the color of honey--bright orange honey.
It's one of those insects that prompts folks (including many entomologists) to ask: "What's THAT?"
We took a photo of "what's THAT?" yesterday on a Yolo County farm. Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, identified it as family Tachinidae, genus Tichopoda and species, probably T. pennipes.
It's a parasitoid. The female lays her eggs inside squash bugs, stink bugs and other agricultural pests.
It was probably introduced here from Europe. Squash growers and other farmers employ it as a biological control agent.
To us, it appears to be a double agent: distinctive and deadly.
Don't let that honey-colored abdomen fool you...
Distinctively colored tachinid fly, probably Trichopoda pennipes, on Santolina rosmarinifolia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
View from above of Trichopoda pennipes on Santolina rosmarinifolia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Golden abdomen of a Trichopoda pennipes. Note the fringed legs. The fly is on Santolina rosmarinifolia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Talk about a bee celebration!
Folks with a passion for honey bees and native bees can head over to Mill Valley on Saturday, June 18 for "The Celebration of the Bees."
To be held from 1 to 4 p.m. at 221 Hillside Gardens, Mill Valley, it's a community gathering to benefit the beekeeping projects of SuperOrganism, the Marin Pollen Project, and the Marin Survivor Stock Queen Bee Project.
The "bee-in" will include a presentation on native bees by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis; a talk on honey bees by master beekeeper and writer Mea McNeil of San Anselmo; demonstration and learning stations presented by the Marin Beekeepers’ Association; honey tasting featuring local varieties of honey; mead (honey wine) tasting; and live Celtic music. Hors d’oeuvres will be served.
Thorp will discuss the diversity of native bees, such as bumble bees, carpenter bees and leafcutting bees, and how residents can provide habitat for them. He does research on the role of native bees in crop pollination, the role of urban gardens as bee habitat, and declines in native bumble bee populations.
Since 2002, Thorp has served as an instructor in The Bee Course, offered annually through the American Museum of Natural History, New York at its Southwest Research Station, Portal, Ariz.
It's good to see a bee celebration that includes both honey bees and native bees.
Tickets are $35 per person and can be purchased from the Savory Thymes website. Jerry Draper is taking reservations at email@example.com. Although children will be admitted free, reservations are required, he said.
Mid-June should be a great time to celebrate the bees--if the weather agrees to "bee" nice.
Yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) nectaring on California white sage. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, looks over a tower of jewels. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Mother's Day, insect-style, dawned like any other day. In our back yard, golden honey bees foraged in the lavender and those ever-so-tiny sweat bees visited the rock purslane.
The honey bees? Those gorgeous Italians.
The sweat bees? Genus Lasioglossum, as identified by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis. He figures the female sweat bee (below) may be L. mellipes, which is brownish toward the tips of the hind legs.
A trip to Benicia yielded a photo of a ladybug chasing aphids. It was almost comical. A fat aphid appeared to be playing "King of the Hill" while other aphids sucked contentedly on plant juices, unaware of pending predators.
While the aphids wreaked havoc on a very stressed Escallonia (fast-growing hedge in the family Escalloniaceae), the ladybugs, aka lady beetles, wreaked havoc on some very stressed aphids.
After all, "stressed" spelled backwards is "desserts."
Italian honey bee foraging on lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Sweat bee (genus Lasioglossum) visiting rock purslane. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ladybug, aka lady beetle, chasing aphids. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
"Just wanna be your teddy bear..."
When Elvis Presley sang that, his fans swooned.
Well, there are bee fans that can't get enough of the "teddy bear" bee, aka the male Valley carpenter bee (Xylocopa varipuncta).
It's often called a "golden bumble bee." Golden, it is. Bumble bee, it is not.
The female of this carpenter bee species is solid black.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, spotted this male Valley carpenter bee yesterday in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research at UC Davis. He does research in the half-acre bee friendly garden. (By the way, it's located on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus, and is open from dawn to dusk. There's no admission.)
We at UC Davis periodically receive phone calls about "golden bumble bees." The green-eyed, golden-haired carpenter bee does attract a lot of attention.
"Oh, let me be, your teddy bear."
Or better yet, let me "bee" your teddy bear.
Honey bee and male carpenter bee (Xylocopa varipuncta) on tower of jewels (Echium wildpretii). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of the male Valley carpenter bee (Xylocopa varipuncta) on tower of jewels (Echium wildpretii). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you visit the Jepson Prairie Reserve near Vacaville-Dixon in Solano County, keep your eyes out for Andrena (mining) bees on the meadowfoam (Limnanthes).
We were out there Monday morning and saw a mining bee nestled inside a white flower cup. The bee, about the size of a grain of rice, wasn't moving.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, and a noted expert on "Vernal Pool Flowers and their Specialist Pollinators," identified the bee below as a male Andrena (mining bee) and "most certainly Andrena pulvera, the species whose females specialize on Limnanthes as their pollen source."
The males have no burrows. "They spend the night inside the meadowfoam flower cups so they are frequently encountered as 'sleeping' inside them early in the morning. As soon as the sun warms them up, they go about their business searching for meadowfoam patches for females."
A short distance away, we spotted another Andrena doing the same thing.
Life is good.
Andrena bee on meadowfoam. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Andrena bee cradled inside a meadowfoam at the Jepson Prairie Reserve. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)