Posts Tagged: Steve Heydon
No, not the one below, a banded-winged grasshopper (family Acrididae and subfamily Oedipodinae) that we spotted west of the UC Davis campus--and identified by Steve Heydon, senior museum scientist at the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
These particular locusts will be something you've never seen before--and will probably always remember.
Sculptor Cyrus Tilton will display his work in a solo exhibition titled The Cycle that runs Oct. 4-29 in the Vessel Gallery, 471 25th St., Oakland. He's created a kinetic locust swarm and two 11-foot sculptures of mating locusts.
Morphologically correct, too.
Tilton will unveil his work at a press preview party on Saturday, Oct. 1. Until then, it's a surprise, but the photo below (of the work in progress) gives you a glimpse of what's to come.
Who is Tilton? He's an Oakland-based artist and the art director of the Scientific Art Studio in Richmond. His work includes a bas-relief of Barry Bonds' 500th home run. A 1998 graduate of the Art Institute of Seattle, Tilton was born in Palmer, Alaska in 1977 and spent his early years in a one-room cabin near Anchorage. His parents, he recalls, embodied the "back-to-nature movement" of the 1960s.
The Cycle "explores the parallels between locust swarms and humanity's habits of mass consumption and overpopulation, throiugh sculpture and site-specific installation," says Vessel Gallery director Lonnie Lee.
Of his work, Tilton says: "I am making a huge generalization but a lot of people I know work in offices and behind computers. I am not judging them because people have to make a living. But are we becoming more like insects? When I drive by an apartment building, I can’t help but see it as a hive. Seems like compartments for individuals to live in. We are connecting to one another in ways that look to me like we’re worker bees or worker ants, feeding the queen ant. Are we more insect-like in our behavior? And is that bad? Or maybe we are closer to insect hierarchies than we like to think.”
Lee describes Tilton's work as "a fine example of an artist who taps into the collective subconscious of humanity. The Cycle reveals the self-defeating and contradictory behaviors of society. Most will be moved to discomfort and reflection. Hopefully the audience will experience both an internal shift and a change of behavior. I urge everyone to see this show, as being enveloped by a giant locust swarm just might open pathways to our salvation.”
Fifty percent of the net sales of "Individuals" (the site-specific kinetic installation) will benefit the Alameda Food Bank.
Admission to show, which can be viewed Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Oct. 4-29, is free. A reception is set Friday, Oct 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. In addition, Tilton will talk about his work from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, discussing his processes, thoughts, and approach toward creating this body of work.
"Are we insect-like in our behavior?"
"Are we like worker bees or worker ants?"
The Cycle should prod us to ponder those questions.
This grasshopper, aka locust, is a banded-winged grasshopper, family Acrididae. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A work in progress by Oakland-based artist Cyrus Tilton. (Courtesy Photo)
If you see a patch of California native wildflowers known as "Tidy Tips," look closely.
The yellow daisylike flower with white petals (Layia platyglossa) may yield a surprise visitor.
You may see an assassin.
An assassin bug.
A member of the family Reduviidae, this is a long-legged, beady-eyed beneficial insect that stalks its prey and snatches it with its forelegs, somewhat like a praying mantis. It conquers its victim with a squirt of deadly venom from its beak (the collective term for its piercing, sucking mouthparts).
Once it has immobilized its prey, the assassin sucks the bodily contents, like a milkshake slurped through a straw.
The assassin bug, true to its name, ambushes, attacks and captures other insects, such as aphids, flies, crickets, mosquitoes, beetles, caterpillars and "sometimes a hapless bee," said Bohart senior museum scientist Steve Heydon.One thing about the Zelus assassin bug--it does not fly very fast. In fact, it totally ignored the camera poked close to its protruding eyes.
The camera neither looked like or acted like a predator or prey.
Patch of Tidy Tips
Sip of Nectar
Ladybugs are easy to "spot."
As soon as the weather warms and those dratted plant-sucking aphids emerge, here come the polka-dotted ladybugs. The prey and the predator. The pest and the beneficial insect. The bad and the good.
Actually, many folks have already reported ladybug sightings. Facebook friends are photographing them and posting macro images. Ray Lopez of El Rancho Nursery in Vacaville said he's seen scores of them this season. The building that houses Fox 40 in Sacramento is resplendent with them.
In fact, tomorrow morning (Wednesday, Feb. 24) senior museum scientist Steve Heydon of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis, will be interviewed by Fox 40 on that very subject: ladybugs! Look for a 7:20 a.m. live interview.
An article in today's Science Daily calls aphids "the mosquitoes" of the plant world. That's because they depend on the "blood" of plants to survive.
David Stern, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University, is quoted as saying "Look at this little insect, sitting on a plant and sucking plant juices. You don't realize that it is involved in a historic battle with plants for access to its life blood. All its genes have evolved to allow it to exploit its feeding relationship."
The article, about how an aphid's genome reflects its reproductive, symbiotic lifestyle, points out that an aphid can reproduce both sexually and asexually."
That's certainly a key factor in the aphids' evolutionary success.
All the more for the hungry ladybugs.
So, whether you call them "ladybugs" or "lady beetles" or by their family (beetle) name, Coccinellidae, they're found worldwide, with more than 5000 described species.
And they're coming to a garden near you...
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.
Vacaville resident James Moehrke was out geocaching last weekend in the Vaca Valley Parkway-East Monte Vista Avenue area of the city when he spotted some red-shouldered black bugs.
"There were many clusters, probably thousands of individuals, in the trees and a few on the ground," he recalled. Some were on deciduous trees and others on evergreen trees.
What were they?
At first glance, they looked like boxelder bugs.
We asked Steve Heydon, senior museum scientist at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, to identify them.
"Soapberry bug or Jadera haematoloma," Heydon said.
They're a close relative of the boxelder bugs.
The soapberry bug is also known as "the red-shouldered bug" or the "golden raintree bug." It's mostly black except for the red eyes and red shoulders. The nympths are primarily red.
They're seed predators and often found on lychee, longan, maples and soapberry trees.
Biologist Scott Carroll, affiliated with the Sharon Lawler lab at the UC Davis Department of Entomology, researches the insects. He lectured on soapberry bugs at the 2007 meeting of the Entomological Society of America, describing them as "excellent organisms for studying responses to global change, evolution in action, ecological speciation, development and behavior."
Some of the fastest rates of evolution recorded are from this group as they have evolved new races on introduced host plants, Carroll told ESA.
The soapberry bugs fascinated Moehrke and his fellow geocaching players. He took time out to photograph them.
And yes, he found the treasure, the cache.
Along with lots of red-shouldered black bugs.