Backyard Orchard News
Speaking at the 58th annual Entomological Society of America's meeting in San Diego, Marley
related that he grew up in Oregon
hating bugs--especially their all encompassing, intertwining legs that seemed to be everywhere: on, near or around him. Later, while serving two years as a missionary in northern Chile, he continued to hate every bug that he encountered.
Gradually, his viewpoint changed. After studying fashion design at Brigham Young University and embarking on a fashion designer career that took him to scores of countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas, he began to look at them in a different light. He began to appreciate them for their beauty, design, color, structure, texture, pattern, size and shape.
And their drama and diversity.
His first attempts to incorporate them into art were not easy. "I needed tweezers to handle the tweezers," he said of his initial efforts to overcome the emotional barrier.
Today Christopher Marley is an author and an artist with an art gallery, fittingingly named "Pheromone" in Salem, Ore.
"Pheromones," he explained, "are chemical stimulants that insects release to attract one another -- and they’ve been known to seduce the occasional human, too."
Deeply interested in entomology, Marley can tell you the scientific name of many insects, their host plants, what the larvae eat, and when, where and how to find them.
Marley drew the entomologists into his kaleidescope world with photo after photo of his work featuring insects collected in such faraway places as Malaysia, Borneo, New Guinea and Kenya. The crowd sat mesmerized. You could almost hear a scarab beetle drop.
His 256-page book, "Pheromone: The Insect Artwork of Christopher Marley," has drawn worldwide attention in the print and electronic media. He sells his work (including colorful calendars) at hundreds of galleries and stores in the United States and abroad.
Marley told the entomologists he wants folks to appreciate insects--and he hopes that his art will inspire, educate and enlighten them.
Collecting insects is not as simple as hiring collectors, he said. He acknowledged that he fills out "reams" of paper work for the collecting permits, export permits and import licenses.
Not everyone likes the fact that he collects insects for art. One person once told him: "I love insects and I’d rather see YOU in the frame of that book."
And not everyone likes the fact that he employs catchers to collect the insects. Some insects found in the faraway corners of the world are quite rare or rarely seen.
"But it's not so much 'rare' species as 'rare' ecosystems or habitats," Marley told the entomologists.
Marley said by employing people from other countries as catchers, he is contributing to their well-being and that of their families; aiding the poverty-stricken areas; and teaching humankind to protect the habitat that provides those insects.
Marley quoted Baba Dioum: “In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”
"I believe," Marley said, "that we will only love what we've experienced."
Leal, a chemical ecologist and professor of entomology, recently organized and moderated a symposium with professor John Hildebrand of the University of Arizona on "The Diversity in Olfaction and Taste" at the 58th annual Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting.
Among the nine speakers at the San Diego conference: Bert Hoelldobler of Arizona State University who discussed "Communication and Social Organization Among Insects Via Chemical Cues"; Kristin Scott of UC Berkeley, "Taste Recognition in Drosophila (Flies)"; Julien Pelletier of UC Davis, "Conserved and Diverse Mosquito Odorant Receptors"; Hildebrand, "Olfactory Mechanisms Underlying Moth-Host Plant Interactions"; and Leal, who covered "Odorant Receptors from Moths, Flies and Mosquitoes." (Note the communication between a male and female silkworm moth in the accompanying photo by Samuel Woo of UC Davis.)
It's an exciting field--the field of olfaction and taste. And now the Leal lab has an opening for a postdoc trained in biochemistry/molecular biology to join a group of scholars (http://chemecol.ucdavis.edu/) investigating at the molecular level how insect perceive the world true small chemical molecules like pheromones, oviposition attractants, repellents, etc.
Leal, a fellow of the ESA and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and former president of the International Society for Chemical Ecology, is focusing his current research on the molecular basis of insect olfaction, with particular emphasis on odorant binding, release, and inactivation in the peripheral nervous system and chemical ecology.
Leal has published more than 150 papers in peer reviewed journals, 16 invited chapters and review articles, 28 Japanese patents and 2 US patents. Some of the recent publications:
Postdoc scholars who want to apply can email their CV and a letter of application to email@example.com.
Indeed, we can take lessons from the ants, according to ecologist Rob Dunn (right), assistant professor in the Department of Biology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh.
Dunn, author of Every Living Thing: Man's Obsessive Quest to Catalog Life, from Nanobacteria to New Monkeys, will open the UC Davis Department of Entomology's winter seminar series on Wednesday, Jan. 5 with a presentation on “Using Collaborative Approaches to See the Geography and Future of life: Lessons From Ants.”
Dunn will speak from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in 1022 Life Sciences Addition (LSA), corner of Hutchison and Kleiber Hall. His host is Bonnie Blaimer of the Phil Ward lab.
Be sure to check out Dunn's website, where you'll find his newly published research on ants and information on a troubling ant (Asian needle ant) in the hardwood forests of eastern North America.
The Department of Entomology seminars, coordinated by graduate student Ian Pearse of the Rick Karban lab, will be held every Wednesday from 12:10 to 1 p.m. through March. 9 in 1022 LSA, a change from last quarter's seminars (held in 122 Briggs Hall). UC Davis graduate students are hosting the individual presentations.
All presentations will be webcast live and then archived on this page. Graduate students James Harwood and Amy Morice of the Jim Carey lab donate their time to webcast the seminars.
The entire list of speakers, beginning with Dunn:
Jan. 5: Rob Dunn, assistant professor, Department of Biology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh. Topic: “Using Collaborative Approaches to See the Geography and Future of Life: Lessons From Ants.” Host: Bonnie Blaimer
Jan. 12: Amanda Hodson, UC Davis postdoctoral scholar. Topic: “Ecological Influence of the Entomopathogenic Nematode, Steinernema carpocapsae, on Soil Arthropods in Pistachio Orchards.” Host: Brittany Mills
Jan. 19: Jonathan Pruitt, Center for Population Biology Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Davis Department of Ecology and Evolution. Topic: “From Individuals to Populations to Communities: When Does Personality Matter?” Host: Meredith Cenzer.
Jan. 26: Angela Smilanich, adjunct faculty in biology at University of Nevada, Reno, and affiliate associate research faculty at the Desert Research Institute, Reno. Topic: "Self-Medication vs. Self-Toxicity in Generalist and Specialist Herbivores.” Host: Ian Pearse.
Feb. 2: Don Miller, associate professor, Department of Biological Sciences, California State University, Chico. Topic: "Strategies of Tamalia Aphids: Freeloading, Gall Induction, Adaptive Sex Allocation.” Host: Scott McCluen
Feb. 9: Roger Vargas, research entomologist, USDA-ARS. Topic: "Area-Wide Fruit Fly Programs against Fruit Flies in Hawaii, French Polynesia and California." Host: James Harwood
Feb., 16: Gary Blomquist, professor and department chair, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Nevada, Reno. Topic: "Pheromone Production in Bark Beetles." Host: George Kamita.
Feb. 23: Tom Turner, assistant professor of ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, UC Santa Barbara. Topic: "Evolutionary Functional Genomics: How Can We Find the Natural Genetic Variants Affecting Interesting Traits in Model Insects?" Host: Jackie Wong
March 2: Stan Faeth, professor and head, Department of Biology, University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Title: "Asexual Endophytes in Native Grasses: Tiny Partners with Big Community Effects.” Host: Ian Pearse.
March 9: Jeffrey Feder, professor, Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame. Title: (To be announced.) Host: Meredith Cenzer
Red ornaments on a Christmas tree?
No, ladybugs (aka ladybird beetles or lady beetles) on Artemisia.
Ladybugs are overwintering on our Artemisia (genus belonging to the daisy family, Asteracease).
When the rains come, the drops bubble up on the plants and the ladybugs alike.
It's Christmas Eve and the ladybugs are Nature's sparkling red ornaments, providing comfort, cheer and color to the holiday season.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
There's joy on the horizon for beekeepers battling that pesky Varroa mite.
They may soon have a "fool-proof" method to silence the parasite, considered the honey bee's worst enemy.
A research team led by Alan Bowman of the University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom, recently developed a genetic "knock-out" technique that could cause the blood-sucker to self-destruct.
The research could lead to an anti-Varroa medicine placed inside the hive, according to a BBC News article.
So common is the Varroa mite in a typical hive that it's considered the fourth member of the colony. Think queen bee, worker bees, drones, and Varroa mites. (Source: The newly published Storey's Guide to Keeping Honey Bees by Malcolm Sanford and the late Richard Bonney)
The Varroa mite, first detected in the United States in 1987, is a killer. It transmits viruses, suppresses the immune system, weakens colonies, and if left untreated, can decimate an entire colony. BBC science reporter Victoria Gill captured its destructiveness well when she quoted Giles Budge of the National Bee Unit, Yorkshire.
The human equivalent of varroa mite, Budge told her, would be "an organism on your back that's about the size of a dinner plate, which creates a hole through which it can feed and through which its family can feed."
The free-lunch bunch has met its match.
Varroa Mite on Pupa
Varroa mite on adult bee