Backyard Orchard News
If you're looking for vanishing pollinators this weekend, head over to the Marin Civic Center, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael, and see the ecoart exhibit produced by WEAD, the Women Environmental Artists Directory.
The occasion is the 2010 Bioneers Conference, focusing on food and farrming. The conference opened today (Oct. 15) and continues through Sunday, Oct. 17.
Entrance to see the art exhibit, displayed in the Marin Civic Center Auditorium and Exhibit Hall through Sunday, is free.
What is WEAD? Basically, these are artists focusing on women's unique perspectives, "collaborating internationally to further the field and understanding of ecological and social justice art," according to their mission statement.
Twenty-five artists are showing their work. In a statement released to the news media, they said they are exploring "the urgent plight of endangered pollinators. Essential to survival of all plants and trees, fruits and vegetables, pollinators range from beetles, bats, butterflies, and moths to ants. The media often ignores the issue’s urgency. Fortunately, the federal government, recognizing incipient
danger, is now initiating research to develop programs to deter decline."
Very true. We often think of bees and butterflies as pollinators, but pollinators can be beetles, ants and even flies. Look around in your garden. There could be a tachinid tucked on a lavender leaf, a parasitic fly perched on a rose petal, or a beetle crawling around the bed of alyssum.
Among the work you'll see is that of visual artist Carol Newborg. She's a mixed-media installation artist who uses natural materials and natural forms.
"I've also worked in community arts for many years and I believe in the importance of art and access to making art for all," said Newborg, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Newborg has two pieces in the show,"Disappearing Mission Blue" and "Disappearing Luna."
We know of the declining population of honey bees and bumble bees. Let's hope that they and other pollinators don't decline AND disappear.
Disappearing Mission Blue
Scores of people want to hear what Murray Isman has to say.
And on Wednesday night, Oct. 27, they can.
Murray Isman, a noted expert on botanical insecticides, will deliver the Thomas and Nina Leigh Distinguished Alumni Seminar in Entomology at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 27 in the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) at UC Davis.
Isman, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1981, is now the dean of Land and Food Systems and professor of applied biology (entomology/toxicology) at the University of British Columbia.
He will speak on "Aromatherapy for Pest Management? Pesticides Based on Plant Essential Oils for Agriculture, Industry and as Consumer Products" at 5 p.m. in the ARC Ballroom. A social hour is set for 4 p.m.
His lecture, free and open to the public, will be webcast live and then archived on the UC Davis Department of entomology website. There's also a buffet dinner at 6 p.m. for faculty, alumni, students and other friends of entomology. (Carol Nickles is taking reservations for the buffet dinner at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 754-8638. Deadline for reservations: Sunday, Oct. 24.)
Isman and his research team develop insecticides, miticides, fungicides and herbicides using various plant essential oils as the active ingredients. EcoSMART Technologies (Alpharetta, GA) sells products of this type for the agricultural, industrial and consumer markets in the United States. “We are developing improved agricultural pesticides through enhanced formulations and in mixture with other botanical products,” Isman said.
Collaborating with university and industrial partners, the Isman team previously investigated the development of botanical insecticides derived from the Indian neem tree (Azadirachta indica), from medicinal plants and timber species of southeast Asia and Central America, and from tall oil, a byproduct of the temperate zone pulp and paper industry.
The Isman team also investigates the behavioral and physiological effects of plant defensive chemicals in insects. “We have investigated the effects of mixtures of plant chemicals on insect feeding and on the development of resistance to botanical insecticides,” Isman said. “Studies have characterized habituation to feeding deterrents in caterpillars, the metabolism of plant defensive chemicals by herbivorous insects, and the pharmacokinetics and fate of plant chemicals in insects.”
Their work also involves developing non-toxic crop protection chemicals that mimic naturally occurring bioactive odorants and tastants--and that are relatively easily prepared from commodity chemicals. “Because host plant detection is essential to the larval and adult stages of moth species consequently leading to crop damage,” he said, “we are targeting this chemical communication system with aromatic odorants that interfere with larval feeding or the oviposition behavior of adult moths, without causing toxic effects to the insects." This is collaboration with professor Erika Plettner of Simon Fraser University, British Columbia.
The seminar memorializes cotton entomologist Thomas Frances Leigh (1923-1993) and his wife Nina Eremin Leigh (1929-2002). Tom Leigh was an international authority on the biology, ecology and management of arthropod pests affecting cotton production.
This is no ordinary calendar. No oceans. No mountains. No deserts.
Each month features a "pin-up girl."
But these models will never run for Miss America or promote world peace. Only a few have social skills and most are solitary.
Take a look at Miss May. She's a sweat bee. Take a look at Miss August. She's a squash bee. And Miss December? A cuckoo bee.
They're all a part of the second annual "North American Bee Calendar." And...drum roll...the first ordering deadline is rapidly approaching: it's Friday, Oct. 15.
“It’s our second annual calendar, a project aimed at protecting pollinators, raising public awareness and generating funds to carry on the work of The Great Sunflower Project and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation,” said native bee enthusiast and calendar project coordinator Celeste Ets-Hokin of the San Francisco Bay Area. “Most of these bees are commonly found and important pollinators.”
The calendar, measuring 9x12, features close-up photos by noted insect photographer Rollin Coville, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley. He has been photographing insects--and spiders--for more than 25 years.
The calendar spotlights a different bee genus each month, with notes on preferred plants, nesting needs, and guidance on how to identify the genus, said author Ets-Hokin, who holds a degree in zoology from UC Berkeley.
Bees appearing in the calendar and the scientific names are:
January: Honey Bee (Apis)
February: Bumble Bee (Bombus)
March: Digger Bee (Habropoda)
April: Mason Bee (Osmia)
May: Sweat Bee (Lasioglossum)
June: Ultra Green Sweat Bee (Agapostemon)
July: Leafcutter Bee (Megachile)
August: Squash Bee (Peponapis)
September: Long-horned Bee (Melissodes)
October: Carder Bee (Anthidium)
November: Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa)
December: Cuckoo Bee (Epeolus)
Matthew Shepherd, senior conservation associate of the Xerces Society, and Ets-Hokin served as editors, and Miguel Barbosa as the graphic designer. Four scientists shared their research expertise: Neal Williams and Robbin Thorp of UC Davis; Gordon Frankie and Claire Kremen of UC Berkeley; and Rachael Winfree of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J. In addition, contributing photos were Shepherd and Ets-Hokin, along with yours truly.
Purchasing a $15 calendar ($18 if you have an overseas address) is a good way to protect our badly needed pollinators and to raise public awareness.
Order by Oct. 15 and you'll get your calendar by late October, Ets-Hokin says. The last deadline to order is Nov. 30. For more information or discount rates for 25 calendars or more, contact Ets-Hokin at email@example.com.
You gotta love that red buckwheat (Eriogonum grande rubescens).
Attractive to honey bees, native bees and butterflies, red buckwheat is flourishing in the garden. Okay, it's called red buckwheat, but the clusters are rosy pink. They're about the same size as ping-pong balls.
We watched the bees work the flowers last weekend. They crawled up one side and down the other.
This is a highly recommended plant when you're gardening for bees and butterflies.
With autumn settling in and winter approaching, the honey bees won't be working the flowers much longer this year.
But right now, they're in the pink.
Honey Bee on Buckwheat
It's called a complete metamorphosis--from an egg to a larva to a pupa to an adult.
Metamorphosis--Greek for "transformation" or "change in shape" is spectacular.
And it's particularly spectacular when the subject is the Anise Swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon).
Adult butterflies recently laid their eggs on anise (Pimpinella anisum), also known as fennel, in a friend's backyard in Fairfield. The eggs transformed into larvae (caterpillars) with coloring reminiscent of the adults.
We didn't see the first stage, the eggs, but did see the second stage, caterpillar and remnants of the third stage, an empty chrysalis.
One more butterfly flying around in Fairfield...
Anise swallowtail caterpillar on anise, also known as fennel.. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Empty chrysalis: an Anise Swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) emerged from this chrysalis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Adult stage: Anise Swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)