Backyard Orchard News
He was just elected a member of California Floriculture Hall of Fame for distinguished leadership and service to the floral industry.
In 2008 he was elected a fellow of the Entomological Society of America (ESA), an honor given to entomologists who have made outstanding contributions in entomological research, teaching, extension or administration. ESA annually singles out only 10 of its some 5700 members for the high honor.
Parrella, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology at the University of California, Davis, is scheduled to be inducted into the California Floriculture Hall of Fame in February 2010. Another UC Davis professor, Michael Reid of the Department of Plant Sciences, will also be inducted then.
Parrella, who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, develops integrated pest management strategies for ornamental crops, with an emphasis on biological control. In 1985, he initiated what has become an annual conference on insect and disease management on ornamentals. The event is sponsored by the Society of American Florists.Michael Reid, who has a partial appointment in Cooperative Extension, is an authority on postharvest physiology and handling of ornamental crops. He conducts research on the senescence of ornamental plants, particularly cut flowers and potted plants. His work covers the spectrum from studies of the biochemistry of senescence to application, in the field, of new methods in postharvest technology.
Their names will be engraved on permanent plaques at the San Francisco Flower Market, the Los Angeles Flower Market and the San Diego International Floral Trade Center.
Kudos--or a bouquet of flowers--to these two outstanding scientists!
Tower of Jewels
Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis, is a study in diversity.
Bees, including honey bees, bumble bees, carpenter bees, leafcutter bees and sweat bees, along with other pollinators, share the pollen and nectar in the half-acre bee friendly garden.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology, has logged some 50 different species of bees in the garden since its inception. He began a baseline monitoring process when the garden was a field of weeds, instead of dreams.
Today we spotted a yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii)
and a honey bee sharing a purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). Minutes later, a honey bee and a sweat bee occupied another coneflower.
The garden, planted last fall, changes daily, which it is meant to do. When the grand opening celebration of the haven takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, expect to see scores of visitors--both humans and pollinators--sharing the garden.
Sunflowers, native to the Americas, are spectacular, especially when you encounter a field of them. If you look closely, you'll see honey bees, sunflower bees and bumble bees working the flowers.
It's pollination at work.
To encourage backyard gardeners to grow sunflowers and collect data about the bees that visit them, the Great Sunflower Project provides free seeds and educational information.
You can obtain the Lemon Queen sunflower seeds from the Great Sunflower Project, from a local nursery or from a seed catalog.
Associate professor and biologist Gretchen LeBuhn of the University of California, Santa Barbara, started the project in 2008 as a way to get citizens interested in bee pollination.
"In 2008, we started this project as a way to gather information about our urban, suburban and rural bee populations," writes LeBuhn, considered "the queen bee" of the Great Sunflower Project. "We wanted to enlist people all over the U.S. and Canada to observe their bees and be citizen scientists. We asked them to plant sunflowers in their gardens so we could standardize study of bee activity and provide more resources for bees. Sunflowers are relatively easy to grow and are wildly attactive to bees."
Since 2008, the Great Sunflower Project has expanded its list of plants studied to include bee balm, cosmos, rosemary, coreopsis (tickseed), and purple coneflower.
"It’s time to turn off your television, take off those earphones, shut down that computer, go outside, and rediscover the wonder of nature," LeBuhn says.
That's one small step toward improving bee habitat--and human habitat, too.
Ladybugs, aka ladybeetles (family Coccinellidae), are best known for devouring aphids, those pesky little critters that suck plant juices.
But have you ever seen ladybugs gobbling ants?
There's a three-way predator-prey relationship here. When aphids pierce plant stems, they leave behind honeydew excretions. Ants scurry to the honeydew and quickly alert their buddies. Soon, you'll see a long trail of ants marching toward the honeydew.
Now enter the ladybug, which is attracted--quite nicely, thank you--to both aphids and ants.
This little beetle will feast on aphids and ants much like we humans chow down on popcorn and jelly beans at a movie.
In the photos below, unsuspecting ants climbed a lavender stalk, only to meet their demise.
If you look on You Tube, you'll see a video of an apparently famished ladybug chowing down ants. The background music of Queen's "We Will Rock You" adds the finishing touch.
Want to learn more about ants? Check out professor Phil Ward's website. He's a noted myrmecologist (one who studies the taxonomy, evolution, biogeography and behavior of ants) and a professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis.
One of his former graduate students, Alex Wild, has incredible insect photography on his website, appropriately named myrmecos.net.
The wild roses planted last fall in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, University of California, Davis, are both "heaven sent" and "heaven scent."
The fragrance is delightful.
Basically, only wild roses--not the commercially grown roses found in our gardens--attract bees, according to Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Also in bloom in the half-acre garden, located on Bee Biology Road on the west end of the campus, are salvia (sage), lavender, artichokes, seaside daisies, Mexican hat flowers and purple coneflowers, among others.
The grand opening celebration, open to the public, is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11. Folks planning to attend may RSVP to Nancy Dullum of the UC Davis Department of Entomology administrative team, at email@example.com. (Insert "haven" in the subject line and indicate how many in your party will attend.)