Backyard Orchard News
If you want to create art that's bound to be a conversation piece, you need to head over to Briggs Hall at the
April 18 is the 95th annual UC Davis Picnic Day, a campuswide event that showcases, the organizers say, "the richness and diversity of campus life."
Make that "the richness and diversity of insects," too.
Briggs Hall, home of the Department of Entomology since 1972, is where bugs rule.
Forensic entomologist Rebecca O’Flaherty, a doctoral candidate in entomology, will be there with her free “Maggot Art” event.
She’ll provide the maggots, non-toxic paint, and paper. Your job is to pick up a maggot with specially designed larval forceps, dip it in paint (your choice of colors), place it on white paper, and let the maggot do its thing--which is to crawl across the paper. Voila! Maggot Art.
It’s one-of-a-kind art suitable for framing or posting on the refrigerator. Your Aunt Gertrude will be proud.
Maggot Art is actually the educational teaching curriculum that O'Flaherty coined and trademarked in 2001 while she was studying entomology at the
Since 2001, she’s taught thousands of students the “art of Maggot Art” in the classroom, while also providing information about blow flies. She's a skilled Maggot Art artist herself. In 2007, she coordinated a Maggot Art Show at the Capital Athletic Club, Sacramento, with colleagues and fellow artists Brandi Schmitt and Charlotte Wacker.
Maggot Art has been a tradition at Picnic Day since 2003. Kids usually love it, but that's not always true for adults. The "yecch" factor sometimes kicks in, she admits.
O'Flaherty's major professor, forensic entomologist Bob Kimsey, who chairs the Department of Entomology's Picnic Day celebration, estimates that the "bug events" at Briggs draw 3,000 people.
Maggot Art, Termite Trails, Cockroach Races and Honey Tasting are just a few of the events that will be offered at Briggs Hall from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Bugs rule. They do, indeed.
Combining Art and Science
Irving Berlin wasn't writing about carpenter bees when he penned "Easter Bonnet":
In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it
You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade
I'll be all in clover and when they look you over
I'll be the proudest fellow in the Easter parade
However, if you watch carpenter bees move from flower to flower as they gather nectar, you're bound to see one with its head inside a blossom.
An Easter bonnet, to be sure.
I captured this image of a carpenter bee visiting a California native wildflower, "Bird's Eyes" or "Bird's-Eye Gilia" (Gilia tricolor), on the UC Davis campus. It's aptly named. It's a light lavender and purple tubular flower with a yellow throat and powder-blue stamens.
If you built it (a field of dreams), they will come.
And if you bring flowers, that's all the bettter.
Melissa "Missy" Borel, program manager of the California Center for Urban Horticulture, UC Davis, and a strong proponent of bee friendly plants, brought salvia, lavender (Otto Quast Spanish lavender) and some stalked bulbine (Bulbine frutescens) to a television interview today at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis.
Darsha Philips and camerman Andrew Faulk of Fox 40, Sacramento were there to interview her along with Lynn Kimsey, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology; and Cooperative Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, a 32-year member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty..
Missy Borel placed the three potted plants atop a hive while waiting for the interview. It didn't take long for the honey bees to find the unexpected treat! They lavished the lavender, salivated over the salvia, and stalked the stalked bulbine.
Meanwhile, concern about the declining honey bee population continues. A third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees. Bee nutrition has never been so important. The bees are seeking nectar, pollen and water to bring back to their hives.
Want to select bee friendly plants for your garden? Missy Borel compiled this list during the Haagen-Daz Honey Bee Haven Design Competition. (See pages 7, 8 and 9 of the PDF). See more information on the winning design on the UC Davis Entomology Web site. The new garden will be located next to all the hives at the Laidlaw facility.
When the half-acre bee haven is completed, the bees won't have far to go to gather nectar and pollen all year around. Look for the dedication sometime in October.
The Bee Man
Bee on Lavender
Bee Friendly Plants
She looked like a ballerina, with her long, thin antennae; slender, delicate body; and translucent, finely veined wings.
She dropped down on a stem in a UC Davis flower bed. Her eyes glowed a metallic gold. Perhaps she was about to feed on pollen, honeydew or an aphid. Maybe she was just investigating a site to lay her eggs.
Whatever, she graced a plant for only a moment and then was gone.
Lacewings lay their eggs on plant stems so that the emerging larvae can devour aphids, mites, thrips, soft scales and other soft-bodied prey. Dinner's ready! In fact, lacewing larvae eat so many aphids they’re called “aphid lions.” They also eat each other.
The green lacewing (Chrysopa spp.) is both a beauty and a beast. As an adult, it’s a thing of beauty. In the larva stage, it acts like a beast, complete with fierce-looking sicklelike mandibles. It's a beneficial beast, though. Gardeners welcome its voracious appetite and cheer when they see macro images of a lacewing larva lunging forward, impaling an aphid, and then sucking the juices.
Take that, you aphid!/h4>/h4>/o:p>/h4>/o:p>/h4>/o:p>/h4>/o:p>/h4>
It's not spring until you see honey bees, carpenter bees and butterflies on Tidy Tips.
That would be Layia platyglossa, a wildflower native to southern California. Its common name is "Tidy Tips" or "Coastal Tidy Tips." It's a daisylike flower with yellow petals tipped in white, thus the name. It's a member of the aster family.
A flower bed in the center of the UC Davis campus (near the Science LaboratoriesBuilding) boasts an intermingling of the yellow-and-white Tidy Tips and sky-blue Desert Blue Bells (Phacelia campanularia).
Insects think so, too. On any given day you'll see honey bees, carpenter bees, butterflies and lacewings holding family reunions.
Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui)