Backyard Orchard News
"The gold standard of entomology textbooks" will be available in the United States beginning in early March but publisher Wiley-Blackwell has already released it in the United Kingdom.
The 584-page textbook offers a comprehensive insight into the wonderful world of insects. Well, some are wonderful! Your favorites--honey bees and ladybugs--are in there, along with the nasty pests such as those blood-sucking mosquitoes and sand flies, insects that transmit diseases.
"Much of the book is organized around major biological themes - living on the ground, in water, on plants, in colonies, and as predators, parasites/parasitoids and prey,” the publisher says.Gullan and Cranston, both systematic entomologists, teach and research insect identification, distribution, evolution and ecology.
(How do you say "bug" in Italian? In Mandarin Chinese? In Portuguese?)
Since the third edition came out five years ago, the authors have been busily updating it. In keeping with today's technology, they've added an accompanying Web site with downloadable illustrations and links to video clips.
Updates include the Africanized honey bee and colony collapse disorder in the sphere of the apiary; the use of bed nets and the resurgence of bed bugs; dengue fever and West Nile virus in relation to human health; and case studies in emergent plant pests, including the emerald ash borer that is destroying North American landscape trees. Artist Karina H. McInnes has added new drawings.
Writer Abigail Tucker mentioned the Gullan-Cranston textbook in her "Bugs, Brains and Trivia" article in the Smithsonian (Nov. 17, 2008), featuring the Linnaean Games, a national insect trivia contest conducted at the Entomological Society of America meeting. In the Linnaean Games, teams of entomology students vie for top honors in a college-bowl-like competition.
It's much more popular in the scientific community than the TV show, "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader."It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of the Linnaean Games, just as it is easy to be fascinated by the millions of insects that are all around us.
Evolutionary ecologist Anurag Agrawal (right), who received his doctorate in population biology from the University of California, Davis in 1999 under major professor Richard “Rick” Karban, has just received the sixth David Starr Jordan Prize for his innovative research inolving plant-animal interactions.
The international award, given approximately every three years, comes with a $20,000 prize and a commemorative medal.
Agrawal, now an associate professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, also serves as the associate director for the Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future and director of the Cornell Chemical Ecology Group.
Does the name "David Starr Jordan" ring a bell? It should. He was a leading American biologist (1851-1931) who was educated at Cornell; taught zoology at Indiana; and served as president of both Indiana and Stanford universities.
The three universities established the joint endowment in 1986 and have awarded the prize since 1987. “The intent of the David Starr Jordan Prize is to recognize scientists who are making research contributions likely to redirect the principal foci of their fields,” the awards committee said.
The coveted award is given to a young scientist, age 40 or under, who is making novel innovative contributions in one of Jordan’s fields of interest: evolution, ecology, population and organismal biology.
The awards committee, comprised of Cornell, Indiana and Stanford scientists, described Agrawal as “one of the foremost authorities on the community and evolutionary ecology of species interactions.”
“Dr. Agrawal has made highly influential contributions, including empirical and conceptual advances in our understanding of plant defense against herbivory, impacts of genetic diversity on community processes, co evolutionary interactions between monarch butterflies and milkweeds and deciphering the success of invasive plants,” the committee announced.
As the recipient of the David Starr Jordan Prize, he will lecture at the sponsoring institutions, beginning Feb. 18 at Cornell.
Born in 1972 in Allentown, Penn., Agrawal completed his undergraduate work in biology and his master’s degree in conservation biology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he became intrigued with plant-animal interactions. He then headed out to California in 1994 to study with Karban, a noted expert on plant-animal interactions. Karban, now a newly elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, teaches field ecology and community ecology.
“It was an amazing time being a graduate student at UC Davis and working with Rick Karban… a great foundation and nothing but great memories!” Agrawal said.
A sure sign of spring: trucks loaded with bee hives heading out to the almond orchards.
Yes, almond pollination season is almost here.
California has approximately 700,000 acres of almonds, and each acre requires two hives for pollination.
Since California doesn't have that many bee colonies, beekeepers from all over the country, some from as far away as Florida, are trucking in their bees.
A scene today in the Meadowview neighborhood, Sacramento: a truck loaded with hives and towing a forklift. The forklift? Quite necessary for easy movement and placement of the hives in the soggy orchards.
The almond pollination season begins around Feb. 10 and continues until approximately March 10. This encompasses the early, mid- and late varieties of almonds.
When asked today about the status of colony collapse disorder (CCD), Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, told us: "The colonies being delivered to the orchards currently should be in pretty good shape but CCD still is depleting those numbers in many commercial beekeeping operations in California and across the country."Let's keep our fingers crossed.
When research entomologist Terry Griswold (left) speaks on North American bees on Wednesday, Feb. 10 in 122 Briggs Hall, Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis, he will bring with him his passion to diversify available crop pollinators and conserve pollinator populations.
His talk, from 12:10 to 1 p.m., will be Webcast and you can listen live. It will also be archived on this page. The noon lecture is part of the department's winter seminar series.
Griswold, who works for the Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (also known as USDA-ARS) says his research relates to "the systematics, biogeography, and biodiversity of native bees in support of the research unit's efforts to diversify available crop pollinators and conserve pollinator populations."
He focuses his systematics research focuses on Megachilidae, "the family with the greatest potential for manageable pollinators."
That family includes such native bees as the leafcutter bee (below). These bees are so named because they cut pieces of leaves for their nests.
Other members of the family include mason bees and carder bees. They're solitary bees as opposed to social (honey bees).
Plant it and they will come.
The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, planted last fall, is already attracting a few honey bees.
The half-acre bee friendly garden, located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis, includes vegetables, fruit trees and nut trees (almonds).
Today a honey bee sipped water from the folds of a cabbage leaf as another honey bee landed on a visitor. Bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Laidlaw facility, gently plucked her off.
The almond trees at the haven are just about ready to burst into bloom.
Make way for the bees!
Plans are under way for a public opening at the haven and the nearby Campus Buzzway, which is planted with coreopsis, golden poppies and perennial lupine. The event is tentatively scheduled for the fall of 2010. More details will be announced soon.
The two gardens will provide bees with a year-around food source and an educational opportunity for visitors, who can learn about bees and glean what to plant in their own yards.
Make way for the bees!