Backyard Orchard News
Honey bees and ants belong to the same order, Hymenoptera, and occasionally you see them together.
Such was the case today in the Storer Garden, UC Davis Aboretum, as the closely related honey bees and ants foraged in the red-hot poker (Kniphofia galpinii or "Christmas cheer").
These ants? Argentine ants (Linepithema humile). "The Argentine ant is a non-native and a notorious pest," says UC Davis ant specialist Phil Ward, professor of entomology.
The honey bee (Apis mellifera) is also a non-native (it came over with the European colonists in the 1600s), but oh, what a non-native. We're so accustomed to it being a beneficial insect that we consider it a native.
Hymenoptera ("membrane wing") originated in the Triassic period, a geologic period that existed some 251 to 199 million years ago.
And today in a tiny thimble of time, they shared a red hot poker.
Honey Bee and an Ant
Nectaring on Lavender
Home from the World War II battlefields, he enrolled in Compton Community College and then the University of California, Berkeley.
A family friend promised him a job in his termite control business once he finished his studies.
His college associates, however, couldn’t envision “Vern and termites” in the same sentence.
Neither could he.
“There were better things to do in life than crawling under a house looking for termites,” quipped Burton, who is known for his wry sense of humor. (Photo at right was taken circa 1980)
So began a 38-year career that would encompass 10 years as a Kern County Farm Advisor and 28 years as an Extension entomologist affiliated with the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
During his career, Burton, now 85, worked with crops such as alfalfa, beans, cotton, potatoes, small grains and sugar beets and helped resolve pest problems through integrated pest management (IPM) strategies and close associations with university researchers. “I always enjoyed helping people in ag and urban settings with their insect problems,” Burton said, “or their perceived problems.”
Tuber worms in potatoes? Check. Lygus bugs in seed alfalfa? Check. Spider mites on dry beans? Check. Nematodes in cotton? Check. Green peach aphids in sugar beets? Check. Burton helped recommend the guidelines in several of the Statewide IPM Program’s commodity manuals. His collaborative research also appears in California Agriculture and other publications.
“Vern was dedicated to California growers, and worked tirelessly to provide new and useful information to them,” said IPM specialist Frank Zalom, professor and former vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America. “He understood the research-extension continuum better than most people ever could, having served the university as an extension entomologist in the county and also here on campus.”
Read more about Vern Burton and what he's doing today.
Yes, he's in the computer age!
UC Davis Entomology in 1970
If you've ever wondered about the relationship between predator biodiversity and herbivore suppression, that subject is on tap Wednesday, Jan. 27 at UC Davis.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology will host associate professor William Snyder (right) of the Department of Entomology, Washington State University, at a noon seminar in 122 Briggs Hall, Kleiber Drive.
The seminar is from 12:10 to 1 p.m. and will be Webcast. Folks can tune in, listen, and ask questions. Graduate students James Harwood and Amy Morice of the James Carey lab will be Webcasting the lecture. Here's the link to listen to the Webcast.
Snyder, who received his doctorate in entomology from the University of Kentucky in 1999, focuses his research on the relationship between biodiversity and biological control; community ecology; predator-prey interactions; and sustainable agriculture.
Snyder shares this abstract:
Classic ecological theory suggests that species must differ in their resource use patterns in order to co-exist. Although much recent empirical work has shown that resource use generally increases with greater species diversity, it has nonetheless proven difficult to demonstrate that resource partitioning truly underlies this pattern. Progress has been limited by the fact that differences among species in resource use typically are confounded with other species-specific attributes (size, metabolic rate, fecundity, etc.). In the first study I will discuss, we overcame this obstacle by co-opting plasticity in host choice among a community of aphid parasitoids, in order to manipulate the breadth of resource use independent of parasitoid species identity and diversity. We found that aphid suppression improved with greater specialist, but not generalist, parasitoid diversity. Thus, it was resource partitioning among species that fostered greater resource consumption in multi-species communities. I will then discuss results from several other natural enemy communities we have been studying, where resource partitioning among predator and/or pathogen species again appears to underlie stronger herbivore suppression at higher diversity levels.
What makes a beekeeper?
A research team from the Department of Psychology, Bradley University, Peoria, Ill., wants to know.
Led by Wendy Schweigert, Ph.D., of Bradley University and Larry Krengel of the Illinois State Beekeepers, the team is conducting research about "beekeepers and their characteristics" and seeks beekeepers 18 years or older to complete an anonymous survey.
The survey is intended for commercial beekeepers, sideliners and hobbyists. The researchers want to know the usual questions: how many hives you have, how many assistants, what hive products you produce (bees, queens, honey, pollen, propolis), and what chemicals, if any, you use.
Then they'll delve into "political, social and environmental feelings."
The survey will be available online until Feb. 14, 2010.
If you're a beekeeper--new or experienced--back away from the hive, drop your hive tool, and take the survey.
The beekeepers I know care intensely about their bees and are as social as the bees they tend. Good people. Good bees. Good life.
It will be interesting to see the results.
Gathering of Beekeepers
Human blood--it drives mosquitoes wild.
Today Marlene Cimmons of the National Science Foundation (NSF) spotlights chemical ecologist Walter Leal, professor of entomology, University of California, Davis, on the LiveScience Web site.
This interesting feature takes a behind-the-scenes look at Leal, a Brazilian-born scientist trained in three countries: Brazil, Japan and the United States.
His research, partly funded by a NSF grant, has received international acclaim. Last year he was elected a Fellow of the 6000-member Entomological Society of America, a prestigious honor reserved for only 10 or fewer scientists a year.
Leal, who focuses his research on how insects detect smells, is not shy about being a human subject.
Or human pincushion.
Cimmons wrote about how Leal "rolled up his sleeves" when he and his colleagues were looking for the substance that would lure mosquitoes into a blood meal. "And they found it--nonanal, a substance made by humans and birds that creates a powerful scent that Culex mosquitoes find irresistible."
Leal also recalls the time when he was searching for beetles in Mexico and mosquitoes went after him with a vengeance.
"They'll go through anything, even jeans, as long as they know there is a blood vessel on the other side," Leal told Cimmons. "They can sense the heat."
Indeed, some folks just seem to attract more than their share of mosquitoes.
Only the female mosquitoes bite--they need a blood meal to develop their eggs.Related links:
UC Davis Researchers Identify Dominant Chemical That Attracts Mosquitoes to Humans
Groundbreaking Research on DEET