Backyard Orchard News
"Stop and smell the roses!"
It's a good way to savor the moment, of living in the present instead of the past or future.
We delight in the aroma of the "Sparkle and Shine" yellow rose that we purchased several years ago at the California Center for Urban Horticulture's annual Rose Day on the UC Davis campus.
Sometimes there's an added bonus--a praying mantis, a honey bee, a longhorned bee, European wool carder bee, carpenter bee, a hover fly, a butterfly, or another insect. They do not all get along. Like beginners in an elementary school band, they do not play well together. Some of the territorial bees want to claim ownership ("Mine! mine! mine!"). The honey bees linger longer than they should. The butterflies don't. The hover flies hover. And the praying mantis? It just wants dinner.
Today, it was not an insect but an arthropod that caught our attention: a jumping spider. We pointed the Canon MPE-65mm lens directly in its eyes. It just looked back at us, figuring we were no threat.
If you like to "look back" at insects or arthropods, then you should head over to the UC Davis open house this Saturday, Sept. 27 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane. It's off LaRue Road. The open house is free and open to the public.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses some eight million specimens, plus a live "petting zoo," filled with critters you can hold, such as walking sticks, millipedes, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, and tarantulas.
It's a day when entomologists will be there to show you how to collect insects, pin a butterfly, and how to look through a microscope. You'll also see a bee observation hive provided by the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
And, if you have a mind to, you can visit the gift shop and purchase such items as nets, T-shirts, jewelry, posters and books.
You'll even find books on spiders.
A jumping spider, nestled in the petals of a yellow rose, "Sparkle and Shine," looks at the photographer. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Yes, plants can communicate.
And that's exactly what ecologist Rick Karban, professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will discuss at the LASER-UC Davis (Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous) event on Thursday night, Oct. 9 in Room 3001 of UC Davis Plant and Environmental Sciences Building.
Karban will speak on "Plant Communication" from 8:10 to 8:45. He is one of four speakers booked from 7 to 9 p.m. The event, free and open to the public, begins at 6:30 with socializing and networking. It is sponsored by the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program.
Karban drew international scientific and media attention with his research on “Kin Recognition Affects Plant Communication and Defense,” published in February 2013 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. He and four colleagues showed that kin have distinct advantages when it comes to plant communication, just as “the ability of many animals to recognize kin has allowed them to evolve diverse cooperative behaviors,” he told the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology in a news release.
“When sagebrush plants are damaged by their herbivores, they emit volatiles that cause their neighbors to adjust their defenses,” Karban said. "These adjustments reduce rates of damage and increase growth and survival of the neighbors.”
“Why would plants emit these volatiles which become public information?” he asked. “Our results indicate that the volatile cues are not completely public, that related individuals responded more effectively to the volatiles than did strangers. This bias makes it less likely that emitters will aid strangers and more likely that receivers will respond to relatives.”
Karban was featured in Michael Pollan's piece on “The Intelligent Plant: Scientists Debate a New Way of Understanding Plants,” published last December in The New Yorker.” He is also spotlighted on YouTube.
A member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology since 1982, Karban received his bachelor's degree in environmental studies from Haverford (Pa.) College, and his doctorate in biology from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and has published more than 100 journal articles and two books.
Other speakers at the Oct. 9th event are:
7 to 7:25 p.m.: Tami Spector, a professor of organic chemistry at the University of San Francisco, whose topic is “The Molecular Elusive."
7:25 to 7:50: Katharine Hawthorne, a San Francisco-based dancer and choreographer, who will discuss “Analog Bodies”
8:40 to 9: Cody Ross, a postdoctoral cultural and statistical anthropologist working at the Santa Fe Institute and UC Davis, whose topic is “Art Is Offensive: Integrative Art and Social Justice.”
The event promises to be educational and informative, according to moderator/organizer Anna Davidson ot the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, who recently received her doctorate. She studies fruit tree ecophysiology and is an instructor with the UC Davis Art Science Fusion Program.
Ecologist Rick Karban with sagebrush.
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Mark your calendar.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology on the UC Davis campus is planning an open house on "How to Be an Entomologist" from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 27. The insect museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building, Crocker Lane, off LaRue Road.
The event is free and open to the public and is family friendly. This is the first of nine open houses during the 2014-15 academic year.
Plans call for a number of UC Davis entomologists to participate--to show and explain their work, said Bohart Museum director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
"We will have a pinning and butterfly and moth spreading ongoing workshop with Jeff Smith and tips on how to rear insects," said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator. Smith, an entomologist in Sacramento, is a longtime donor and volunteer at the Bohart.
Representatives from the labs of molecular geneticist Joanna Chiu, assistant professor; bee scientist Brian Johnson, assistant professor; ant specialist Phil Ward, professor; insect demographer James R. Carey, distinguished professor; and integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, distinguished professor and current president of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America will share their research.
The Johnson lab will provide a bee observation hive, and Cindy Preto of the Zalom lab will be sharing her research on leafhoppers. The Carey lab will show student-produced videos, including how to make an insect collection, and one-minute entomology presentations (students showcasing an insect in one minute). The Ward lab will be involved in outside activities, demonstrating how to collect ants. Entomology students will be on hand to show visitors how to use collecting devices, including nets, pitfall traps and yellow pans.
Other entomologists may also participate. "There will be a lot going on inside the Bohart and outside the Bohart," Yang said. "It will be very hands-on."
The Bohart Museum, founded by noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007), houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens and boasts the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It also houses the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. The Bohart Museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
The museum's gift shop (on location and online) includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
Special attractions include a “live” petting zoo, featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold the insects and photograph them. The newest residents of the petting zoo are Texas Gold-Banded millipedes, Orthoporus ornatus, which are native to many of the southwestern United States, including Texas.
“They're a great addition to the museum's petting zoo,” Kimsey said. “They are very gentle and great for demonstrations of how millipedes walk and how they differ from centipedes.”
Millipede enthusiast Evan White, who does design and communications for the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, and is a frequent presenter at the Bohart's open houses, recently obtained the arthropods from a collector in Texas. “Texas Gold-Banded millipedes are naive to many of the Southwestern United States, not just Texas,” he said.
Contrary to popular belief, millipedes are not dangerous. “There is much public confusion about the difference between millipedes and centipedes--not because the two look similar, but because the terms are used interchangeably when not connected to a visual,” White said.
He described millipedes as non-venomous, and relatively slow moving, with cylindrical bodies, two pairs of legs per body segment, and herbivorous. “In fact, they are more like decomposers – they do well on rotting vegetation, wood, etc.--the scientific word for is ‘detritivore.' Most millipedes are toxic if consumed, some even secrete a type of cyanide when distressed. The point being: don't lick one.”
In contract, centipedes are venomous, fast-moving insects with large, formidable fangs, and one pair of legs per body segment. “They are highly carnivorous, although some will eat bananas. Go figure. And they are often high-strung and aggressive if provoked.”
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, and millipede enthusiast Evan White, both of UC Davis, show Texas Gold-Banded mllipedes. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up shot of Texas Gold-Banded millipedes. Millipedes are arthropods. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The Bohart Museum is home to nearly eight million insect specimens. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you are interested in growing pomegranates while maximizing water and nitrogen use efficiency, you may want to register for a meeting that will be held at Kearney on October 2, 2014.
Individuals interested in growing pomegranates with surface or subsurface drip irrigation are invited to attend a meeting at Kearney Agricultural Research & Extension Center (KARE) on October 2, 2014, to learn about improving pomegranate fertigation and nitrogen use efficiency. To attend, a reservation made with Diana Nix at 559-46-6500, extension 0, is required.
The field day will share the results of a fertigation study at KARE that uses high frequency drip and subsurface drip irrigation/fertigation systems. Check in is at 9:30 am, presentations start at 10:00 am, and the tour of the research plot begins at 11:00 am. The meeting will adjourn at noon.
The agenda includes:
- Introduction, objectives, orchard configuration and operation
- Evapotranspiration, crop coefficient and lysimeter management
- Yields, water use efficiency, and nitrogen use efficiency
- Soil matric potential measurements and hydraulic gradient calculations in the subsurface drip irrigated lysimeter
- Tissue responses to high frequency injected nitrogen at three levels of nitrogen
- Canopy cover and leaf chlorophyll measurements
- Conclusions and questions
For additional information, please contact Kevin R. Day, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Tulare County, specializing in fresh-shipping deciduous tree fruits, cultural practices and production, fruit growth and development, pruning and training systems, at 559-684-3311, or Claude J. Phene, President of SDI Plus, at 559-298-0201.
Freshly harvested pomegranates in a bin.