Backyard Orchard News
Well, ICE is red hot.
The International Congress of Entomology (ICE) is gearing up for its 2016 conference, "Entomology without Borders," to take place Sept. 25-30, 2016 in Orlando, Fla., and the line-up of speakers should make all entomologists--and others interested in insect science--mark their calendars.
With a red-hot pen.
The ICE meeting will be co-located with the annual meetings of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) and the Entomological Society of Canada, along with events hosted by the entomological societies of China, Brazil, Australia, and others.
First of all, the ICE co-chairs, chemical ecologist Walter Leal of UC Davis and vegetable research entomologist Alvin Simmons of USDA/ARS, managed to book not one, but two Nobel Laureautes: Peter Agre (2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry) and Jules Hoffmann (2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine).
Then the next announcement. Last weekend at the ESA meeting in Portland, Ore., Leal revealed the list of ICE plenary speakers, selected from 77 nominated worldwide.
Carey, a distinguished professor of entomology with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is considered the world's foremost authority on arthropod demography. Page, provost of Arizona State University and emeritus professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, is considered the most influential honey bee biologist of the past 30 years.
“We are delighted to have the first Hispanic woman (Latina) to give a plenary lecture at ICE; likewise, the first kiwi (New Zealander), as well as the first native African to have the opportunity to highlight their work in this venue,” said Leal, professor in the UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.
The list of plenary speakers:
- Carolina Barilla-Mury, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Guatemala & USA, who will speak on medical entomology immunity
- Jacqueline Beggs, University of Auckland, New Zealand. Topic: biodiversity and biosecurity
- James R. Carey, University of California, Davis. Topic: insect biodemography
- Fred Gould, North Carolina State University. Topic: GMOs: crop and health protection
- Robert E. Page, Arizona State University. Topic: bee biology: Spirit of the Hive” (title of his latest book)
- José Roberto Postali Parra, ESALQ, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Topic: biological control.
- John A. Pickett, Rothamsted Research, UK. Topic: insect-plant interactions
- Baldwyn Torto, Centre of Insect Physiology & Ecology, based in Nairobi, Kenya. Topic: colony collapse disorder and pollination.
Capsule information on the UC Davis-affiliated entomologists:
James R. Carey has authored more than 250 scientific articles, including landmark papers in Science that shaped the way scientists think about lifespan limits and actuarial aging, and two articles in the Annual Review series that provide new syntheses on insect biodemography (2003, Annual Review of Entomology) and aging in the wild (2014, Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics). He directed a $10 million multi-university grant for more than a decade (2003-2013).
Carey is the author of three books, including Applied Demography for Biologists with Special Emphasis on Insects (Oxford University Press), the go-to source for all entomologists studying demography. Highly honored for his work, Carey received the 2014 C. W. Woodworth Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America (ESA), and the 2014 UC Davis Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award for innovative and creative teaching.
Carey chaired the University of California Systemwide Committee on Research Policy—one of the most important and prestigious committees in the UC system and served on the systemwide UC Academic Council. In addition, he serves as the associate editor of three journals: Genus, Aging Cell, and Demographic Research. In addition, he is the first entomologist to have a mathematical discovery named after him by demographers—The Carey Equality—which set the theoretical and analytical foundation for a new approach to understanding wild populations.
He is a fellow of four professional organizations: ESA, the Gerontological Society of America, the California Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Carey has presented more than 250 seminars in venues all over the world, from Stanford, Harvard, Moscow, Beijing to Athens, London, Adelaide and Okinawa. In addition, Carey is considered a worldwide authority on the demography and invasion biology of tephritid fruit flies, particularly the Mediterranean fruit fly; and a preeminent authority on biodemographics of human aging and lifespan. He is also a pioneering force advocating the educational use of digital video technology, work that he is sharing throughout much of the state, nation and the world.
Carey received his bachelor's degree (animal ecology, 1973) and master's degree (entomology, 1975) from Iowa State University, and his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley in 1980.
Robert E. Page Jr.
Page has published more than 200 reviewed publications, three edited books and two authored books. His latest book is "Spirit of the Hive." His lab pioneered the use of modern techniques to study the genetic bases to the evolution of social behavior in honey bees and other social insects.
Page was the first to employ molecular markers to study polyandry and patterns of sperm use in honey bees. He provided the first quantitative demonstration of low genetic relatedness in a highly eusocial species.
Among his other achievements involving honey bee research:
- Page and his students and colleagues isolated, characterized and validated the complementary sex determination gene of the honey bee; perhaps the most important paper yet published about the genetics of Hymenoptera.
- He and his students constructed the first genetic map of any social insect, demonstrating that the honey bee has the highest recombination rate of any eukaryotic organism mapped to date.
In addition, Page was personally involved in genome mappings of bumble bees, parasitic wasps and two species of ants. His most recent work focuses on the genetic bases to individuality in honey bees.
Page also built two modern apicultural labs (in Ohio and Arizona), major legacies that are centers of honey bee research and training. He has trained many hundreds of beekeepers, and continues to teach beekeeping even as provost of the largest public university in the United States. He is also the Foundation Chair of Life Sciences.
An internationally recognized scholar, Page is an elected foreign member of the Brazilian Academy of Science, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the oldest scientific academy of science, the Germany Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. He was elected to Leopoldina, founded in 1652, for his pioneering research in behavioral genetics of honey bees.
It promises to be an informative, educational and entertaining meeting in Orlando!
Worker bes cleaning out queen cells. Honey bee presentations will be part of the ICE program. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's a 14-letter word but many people consider it a four-letter word.
Wikipedia defines it as a "a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine...In the late 2000s some neonicotinoids came under increasing scrutiny over their environmental impacts. The use of neonicotinoids was linked in a range of studies to adverse ecological effects, including honey-bee colony collapse disorder (CCD) and loss of birds due to a reduction in insect populations. Several countries restricted or banned the use of certain neonicotinoids."
"In the U.S., neonicotinoids are currently used on about 95 percent of corn and canola crops, the majority of cotton, sorghum, and sugar beets, and about half of all soybeans," according to Wikipedia. "They are also used on the vast majority of fruit and vegetable crops, including apples, cherries, peaches, oranges, berries, leafy greens, tomatoes, and potatoes. Neonicotinoids are also applied to cereal grains, rice, nuts, and wine grapes. Imidacloprid is effective against sucking insects, some chewing insects, soil insects and is also used to control fleas on domestic animals. It is possibly the most widely used insecticide, both within the neonicotinoids and in the worldwide market."
Neonics, as they're called, will be front center stage in Portland, Ore. at the Entomological Society of America's student debates on Tuesday, Nov. 18. It's the 62nd annual ESA meeting. Distinguished professor Frank Zalom, an integrated pest management specialist in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, serves as president of the 7000-member organization.
Several different topics will be debated. For the debate on neonics, it will be UC Davis graduate students vs. graduate students from Auburn University, Alabama.
For months now, the graduate students have been reading the literature, talking to experts, and setting strategies.
We listened in on a practice debate Thursday night in the third-floor conference room of Briggs Hall, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. The team is captained by Mohammad-Amir Aghaee of the Larry Godfrey lab, and coached by Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the department. Other team members are Jenny Carlson, Anthony Cornel lab; Margaret "Rei" Scampavia, Neal Williams/Edwin Lewis lab; Ralph Washington Jr., Steve Nadler lab; and Daniel Klittich, Michael Parrella lab.
They scrutinized a PowerPoint, making sure every word was clear and exactly the one they wanted. They searched for more resources, pointing out which scientist published what significant paper and when and where. Extension apicuturist (retired) Eric Mussen of UC Davis was there to assist with his expertise on honey bees and pesticides.
We won't tell you what the strategies are--that would be a "spoiler." Suffice it to say that this controversial topic promises to be lively. The Auburn team, comprised of Olufemi Ajayi, Adekunle Adesanya, Julian Golec, Matt Burrows, Scott Clem and, Z. Ye and advised by David Held, will argue that neonicotinoids are causing the death of bees essential for pollinating our food crops, and will advocate that the use of neonicotinoids should end. UC Davis will take the opposing view.
The 2013 UC Davis team, also captained by Mohammad-Amir Aghaee, won the ESA championship. They hope for a repeat. They're good; they've won every match since 2011 except one.
Aghaee is deeply involved in ESA activities. A participant in the student debates and Linnean Games teams for four years, he also participates in the student 10-minute paper competitions, covering such topics as Lygus bug movements in bush beans, efficacy of Bacillus thuringiensis spp. galleriae against rice water weevil, and preliminary research on winter flooding effectiveness against rice water weevil. Last year he won first place for his winter flood presentation.
Aghaee, whose major professor is Extension entomologist Larry Godfrey, is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate working on rice water weevil (Lissorhoptrus oryzophilus) management in California rice. The majority of Aghaee's dissertation research is dedicated toward developing alternative management options for growers. “I have examined the use of Bacillus thuringiensis spp. galleriae as a biopesticide for rice water weevil and explored the mechanisms of winter flooding rice fields as a cultural control against weevil larvae," Aghaee related. "I am currently examining the possible role of silicon augmentation as a means of increasing rice tolerance to weevil damage and the potential threat of Brown marmorated stinkbug (Halyomorpha halys) to California rice."
A Renaissance kind of guy, Aghaee has secondary interests in post-Renaissance European history and contemporary Middle Eastern politics. He explores some of these themes in his freshman seminar titled "Bugs, Germs, and Steel: A History of Entomology in Warfare" where he and his colleagues teach students how basic scientific research and ecology has influenced human conflicts and technological progress. Outside of entomology, his leisure activities include oil painting, language acquisition, and culinary specialization in Persian and Indo-Pakistani cuisines.
Stay tuned for who won the debate and what they said. Their work will be published in the journal, American Entomologist.
This honey may or may not have been poisoned by neonics, but it's definitely "under the weather." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Mohammad-Amir Aghaee, captain of the UC Davis debate team, leads a discussion at a practice Nov. 13 in Briggs Hall, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bees will be "all the buzz" next week when the California State Beekeepers' Association (CSBA) meets Nov. 18-20 in Valencia, Calif., and the Entomological Society of America (ESA) meets Nov. 16-19 in Portland, Ore.
Those who belong to both organizations have a decision to make: go to Portland, "The City of Roses," or to Valencia, known as "Awesometown." They're 932 miles apart. Interestingly enough, they have more in common than you think. Both were founded in 1889. CSBA is gathering for its 125th annual meeting while ESA is holding its 62nd annual meeting.
ESA, headed by Frank Zalom, distinguished professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will discuss scores of insects, including honey bees. Topics include "Nutrition and the Health and Behavior of Wild and Managed Bees" and "New Frontiers in Honey Bee Health Economics: Incorporating Entomological Research and Knowledge into Economic Assessments."
CSBA, headed by Bill Lewis of the San Fernando Valley, will zero in on safe pollination of almond orchards, urban beekeeping, honey bee forage and nutrition, mead-making, and honey bee health, exacerbated by pests, pesticides, parasites, diseases, malnutrition and stress. Varroa mites continue to be the beekeepers' No. 1 problem.
At the CSBA meeting, Extension apiculturist (retired) Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who serves as the organization's current apiculturist and parliamentarian (as well as a frequent speaker), will pass the torch--a smoker?--when he introduces the new Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Nino in a Nov. 20th presentation. It's titled "California Extension Apiculturist--Passing the Torch."
What we need now in California is rain. The drought worries us all. (Listen to what Mussen recently told Capital Public Radio about bees, the lack of floral resources, and the drought.)
And, as if on cue, it rained today. A honey bee in the apiary at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility ventured from its hive and encountered something it may not have seen before: rain drops.
A honey bee encounters rain drops Nov. 13 in the midst of the California drought. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This is what beekeepers want more of: rain and forage for their bees. This is a blue aster, member of the sunflower family. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Last summer we spent many hours capturing images of male long-horned bees, Melissodes aegils, sleeping in clusters on the stems of our guara at night and early morning. (Sometimes they slept inches away from a praying mantis.) Then during the day the boys chased the girls, all the while protecting their turf from prospective suitors and pollinators.
We captured our last seasonal image of a long-horned bee on Sept. 28. It was a Melissodes, all right, but it was Melissodes robustior, a male, as identified by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis and one of the authors of California Bees and Blooms.
The book, the work of Gordon Frankie, Thorp, Rollin Coville, and Barbara Ertter, all affiliated with UC Berkeley (Thorp received his doctorate there), is a wealth of information about not only bees, but the flowers they visit. (See the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology website.)
Want to know about Melissodes? There are 130 species of Melissodes in the New World, and about 100 of them live in North America. Of that number, 50 species live in California. Who knew? And only three Melissodes species are widespread and common in California, including our robust buddy, Melissodes robustior.
Last summer we watched at least two species of Melissodes attempt to claim all the guara, catmint, oregano, rosemary, Mexican sunflower (Tithonia), Cosmos, and African blue basil, much to the "bee-wilderment" of honey bees, bumble bees, carpenter bees and other pollinators.
The long-horned bees are all gone now, but next year a whole new generation will take their place.
A long-horned male bee, Melissodes robustior, on the leaf of a Mexican sunflower, Tithonia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's cool how honey bees and syrphid flies gravitate toward the Iceland Poppy.
It's a winter plant, and frankly, there isn't much to eat out there.
The Iceland Poppy (Papaver nudicaule), a bowl-shaped, papery flower, fills the bill.
The name is a misnomer. It's not native to Iceland. It's from the cooler regions of Europe, Asia and North America, and the mountains of Central Asia. Botanists first described it in 1759.
Like all poppies, they're poisonous. In fact, scientists tell us that all parts of poppies are poisonous. That's because they contain toxic alkaloids. This one, P. nudicaule, contains a benzophenanthidine alkaloid, chelidonine.
Nevertheless, it's a unique, delightful plant. Each flower bursts forth from a hairy, leafless stem that curves like a question mark. When a strong gust of wind further punctuates the plant, the petals drop to the ground. Spent. How fragile are the flowers!
Cultivars can be yellow, salmon, pink, orange, rose, cream and white, as well as tri-colored. The ones in our bee garden are Champagne Bubbles, 15-inch plants in yellow, orange, pink, scarlet, apricot and cream.
Some of the other cultivars bear equally enticing names like Flamenco, Wonderland, Party Fun, Illumination, Meadow Pastels, Victory Giants, Oregon Rainbows and Matador.
Today the honey bees and syrphid flies (aka hover flies or flower flies) jockeyed for position, almost engaging in critter combat in a swirl of autumn color, a veritable kaleidoscope of activity.
Matadors in the Champagne Bubbles...
A syrphid fly, aka hover fly or flower fly, on an Iceland Poppy. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A green bottle fly soaking up sunshine. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee gathering pollen. In the foreground: a freeloader fly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Two syrphids sharing an Iceland Poppy. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)