Posts Tagged: Phil Ward
Ladybugs, aka ladybeetles (family Coccinellidae), are best known for devouring aphids, those pesky little critters that suck plant juices.
But have you ever seen ladybugs gobbling ants?
There's a three-way predator-prey relationship here. When aphids pierce plant stems, they leave behind honeydew excretions. Ants scurry to the honeydew and quickly alert their buddies. Soon, you'll see a long trail of ants marching toward the honeydew.
Now enter the ladybug, which is attracted--quite nicely, thank you--to both aphids and ants.
This little beetle will feast on aphids and ants much like we humans chow down on popcorn and jelly beans at a movie.
In the photos below, unsuspecting ants climbed a lavender stalk, only to meet their demise.
If you look on You Tube, you'll see a video of an apparently famished ladybug chowing down ants. The background music of Queen's "We Will Rock You" adds the finishing touch.
Want to learn more about ants? Check out professor Phil Ward's website. He's a noted myrmecologist (one who studies the taxonomy, evolution, biogeography and behavior of ants) and a professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis.
One of his former graduate students, Alex Wild, has incredible insect photography on his website, appropriately named myrmecos.net.
Ant specialist Andrea Lucky, who will receive her doctorate in entomology on June 10 from UC Davis, will speak on the evolutionary history of ants on Wednesday, May 12 in 122 Briggs, UC Davis.
This is her "exit seminar" but it's doubling as part of the spring seminar series. Her talk, from 12:10 to 1 p.m., will be Webcast live. To tune in, access this site.
She researches the evolutionary history of ants in the geological complex region of Australasia, Melanesia and the islands of the Western Pacific.
“I use a combination of traditional morphological taxonomy and molecular phylogenetics to interpret how, when and where individual lineages diversified within this complex landscape,” said Lucky, who maintains a research website and studies with major professor Phil Ward. “In addition to my work on the biogeography of ants, I am also involved in biodiversity assessment and conservation using ants in Papua, New Guinea.”
You can watch a mini- interview of her in New Guinea on YouTube.
Lucky completed her undergraduate degree at Brown University in Providence, RI, where she majored in biology with an emphasis on ecology and evolutionary biology.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree, she traveled to Ecuador as a Fulbright Fellow, where she worked with insects in the Amazon.
Lucky entered the doctorate program in the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 2004 and completed her degree in the lab of Phil Ward.
After receiving her Ph.D., she will move on to a postdoctoral scholarship at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, where she will work with Rob Dunn on a project examining geographic variation in ants and the processes they mediate.
If you miss any of the UC Davis Department of Entomology webcasts, they're archived.
These webcasts are a good resource for entomologists, would-be entomologists, and folks of the curious-sort who just want to learn more about the exciting world of science.
And, somewhere out there, there's another young entomologist who will follow in Andrea Lucky's footsteps...trailing ants.
Andrea Lucky in New Guinea
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
If you're accustomed to seeing ants crawl, wait a minute...some can actually jump.
Ants? Jump? Like leaping lizards?
Harpegnathos saltator, aka Jerdon's jumping ant, a species found in India, can indeed jump. It can leap a distance of about 10 centimeters (about 3.9 inches). It does this to catch prey and to escape sticky situations.
Christian Peeters, director of the Laboratoire d’Ecologie, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, will talk about Jerdon's jumping ant when he discusses his research at a noon lecture on Wednesday, April 15 in 122 Briggs Hall, University of California, Davis. His topic is “Recurrent Selection Against Winged Queens in Ants, and Shifts in Life History Traits.”
This exquisite photo (below) of Jerdon's jumping ant is the work of entomologist-insect photographer Alex Wild, who received his Ph.D. from UC Davis (his major professor was Phil Ward). Wild is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois. You'll want to visit his Web sites often to view his amazing work. One site is at http://www.myrmecos.net and the other at http://www.alexanderwild.com.
Today we salute Andrea Lucky.
To be perfectly frank, anyone who takes a class from her is a lucky person indeed.
For excellence in teaching in the lab, field and classroom, UC Davis entomology doctoral candidate Andrea Lucky has won a 2009 UC Davis Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award.
Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef will present the award--one of 12--at a ceremony on Monday, April 6 in the Buehler Alumni and Visitors' Center.
Her major professor, Phil Ward, who nominated her for the award, praised her “stellar teaching assistance” and her “exceptional commitment to science teaching and outreach in general.”
Lucky, who joined the Ward lab four years ago, served as his teaching assistant in a five-week field taxonomy and ecology course last summer at the Sagehen Creek Field Station, northern Sierra Nevada. The course, Entomology 109 and also known as "Bug Boot Camp," introduces students to the diversity of California insects in natural habitats.
Lucky interacted with the students 12 to 14 hours a day, from dawn at the breakfast table to late at night in the lab, six days a week, Ward said. “Entomology 109 is a demanding course for both students and teachers, yet Andrea was unfailingly upbeat, engaging and responsive to students. She was willing to assist in the lab, the field and even the kitchen when the situation demanded.”
Kitchen, too! Now, that's dedication!
“Andrea’s enthusiasm for the subject and her knowledge of the subject matter are a rare combination,” Ward said. “She is dedicated to encouraging student participation and attentive to individual student learning styles, and as a result she is very effective in establishing a creative, hands-on, interactive learning environment. She is notable for her ability to engage students while encouraging a high level of intellectual rigor.”
Lucky uses novel, creative techniques to help students learn. She designed a freshman seminar course on “Insects and Media” and taught it for four years. The seminar uses science, and especially insects, as portrayed by modern media as the basis for discussions about the facts behind the fiction and how audiences distinguish information vs. entertainment.
A native of Chicago, Andrea Lucky grew up in Cincinnati, graduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and then spent two years as a Fulbright scholar studying insects in Ecuador.
We're often asked "Where are the women in science who are making a difference?" Well, one of them is right here at the University of California, Davis.
Bug Boot Camp