Posts Tagged: Robbin Thorp
If you're interested in native bees, you'll want to read the newly published University of California research article, "Tiny Saviors in Our Backyard."
Native pollinator specialists Robbin Thorp and Neal Williams of the UC Davis Department of Entomology are featured in the article as is conservation biologist Claire Kremen of UC Berkeley.
Author Erik Vance describes Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology, as "the patriarch of a rag-tag group of scientists who have pioneered research on non-honey bees that just may hold a solution to the world’s pollination problems."
Williams' work with conservation biologist Claire Kremen of UC Berkeley involves monitoirng which native bees are effective on Yolo County farms.
It's great to see so much attention on native bees.
As Vance says, "Honey bees get most of the buzz, but some native bees are better at spreading pollen. They may hold the solution to world pollination problems that affect important crops."
Honey bees are often considered "native" bees but they are not. English explorers brought them to America beginning in the 1620s.
The Xerces Society of Invertebrate Conservation, based in Portland, Ore. (and celebrating 40 years of conservation this year), is rightfully pleased with the UC scientists' work.
“The work out at the UC is some of the best work in the country right now,” Mace Vaughan, who oversees national pollinator work for Xerces, told Vance. “They are actually demonstrating the benefits.”
Metallic green sweat bee (Agapostemon texanus) on coneflower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, located at 1124 Academic Surge on California Drive, UC Davis campus, knows that a Halloween party isn't a party without the appropriate butterfly, ladybug and honey bee costumes.
After all, the museum houses a global collection of more than seven million specimens (and some live insects, including Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas).
The Bohart Museum Society party, held tonight (Thursday), drew scores of costumed folks who enjoyed the camaraderie, the refreshments, the gift shop, the specimens and the "live petting zoo." Toward the end, they took time to bash a mosquito pinata, made by Brittany Nelms, a PhD student within the Entomology Graduate Group with a designated emphasis in Vectorborne Diseases. William Reisen of the Center for Vectorborne Diseases, serves as her major professor.
Mosquitoes are meant to be bashed.
UC Davis entomology graduate student Emily Bzdyk arrived as a butterfly, with her face intricately painted. Entomology graduate student Danielle Wishon, who studies with forensic entomologist Bob Kimsey and won the 2011 UC Davis Undergraduate Award in Entomology, selected a maggot theme.
Forensic entomologist Bob Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology dressed in a ghillie suit. And his wife, Lynn, the museum director and professor of entomology? She followed through with an Alcatraz theme (Bob does fly research on Alcatraz and is known as the "Fly Man of Alcatraz.")
When it was all over, Honey Lovers candy donated by Gimbal's Fine Candies of San Francisco, spilled out of the split mosquito pinata as the eager crowd dashed for the goodies.
On Sunday, Oct. 30, the Bohart Museum will host a free pre-Halloween open house for the public. It will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. Prizes will be awarded to the best insect costumes (youth and adult divisions) and the best insect tattoo.
And, oh, yes, there will be another blood-sucking mosquito to bash in the form of a pinata.
UC Davis graduate student Emily Bzdyk came dressed as a butterfly. She creates insect jewelry sold at the Bohart.(Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Insect photographer Tom Roach of Lincoln came dressed as a bug. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Staff at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine's Center for Equine Health encountered "a strange little bug" that they'd never seen before outside their office Friday on Old Davis Road.
Barbara Meierhenry, senior editor at the Center for Equine Health, described it as "a strange little bug...It was about an inch long, with two rounded body sections covered with 'blond' fuzz, and six legs. He was actually very cute. We have never seen a bug like this before."
She emailed us two cell-phone images taken by Equine Control Officer Laurie Christison.
Enter UC Davis bug experts. Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis, quickly identified it as a "female velvet ant (family Mutillidae)."
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology, added: "The photo is of a female velvet ant, genus Dasymutilla, family Mutillidae. The females are wingless and parasitize ground-nesting bees. The males are winged. These ants are not commonly seen. They're usually associated with sandy soil, and are mostly active on cloudy days or at night. Males squeak when handled, females have powerful stings, so it's not a good idea to try to handle them."
Meierhenry speculates the velvet ant "may have come here on a hay truck as we had a delivery of hay on Friday. In the years we have both worked here, we have never seen such a creature."
As a side note, renowned insect photographer and ant specialist Alex Wild, based in Illinois, posted a Mutillidae family member on his popular Monday night insect quiz last February. He titled it "What's That Fuzz?" The responders got the genus right: Dasymutilla, but differed somewhat on the species.
For another amazing photo of Dasymutilla, check out Alex Wild's Dasymutilla gloriosa, aka Thistledown Velvet Ant. Talk about a good hair day!
By the way, Wild, who received his doctorate in entomology at UC Davis in 2005, studying with major professor Phil Ward, will return to UC Davis this week to speak on insect photography. His talk is Wednesday, Oct. 26 from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall. Professor James R. Carey plans to webcast the seminar and post it on UCTV.
It's a good week for bugs!
Equine Control Officer Laurie Christison of the Center for Equine Health captured this cell-phone image of a female velvet ant.
View from above: The female velvet ant by Laurie Christison, UC Davis equine control officer.
It's good to see so many people looking for the critically imperiled Franklin's bumble bee, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may soon list as “endangered” and provide protective status.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor entomology at UC Davis, has been tracking the elusive bumble bee since 1998. Its only known location is in a narrow range in northern California (Siskiyou and Trinity counties) and southern Oregon (Jackson, Douglas and Josephine counties).
He's seen it only once since 2006.
But now Robbin Thorp has a "posse" on the lookout for the elusive bumble bee.
After The News-Review, Douglas County, Ore., published a news story and photo of the bumble bee on Sept. 13, nearly two dozen people "called or wrote...to say they thought they had spotted Franklin's bee," wrote reporter John Sowell in the Oct. 12 edition.
Alas, it was not to "bee." Thorp identified the residents' photos as mostly the yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii.
"There are a lot of lookalikes out there," Thorp told Sowell.
Franklin's bumble bee, Bombus franklini (Frison), is mostly black with distinctive yellow markings on the front of its thorax and top of its head. It has a solid black abdomen with just a touch of white at the tip, and an inverted U-shaped design between its wing bases,In contrast, the yellow-faced bumble bee has a yellow face. its thorax and abdomen are mostly black but it has yellow band near the tip of the abdomen.
So, bottom line, if you see a bumble bee with yellow on its face and a yellow band at the tip of the abdomen, it's not our buddy, Franklin's bumble bee.
To check a puzzling identity, email your photo to Robbin Thorp at email@example.com
As Thorp told reporter Sowell: "The more eyes that are looking for it, the better it's going to be."
Franklin's Bumble Bee Still Elusive (Link to PDF of Douglas County Insect Sightings Create Buzz)
Franklin's Bumble Bee May Soon Be Listed as Endangered
Declining Bumble Bee Population Alarming
Robbin Thorp's Bumble Bee Research Yields Dickson Award
Mission to Save Franklin's Bumble Bee
California’s List of Endangered Species
Bumble Bees in Decline (Xerces Society)
Bumble Bees in California (UC Berkeley)
Watch Robbin Thorp's Webinar on bumble bees
Franklin's bumble bee. (Photo by Robbin Thorp)
A yellow-faced bumble bee shares a coneflower with a honey bee at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, is on a mission.
He and fellow members of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation are trying to save Franklin's bumble bee from extinction.
So the news that came out today about this critically imperiled bumble bee was both good and bad.
It's good that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) today announced that the petition submitted by Thorp and the Xerces Society in June 2010 to list Franklin’s bumble bee under the National Endangered Species Act has moved to the next step in the process, the 12-month review period. This may lead to an “endangered species” listing and provide protective status.
That's good. But it's bad in that Franklin's bumble bee hasn't been seen since 2006.
It's possible that it may already be extinct but Thorp holds out hope. He's been monitoring the declining population since 1998.
Franklin’s bumble bee, Bombus franklini (Frison), occupies only a narrow range of southern Oregon and northern California. Its range, a 13,300-square-mile area confined to Siskiyou and Trinity counties in California; and Jackson, Douglas and Josephine counties in Oregon, is thought to be the smallest of any other bumble bee in North America and the world.
Thorp, who maintains an office at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis, sighted 94 of the species in 1998, but only 20 in 1999. The numbers soon began declining drastically (except for 2002):
2000: Nine sightings
2007 through 2011: None.
This year Thorp surveyed the bumble bee's historical sites on five separate trips encompassing several days each: two in June and one each in July, August and September.
Zip. Zilch. Nada.
Franklin's bumble bee, mostly black, has distinctive yellow markings on the front of its thorax and top of its head. It has a solid black abdomen "with just a touch of white at the tip, and an inverted U-shaped design between its wing bases," Thorp said.
Take a close look at his photo of Franklin's bumble bee on a California poppy, the state flower. Let's hope it's not one of the last photos of this unique bumble bee.
Robbin Thorp thinks he'll find it again.
“My experience with the Western bumble bee (B. occidentalis) indicates that populations can remain ‘under the radar’ for long periods of time when their numbers are low,” he said.
Read more about this bumble bee and Thorp's mission on the UC Davis Department of Entomology website.
If you want to see pinned specimens, visit the Bohart Museum of Entomology, 1124 Academic Surge on California Drive, UC Davis campus.
Franklin's bumble bee on a California poppy. (Photo by Robbin Thorp)
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp of UC Davis with his image of Franklin's bumble bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)