Posts Tagged: UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
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)
But "citizen scientist" is a catchy term, all the same. Basically, it's the public engagement in scientific research activities.
“Citizen Science is a powerful tool that scientists can use to harness the power of the public,” says entomologist Andrea Lucky. "Public participation in science offers both scientific and educational benefits, including the possibility of massive and openly accessible data. This approach holds the promise of a new way of doing science and a new way of learning science, but also poses challenges of organization, quality control and funding. Two projects, the School of Ants and Backyard Bark Beetles were developed to address the main concerns with Citizen Science projects, and demonstrate how modern public participation in science can be an effective tool for teaching science and investigating topics including, but not limited to biodiversity, invasive species, population genetics, and systematics.” (Read what Entomology Today says about citizen science and Andrea Lucky's role. Also check out her citizen science projects on her website.)
Lucky, an assistant research scientist with the Department of Entomology and Nematology at the University of Florida--she received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, working with major professor/ant specialist Phil Ward--will speak on "From Pavement Ants to Population Genetics: Citizen Science Today and Tomorrow" on Wednesday, May 28 at a seminar hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Her talk, from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall, off Kleiber Hall Drive, is scheduled to be recorded for later viewing on UCTV.
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. Her insect talks are numerous. She was an invited speaker at the 2012 International Congress of Entomology, Daegu, South Korea, Aug 2012. She has also presented her work at the Entomological Society of America (ESA), and Pacific Branch of ESA and has taught numerous classes, seminars and workshops. At UC Davis, she designed a course on “Insects and the Media,” which she taught in the spring of 2006 and the fall of 2008. In 2009, she won a UC Davis outstanding graduate student teaching award, presented to her by the chancellor.
One of her goals is to "make science accessible and available to the general public, particularly to make the process of 'doing' science accessible to non-scientists."
A noble and worthwhile goal, indeed.
Formica moki, a native ant, frequents Yolo County gardens. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee and a velvety tree ant. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
All in a two-day period...
Internationally recognized entomologist May Berenbaum, professor and head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will present two Storer Lectures next week at UC Davis. Both are free and open to the public.
The first is billed as a "public" lecture (as opposed to "scientific" lecture) on Tuesday, May 20 on "Bees in Crisis: Colony Collapse, Honey Laundering and Other Problems Bee-Setting American Apiculture" at 4:10 p.m. in Ballrooms A and B of the UC Davis Conference Center, 550 Alumni Lane.
The second is a scientific lecture on Wednesday, May 21 on "Sex and the Single Parsnip: Coping with Florivores and Pollinators in Two Hemispheres." This will take place at 4:10 p.m. in Ballrooms A and B of the UC Davis Conference Center.
Both are sponsored by the Storer Endowment in Life Sciences, College of Biological Sciences.
May Berenbaum--appropriately she's speaking in May!--is a talented scientist, dedicated researcher, dynamic speaker, creative author, and an insect ambassador and all-around general bug lover. In fact, we can't think of anything she doesn't do well. Ever heard of Ninety-Nine Gnats, Nits and Nibblers? Or Ninety-Nine More Maggots, Mites and Munchers? Those are her books. Ever heard of "Buzzwords: A Scientist Muses on Sex, Bugs, and Rock 'n' Roll? Hers. Bugs in The System: Insects And Their Impact On Human Affairs? Hers, too.
We first heard May Berenbaum speak several years ago at a meeting of the Entomological Society of America (ESA). Come 2016, she will head the 7000-member organization and become the fifth female president. (Integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, professor of entomology at UC Davis, is the current president.)
Berenbaum, however, is the first ESA president to have a fictional TV character named after her: Bambi Berenbaum from The X-Files.
Her deep interest in insects led to her founding the University of Illinois' Insect Fear Film Festival, a celebration of Hollywood's "misperceptions" of insect biology, an outreach activity now entering its 32nd year.
Berenbaum focuses her research on the chemical interactions between herbivorous insects and their host plants, and the implications of these interactions on the organization of natural communities and the evolution of species. In addition to her pioneering research, she is devoted to teaching and to fostering scientific literacy to the general public, authoring numerous magazine articles, as well as three books on insect fact and folklore.
As as a spokesperson for the scientific community on the honey bee colony collapse disorder, Berenbaum has conducted research, written op-ed essays and testified before Congress on the issue.
Among her many honors, she is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Ecological Society of America, Entomological Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
In 2011 Berenbaum was awarded the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, an international award that recognizes "those individuals who have contributed in an outstanding manner to scientific knowledge and public leadership to preserve and enhance the environment of the world."
In recognition of her research and her efforts in promoting public understanding of science, she has received many awards, including the 2010 AAAS Award for Public Understanding of Science. She also received the1996 Distinguished Teaching Award from the North Central Branch of ESA.
Some biographical information:
Born in Trenton, N.J., Berenbaum received her bachelor's degree in biology from Yale University in 1975 and her doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University in 1980. She joined the faculty of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in August 1980 and has served as president since 1992 and as Swanlund Professor of Entomology since 1996.
Her work has been reported in more than 220 refereed scientific papers and 35 book chapters. Recent service to her profession includes membership on the editorial boards of four journals and terms on the National Academy of Sciences Council and Governing Board, the National Research Council Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Science and Creationism, and the Advisory Board of the Koshland Museum of the National Academy of Sciences.
Berenbaum has chaired two National Research Council study committees, including most recently the Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America. Devoted to teaching and fostering scientific literacy, she has written many magazine articles, as well as six books about insects for the general public. She is also in demand as a speaker, addressing more than 100 schools, service organizations, museums, science and nature centers, and special interest organizations. She is also a favorite of the news media for insect-related news stories.
Berenbaum's campus host will be Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He can be reached at mpparrella@ucdavis or (530) 752-0492.
As for the Tracy and Ruth Storer Lectureship in the Life Sciences, it is considered the most prestigious of the endowed seminars at UC Davis. Established in 1960, the lectureship is funded through a gift from Professor Tracy I. Storer and Dr. Ruth Risdon Storer. Tracy Storer was the founding chair of the UC Davis Department of Zoology. Ruth Risdon Storer was Yolo County's first female pediatrician. The Storer Garden in the UC Davis Arboretum bears her name.
If you miss Berenbaum's talks, plans call for recording them for later posting on UCTV.
May Berenbaum will deliver two seminars at UC Davis May 20-21.
A honey bee apparently stung a 47-year-old father on his foot and he went into anaphylactic shock. Rushed to the hospital, he died 10 days later when his kidneys and heart failed. The article reported he was 6 feet, five inches tall, and weighed 17 stones, which is 238 pounds. (One stone equals 14 pounds).
His family indicated he was unaware of his allergic reaction to bee stings.
A sad and tragic case, indeed.
We know of people who have suffered severe allergic reactions and were raced to the hospital in time and fortunately survived. One was a Northern California parks employee who did not know he was allergic to bee stings.
How many people in the United States are allergic to honey bee stings? Approximately one or two out of every 1000 people, says Extension Apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. "The severity of the response, to even a single sting, varies considerably from person to person."
Immediate injections with epinephrine will usually delay the possibility someone unable to breathe. Then a quick trip to a hospital where medical personnel can administrate antihistamines, steroids "and likely more epinephrine" are in order.
"While honey bees away from their hives normally do not pose too much of a sting threat, if the bees are intoxicated by exposure to certain pesticides, they can become an abnormal sting threat at distances quite a ways from the hives. Additionally, individuals who fear a sting, with good reason, sometimes are more apt to try to shoo the bee away. If a bee already is close to stinging, the additional movement of the 'shooer,' or if there is contact with the bee, results in a much greater likelihood of a sting."
Another piece of good advice that Mussen offers: "Individuals who do not appreciate attention by bees should do everything they can to not smell good to a bee. The use of flower-scented or bee products-scented soaps, shampoos, perfumes, or colognes should be avoided. There is no documented scientific study that suggests that honey bees can detect the odor of fear in humans. But if we watch from a distance, the physical reactions of fearful people often tend to be more likely to cause stings than the behavior of the rest of us."
Photographers who capture images of worker bees foraging in flowers are often asked if they've ever been stung. After all, they're just inches away from them. The usual answer: No. The bees are too busy gathering nectar and pollen for their colonies. Stings can and do occur when the worker bees are defending their hives. Or when you accidentally step on one.
Read Mussen's information on bee and wasp stings on the UC Integrated Pest Management (UC IPM) website.
This honey bee, in the process of defending her hive, is stinging Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of UC Davis. That's her abdominal tissue being pulled out. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of two stings. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The Mediterranean fruit fly, considered the world's worst agricultural pest, is one of at least five fruit flies established in California. It cannot be eradicated.
So says entomologist James Carey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who has been dogging medflies since his faculty appointment in 1980. (See what drove him.)
Carey and UC Davis-affiliated colleagues Nikos Papadopoulos and Richard Plant wrote the eye-opening research piece, "From Trickle to Flood: The Large Scale, Cryptic Invasion of California by Tropical Fruit Flies" in the current edition of the renowned Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Their work "clearly demonstrates that at least five and as many as nine species of tropical fruit flies, including the infamous Medfly, are permanently established in California and inexorably spreading, despite more than 30 years of intervention and nearly 300 state-sponsored eradication programs aimed at the flies," wrote Pat Bailey in a UC Davis News Service story released today.
The findings, Bailey pointed out, have "significant implications for how government agencies develop policies to successfully manage pests that pose a threat to California's $43.5 billion agricultural industry."
Carey, an international authority on fruit-fly invasion biology, told her that "Despite due diligence, quick responses, and massive expenditures to prevent entry and establishment of these insects, virtually all of the fruit-fly species targeted by eradication projects have been reappearing in the same locations — several of them annually — and gradually spreading in the state."
Carey, Papadopoulos and Plant detailed the problem in the opening paragraph of their meticulously researched paper: "Since 1954 when the first tropical tephritid fruitfly was detected in California, a total of 17 species in four genera and 11,386 individuals (adults/larvae) have been detected in the state at more than 3348 locations in 330 cities." That's three out of four California cities.
Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology: "The study has dramatic implications for California agriculture and the state’s international trading partners, and speaks to the urgent need to alter current eradication policies aimed at invasive species."
Frank Zalom, UC Davis entomology professor and incoming president of the 6500-member Entomological Society of America: “This study deserves serious consideration, and I hope that it helps lead to new discussions on a long-term approach for dealing with fruit flies and similar exotic pests by the United States and international regulatory authorities."
Former UC Davis chancellor Ted Hullar (1987-1994), one of the first to believe in "the science" that Carey presented, said: “From our first conversation, Jim struck me as a serious-minded guy, with strong ideas and clear focus, pursuing his insights and beliefs no matter the struggle. Good science and progress comes from that, making new paths in tough terrain, believing in the power of journey, as well as goal.”
The Medfly prefers such thin-skinned hosts as peach, nectarine, apricot, avocado, grapefruit, orange, and cherry. The female may lay one to 10 eggs per fruit or as many as 22 eggs per day. She may lay up to 800 eggs during her lifetime, but usually about 300.
We remember when the Medfly wreaked economic havoc in the Solano County city of Dixon in September 2007. We were there.
At the time, Carey told us that "this may be just one of many isolated pockets of medfly infestations in California. This is really serious because the invasion process is so insidious."
The Medfly has been multiplying and spreading undetected--like cancer--for years, he said. "It may be a symptom of a much larger problem. But any way you look at it, this is the first really big outbreak in the Central Valley."
CDFA set up a command center at the Dixon May Fair and imposed a 114-mile radius quarantine of fruits, vegetables and nuts. Dixon was deep in the throes of tomato and walnut harvesting. The owner of a 65-acre organic produce farm that ships to 800 clients worried that he might lose $10,000 a week in potential sales.
Among the actions that the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) took at the onset:
- Stripped all fruit from trees within a 100-meter radius of all Medfly finds
- Ground-sprayed the organic compound Naturalyte (the active ingredient is Spinosad, a naturally occurring product of a soil bacteria) within a 200-meter radius of all Medfly finds
- Set 1,700 fruit fly traps within an 81-square mile grid in all of Dixon and the surrounding area from near the Yolo County border to Midway Road
- Began aerially releasing 1.5 million sterile male medflies (dyed pink for easy detection) over a 12-square mile area on Sept. 14, with weekly releases of 3 million medflies scheduled for at least nine months
- Set up a yearlong command center, with four portable buildings and a task force of 25, on the Dixon May Fair grounds
Fast forward to today. Now that the Medfly has been declared a "permanent resident," what's next?
Carey agrees that “CDFA needs to continue to respond to outbreaks as they occur, but he advocates long-term planning based on “the science” that the insects are established. This includes heightened monitoring levels for the agriculturally rich Central Valley, an economic impact study, risk management/crop insurance, cropping strategies, fly fee zones/post harvest treatments, emergency/crisis planning, genetic analysis and a National Fruit Fly Program.
“Inasmuch as the Mediterranean, Mexican, Oriental, melon, guava and peach fruit flies have all been detected in the Central Valley, monitoring this incredibly important agricultural region should be increased by 5 to 10-fold in order to intervene and suppress populations and thus slow the spread,” Carey says.
“These pests cannot be wished away or legislated out of existence. Policymakers need to come to grips with this sobering reality of multiple species permanently established in our state in order to come up with a long-term, science-based policy for protecting agriculture in our state.”
(See James Carey's website for links to his work on fruit fly invasion.)
Mediterranean Fruit Fly. (Photo by Jack Kelly Clark)