Backyard Orchard News
What did you do on Black Friday?
Did you spend the night camped out in front of a store? Or did you join the throngs of people who left home in the wee hours of the morning for the doorbuster deals or stayed on your computer for the online onslaughts?
Last year, according to Wikipedia, approximately 141 million U.S. consumers shopped on Black Friday. They spent--are you ready for this?--a total of $57.4 billion, with online sales reaching $1.2 billion.
Not me. It was Butterfly Friday for me. In between working on major projects, I slipped outside occasionally to see the butterflies landing on the purple lantana.
First, a beautiful Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) showed up to gather some nectar. This is a bright reddish-orange butterfly of the family Nymphalidae and subfamily Heliconiinae. Some folks call it "the passion butterfly" as its host plant is Passiflora, the passion flower vine.
Next to show up was a butterfly of the same family, Nymphalidae: a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui). Some folks call it the "thistle butterfly" as the thistle is one of its host plants. The Painted Lady reminds me of a calico cat, a skittish calico cat. So many earthy colors, and where one ends, another blends. No fashion designer could replicate those hues!
The Gulf Frit challenged the Painted Lady in a game of "It's-mine; I-was-here-first." The Gulf Frit won but the Painted Lady returned.
Meanwhile, no shopping day for us. No camping out, no charging into stores, no racing for would-be presents.
Nope. Final score: Black Friday: 0. Butterfly Friday: 2.
A Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) nectaring on lantana on Black Friday. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A Gulf Fritillary butterfly nectaring on lantana on Black Friday. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Today is Thanksgiving.
As we give thanks and reflect on a day set aside to be grateful, we realize that not all is great in the world of haves and have-nots, the generous and the greedy, and troublemakers and peacemakers.
Miscommunications turn into misunderstandings. Agreements turn into disagreements. Harmony turns into hostility. Like an open wound, tensions bulge, crack and fester. Life saddens, disappoints and crushes us.
But today is Thanksgiving, a day to be grateful. All around us, people are giving thanks, sharing memories, shoring up the holiday spirit, and feasting on turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. Among the many things we are grateful for: we are grateful that we are not a turkey.
Last summer as a praying mantis "prayed" for dinner in our bee garden, we were thankful we were not a bee.
On Thanksgiving, we're grateful we're not a bee, this bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's all the buzz.
Graduate student Danny Klittich won the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association's annual t-shirt design contest with a design depicting a honey bee and the iconic hexagonal cells.
Klittich, who is starting his third year as a doctoral student in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, studies with major professor Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the department.
The T-shirt, publicly available for purchase, with proceeds benefitting EGSA, is golden yellow with a black illustration. Graduate student and T-shirt project coordinator Margaret “Rei” Scampavia is taking orders at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sizes range from youth small to adult double X.
Klittich says he's not an artist but has always had an interest in honey bees. He was a member of the UC Davis graduate student team that won the student debate championship, Nov. 18, at the Entomological Society of America's 62nd annual meeting in Portland, Ore. The team debated neonicotinoids, defeating Auburn (Alabama) University team. UC Davis successfully argued the con side of “Neonicotinoids Are Causing the Death of Bees Essential for Pollinating our Food Crops. The Use of Neonicotinoids Should End.” The team, captained by Mohammad-Amir Aghaee of the Larry Godfrey lab, also included Jenny Carlson, Anthony Cornel lab; Ralph Washington Jr., Steve Nadler lab; and Margaret "Rei" Scampavia, Neal Williams/Edwin Lewis lab.
Klittich's research focuses on increasing plant resistance to herbivorous and improving integrated pest management (IPM) programs in horticulture and floriculture. He is currently analyzing the effects of silicate fertilizers on leafmining pests in chrysanthemum and gerbera production systems.
Klittich, from Fillmore, is a graduate of Fillmore High School and valedictorian of the Class of 2006. He grew up in the nursery business, working at his family's nursery, Otto and Sons Nursery, Inc., Fillmore. During his youth he was active in 4-H and Boy Scouts, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout.
Klittich received his bachelor degree in entomology from UC Davis in 2010. Following his graduation, he worked in the Parrella laboratory, helping to maintain the greenhouses and experimental plants and assisting with pesticide efficacy trials on several crops and pests including spider mites, leafminer and mealbugs. He enrolled in the doctorate program in 2012 and continues his work in the Parrella lab.
The current president of EGSA, Klittich is active in the Pacific Branch of ESA (PBESA) and ESA, the national organization. He was a member of the UC Davis championship team that won the ESA student debate in 2013. The subject: “Using GMOs to Using GMO's to Technology is Not Universally Accepted – Con side."
Klittich plans to receive his doctorate in 2016. His career goal: to pursue a career in pesticide and IPM research either in the private sector or in the California University System as a farm advisor.
In addition to the honey bee t-shirt, EGSA is offering other T-shirts, most available for $15. Popular EGSA shirts depict a dung beetle, “They See Me Rollin'”; a “cuddling moth” for infants and toddlers; a weevil shirt, “See No Weevil, Hear No Weevil, Speak No Weevil”; and “The Beetles” shirt, of four beetles crossing Abbey Road, reminiscent of The Beatles pictured on their Abbey Road album. All can be ordered from Margaret “Rei” Scampavia at email@example.com.
Graduate student Danny Klittich with his prize-winning design. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The drone fly, aka European hover fly, aka syrphid fly, doesn't get as much press as the other drone, the unmanned aircraft.
But the drone fly (Eristalis tenax), about the size of a honey bee and often mistaken for a honey bee, makes for great in-flight photos. It's sort of the Fat Albert of the Blue Angels.
Last weekend we watched a drone fly (distinguished by the "H" on its abdomen), hovering over an Iceland poppy (Papaver nudicaule). The rain-battered poppy certainly wouldn't have won any gold awards in a county fair's garden show.
But to the drone fly, bent on foraging, this was gold. It emerged with "gold dust" (pollen) on its head.
Yes, its larva are known as rat-tailed maggots and yes, they frequent manure piles, sewage drainage ditches and other water-polluted areas.
But the adults are pollinators. Significant pollinators, at that.
A drone fly, aka hover fly and syrphid fly, engaging in a little acrobatics over an Iceland poppy. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Hover fly heading for an Iceland poppy. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This photo shows why drone flies are pollinators. Check out the pollen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It was a fun and educational afternoon when the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology hosted an open house last Sunday.
Visitors checked out the displays, asked the entomologists and staff questions, and looked over the list of myths.
Yes, there are a lot of myths.
We'll share! (Ask the person next to you if he/she can answer them. No fair peeking at the answers)
1. Butterflies and moths can't fly if you rub the scales of their wings.
Answer: Not true, they can fly.
2. Black widow females eat the males after mating.
Answer: Only if the male isn't fast enough.
3. Chiggers burrow under your skin and suck your blood.
Answer: False. Chiggers simply feed and leave, like mosquitoes.
4. Brown recluse spiders are common in California, biting many people.
Answer: Brown recluse spiders are not found anywhere near California.
5. Ultrasonic devices help keep pests out of your kitchen.
Answer. False. Few insects can hear, certainly not cockroaches.
6. Camel spiders scream like babes, inject toxins and prey on GI's in Iraq.
Answer: Not true at any level.
7. Mosquitoes transmit HIV.
Answer: They cannot transmit HIV under any circumstances.
8. Earwigs crawl into your ear and lay eggs in your brain.
Answer. They sometime do crawl in ears by accident, but do not lay eggs.
9. Bedbugs bore, burrow, dig and fly.
Answer: No, they can only walk or scurry.
10. Insects don't feel pain.
Answer: Probably true; their nervous systems are too limited, any injury would probably kill them.
11. It is illegal to catch preying mantids and monarchs.
Answer: There are no laws against this.
12. Twenty-five percent of the protein in our diet is from swallowing spiders that crawl in our mouths at night.
Answer: This never happens.
13. Love bugs that plague the southeastern United States are the result of government experiments.
Answer: No, Mother Nature came up with this.
14. Ten percent of the weight of your pillow is house dust mites.
Answer: False. House dust mites are found only in coastal southeastern United States.
15. All bees die after stinging.
Answer: False. Only worker honey bees die after stinging.
16. Ticks must be removed by rotating them clockwise.
Answer: False. Just pull the tick straight out.
17. "Daddy long legs" are deadly, but their jaws are too small to bite humans.
Answer: False. Their venom is no more poisonous than most spiders.
18. Copper pennies cure bee stings.
Answer. No, it just doesn't work.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, is open to the public Mondays through Thursdays (except holidays). It is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane (corner of LaRue and Crocker). It is home to nearly eight million insect specimens, plus a live "petting zoo" (think Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas) and a year-around gift shop filled with T-shirts, jewelry, insect collecting equipment, posters, books and insect-themed candy.
The beginning of a black widow spider tattoo, compliments of entomology Jessica Gillung of the Bohart. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Entomologist Fran Keller, who received her doctorate from UC Davis, smiles as student Jessica Gillung asks her which insect she wants. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A youth looking at a ladybug display. The premise, "You can tell the age of a ladybug by counting its spots, is false. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)