Backyard Orchard News
Bumble bees and spiders don't mix, you say?
Well, they will at the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, July 26. The family-centered event, free and open to the public, takes place in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
Actually the theme is about spiders: "Arachnids: Awesome or Awful?" There you'll see black widow spiders, jumping spiders, cellar spiders and the like. But you don't have to "like" them as you do posts on Facebook!
You can also learn about bumble bees. Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, will be one of the tour guides. Thorp co-authored the newly published Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide, which is available in the Bohart gift shop. He can autograph your book and answer questions about how to attract bees to your garden.
Thorp was recently interviewed by Tom Oder of the Mother Nature Network on how to garden for bumble bees. So was Steve Buchmann, an adjunct professor in entomology and ecology at the University of Arizona.
Thorp told Mother Nature Network that some bumble bees are in very serious decline, and others are doing quite well.
So, how do you attract them to your garden? Buchmann was quoted as saying: “Gardening for bumblebees is similar to gardening for other bees and pollinators." To entice bumblebees to visit your garden, “plant mints, Salvia, Monarda, plants in the sunflower family and clovers."
Read Oder's article for more information.
And keep your eyes open for the soon-to-be-published California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists, co-authored by entomologist Gordon Frankie of UC Berkeley, Thorp, and two others with UC Berkeley connections: photographer/entomologist Rollin Coville and floral curator Barbara Ertter.
As for Saturday, July 26 there won't be a vote on whether you like bumble bees or spiders better, nor will you be asked to sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" or "Baby Bumble Bee." It promises, though, to be fun and educational. Plus, you can enjoy the live "petting zoo," featuring 24-year-old Rosie the tarantula, assorted walking sticks, and the colorful Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Yes, they hiss.
The gift shop is also popular. You can browse through the books, jewelry, t-shirts, sweatshirts, insect-themed candy, butterfly houses, and insect-collecting kits.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses nearly eight million insect specimens and is the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum.
The museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. It's closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free. For more information, email education and outreach coordinator Tabatha Yang at email@example.com or telephone her at (530) 752-0493.
A camouflaged jumping spider eyes a honey bee on Japanese anemone. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Robbin Thorp points at a yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenski. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
In June, Woodlake's Bravo Lake Botanical Garden hosted a berry day, which attracted over 500 people. Many UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources groups helped make the event an enjoyable day of learning about a healthy lifestyle, including growing and eating fresh produce. The UC ANR groups contributing to the program's success included some of UC Cooperative Extension, Tulare County's Master Gardener volunteers, Healthy Families staff, and advisors; Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center; and Lindcove Research and Extension Center. Attendees were provided prepared samples of fresh produce, including cherries, peaches, oranges, figs and berries. Attendees were also able to pick and eat produce directly from the plants as they strolled along the agricultural botanical garden's pathways.
Julie Sievert and Rodolfo Cisneros providing the public with fresh produce to sample.
There's something about seeing a butterfly that makes your eyes light up, your smile widen, and your feet feel like skipping.
So when I was over at Kaiser Permanente in Vacaville last Tuesday, I rejoiced at seeing a magnificent anise swallowtail, Papilo zelicaon, fluttering around the lantana flower beds near the entrance.
The butterfly flashed its brilliant yellow and black colors in the morning sun as it glided around the flower bed, touching down occasionally for a sip of nectar.
Such a beautiful, awe-inspiring, glorious creature.
So I did what comes naturally—I pulled the camera out of my bag—somewhat like pulling the rabbit out of a hat because you never know what kind of magic may--or may not--happen. Assuming my best "non-predator posture," I slowly trailed it from blossom to blossom, dropping down to capture its image.
It was then that I noticed a woman sitting on a nearby bench, smiling, as she watched the photographer follow the butterfly.
“I love butterflies," she said. "I collect butterflies—jewelry. I would never collect the real thing. They're too beautiful.”
“Me, either,” I said. “I try not to disturb them—I just photograph them.”
Half an hour later, I returned to the area only to observe a stricken look on the woman's face.
“You have the last photo of that beautiful butterfly," she said. "A bird ate it."
And right in front of the managed health care facility.
Anise swallowtail foraging on lantana. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Anise swallowtail about to take flight. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Anise swallowtail spreads its wings. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The event, which runs through Sunday, celebrates "the beauty, life cycles, and habitats of moths," according to its website. Scientists and citizen scientists are encouraged to document their findings. It's now a worldwide event.
A few nuggets from the website:
"Moths are among the most diverse and successful organisms on earth.
- Scientists estimate there are 150,000 to more than 500,000 moth species.
- Their colors and patterns are either dazzling or so cryptic that they define camouflage. Shapes and sizes span the gamut from as small as a pinhead to as large as an adult's hand.
- Most moths are nocturnal, and need to be sought at night to be seen – others fly like butterflies during the day.
- Finding moths can be as simple as leaving a porch light on and checking it after dark. Serious moth aficionados use special lights and baits to attract them."
Then there are, of course, the pests such as the greater wax moth, Galleria mellonella. This moth slips in at night to honey bee colonies and lays its eggs. The bees struggle to remove the larvae. Beekeepers struggle with control of the tell-tale evidence--damaged combs.
The honey bee bible, The Hive and the Honey Bee (Dadant Publication), says the wax moth female "produces less than 300 eggs during her life span of 3 to 30 days, but a few lay as many as 2000 eggs. Mated females fly to beehives one to three hours after dark, enter, and lay eggs until they leave shortly before daylight."
Sneaky little critters!
The Hive and the Honey Bee authors relate that "the presence of the wax moth larvae usually signals a major problem such as queenlessness, an infectious disease, poisoning and starvation."
Greater wax moths are probably not what the organizers of National Moth Week, founded by two naturalists in East Brunswick, N.J., had in mind when they launched this special week! (Unless, of course, they were anglers; the larvae make good fish bait!)
Wax moth larvae and a hive beetle (top left). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
An infestation of wax moth larvae. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Neither will J. K. Rowling, author of the wildly popular Harry Potter series of books.
They hate spiders. In fact, by all accounts, they have arachnophobia, an intense fear of spiders that affects some 3.5 to 6.1 percent of the U.S. population.
No wonder the Bohart Museum of Entomology has themed its open house on Saturday, July 26: "Arachnids: Awesome or Awful?"
The event, free and open to the public, takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of Academic Surge on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
Many locally found spiders, including the black widow, jumping spider and cellar spiders--alive and specimens--will be exhibited. Want to know what the spider is that's dangling from your zinnias or crouched on a sedum or hiding in your woodpile? The Bohart Museum officials will tell you all about them.
Spiders are found throughout the world, except in Antarctica (where Timberlake and Rowling have probably pondered as suitable living quarters.)
A special attraction at the Bohart Museum will be Rosie, a 24-year-old tarantula reared by entomologist/Bohart volunteer Jeff Smith of Sacramento. Visitors are invited to hold it and photograph it.
Children and/or family activities are also planned, said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator at the Bohart.
Yang said some folks are "creeped out" by spiders while others are eager to see them. The open house will be an informational activity about them, but other insects will be there as well. In addition to its nearly eight million insects founds throughout the world, the Bohart houses live Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks, which visitors enjoy holding and photographing. A new addition is a Peruvian walking stick with red wings, yellow eyes and a velvety body.
This week is also National Moth Week.
The museum's gift shop, open throughout the year (credit-card purchases are accepted), includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum.
Bohart officials schedule weekend open houses throughout the academic year. The museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The insect museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free. More information is available from Tabatha Yang at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephoning (530) 752-0493.
A jumping spider ready to jump. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The eyes have it. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)