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Posts Tagged: Lynn Kimsey

Don't You Just Love Those Dragonflies?

Don't you just love those dragonflies?

We watch them circle our fish pond, grab flying insects in mid-air, and then touch down on a bamboo stake in our yard to eat them. Some dragonflies stay for hours; others for what seems like half a second. Some let you walk up to them and touch them. Others are so skittish that they must have once encountered a nasty predator with a bad attitude and a big appetite unfulfilled.

We've observed several different species in our yard (thanks to naturalist Greg Kareofelas of Davis, volunteer at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis, for identifying the Sympetrums and the "widow skimmer," Libellula luctosa).

The ones we've photographed:

  • Red flame skimmer or firecracker skimmer  (Libellula saturata),  a common dragonfly of the family Libellulidae, native to western North America.
  • Variegated meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum), a dragonfly of the family Libellulidae, native to North America.
  • Widow skimmer (Libellula luctuosa), part of the King Skimmers group of dragonflies that are found throughout much of the United States, except in John Denver territory (The Rockies). You can find them in parts of Canada, including southern Ontario and Quebec.
  • Red-veined meadowhawk (Sympetrium madidum), found throughout much of the United States (Alaska, California, Colorado, Iowa, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming) and much of Canada (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan and Yukon)

Can you believe dragonflies were some of the first winged insects that evolved 300 millions years ago? And that the order they belong to, Odonata, means "toothed one" in Greek?

Can you believe that globally, we have more than 5,000 known species of dragonflies?

Can you believe that dragonflies eat only the prey they catch in mid-air? And that they grab them with their feet? Umm, dead bee on the ground? No, thanks!

Can you believe that dragonfly called the globe skinner has the longest migration of any insect—11,000 miles back and forth across the Indian Ocean?

For those and other interesting facts, be sure to read Sarah Zielinski's "14 fun facts about dragonflies" published Oct. 5, 2011 in smithsonian.com 

For a close look at some of the Bohart Museum's collection of dragonflies, you can visit the insect museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, from Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. noon, and from noon to 5 p.m. (excluding holidays). Admission is free. You can even buy dragonfly-related items in the gift shop. That would include posters (the work of Greg Kareofelas and Fran Keller) and jewelry.

The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses nearly eight million insect specimens. And not just dragonflies, bees and butterflies. There are critters you've never seen before. And some, such as the Xerces butterfly (Glaucopsyche xerces), are extinct.

The Bohart's next weekend open house, the last of the 2013-2014 academic year, is Saturday, July 26 from 1 to 4 p.m. The theme focuses on spiders: "Arachnids: Awesome or Awful?" It's family-oriented and free and open to the public. (For more information contact Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, at tabyang@ucdavis.edu).

Red flame skimmer or firecracker skimmer (Libellula saturata). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Red flame skimmer or firecracker skimmer (Libellula saturata). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Red flame skimmer or firecracker skimmer (Libellula saturata). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Variegated meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Variegated meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Variegated meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Widow skimmer (Libellula luctuosa). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Widow skimmer (Libellula luctuosa). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Widow skimmer (Libellula luctuosa). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Red-veined meadowhawk (Sympetrium madidum). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Red-veined meadowhawk (Sympetrium madidum). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Red-veined meadowhawk (Sympetrium madidum). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 9:08 PM

Plume Moth Fit to a 'T'

In some respects, the pterophorid plume moth is fit to a 'T.'

"The T-square shape is classic," says butterfly expert Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis.

"They always sit with their wings stuck out to the side like that," says Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis.

At rest, the plume moth (famlly Pterophoridae) holds its slender wings at right angles to body, giving it a T-shaped profile.

In his book, California Insect, UC Berkeley entomologist Jerry Powell explains why they're called plume moths..."because the forewings are deeply notched and the hindwings are divided into three linear parts, each with long scale fringes. When perched, the insects roll the forewings around the folded hindwing plumes, resulting in peculiar sticklike or craneflylike appearance, unlike any other moth."

Most are noctural and are attracted to lights, Powell adds.

Scientists report some 159 described species in North America alone and more than 30 in California.

In their larval stages, some plume moths are beneficial as biological control agents. And some are pests, such as the artichoke plume moth,  the geranium plume moth and the snapdragon plume moth.

When you see them resting on a plant, however, the adults look a little like those wind turbines that stretch out in the hills of Rio Vista, Solano County.

The plume moth is tiny. It's shown here on the finger of native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The plume moth is tiny. It's shown here on the finger of native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The plume moth is tiny. It's shown here on the finger of native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The plume moth at rest resembles a wind turbine. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The plume moth at rest resembles a wind turbine. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The plume moth at rest resembles a wind turbine. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at 9:11 PM

Like a Moth to a Flame

Moths.

Mother's Day.

The two go together like a moth to a flame, so why not have "Moth-er's Day?"

And that's exactly what the Bohart Museum of Entomology is doing from 1 to 4 p.m.,Sunday, May 4 in Room 1124 of Academic Surge,  Crocker Lane, UC Davis. The open house is free and open to the public.

The Atlas moth (Attacus atlas), the world's largest moth with the greatest wing area of 10 to 12 inches, will be among the insect specimens displayed. The Atlas is found in the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia--and in the Bohart Museum!

 Visitors will see the incredible diversity of moths, and learn the differences between moths and butterflies. "There is far greater diversity among moths than butterflies," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.

Both moths and butterflies are in the order Lepitoptera, which refers to the scales on their wings.

Another large moth on display will be the "bat moth" or "black witch" (Ascalapha odorata), found in Central America, South America, Bahamas and parts of the southwestern United States. In Mexican and Caribbean folklore, it is considered a harbinger of death. The insect played a role in the movie, "Silence of the Lambs" but the name was changed to "Death's-head Hawkmoth."

The white-lined Sphinx moth (Hyles lineata) is another critter you'll see. It flies both at night and during the day and has a wing span length between 2.7 and 3.9 inches. Some folks know it by its nickname, "the hummingbird moth." A member of the Sphingidae family, the white-lined sphinx moth is found throughout most of the United States, plus Mexico, Central America and Canada.

What other kinds of moths will you see on Moth-'ers Day?

  • The White Witch (Thysania agrippina), which holds the record for the largest wingspan in an insect (one Brazilian specimen has a wingspan of almost 12 inches). Note that the Atlas has the greater wing area.
  • Tomato Hornworm (Manduca quinquemacaulata), what you don't want to see in your garden.
  • Sunset Moth (Urania leilus), a colorful day-flying moth often mistaken for a butterfly
  • Cosmosoma spp., a genus of clear-winged moths
  • Automeris spp., a genus of moths with distinctly large owl-eyes on the hindwings
  • Sesiidae, a family of moths mimicking wasps
  • Bee-Hawk Moths (Hemaris spp.), a genus of sphinx moths mimicking bumble bees, and sometimes mistaken for hummingbirds
  • Moon Moths (Argema spp.), found in Africa and Asia
  • Tiger Moths (family Arctiidae), amazing butterfly mimics
  • Indian Meal Moths (Plodia interpunctella), also called pantry moths (the caterpillars are grain pests)

The Moth-er's Day event is also a good time to explore the Bohart Museum gift shop for Mother's Day gifts, including jewelry (necklaces, pins and earrings), books  and other items suitable for entomology fans. 

Visitors can hold live insects such as Madagascar hissing cockroaches, Vietnamese walking sticks, walking leaves and a rose-haired tarantula. 

 The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, was founded in 1946 by the late Richard M. Bohart. Dedicated to teaching, research and service, the museum houses nearly eight million insect specimens collected globally.  It boasts the  seventh largest insect collection in North America.

A white-lined Sphinx moth heads for a flower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A white-lined Sphinx moth heads for a flower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A white-lined Sphinx moth heads for a flower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Side view of a white-lined Sphinx moth. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Side view of a white-lined Sphinx moth. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Side view of a white-lined Sphinx moth. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) is considered the largest moth in the world. Its wingspans can reach over 10 inches long and it holds the record for the largest wing area (62 square inches). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) is considered the largest moth in the world. Its wingspans can reach over 10 inches long and it holds the record for the largest wing area (62 square inches). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) is considered the largest moth in the world. Its wingspans can reach over 10 inches long and it holds the record for the largest wing area (62 square inches). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 5:52 PM

Wolf at Your Door

Sweat bee, fodder for a beewolf. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
So there you are, a little sweat bee, foraging in the buckwheat.

You sip some nectar, and suddenly, a flash of yellow.

A wolf is at your door.

It's a beewolf, a crabronid wasp from the genus Philanthus, as identified by Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis, and native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, UC Davis emeritus professor of entomology.

Beewolves, also known as bee hunters, prey upon small bees, thus their name. They carry their kill to their offspring in their underground nests.

The beewolf we saw yesterday wasn't big enough to prey on a honey bee, but yes, there are European species, European species, Philanthus triangulum, that can. 

Thorp says that this particular beewolf (below) appears to be a Philanthus multimaculatus.  Check out the BugGuide.net image.

So tiny, but so colorful, too.

A beewolf, or crabronid wasp, on buckwheat. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A beewolf, or crabronid wasp, on buckwheat. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A beewolf, or crabronid wasp, on buckwheat. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Beewolf maneuvering around the buckwheat. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Beewolf maneuvering around the buckwheat. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Beewolf maneuvering around the buckwheat. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Close-up of beewolf head. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of beewolf head. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Close-up of beewolf head. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Beewolf lands on the same flower occupied by a hungry praying mantis. The wasp quickly left. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Beewolf lands on the same flower occupied by a hungry praying mantis. The wasp quickly left. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Beewolf lands on the same flower occupied by a hungry praying mantis. The wasp quickly left. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 8:52 PM

What a Wonderful Gift!

UC Davis bee scientist Brian Johnson with California state DAR regent Debbie Jamison. She is holding a mosaic ceramic bee gift, the work of artist Donna Billick of Davis. (UC Davis photo by Martha Ozonoff)
What a wonderful gift!

Bee research at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis, received a generous gift of $30,000, thanks to Debra "Debbie" Jamison of Fresno, California state regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR),

Jamison, who has always loved bees and appreciated their work, spearheaded the DAR drive. She recently presented the check to officials at the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.

 “I have had a lifelong love and respect for bees and I spent a lot of my childhood watching them, attracting them with sugar water, catching and playing with them and even dissecting them during a time when I imagined myself to be a junior scientist,” Jamison told the crowd at the UC Davis ceremony. “Back in those days, there was an abundance of bees, usually observed by this kid in her family’s backyard full of clover blossoms—something you rarely see any more due to spraying of pre-emergents and other weed killers.”

So when Jamison, whose first name means "bee" in Hebrew, became state regent of the California State Society of DAR, she adopted the motto, “Bees are at the heart of our existence” and vowed to support research to help the beleaguered bees.

Jamison and her state regent project chair, Karen Montgomery of Modesto, presented the $30,000 check to Edwin Lewis, professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and bee scientist/assisant professor Brian Johnson at a ceremony in the department's Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.

Lewis gratefully accepted the check on behalf of the department and noted that his mother, Betty Lewis, is an active member of the DAR Owasco Chapter in Auburn, N.Y. “My mother would definitely approve of this project,” he quipped. Lewis gifted Jamison with a mosaic ceramic figure of a bee, crafted by Davis artist Donna Billick, co-founder and co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program.

The funds will be used in the Johnson lab. His graduate student, Gerard Smith, researches the effect of pesticide exposure in the field on honey bee foraging behavior, and graduate student Cameron Jasper studies the genetic basis of division of labor in honey bees.

Jamison has visited the Laidlaw facility and the adjacent Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven several times. Last September she and Fresno beekeeper Brian Liggett "talked bees" and bee health with Cooperative Extension specialist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology.

Like the DAR, the honey bee is closely linked to America.  European colonists brought the honey bee to the Jamestown Colony, Virginia, in 1622, some 153 years before the American Revolution. Native Americans called it “the white man’s fly.” Honey bees did not arrive in California until 1853, transported via the Isthmus of Panama.

The U. S. honey bee population has declined by about a third since 2006 due to the mysterious malady known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), said Mussen, attributing CCD to multiple factors including disease, pests, parasites, pesticides, malnutrition and stress. 

Meanwhile, the gift from the nation’s oldest genealogical society to support one of the world’s oldest--and the most beneficial--insects,  the honey bee, is a gift from the heart.

California state DAR regent Debbie Jamison addresses the crowd. (UC Davis photo by Chris Akins)
California state DAR regent Debbie Jamison addresses the crowd. (UC Davis photo by Chris Akins)

California state DAR regent Debbie Jamison addresses the crowd. (UC Davis photo by Chris Akins)

Ed Lewis (far right), professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology with state regent Debbie Jamison and bee scientist Brian Johnson. (UC Davis photo by Chris Akins)
Ed Lewis (far right), professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology with state regent Debbie Jamison and bee scientist Brian Johnson. (UC Davis photo by Chris Akins)

Ed Lewis (far right), professor and vice chair of of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology with state regent Debbie Jamison and bee scientist Brian Johnson. (Photo by Chris Akins)

A visit to the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven last September: state regent Debbie Jamison, Fresno beekeeper Brian Liggett; Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomlogy and UC Davis entomology professor; and Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A visit to the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven last September: state regent Debbie Jamison, Fresno beekeeper Brian Liggett; Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomlogy and UC Davis entomology professor; and Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A visit to the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven last September: state regent Debbie Jamison, Fresno beekeeper Brian Liggett; Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomlogy and UC Davis entomology professor; and Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 9:13 PM

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