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Posts Tagged: Lynn Kimsey

She’s a Peach of a Permanent Resident

UC Davis entomology major Christine Melvin with Peaches, a four-year-old tarantula. Melvin is a fourth-year undergraduate student. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Roll over, Rosie. Make room for Peaches.

Rosie, the popular 24-year-old Chilean rose-haired tarantula at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis, is approaching the end of her natural life span.

So when a UC Davis student donated the same species, a four-year-old taranatula (Grammostola rosea), to the museum in late January, Bohart officials launched a contest: “Name the tarantula.”

Meet “Peaches.”

The name won out over Cuddles, Matilda, Bambi, Bobbie, Charlotte, Fluffy, Harriet, Maria, Pinkie, Rush, Tammy, Tessie, Twinkie, Lucy and Mandy,  as well as Chili (Chilean rose-haired tarantula), Pepper (Chili pepper)  and Gramma (Grammostola rosea).

The arachnid, native to Chile and also common in Bolivia and Argentina, is a favorite of the exotic pet trade market and is sold in many American and European pet stores

“It's good to have a name like Peaches,” said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis.  “If you name it something like Fang, some of our Bohart Museum visitors would be afraid to hold it. We need to get people past the fear so they're not terrified.”

Tarantulas are generally harmless to humans, even though they do produce a venom to kill their insect prey.

Peaches, who is held every day, is a beautiful tarantula and quite docile, Kimsey said. Her counterpart, Rosie, was a popular attraction at open houses and at the annual UC Davis Picnic Day, where as many as 400 held her in one day. Visitors delighted in capturing images of her.

But now, Rosie is quite frail, Kimsey said, and quite old. Female tarantulas can live some 30 years.

Peaches is now part of the educational exhibit at the Bohart, where personnel will explain why a tarantula is not an insect, but a part of the spider family. It has two main parts, the prosoma (or cephalothorax) and the opisthosoma (or abdomen). A waist-like pedicle connects the two.  They have small spinelike urticating hairs on their abdomen that they may release when threatened.

Peaches' menu includes crickets and mealworms.  Rose-haired tarantulas also dine on grasshoppers, moths, beetles and cockroaches. Larger tarantulas catch larger prey, including mice and frogs.

Other special attractions at the Bohart Museum's live “petting zoo” include Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks.

The museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It is also the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum.

This way to the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The museum's gift shop, open year around, includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.

The Bohart Museum is open to the public from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free. Open houses, focusing on specific themes, are held on weekends throughout the academic year. Admission is free.

The Bohart Museum will be one of six museums open on the UC Davis Fourth Annual Biodiversity Museum Day, to take place Sunday, Feb. 8 from 12 noon to 4 p.m.. Other collections open will be at the Center for Plant Diversity, the Botanical Conservatory, the Paleontology Collection, the Anthropology Collection, and the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology.

The remainder of the Bohart Museum's open houses:

  • Sunday, Feb. 8: “Biodiversity Museum Day,” noon to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 14: “Pollination Nation,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 18: UC Davis Picnic Day, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 17: “Name That Bug! How About Bob?” 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 18: “Moth Night,” 8 to 11 p.m.

For more information, contact the Bohart Museum at (530) 752-0493 or emailing bmuseum@ucdavis.edu.  

Peaches is the newest tarantula at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Peaches is the newest tarantula at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Peaches is the newest tarantula at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 4:06 PM

What's It Like to Be Parasitized?

Senior museum scientist Steve Heydon is a world authority on Pteromalids, or jewel wasps, a tiny group of parasitoids. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
What's it like to be parasitized?

Say you're a caterpillar or an aphid and a wasp comes along and lays her eggs inside you. Her eggs will hatch and then her offspring will eat their way out. You, the host,  are no more. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

If you visit the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house on Sunday, Jan. 11 on the University of California, Davis, campus, you'll learn all about parasitoids.

The fun, educational and family-friendly event is themed, "Parasitoid Palooza!" Free and open to the public, it takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane,

"Most everyone knows that mantids eat other insects or that ladybird beetles (lady bugs) consume lots of aphids, but there is another way insects eat other insects," commented Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.

"An insect parasitoid is a species whose immatures live off of one insect host, usually eating it from the inside out," she said. "It is part of their life cycle and the host dies. This sounds like a weird way to make a living, but there are more species of parasitoids than there are insects with any other single kind of life history. The movie Alien with Sigourney Weaver co-opts this phenomenon, but in reality there are no parasitoids on humans or other vertebrates."

The Bohart open house will spotlight this unusual life cycle.  Wasps, flies and beetles are parasitoids to many different insect groups.

Senior museum scientist and collections manager Steve Heydon, is a world authority on Pteromalids, or jewel wasps, a group of tiny parasitoids, and will be on hand to talk about them.

This tachinid fly is both a parasitoid and a pollinator. This is a female of the Peleteria species. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Another group of parasitoids highlighted will be the Strepsiptera, or Twisted-Wing Parasites, an order of insects that the late UC Davis entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) researched for his doctorate, which he obtained in 1938.  The museum not only carries his name, but there's an entire family of Strepsiptera, the Bohartillidae, named in honor of him.

Live parasitoids from the lab of Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomolology and Nematology will be showcased. They include Encarsa, Eretmocerus, Diglyphus and Aphidius.

"Parasitoid Palooza" promises to be a fun and wacky celebration of the diversity of life, Yang said. A family-friendly craft activity with balloons inside of balloons (representing parasitoids) is planned.

Before you go, be sure to check out Wired.Com's piece on a wasp from the genus Glyptapantele laying eggs in a caterpillar. Tachinid flies also provide biological control services, laying their eggs in a number of insects, including  beetles, moths, sawflies, earwigs and grasshoppers.

Along with parasitoids, visitors will see some  "teddy bear" bees or male Valley carpenter bees, to be shown by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis.   Allan Jones of Davis, a noted insect photographer, delivered some to Thorp's office in the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility last week. Their origin? A friend's felled apple tree in Davis. The tree had rotted and male and female Valley carpenter bees were wintering inside.

The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It is also the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity.

Special attractions include a “live” petting zoo, featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold the insects and photograph them. The museum's gift shop, open year around, includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.

The Bohart Museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free. Open houses, focusing on specific themes, are held on weekends throughout the academic year. 

The remaining schedule of open houses:

  • Sunday, Feb. 8: “Biodiversity Museum Day,” noon to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 14: “Pollination Nation,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 18: UC Davis Picnic Day, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 17: “Name That Bug! How About Bob?” 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 18: “Moth Night,” 8 to 11 p.m.

More information is available by contacting Tabatha Yang, education and public outreach coordinator at tabyang@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-0493.

A wasp (family Aphidiinae) parasitizing an aphid. (Photo by Fran Keller, who received her doctorate in entomology this year from UC Davis.)
A wasp (family Aphidiinae) parasitizing an aphid. (Photo by Fran Keller, who received her doctorate in entomology this year from UC Davis.)

A wasp (family Aphidiinae) parasitizing an aphid. (Photo by Fran Keller, who received her doctorate in entomology this year from UC Davis.)

Posted on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at 5:10 PM

Don't Miss Bohart Museum Open House Dec. 20: Insects and Art

Greg Kareofelas: Bohart associate, naturalist, photographer. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
When you use the words "insects," "art" and the "Bohart Museum of Entomology" in the same sentence, you immediately think of the artistic/scientific team of Fran Keller and Greg Kareofelas.

And you'll meet them and see their amazing work at the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. The event, appropriately themed "Insects and Art," is free and open to the public.

Keller, who received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis this year, and Kareofelas, a Bohart associate (volunteer) and naturalist (he specializes in butterflies and dragonflies), will staff a table at the museum. Together they've created insect posters (think dragonfiles and butterflies), insect-themed t-shirts and a children's book, "The Story of the Dogface Butterfly." The book, focusing on California's state insect, the California dogface butterfly, features text by Keller, photos by Kareofelas and Keller; and illustrations by UC Davis graduate Laine Bauer. The educational book is available in the Bohart Museum's gift shop.

Fran Keller: entomologist, artist, teacher and author (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Keller, a graduate of Sacramento City College, earned her UC Davis doctorate in entomology,   studying with major professsor Lynn Kimsey, Bohart Museum director and UC Davis professor of entomology. Keller now teaches at Sac City. She's a talented teacher and an enthusiastic scientist who specializes in beetles, but she really likes everything science-based.

Like Keller, Kareofelas is known for his enthusiasm and fascination with insects. His volunteer association with the Bohart Museum dates back 25 years; that's how long he has donated specimens to the museum and assisted with projects.  He's collected moths and butterflies in California, Nevada and South America. He's reared numerous butterfly species, including California dogface, Gulf Fritillaries, monarchs and swallowtails. In rearing them, he's able to see and share the life cycle (egg, larva, chrysalis and adult). This skill enables him to tell what egg and what caterpillar will turn into what butterfly. That's an identification skill not many have.

Both Keller and Kareofelas enjoy photographing insects. (Check out Kareofelas' image of overwintering lady beetles (aka ladybugs).

The Bohart Museum open houses are always family-oriented. The family activity on Dec. 20 will be crafting small insect sculptures out of wire and beads, said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart's education and outreach coordinator.

This poster is the work of Fran Keller and Greg Kareofelas.
Among other art displayed at the open house will be that of:

  • Diane Ullman, professor of entomology and co-founder and co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. Ullman and colleague Donna Billick, co-founder of the program, taught Entomology 001 students how to fuse art with science. Their work is displayed around campus and beyond.
  • Students from Art 11, a beginning printmaking class taught by lecturer Bryce Vinkorov of the UC Davis Department of Art and Art History. The class borrows educational drawers from the museum and then creates works of art inspired by the assortment of insects. Vinkorov says: ""My classes have used bugs from the Bohart as inspiration for their linocut prints for the past thee years. They are fascinated by the variety of color and body shapes of these bugs. The larger color prints are linocut reductions. I am very thankful that the Bohart lets this kind of cross-pollination happen."
  • Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist for the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and an avid insect photographer.  One of her macro images of a flameskimmer dragonfly graces the Entomological Society of America's 2015 world insect calendar.
  • Nicole Tam, an entomology undergraduate student and artist. Her work includes insect-themed drawings and paintings.
  • The late Mary Foley Benson, a former Smithsonian Institution scientific illustrator who lived the last years of her life in Davis, and worked for faculty in the Department of Entomology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology).
  • Tom Roach of Lincoln, photographer, and Leo Huitt of Woodland, wood sculpture. Their work is on permanent display in the Bohart.

The museum, founded by noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007), houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens, and is also the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity.

Special attractions include a “live” petting zoo, featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold the insects and photograph them. The museum's gift shop, open year around, is stocked with  T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.

The museum holds open houses throughout the academic year. Its regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free. 

The remaining schedule of open houses:

  • Sunday, Jan. 11: “Parasitoid Palooza,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, Feb. 8: “Biodiversity Museum Day,” noon to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 14: “Pollination Nation,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 18: UC Davis Picnic Day, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 17: “Name That Bug! How About Bob?” 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 18: “Moth Night,” 8 to 11 p.m.

More information is available by contacting (530) 752-0493 or Tabatha Yang, education and public outreach coordinator at tabyang@ucdavis.edu

 

Overwintering lady beetles, aka ladybugs, in Colusa County. (Photo by Greg Kareofelas)
Overwintering lady beetles, aka ladybugs, in Colusa County. (Photo by Greg Kareofelas)

Overwintering lady beetles, aka ladybugs, in Colusa County. (Photo by Greg Kareofelas)

This children's book,
This children's book, "The Story of the Dogface Butterfly," is the work of Fran Keller, Greg Kareofelas and Laine Bauer.

This children's book, "The Story of the Dogface Butterfly," is the work of Fran Keller, Greg Kareofelas and Laine Bauer.

Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 5:54 PM

Why Bees Are Disappearing and What You Should Know

Matan Shelomi
If you should ask Extension apiculturist (emeritus) Eric Mussen of the University of California, Davis, whether he believes that neonicotinoids are the primary cause of colony collapse disorder (CCD), he will say answer you fair and square: "No, they're not the primary cause of CCD."

Mussen, who retired in June after 38 years of service, says "Neonics are only one of the classes of pesticide residues that we frequently find in analyses of adult bees, beeswax and stored pollens. We encounter CCD in colonies in which no neonicotinoid residues can be found, and we find colonies surviving year after year with measurable residues of neonicotinoids in the hives.  Obviously, neonicotinoids do not appear to be ''the primary' cause of CCD."

Enter Matan Shelomi, a young, thoughtful and articulate entomologist who frequently answers questions on Quora. Huffington Post picked up his comments on Quora--What's the deal with the Bees?--about our bee-leagured bees. (Quora, launched by Harvard students, is a site where you can ask questions and get answers, and Shelomi answers plenty of them and quite well. A couple of years ago he tied for a first-place Shorty Award, the social media-equivalent of an Oscar.)

But first, more about Matan Shelomi. He's a Harvard graduate who received his doctorate in entomology this year from UC Davis, studying with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and UC Davis professor of entomology. He is presently a postdoctoral researcher at the c in Jena, Germany. It's a two-year position funded by a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology. "My work is a continuation and expansion of my doctoral research at Davis: I am studying the endogenous cellulases and pectinases of the stick insects (Phasmatodea). By taking insect genes for these enzymes and expressing them in insect cell lines, we can quantitatively test the function of these genes and try to determine what role they play in the living insect and how they evolved."

European colonists brought the honey bee to what is now the United States in 1622. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
So, what IS the deal with bees? Shelomi, like many entomologists, hears the same questions:  "Are they in trouble?" "Why are they disappearing?" "How can I help?" Some firmly believe that "It's obviously GMO's!" or "'We must ban neonicotinoids!" Some dissenters become activists: "How do we stop the corporations that are killing bees?"

Shelomi keyed in on those questions and more after hearing "a great talk by the venerable Dr. May Berenbaum, a wonderful entomologist and effectively the scientific spokesperson about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the technical term for the phenomenon of vanishing bees. So I present here for you the current state of knowledge on CCD: its history, its causes, and what we can do so stop it." Berenbaum, professor and head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois, is in line to be president of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America.

"CCD does not have one cause," Shelomi emphasized. "There is no one chemical to ban or one company to censure or one critter to eradicate. Instead, CCD is the product of several factors whose whole is deadlier than the sum of its parts: a perfect storm of biological and cultural issues that are too much for the already genetically weak honeybees to handle. However, honeybees and bees themselves are not going extinct anytime soon."

Shelomi noted that honey bees are not native to America. "European honey bees were imported to the United States a few centuries ago, where they adapted well to the local plants. Without bees, certain crops (most notably almonds) could not be produced."

A backlit worker bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
"Beekeeping is not easy, however," he acknowledged. "Like all animals, bees get sick, and like all farmers, beekeepers will do whatever is necessary to keep their bees healthy and cure or prevent any problems. The biggest bee problem was foulbrood, a bacterial disease where the larvae (baby bees) turn into a disgusting, brown goop. To keep their baby bees from liquifying, beekeepers began to use antibiotics. There's also a fungus called Nosema that can destroy entire colonies, so beekeepers began using fungicides. The worst is the Varroa mite, Varroa destructor, an arachnid that attaches to the outside of bees and sucks their blood. That's bad enough (hence their name: destructor), but it gets worse. These wounds can become infected by bacteria, fungi, and viruses, including Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) which is actually spread by the Varroa mite. Varroa mites were accidentally brought into the US in 1987 from an Asiatic A. cerana, and have spread to most of the world (except Australia... for now). To control it, beekeepers began spraying the hives with miticides too."

"Beekeeping practice also changed remarkably in the past century. Beekeepers realized the market for pollination, and began to transport their hives around the country following the crop seasons, first by rail and then by truck. The demand for bees was higher than the supply, however. In the USA, the Almond Board successfully lobbied Congress to allow the importation of bees from Australia, which was illegal at the time to prevent the importation of foreign bee diseases. As the world changed and more wild land was converted to agricultural land, then agricultural land to urban land, the amount of food for bees decreased. The natural diet of bees is honey and bee bread, which is fermented pollen. Fewer wild flowers meant less natural food for the bees, requiring other sources. To keep their bees alive, beekeepers started feeding sugar solutions to bees, including high fructose corn syrup."

Then came CCD. "In 2006, many beekeepers across the USA began to report high losses of bees. Not deaths, but losses: the worker bees would just vanish, leaving the queen and brood behind. This is very unusual: honey bees don't leave their home and family behind like that. With the workers gone, the hive soon followed. It soon became evident that this was a nationwide problem, and one that eventually spread to Europe too. Because of the immense importance of bees in agriculture, groups from all over the US worked together, and solving the case of Colony Collapse Disorder became a priority."

Honey bee nectaring lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Unfortunately, the blame game surfaced. "Organizations that were against genetically modified organisms blamed GMOs. Organizations that were against the government blamed the government. Contrail conspiracy theorists said the government was spraying things. Alien abduction activists said aliens were taking the bees. Some people blamed cell phones. Some blamed Osama bin Laden. One theory was that the US government was using soviet mind control technology against Americans to raise support for the Iraq War, and the American bees were also affected because Russian bees were not affected. All of these accusations came with calls for research to prove their 'theories,' though I doubt anyone who rushed to judgment like that would accept evidence that proved them wrong. Indeed, every claim mentioned above, from GMOs to cell phones, is wrong. We know for a fact that CCD is not caused by GMOs, cell phones, aliens, vehicle grilles, UV lights, EM radiation, terrorists, communists, capitalists, etc. We have no evidence for those theories (and ample evidence against some of them), and neither do the people who promote them. (Hint: If a website is claiming to show you the "real news" or the "facts they don't want you to know," it is almost certainly unreliable). So what does the research actually say?"

In his Quora answer, Shelomi discusses research findings and new research underway.  "Here is perhaps the biggest finding from the honey bee genome research: Honey bees are naturally lacking in immunity and detoxification genes. Compared to other insects, bees lack many natural defenses! Namely, they have fewer glutathione-S-transferases, carboxylesterases, and cytochrome P450's, which are the proteins animals (including humans) use to break down toxins. Bees eat pollen and honey, which are hardly toxic. In the millions of years of their evolution, they have lost many of these genes for defense, which means all honey bees are naturally weakened against diseases and chemicals."

Honey bee heading toward a tower of jewels, Echium wildpretii. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
"How do bees survive, then? Well, they do still have a few P450's and other detox genes. Plus, they have a secret weapon: their food. Pollen contains several compounds that upregulate detox and immunization genes. That is, when bees eat pollen-containing food like bee bread or honey, they produce more of the proteins that defend against pathogens and metabolize toxic compounds! Since the natural diet of a bee is honey and bee bread, both of which contain pollen, they still have some defenses. (The same applies for humans, by the way: if you eat healthier food, your immunity improves.)"

So, bottom line? "I'll give you a hint: it's not one thing," Shelomi wrote. "No matter what you are reading, if you find any source that names only one cause for CCD -- a single chemical, a single pesticide, a single company, a single country-- then you should stop trusting that source. On anything. Ever. Science doesn't work that way, and, no, there is no one cause for CCD, nor is there one solution. Anyone who says otherwise is either pushing a certain viewpoint on you or hasn't done there research. Here's the big reveal."

When you get a chance, read his entire essay and take note of his summary: "...CCD happens because bees have a naturally poor immunity to disease and to chemicals, both of which they are exposed to at higher rates and often together, and that immunity is made worse due to poor diet and stressful conditions. There is no one cause, nor is there one solution."

What we can do to help the bees? "Two things. Plant flowers that bees like in your garden, if you have one. Help undo the damage of habitat loss by giving bees a source of food on your property. The second is to support your local beekeeper by buying local honey, if appropriate. Go to a farmers' market or otherwise get the honey from someone raising bees nearby. It will help them out, and you can ensure you are getting real honey and not laundered stuff."

Shelomi is spot on when he says that "the best thing you can do is stay informed... and that doesn't mean finding one source of information and trusting them blindly. To stay informed means you will always need new information, and are never satisfied. It means always doubting every new news story that pops up, especially if it seems too good to be true or claims to 'finally' answer a question. It means don't confuse a conspiracy theory website or an anti-agrotech blog, or even a news report, for actual scientific data. Nor should you trust one scientific paper above all others, especially if it's a single study and not a meta-analysis. Science is ever changing: look at how much our knowledge of bees changed since 2006, how many theories were tested, championed, then abandoned as new evidence came up. Even all I've posted here may one day change (though it's pretty well accepted so far). The story of the honey bees isn't over yet... but I promise it will not have a grand finale or a single climax, but rather will be complex and full of intertwining characters, and the ending, though perhaps not as spectacular, will be much more satisfying."

Excellent advice. Stay aware. Stay informed. Stay tuned.

Matan Shelomi, wearing a UC Davis entomology shirt, stands in front of the Reichstag in Berlin.
Matan Shelomi, wearing a UC Davis entomology shirt, stands in front of the Reichstag in Berlin.

Matan Shelomi, wearing a UC Davis entomology shirt, stands in front of the Reichstag in Berlin.

Noted entomologist May Berenbaum lectured May 20 at UC Davis on disappearing bees and then visited the Department of Entomology and Nematology's bee garden. With her (from left) are UC Davis bee authorities Robbin Thorp, Brian Johnson and Eric Mussen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Noted entomologist May Berenbaum lectured May 20 at UC Davis on disappearing bees and then visited the Department of Entomology and Nematology's bee garden. With her (from left) are UC Davis bee authorities Robbin Thorp, Brian Johnson and Eric Mussen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Noted entomologist May Berenbaum lectured May 20 at UC Davis on disappearing bees and then visited the Department of Entomology and Nematology's bee garden. With her (from left) are UC Davis bee authorities Robbin Thorp, Brian Johnson and Eric Mussen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at 5:17 PM

The Perfect Gift

Lynn Kimsey (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
So you're thinking about a holiday gift for someone who has everything. You've racked your brain trying to think of the perfect gift. Nothing. You can think of nothing. Nothing is not good. Nothing can get you in big trouble. VERY. BIG. TROUBLE.

You know she likes stiletto Jimmy Choo shoes and anything that begins with a "D" for designer clothes and shoes and "E" for expensive.  She's seen The World's Most Expensive Stilettos and dreams of stilettos by Stuart Weitzman and Borgezie that run as high as $3 million. (They run that high, but you can't run in them.) 

But apparel won't last as long as the gift that the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology,  is dangling in front of us.

Ready for this? A stiletto fly. Genus: Agapophytus. It needs a species name. If you'd like to adopt it and own the naming rights, you can--with a sponsorship that will help the Bohart Museum's research.

 Shaun Winterton of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, a Bohart associate, collected the stiletto fly (below) in western Australia and photographed it. 

"'O sole mio!" Deep in the heart of our soul (sole?), we know it's better than designer shoes.

A little information on the Stiletto fly from Winterton:
Common name: Stiletto fly
Family Therevidae
Origin: Western Australia: Golden Bay beach dunes
Describer: Shaun L. Winterton

Wrote Winterton: "This new species of Agapophytus in the family Therevidae has been found in the coastal heathland and beach fore-dunes of Western Australia, north of the city of Perth. The genus is known only from Australia and Papua New Guinea and currently includes about 40 known species, with about as many still to be formally named. The stiletto fly family includes many brightly colored species in Australia, many of which are mimics of wasps or ants. This species is unusual in being relatively small in body size, with a polished black body and yellow halters. Larvae of this family are snake-like predators in the sand dunes, swimming through the loose sand using vibrations to home in on prey."

Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and a UC Davis proessor of entomology, launched the Bohart's biolegacy program, which is similar to the International Star Registry. "For a sponsorship of $2500, you will be able to select a species you would like to name in honor of a loved one or in respect for a community member," she said. "For your sponsorship, we will name a species after you or someone special to you. Sponsors will also be given a high resolution photography of their namesake, framed with the title page of the naming publication."

Unlike the Star Registry Program, though, the official species name "will be published in a scientific journal read by many in the international scientific community and available to everyone in perpetuity."

So, the Bohart Museum staff and scientists need your help. They describe as many as 15 new species annually "and our associates, many more."

"We could use your help with the selection of new species names in the course of our research," said Kimsey, who can be reached at lskimsey@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-0493.

The Bohart Museum, home of nearly eight million specimens collected from throughout the world, joins a number of international organizations that offer species-naming opportunities.

Sponsorships help support museum research, in addition to offering a personal permanent legacy.

 Can't you just see it? At a holiday gathering, your friend who has everything is asked what she received.

"Stiletto," she says.

"Omigosh, you got stilettos! Jimmy Choo? Who? Who?"

"No, this stiletto is a fly. And it's all mine. It's named after me!"

Shaun Winterton of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, an associate of the Bohart Museum, collected this stiletto fly, genus Agapophytus, and photographed it. It now needs a name. (Shaun Winterton Photo)
Shaun Winterton of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, an associate of the Bohart Museum, collected this stiletto fly, genus Agapophytus, and photographed it. It now needs a name. (Shaun Winterton Photo)

Shaun Winterton of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, an associate of the Bohart Museum, collected this stiletto fly, genus Agapophytus, and photographed it. It now needs a name. (Shaun Winterton Photo)

This weevil, found in a Costa Rica forest, is up for adoption: it needs a name. (Photo by Andrew Richards, Bohart Museum of Entomology)
This weevil, found in a Costa Rica forest, is up for adoption: it needs a name. (Photo by Andrew Richards, Bohart Museum of Entomology)

This weevil, found in a Costa Rica forest, is up for adoption: it needs a name. (Photo by Andrew Richards, Bohart Museum of Entomology)

Here's another weevil, found in a Costa Rica forest, that needs a name. (Photo by Andrew Richards, Bohart Museum of Entomology)
Here's another weevil, found in a Costa Rica forest, that needs a name. (Photo by Andrew Richards, Bohart Museum of Entomology)

Here's another weevil, found in a Costa Rica forest, that needs a name. (Photo by Andrew Richards, Bohart Museum of Entomology)

Bohart senior museum scientist Steve Heydon collected this new species of chalcid wasp in the Algonedes Dunes. Genus: Psilochalcis. It needs a name. (Photo by Andrew Richards, Bohart Museum of Entomology)
Bohart senior museum scientist Steve Heydon collected this new species of chalcid wasp in the Algonedes Dunes. Genus: Psilochalcis. It needs a name. (Photo by Andrew Richards, Bohart Museum of Entomology)

Bohart senior museum scientist Steve Heydon collected this new species of chalcid wasp in the Algonedes Dunes. Genus: Psilochalcis. It needs a name. (Photo by Andrew Richards, Bohart Museum of Entomology)

Posted on Monday, December 8, 2014 at 5:47 PM

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