There it was.
A green caterpillar, aka larva, aka worm, occupied a blanket flower (Gaillardia) last Friday morning in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre pollinator garden on Bee Biology Road at the University of California, Davis.
Soon a honey bee from the nearby Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility landed on it. And then a Painted Lady butterfly, its wings tattered from predatory attacks, joined the duo.
Well, what WAS that green caterpillar?
We asked butterfly expert Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of entomology at UC Davis. "Well, it's a Noctuid (owlet moth family)," he said. "It may be one of the infinite variety of color forms of the tobacco budworm, Heliothis virescens, which is common right now--the fine lengthwise striations suggest that--but maybe not."
He suggested we contact his colleague, David Wagner, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut.
"I am guessing that it is either Heliothis virescens as suggested by Art or Helicoverpa zea," Wagner said, looking at the photo. "Both equally probable. The former often favors plants with glandular secretory hairs: Solanaceae, geranium, etc."
According to Wikipedia, the Noctuidae or owlet moths "are a family of robustly build moths that include more than 35,000 known species out of possibly 100,000 total, in more than 4,200 genera."
Noctuidae comprises the largest family in Lepitopdera.
Most fly at night. Many are drawn to sugar and nectar-rich flowers. Some head over to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven.
As for Helicoverpa zea, it's a major agricultural pest. It's known by various names, depending on what it consumes. When it consumes tomatoes, it's a tomato fruitworm. Cotton? Cotton bollworm. Corn? Corn earworm. And the list goes on.
We thought that perhaps a neighboring praying mantis would take a culinary interest in the worm, but not so.
The Noctuid appeared to a landing strip for honey bees and Painted Ladies (Vanessa cardui). They kept touching down and pulling up.
As Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology quipped: "If you're in the middle of the road, you're going to get hit."
So agreed the visitors attending the open house and recognition ceremony last Saturday, Sept. 15 at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre pollinator garden next to the UC Davis Department of Entomology's Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility)
They toured the garden, listened to the recognition ceremony, and joined the garden tour, admiring the plants and art work by the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. They left feeling that this is indeed a very special place on earth.
The recognition ceremony paid tribute to Derek Tully, 17, of Davis, who, as his Eagle Scout project, built a state-of-the-art fence around the garden.
The fence is "fabulous," Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis, told the gathering at the 1:30 p.m. recognition ceremony. Kimsey served as the faculty liaison for the Eagle Scout project.
Kimsey recounted how Tully, a member of Troop 111, planned and built the post-and-rail fence with the help of a 33-member volunteer crew that he organized and supervised.
Tully launched the project April 2 and completed it Sept. 7. The fence builders included his father, Larry Tully, a retired machinist from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Larry and his wife, Leslie Woodhouse, a research support supervisor at the USDA Western Human Nutrition Research Center on the UC Davis campus, serve as assistant scoutmasters of Troop 111.
Tully recruited greenhouse superintendent Garry Pearson, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, who augured the holes for the fence posts. The project required 91 fence posts, 211 2x4s, 46 2x6 railings (each 20 feet long), four yards of gravel, 18 bags of concrete, and 12 rolls of wiring at 100 feet each.
The post-and-rail fence is wire-meshed, with the wire extending underground to inhibit jackrabbits, ground squirrels and pocket gophers from turning it into their version of Mr. McGregor's garden.
Derek negotiated with area businesses to obtain discounted prices. The total cost of materials: $6300. The number of volunteer hours: 488 hours and 15 minutes. Kimsey estimated that the project saved the department $24,000 to $30,000.
In building the fence, the crew toiled in triple-digit temperatures as bees (from the adjacent Laidlaw facility) and butterflies and other insects nectared the flowers. Occasionally as the volunteers nailed boards to the fence, praying mantids and spiders engaged in their own kind of nailing--nailing bees.
If you visit the garden, located on Bee Biology Road, off Hutchison Drive/Hopkins Road, west of the central campus, you'll not only see "The Fence that Derek Built" but plants, predators and prey that form the very microcosm of this pollinator garden.
Ever seen a pregnant praying mantis?
Someone on wikianswers.com asked the question: "What does a pregnant praying mantis look like?"
The question drew only one response: "Big and fat."
Well, at least the answer wasn't "Big, old and fat!"
Praying mantids, known as ambush predators because they lie in wait for their prey, nail unsuspecting honey bees, sweat bees, flies, butterflies and assorted other insects. The female mantids, in particular, gorge as they prepare their bodies for egg laying.
Later this year or next spring, if you're lucky, you'll see an egg case hanging from a twig, leaf or fence. Depending on the species, each case contains about 100 to 200 mantises. When they emerge, they're so hungry that they'll eat one another. Brother and sister. Sister and brother. Cannibalism.
This morning this quite pregnant--and quite irritated--"lady in waiting" emerged from the shadows of a salvia at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
On a human hand, she appeared perfectly camouflaged.
Then, she climbed off and disappeared back into the salvia.
When I was teaching photography, I encouraged my students to go for the angles--from a bug's eye view to a bird's eye view. Holding a camera chest-high or at eye level renders the "same-o, same o" photos.
Yet another creative way to see the world is through a fisheye lens. With its 180-degree ultra-wide view,it grants a whole new perspective.
American physicist/inventor Robert W. Wood coined the term, "fisheye," in 1906, according to Wikipedia. He imagined "how a fish would see an ultra-wide hemispherical view from beneath the water (a phenomenon known as Snell's window)."
What does the raised bed of Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia) in the Häagen-Honey Bee Haven at the University of California, Davis, look like with a fisheye lens?
Colorful, disorted, startling, intriguing.
Meanwhile, the volunteers who tend the pollinator garden every Friday morning are adding the finishing touches for the public open house, set Saturday afternoon, Sept. 15.
It's part of the Bohart Museum of Entomology's two concurrent open houses, themed "Flower Lovers: the Bees." Both will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sept. 15. One is at the museum itself at 1124 Academic Surge on Crocker Lane, and the other, at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.
They are free and open to the public.
The museum will showcase bee specimens from around the world, and offer crafts activities. At the haven, plans call for a focus on honey bees, native bees, beekeeping, garden tours, and crafts activities. And a focus on the permanent art in the garden, the spectacular work of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program.
Saturday's activities at the haven also will include a recognition ceremony at 1:30 p.m. for Derek Tully, 17, of Davis. He will be honored for his Eagle Scout project, building a fence around the half-acre garden. Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis, will preside.
It's a good day to bring a camera! But then, isn't every day a good day to bring a camera?
What do you know about bees, and what would you like to learn about them?
Visit the University of California, Davis campus on Saturday, Sept. 15, and you will see (1) bee specimens from all over the world and (2) bees and other pollinators in their natural habitat.
It's all happening at two concurrent open houses from 1 to 4 p.m. The theme: “Flower Lovers: The Bees.” The open houses, free and open to the public, are being arranged by the Bohart Museum of Entomology. The venues: the Bohart Museum in Room 1124 of Academic Surge on Crocker Lane, and the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road, located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
The UC Davis officials are hoping you'll attend both, and especially the special recognition ceremony at 1:30 p.m. at the haven for 17-year-old Derek Tully, who, as his Eagle Scout project, planned, organized and built a state-of-the-art fence around the half-acre haven. Tully launched the project April 2. He and his crew of 33 volunteers finished the fence on Sept. 7. Their work is nothing short of spectacular.
Tully & crew saved the Department of Entomology some $24,000 to $30,000, according to entomologist Lynn Kimsey, faculty liaison to the haven. Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology (home of more than seven million specimens), describes the fence as "meticulous" and "beautiful."
That it is.
On Saturday, the Bohart Museum will not only feature a global display of bees, but visitors can create a variety of craft activities. Ready to greet you will be Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator; senior museum scientist Steve Heydon; and graduate student Matan Shelomi. In addition to viewing the specimens, you can hold Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and rose-haired tarantula, all members of the live “petting zoo.” They're perfect for photos, too!
At the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the agenda will include a recognition ceremony for Derek Tully, 17, of Davis at 1:30 p.m. Tables on native bees will be staffed by Neal Williams, assistant professor of entomology and graduate student Katharina Ullmann. Staff research associate Billy Synk will showcase bee tools, bee suits, bee boxes and other beekeeping necessities. The UC Davis Entomology Club will coordinate crafts activities.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, a noted honey bee expert, will be at the haven to field questions about bees. Got a bee question? He'll answer it. Christine Casey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology will guide a tour of the haven from 2 to 2:30 p.m. There you'll likely see assorted bees, syrphid flies, butterflies, dragonflies, praying mantids, ladybugs, and spiders--and maybe even an assassin bug or two. The biggest bee is the six-foot long ceramic bee sculpture, the work of self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick of Davis. A native bee mural, painted bee boxes and native bee condos also grace the garden.
It promises to be a fun and educational afternoon--and a nice tribute to the work of Derek Tully.