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Posts Tagged: Michael Parrella

Medflies: Permanent Residents

James R. Carey in front of a California map. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Breaking news shook the agricultural world today.

The Mediterranean fruit fly, considered the world's worst agricultural pest, is one of at least five fruit flies established in California. It cannot be eradicated.

So says entomologist James Carey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who has been dogging medflies since his faculty appointment in 1980. (See what drove him.)

Carey and UC Davis-affiliated colleagues Nikos Papadopoulos and Richard Plant wrote the eye-opening research piece, "From Trickle to Flood: The Large Scale, Cryptic Invasion of California by Tropical Fruit Flies" in the current edition of the renowned Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Their work "clearly demonstrates that at least five and as many as nine species of tropical fruit flies, including the infamous Medfly, are permanently established in California and inexorably spreading, despite more than 30 years of intervention and nearly 300 state-sponsored eradication programs aimed at the flies," wrote Pat Bailey in a UC Davis News Service story released today. 

The findings, Bailey pointed out, have "significant implications for how government agencies develop policies to successfully manage pests that pose a threat to California's $43.5 billion agricultural industry."

Carey, an international authority on fruit-fly invasion biology, told her that "Despite due diligence, quick responses, and massive expenditures to prevent entry and establishment of these insects, virtually all of the fruit-fly species targeted by eradication projects have been reappearing in the same locations — several of them annually — and gradually spreading in the state."

Carey, Papadopoulos and Plant detailed the problem in the opening paragraph of their meticulously researched paper: "Since 1954 when the first tropical tephritid fruitfly was detected in California, a total of 17 species in four genera and 11,386 individuals (adults/larvae) have been detected in the state at more than 3348 locations in 330 cities." That's three out of four California cities.

Frank Zalom, incoming ESA president. (Photo by Kathy Garvey)
Among those who weighed in on the research paper: 

Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology: "The study has dramatic implications for California agriculture and the state’s international trading partners, and speaks to the urgent need to alter current eradication policies aimed at invasive species."

Frank Zalom, UC Davis entomology professor and incoming president of the 6500-member Entomological Society of America: “This study deserves serious consideration, and I hope that it helps lead to new discussions on a long-term approach for dealing with fruit flies and similar exotic pests by the United States and international regulatory authorities."

Former UC Davis chancellor Ted Hullar (1987-1994), one of the first to believe in "the science" that Carey presented, said:  “From our first conversation, Jim struck me as a serious-minded guy, with strong ideas and clear focus, pursuing his insights and beliefs no matter the struggle. Good science and progress comes from that, making new paths in tough terrain, believing in the power of journey, as well as goal.”

Former UC Davis Chancellor Ted Hullar
The Medfly, smaller than a house fly, was first detected in California in 1975. It's considered the world's worst agricultural insect pest due to its wide distribution, wide range of hosts (its larvae infest more than 260 fruits and vegetables), and its ability to tolerate cool climates. 

The Medfly prefers such thin-skinned hosts as peach, nectarine, apricot, avocado, grapefruit, orange, and cherry. The female may lay one to 10 eggs per fruit or as many as 22 eggs per day. She may lay up to 800 eggs during her lifetime, but usually about 300. 

We remember when the Medfly wreaked economic havoc in the Solano County city of Dixon in September 2007. We were there.

At the time, Carey told us that "this may be just one of many isolated pockets of medfly infestations in California. This is really serious because the invasion process is so insidious."

The Medfly has been multiplying and spreading undetected--like cancer--for years, he said.  "It may be a symptom of a much larger problem. But any way you look at it, this is the first really big outbreak in the Central Valley."

CDFA set up a command center at the Dixon May Fair and imposed a 114-mile radius quarantine of fruits, vegetables and nuts. Dixon was deep in the throes of tomato and walnut harvesting. The owner of a 65-acre organic produce farm that ships to 800 clients worried  that he might lose $10,000 a week in potential sales.

Among the actions that the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) took at the onset:

  • Stripped all fruit from trees within a 100-meter radius of all Medfly finds
  • Ground-sprayed the organic compound Naturalyte (the active ingredient is Spinosad, a naturally occurring product of a soil bacteria) within a 200-meter radius of all Medfly finds
  • Set 1,700 fruit fly traps within an 81-square mile grid in all of Dixon and the surrounding area from near the Yolo County border to Midway Road
  • Began aerially releasing 1.5 million sterile male medflies (dyed pink for easy detection) over a 12-square mile area on Sept. 14, with weekly releases of 3 million medflies scheduled for at least nine months
  • Set up a yearlong command center, with four portable buildings and a task force of 25, on the Dixon May Fair grounds

Fast forward to today. Now that the Medfly has been declared a "permanent resident," what's next?

Carey agrees that “CDFA needs to continue to respond to outbreaks as they occur, but he advocates long-term planning based on “the science” that the insects are established. This includes heightened monitoring levels for the agriculturally rich Central Valley, an economic impact study, risk management/crop insurance, cropping strategies, fly fee zones/post harvest treatments, emergency/crisis planning, genetic analysis and a National Fruit Fly Program.

“Inasmuch as the Mediterranean, Mexican, Oriental, melon, guava and peach fruit flies have all been detected in the Central Valley, monitoring this incredibly important agricultural region should be increased by 5 to 10-fold in order to intervene and suppress populations and thus slow the spread,” Carey says.

“These pests cannot be wished away or legislated out of existence. Policymakers need to come to grips with this sobering reality of multiple species permanently established in our state in order to come up with a long-term, science-based policy for protecting agriculture in our state.”

(See James Carey's website for links to his work on fruit fly invasion.)

Mediterranean Fruit Fly. (Photo by Jack Kelly Clark)
Mediterranean Fruit Fly. (Photo by Jack Kelly Clark)

Mediterranean Fruit Fly. (Photo by Jack Kelly Clark)

Bugs Will Rule at UC Davis Picnic Day

Ladybugs will be given away to children visiting Briggs Hall. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
There's no doubt about it.

Bugs will rule at the 99th annual UC Davis Picnic Day this Saturday, April 20. 

The UC Davis Department of Entomology is planning lots of "bug" activities as part of the campuswide celebration. 

Visitors to Briggs Hall and the Bohart Museum of Entomology will find much to do and see from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, coordinator of the department’s Picnic Day activities, says there will be cockroach races, termite trails, ant colonies, Maggot Art, face-painting, fly-tying, honey tasting, T-shirt sales, and much, much more at Briggs Hall.

Briggs is located off Kleiber Hall drive, near the campus police and fire stations, while the Bohart Museum is in Room 1124 Academic Surge on Crocker Lane.

The Bohart Museum,  home of nearly eight million insect specimens, will feature wasp nests in its new display case. Displayed will be nests once occupied by European paper wasps, yellow jackets, carpenter bees and bumble bees. The Bohart also will include a live “petting zoo” where visitors can hold Madagascar hissing cockroaches, a rose-haired tarantula, and walking sticks. Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, directs the Bohart Museum.

At Briggs, you can also expect to see forensic, medical, aquatic, apiculture, and forest entomology displays, as well as a honey of a honey tasting.   In the courtyard, Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen will share six varieties of honey: manzanita, lima bean, pomegranate, almond blossom, orange blossom, and Northern desert shrub Nevada), a reddish honey. In Room 122, staff research associate/beekeeper Billy Synk of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility will provide a bee observation hive.

One of the most popular activities at Briggs is Maggot Art, a term trademarked by forensic entomologist Rebecca O’Flaherty, a former doctoral candidate in entomology at UC Davis. This involves dipping a maggot in non-toxic, water-based paint. “Artists”  pick up a maggot with special forceps, dip it in the paint and then let it crawl on white paper. O’Flaherty launched Maggot Art in 2001 at the University of Hawaii as a community outreach project when she was teaching entomology to youths.

The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) will set up its traditional  display in front of Briggs Hall where visitors can learn about managing pests in their homes and garden.  In addition, UC IPM will give away live lady beetles (aka ladybugs) to children.

Plans at Briggs Hall also call for a “Bug Doctor” to answer insect-related questions. The doctor is in! Last year’s “Bug Doctors” included Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.

So, bugs will rule! 

Briggs Hall is a popular place to be on UC Davis Picnic Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Briggs Hall is a popular place to be on UC Davis Picnic Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Briggs Hall is a popular place to be on UC Davis Picnic Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Visitors will flock to the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Visitors will flock to the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Visitors will flock to the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Principal editor/entomologist Steve Dreistadt of UC IPM explains insects to visitors. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Principal editor/entomologist Steve Dreistadt of UC IPM explains insects to visitors. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Principal editor/entomologist Steve Dreistadt of UC IPM explains insects to visitors. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 9:41 PM

UC Davis Alum and the Pathogens

Kelli Hoover
It will be like "old home week" when professor Kelli Hoover of Pennsylvania State University presents a seminar on Tuesday, March 5 on the UC Davis campus.

Hoover, who received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1997, will discuss “Co-Evolution in a Host Baculovirus System” from noon to 1 p.m. in 366 Briggs Hall.

She will be in California in conjunction with her trip to Ventura to participate in the Gordon Research Conference,  an international forum for the presentation and discussion of frontier research in the biological, chemical, and physical sciences, and their related technologies.

“The gypsy moth has a long co-evolutionary history with its host specific baculovirus, Lymantria dispar NPV,” Hoover said. “As a result, the gypsy moth has evolved counter-defenses against the virus, while in return the virus has strategies for increasing its own fitness at the expense of the host. For example, anti-viral defenses include apoptosis of infected cells (despite viral inhibitor of apoptosis genes), while the virus manipulates host behavior to enhance transmission to new hosts, which is an example of the extended phenotype.”

Female adult gypsy moth. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
Hosts are Bruce Hammock, distinguished professor of entomology; Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; and researcher George Kamita of the Hammock lab.

While a grad student at UC Davis, Hoover studied with  major professors Bruce Hammock and Sean Duffey (1943-1997). After a one-year postdoctoral position at UC Berkeley, she joined the faculty of the Penn State University Department of Entomology in 1998.

Her research program at Penn State focuses on invasive species, including development of trapping techniques for the Asian longhorned beetle; gut microbial symbionts of the Asian longhorned beetle and hemlock woolly adelgid; functions of key viral genes in transmission of the gypsy moth baculovirus and anti-viral defenses; and biological control of hemlock woolly adelgid.

Hoover is the lead author of the highly acclaimed research, “A Gene for an Extended Phenotype,” published Sept. 9, 2011 in Science. It was selected for the Faculty of 1000 (F1000), which places her work in its library of the top 2 percent of published articles in biology and medicine.

Kelli Hoover of Penn State chats with Kevin Heinz (center) of Texas A&M and Bruce Hammock of UC Davis at a meeting of the Entomological Society of America. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Kelli Hoover of Penn State chats with Kevin Heinz (center) of Texas A&M and Bruce Hammock of UC Davis at a meeting of the Entomological Society of America. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Kelli Hoover of Penn State chats with Kevin Heinz (center) of Texas A&M and Bruce Hammock of UC Davis at a meeting of the Entomological Society of America. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Kelli Hoover (front center) received her doctorate from the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 1997. She's shown here in 1993 with (from left) major prin 19ofessor Sean Duffey (1943-1997), Billy McCutchen and Bryony Bonning. (Courtesy Photo)
Kelli Hoover (front center) received her doctorate from the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 1997. She's shown here in 1993 with (from left) major prin 19ofessor Sean Duffey (1943-1997), Billy McCutchen and Bryony Bonning. (Courtesy Photo)

Kelli Hoover (front center) received her doctorate from the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 1997. She's shown here in 1993 with (from left) major professor Sean Duffey (1943-1997), Billy McCutchen and Bryony Bonning. (Courtesy Photo)

Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 8:26 PM

Our Man (Entomologist) in Washington

Frank Zalom in strawberry field in Watsonville.
It's going to be a busy year for UC Davis integrated pest management specialist/professor Frank Zalom.

Make that several years.

Zalom, who just completed a year as the vice president-elect of the 6000-member Entomological Society of America (ESA), was installed as vice president of the organization at its meeting last month in Knoxville, Tenn. and is in line for the presidency.

So, his ESA commitment totals four years: first as vice president-elect, then as the vice president, then as president, and finally, past president. Each is a one-year term.

ESA, founded in 1889 and now headquartered in Lanham, Md., a suburb of Washington, D.C., draws members from all over the world. They're primarily in educational institutions, health agencies, private industry and government.  

Zalom will be the second UC Davis entomologist to serve as ESA president. The first was Donald McLean, who held the top ESA office in 1986. Now an emeritus professor, McLean chaired the UC Davis Department of Entomology from 1974 to 1979 and served as dean of the Division of Biological Sciences from 1979 to 1986. 

As ESA's new VP, Frank Zalom is already assuming a myriad of duties. He participated in the 2012 Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP) conference held Dec. 8-10 in Washington, D.C.

ESA president Robert Wiedenmann, professor and head of the University of Arkansas Department of Entomology, and Zalom represented ESA at the meeting. The Council membership is comprised of presidents, presidents-elect and recent past presidents representing some 60 scientific federations and societies. The combined membership totals more than 1.4 million scientists and science educators. 

Among the many speakers were Paula Apsell, senior executive producer of NOVA-TV, who led a discussion on “Building Pubic Appreciation for Science”; Ian Shipsey, physics professor at Purdue University, who spoke on “Higgs Boson: How It Imparts Mass”; Lori Garver of NASA, “Mars and Beyond—Exploring the Endless Frontiers”; and Millie Dresselhaus, professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Nanoscale Carbon Electron-Phonon Interaction.” Charles Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering, keynoted the awards banquet on Dec. 9.

The CSSP contingent also met for a breakfast on Capitol Hill, interacting with congressional leaders, including chiefs of staff and senators.

According to a CSSP brochure, “The Council regularly develops national policy coordination recommended by its committees on issues of importance to the scientific community.” 

Among those issues are science and mathematics education; university-based research; federal research and education budget; responsible conduct of science; merit review of federally supported science; unimpeded exchange of scientific information; magnifying public science literary; research on teaching and learning; and directions for 21st century science.

Now the ESA governing board is gearing up for its 61st annual meeting, set Nov. 10-13, 2013 (initially set for Nov. 17-20) in Austin, Texas.  Also on the governing board from UC Davis is Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology, who represents the ESA's Pacific Branch.

Theme of the 61st annual meeting? “Science Impacting a Connected World.”

ESA vice president Frank Zalom (far right) of UC Davis with ESA president Robert Wiedenmann (far left) of the University of Arkansas, and Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). (Photo courtesy of ESA)
ESA vice president Frank Zalom (far right) of UC Davis with ESA president Robert Wiedenmann (far left) of the University of Arkansas, and Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). (Photo courtesy of ESA)

ESA vice president Frank Zalom (far right) of UC Davis with ESA president Robert Wiedenmann (far left) of the University of Arkansas, and Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). (Photo courtesy of ESA)

Posted on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 11:19 PM

Oh, the Critters We Overlook

Oh, the critters we overlook.

If you have flowering artichokes, expect to see honey bees, bumble bees, carpenter bees, leafcutter bees and syrphid flies foraging on them. And a few spiders waiting for dinner.

Don't expect to see a mayfly.

The mayfly habitat is in or around water.  Fly fishers use artificial lures that look like mayflies and other aquatic insects.

This tiny mayfly (below) was perched on a flowering artichoke, about 15 feet from our fish pond. 

Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis, says it's from the family, Baetidae.

Worldwide, the Baetid family has about 900 described species. The Baetids are unique in that they're among the smallest of the mayflies. In general, adult mayflies have a short lifespan,  often living just a day.  They're in the order Ephemeroptera (ephemeros is Greek for short-lived, and pteron means wing).

Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, teaches "Entomology for the Fly-Fisher" every spring quarter.  The course focus: "insect life in the aquatic ecosystem; methods and mechanics of fly fishing; what you need to know to match the hatch; and enhancing the fly-fishing experience for the novice and experienced angler."

Parrella, an avid fly fisherman,  taught entomology and fly-fishing classes while on a six-month sabbatical last year in Chile. 

Chances are he never encountered a mayfly perched on a flowering artichoke!

Mayfly, from the family Baetidae, rests on a flowering artichoke. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Mayfly, from the family Baetidae, rests on a flowering artichoke. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Mayfly, from the family Baetidae, rests on a flowering artichoke. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Long tail of the mayfly, family Baetidae. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Long tail of the mayfly, family Baetidae. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Long tail of the mayfly, family, Baetidae. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 9:25 PM

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