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Posts Tagged: Frank Zalom

It's All The Buzz

Honey bees will be "all the buzz" next week when the California State Beekeepers' Association (CSBA) meets Nov. 18-20 in Valencia, Calif., and the  Entomological Society of America (ESA) meets Nov. 16-19 in Portland, Ore.

Those who belong to both organizations have a decision to make: go to Portland, "The City of Roses," or to Valencia, known as "Awesometown."  They're 932 miles apart. Interestingly enough, they have more in common than you think. Both were founded in 1889.  CSBA is gathering for its 125th annual meeting while ESA is holding its 62nd annual meeting.

ESA, headed by Frank Zalom, distinguished professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will discuss scores of insects, including honey bees. Topics include "Nutrition and the Health and Behavior of Wild and Managed Bees" and "New Frontiers in Honey Bee Health Economics: Incorporating Entomological Research and Knowledge into Economic Assessments."

CSBA, headed by Bill Lewis of the San Fernando Valley, will zero in on safe pollination of almond orchards, urban beekeeping, honey bee forage and nutrition, mead-making, and honey bee health, exacerbated by pests, pesticides, parasites, diseases, malnutrition and stress. Varroa mites continue to be the beekeepers' No. 1 problem.

At the CSBA meeting, Extension apiculturist (retired) Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who serves as the organization's current apiculturist and parliamentarian (as well as a frequent speaker), will pass the torch--a smoker?--when he  introduces the new Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Nino in a Nov. 20th presentation. It's titled "California Extension Apiculturist--Passing the Torch." 

What we need now in California is rain. The drought worries us all. (Listen to what Mussen recently told Capital Public Radio about bees, the lack of floral resources, and the drought.)

And, as if on cue, it rained today. A honey bee in the apiary at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility ventured from its hive and encountered something it may not have seen before: rain drops.

A honey bee encounters rain drops Nov. 13 in the midst of the California drought. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee encounters rain drops Nov. 13 in the midst of the California drought. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A honey bee encounters rain drops Nov. 13 in the midst of the California drought. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This is what beekeepers want more of: rain and forage for their bees. This is a blue aster, member of the sunflower family. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This is what beekeepers want more of: rain and forage for their bees. This is a blue aster, member of the sunflower family. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This is what beekeepers want more of: rain and forage for their bees. This is a blue aster, member of the sunflower family. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 9:25 PM

Just Buggin' Ya

Frank Zalom (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If there's ever a time to start "buggin' someone,' that would be at the Entomological Society of America's 62nd annual meeting, set Nov. 16-19 in the Oregon Convention Center, Portland, Ore.  

There will be plenty of people to bug.

Some 3200 entomologists or persons interested in insects are registered to attend.

Our own Frank Zalom, distinguished professor of entomology in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, serves as president of the 7000-member organization, founded in 1889.  He's the second UC Davis entomologist to hold the office. The first was Donald McLean (1928-2014), emeritus professor and former chair of the department.

Zalom, an integrated pest management specialist, has selected his theme as "Grand Challenges Beyond Our Horizon," a perfect theme for a meeting in the Great Northwest.

Richard Levine, communications program manager for ESA, says that more than 90 symposia are planned and will cover such topics as bed bugs, honey bees, monarch butterflies, ticks, native pollinators, pesticide regulations, biological control, integrated pest management, genetically-modified crops, invasive species, forestry, entomophagy, organic farming, insect-vectored diseases, and more. In addition, there will be 1,750 papers and posters, Levine reports.

Highlights include:

  • Beyond Pesticides: The Conundrum of Bed Bugs
  • Insects as Sustainable and Innovative Sources of Food and Feed Production
  • Recovering Monarch Butterfly Populations in North America: A Looming Challenge for Science, the Public, Industry, and Legislators
  • Classical Biological Control of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Halyomorpha halys (Stål)
  • Nutrition and the Health and Behavior of Wild and Managed Bees
  • Contributions of Mosquito Research to Science & Society
  • Entomological Comics and Their Importance in Education and Culture
  • RNAi: Emerging Technology to Overcome Grand Challenges in Entomology
  • IPM: An International Organic Farming Strategy on Invasive Insect Species
  • New Frontiers in Honey Bee Health Economics: Incorporating Entomological Research and Knowledge into Economic Assessments

UC Davis will have quite a presence at the meeting. Among the scientists to be honored at the ESA meeting are three from UC Davis: Professor Diane Ullman and doctorate recipients Kelly Hamby (2014) and James F. Campbell (1999)

Diane Ullman (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Professor Ullman is the recipient of ESA's distinguished achievement award in teaching.  This is the highest honor that  ESA awards to its outstanding teachers. Ullman earlier was named the recipient of the outstanding teaching award from the Pacific Branch of ESA. Ullman chaired the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 2004-2005, and served as an associate dean for undergraduate academic programs, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. from 2005 to 2014. (See more information.)

Kelly Hamby, recipient of the John Henry Comstock Graduate Student Award from the Pacific Branch of ESA, will be honored, along with the other Comstock award winners from the other branches. (See more information)

Kelly Hamby
Hamby received her doctorate in entomology at UC Davis in March 2014, studying with major professor Frank Zalom. She has just accepted a position with the Department of Entomology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Starting in November, she will be an assistant professor of sustainable agroecosystems and will be involved in integrated pest management research, extension, and teaching. (See more information)

Research entomologist James F. Campbell, who earned his doctoral in entomology from UC Davis in 1999, will receive a special recognition award. The award, sponsored by Syngenta Crop Protection, recognizes entomologists who are making significant contributions to agriculture. Campbell is a research entomologist with the  Center for Grain and Animal Health Research Service of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, Manhattan, Kansas.  (See more information)

Three professors who received their doctorates in entomology in the 1980s from UC Davis are among this year's 10 elected Fellows.

They are:

  • Nilsa A. Bosque-Pérezprofessor, Department of Plant, Soil and Entomological Sciences at the University of Idaho. She received two degrees from UC Davis: her master's degree in 1981 and Ph.D. in 1985.
  • Gary Felton, professor and head of the Department of Entomology at Penn State University. He received his doctorate from UC Davis in 1988. In 2010, he delivered the Thomas and Nina Leigh Distinguished Alumni Lecture at UC Davis
  • Murray B. Ismanprofessor of entomology and toxicology at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. He received his doctorate from UC Davis in 1981. In 2012, he delivered the Thomas and Nina Leigh Distinguished Alumni Lecture at UC Davis

James Campbell
Graduate students in the UC Davis Department Entomology will participate in a debate on neonicotinoids.  The team, coached by Michael Parrella, professsor and chair of the department, is comprised of Jenny Carlson, Anthony Cornel lab; Rei Margaret "Rei" Scampavia, Neal Williams/Edwin Lewis lab; Ralph Washington Jr., Nadler lab; Daniel Klittich, Parrella lab; and Mohammard-Amir Aghaee, Larry Godfrey lab.

Many faculty and students will present talks or displays at the event.

Each participant will receive a copy of the 2014 ESA calendar, which features the work of insect photographers throughout the world.

A red flameskimmer dragonfly (Libellula saturata), taken by yours truly, is among the images.  I bugged the bug.  "Lib" perched on a bamboo stake near our fish pond and was not at all skittish when I walked up and asked "Okay if I bug you for a photo? After you polish off that sweat bee?"

In bug language, Lib said "Go ahead. Just get my best side, please."

So I did. Lib's best side. And then I wrote the requisite caption about this amazing dragonfly.

"The flameskimmer dragonfly (Libellula saturata) is native to western North America. It feeds on bees, flies, moths and other soft-bodied insects, catching them in flight and returning to a perch to eat. The males, about two to three inches long, are larger than the females. The males are firecracker red or dark orange, while the females are a medium to a darker brown. Adult dragonflies hang out at ponds, streams, ditches and at other water habitats. Females lay their eggs in warm ponds or small streams. The nymphs ambush their prey, feeding on insect larvae, including mosquitoes and aquatic flies. The nymphs also eat small fish, tadpoles and each other."

Flameskimmer dragonfly, Libellula saturata. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Flameskimmer dragonfly, Libellula saturata. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Flameskimmer dragonfly, Libellula saturata. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 5:15 PM

A True Success Story

Eggs of Virginia Creeper leafhoppers. (Photo by Cindy Preto)
Meet Cindy Preto.

The new UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's graduate student is an incredible success story who hurdled the obstacles heaved in her path and lets nothing—absolutely nothing--block her education, enthusiasm, research or goals.

The first thing you notice is her unbridled enthusiasm, whether she's monitoring Virginia Creeper leafhoppers or  parasitized leafhopper eggs in a UC Davis research vineyard, or sharing insect photos of everything from assassin bugs to praying mantids.

Preto, a former foster care youth, turned a disadvantaged childhood into a college diploma, and a college diploma into graduate school. 

“I'm the first in my family to graduate from college and to attend graduate school,” said Preto, who calls Los Angeles “home.” 

In June, UC Davis awarded her a bachelor's degree in viticulture and enology with an entomology minor in agricultural pest management. Now she's studying for her master's degree in entomology with major professor and integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, distinguished professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.

A Virginia Creeper leafhopper nymph. (Photo by Cindy Preto)
Despite his heavy schedule of teaching, research, public service and administration, Zalom-- president of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America and gearing up for the national meeting Nov. 16-19 in Portland, Ore.--opted to take “one more graduate student.” 

“I first met Cindy in my Entomology 110 class, Arthropod Pest Management,” Zalom recalled. “She was usually the last student to leave the diagnostic labs each week, and one time she apologized to me for staying so long. She said that she had been out of school and working for a while so she wanted to get the most out of her classes.” 

“She was a viticulture and enology major,” Zalom said.  “We discussed having her do an undergrad research project on grapes, so she applied for and received a MURALS (Mentorship for Undergraduate Research in Agriculture, Letters and Science) scholarship which allowed her to conduct a project in my lab.” 

 Her project? The development of the invasive European grapevine moth. Preto conducted her research in the Contained Research Facility on campus with co-advisors Spencer Walse and Dave Bellamy of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. Like Zalom, they praised her “excellent work ethic and enthusiasm.” 

Preto has presented her research at the UC Davis Undergrad Research Conference and at the ESA's 2013 national meeting on “The Effects of Temperature on the Chronological Distribution of European Grapevine Moth's (Lobesia botrana) Life Stages from Egg Eclosion.”  Next she'll present her undergraduate research at the ESA's 2014 meeting and is currently preparing a manuscript as a co-author for publication. 

On Saturday, Sept. 27 Preto will represent the Zalom lab at the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house on “How To Be an Entomologist” from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.” She'll show visitors what leafhoppers and parasitized eggs look like. 

“I am currently doing a biological survey of Virginia Creeper leafhopper in vineyards, looking at the population dynamics of all life stages, egg, nymphs, and adults,”  Preto said. 

The Virginia Creeper is one of three leafhoppers that she's studying in her population dynamics research. The others are the Western grape leafhopper and the Variegated leafhopper. They're all about the same size: 2 millimeters. In rearing eggs from nymphs to adults, she knows the distinguishing characteristics of each.

Zalom admires her enthusiasm, commitment and professionalism. “I was not seeking another grad student, but I couldn't help but accept Cindy into my lab when she decided that she would like to pursue a master's degree,” Zalom recalled. “Her project on leafhoppers associated with grapes fits her goals of working again in the grape industry when she completes her degree. Her enthusiasm for learning hasn't changed, and her research has been proceeding very well.” 

Indeed it has. She's also drawing widespread attention as a scholar. She received a Peter J. Shields Scholarship in September 2011; a Wine Spectator scholarship in September 2012; the MURALS research scholarship in November 2012; a Syngenta Scholarship, June 2013; a Wine Spectator Scholarship in October 2013; and an Orange County Wine Society Scholarship in October 2013.

Preto also participates in the new UC Davis program, Guardian Professions Program or GPP, which is open to Masters/Ph.D students who are former foster care youth. And, she continues to participate in the Guardian Scholars Program or GSP, open to all UC Davis students who were cared for in foster homes. GSP students offer support for one another and also to current and former foster care youth in local high schools and community colleges by offering UC Davis campus tours, outreach, interactive activities, and speaking on panels to share their story in hopes of encouraging former foster care youth to seek higher education.

A world traveler, she has journeyed to all seven continents, all 50 states, and to 59 countries. "It can be inexpensive," she said. Along the way, she's taken scores of images of insects.

Preto takes a multi-disciplinary approach to not only her research but life in general, eager to know, learn and share.  She figuratively skips to work, excitedly looking forward to new entomological finds.  She's recorded and photographed not only leafhoppers, but assassin bugs, minute pirate bugs, stink bugs, lace bugs, mites, thrips, damselflies, dragonflies, moths, bees, wasps, spiders (jumping spiders and black widows), whiteflies and praying mantids.

 When Preto is not out in the field monitoring insects, you'll usually find her reading about them or studying them in the lab—weekends included.  “It's extremely fascinating,” she said. 

Her career goal? To work for a vineyard in a pest and disease management position, preferably in an organic grape or sustainable vineyard. Another goal:  to receive her Pest Control Adviser license.

 “I love it,” she said. 

UC Davis graduate student Cindy Preto is studying vineyard leafhoppers. (Photo by Liam Swords)
UC Davis graduate student Cindy Preto is studying vineyard leafhoppers. (Photo by Liam Swords)

UC Davis graduate student Cindy Preto is studying vineyard leafhoppers. (Photo by Liam Swords)

Cindy Preto, shown here in a UC Davis vineyard, is the first in her family to graduate from college. She's now a master's student, studying with Frank Zalom. (Photo by Liam Swords)
Cindy Preto, shown here in a UC Davis vineyard, is the first in her family to graduate from college. She's now a master's student, studying with Frank Zalom. (Photo by Liam Swords)

Cindy Preto, shown here in a UC Davis vineyard, is the first in her family to graduate from college. She's now a master's student, studying with Frank Zalom. (Photo by Liam Swords)

Sticky traps in the vineyard. (Photo by Cindy Preto)
Sticky traps in the vineyard. (Photo by Cindy Preto)

Sticky traps in the vineyard. (Photo by Cindy Preto)

Posted on Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 5:48 PM

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)

Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 9:46 PM

Good Job!

Daren Harris (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's a fantastic project.

The UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA) has decided to provide travel funds to entomology undergraduates who want to present their research at entomological associations.

So EGSA has established the Jude Plummer Travel Grant, so named because Plummer, a pest control manager in Florida, donated $50 “to be used for such a cause,” said EGSA president Jenny Carlson, a Ph.D. candidate in the Vector Genetics Lab.  

This week EGSA announced the first recipient of the Jude Plummer Travel Grant: Daren Harris,  who received his bachelor of science degree in entomology from UC Davis in December. 

Harris will receive a travel grant of $300 to present his poster on the spotted wing drosophila at the 2013 meeting of the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America, set April 6-11 at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Stateline, Nev. 

Harris' poster is titled “Seasonal Trapping of Drosophila suzukii (Diptera:  Drosophilidae) in a Multi-Crop Setting.” He works as a lab assistant in the Frank Zalom lab, studying with professor Zalom and Ph.D candidate Kelly Hamby.

“We will be providing an opportunity for UC Davis undergraduates to apply twice a year for a total of $300, depending on funds,” Carlson said. “We will have one in the winter and one in the fall.” Those who want to support the project can donate to the EGSA fund or buy entomology t-shirts. 

Harris, who minored in fungal biology and ecology, plans to pursue a master’s degree in forest entomology. “I would like to study insect-fungus interactions with a  focus on inoculation of forest pests with entomophagous fungi,” he said. “Many of these pests are gregarious so capture, inoculation and release of a few  individuals may disseminate the pathogen to a large population.” 

“My  ultimate  goal is to work with the USDA forest service. I would love nothing more  than to make my living tromping around in beautiful north American forests." 

Harris said he initially wanted to be a taxidermist. “As a child I had bookshelves filled with biological oddities  and ‘specimens,’ including dead animals in jars of formaldehyde. My collection included everything from pet rodents to road kill. A high school biology teacher turned me on to entomology and I was hooked. The capture  and curation of insects satisfied that childhood collection impulse, with  the added bonus of frolicking through fields with a net.”

This tiny spotted wing drosophila is what Daren Harris is studying. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This tiny spotted wing drosophila is what Daren Harris is studying. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This tiny spotted wing drosophila is what Daren Harris is studying. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 10:43 PM

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