Posts Tagged: Brian Turner
Brian Turner, outreach coordinator at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis campus, is used to walking around with a walking stick.
Not just any walking stick. The Giant New Guinea Walking Stick and the Vietnamese Walking Stick.
Although the Bohart Museum houses more than seven million insect specimens, some are quite alive, thank you. They include the walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, giant cave cockroaches, black widow spiders, and the rose hair tarantulas.
All are taking a brief "vacation" from the Bohart and are now housed in the floriculture building at the 134th annual Dixon May Fair, being held May 7-10.
When Turner delivered them to the fair Wednesday afternoon, the insects drew excitement from exhibitors setting up floral displays. They marveled at the size of the spiny Giant New Guinea Walking Stick (Eurycantha calcarate), which can reach 6 inches in length.
The male has large spikes on its back femurs. The female has what looks like a large stinger, but it really is an ovipositer (egg-laying structure).
These insects dine on bramble, rose and guava.
They do not dine on fairgoers.
When you think of a teddy bear, you think of a huggable stuffed animal.
Not so entomologists. When they think of a teddy bear, they think of the male Valley carpenter bee.
It's a green-eyed, fluffy golden insect that's nicknamed "teddy bear." You can hug it, too. Unlike the females, male carpenter bees don't sting.
When a Davis resident recently cut down a plum tree, hordes of buzzing insects tumbled out. Seeking identification, the resident carted a chunk of the wood and the golden insects into the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
What were they?
“Male carpenter bees, Xylocopa varipuncta, also known as Valley carpenter bees,” said entomologist Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
“Some of us refer to these males as ‘teddy bear’ bees, because of their yellowish-brownish color and fuzzy burly bodies,” said UC Davis emeritus entomology professor Robbin Thorp, who studies pollinators. “The females are all black with violaceous (violet) reflections on their dark wings.”
Carpenter bees, so named for their ability to tunnel through wood to make their nests, carve with their mandibles (jaws) but do not ingest the wood. Only the females excavate the tunnels, which average six to 10 inches in depth.
Thorp says he tries to convince people to learn to live with these bees as “they are important pollinators in our environment and have potential as pollinators of some crops.”
“Carpenter bees are beneficial in that they pollinate flowers in native plant communities and gardens,” he said. “That far outweighs any damage to wood structures.”
California is home to three carpenter bee species. I've seen X. tabaniformis orpifex buzzing around my backyard but never The Golden One.
What a gorgeous insect!