Non-entomologists may not recall his name, but entomologists--especially those who study biological control--definitely do.
And whether you do or don't, you'll want to see the display featuring George Compere (1858-1928), at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis. The memorabilia, gifted to the Bohart Museum by a Compere relative, is cased in the hallway fronting the door of the Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane.
In the display, titled "Life and Death of a Government Entomologist in the Last Century," Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and UC Davis professor of entomology, posted that "Compere was one of the premiere explorers in the history of biological control. He was stationed at what is now the University of California, Riverside."
Born in Davenport, Iowa, Compere worked for the Western Australia government "to collect parasites and investigate the potential for biological control of many insects," including the Mediterranean fruit fly, according to a Western Australian website. "By 1904, Compere was working for both the Californian and Western Australian governments, collecting parasites and predators from all over the world."
The Bohart Museum display includes an image of him, the typewriter he used, his badge, his pen, and a copy of the San Francisco Sunday Examiner magazine feature on him, "If A Fly Should Come to California," published on Feb. 8, 1903.
A non-dated news story, headlined "George Compeer (sic) Injured," noted that "George Compeer (sic), inspector at quarantine for the State Horticultural Commission, was seriously injured in the bay yesterday when he fell from the Jacob's ladder while attempting to disembark" from a freighter onto the tug of the U.S. Golden Gate. The exhibit also includes a letter of sympathy from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to his widow.
The Sunday Examiner magazine article called attention to "Why George Compete Has Started Around the World with a Magnifying Glass to Find a Bug and Why It is Vitally Important to the Fruit Industry that His Search Be Successful."
"BECAUSE a Fly, in advance of as terribly devastating an army of insects as ever set its plague hold upon a fertile land, came in an evil hour to Australia, George Compere of California has started around the world to find the insect that preys upon the destroyer.
"Every insect has its own particular enemy. Mr. Compere will continue to search until he finds the specimen for which he is sent. His success affords the only hope of salvation for Australia's fruit growers. He will carry the search, if necessary, into every portion of the globe where an insect can thrive. He has been employed by the Australian Government to perform this singular errand.
"En route, Mr. Compere stopped long enough in San Francisco to thoroughly acquaint the Board of Horticulture with the new danger which deserves their attention.
"If one of these flies should come to California," said Mr. Compere with simple earnestness--the simplicity of an expert knowing whereof he speaks and the earnestness of a man who has the interests of his home State lying near his heart--"If one of these flies were to come to California the consequences might be fatal to the fruit industry here for all time to come."
"These words were not idly spoken, for Mr. Compere is a careful, conservative man, who, realizing the power of the pest whose annihilation depends upon his endeavors, is gravely apprehensive for the safety of the State. With far-seeing eyes he beholds the picture of desolation that our fair land would present were the dreaded Fly to reach here before he finds its antagonist.
"For many miles around Queensland the farmers have been burning their beautiful trees and sadly setting themselves to the only task they may now venture upon without ruin to themselves. They are either converting their acres to pasture land, or plowing and planting to reap such products as wheat and barley in place of the fruits that were their pride and their means of maintenance until a Fly came to Queensland on a vessel from the Mediterranean.
"The glory of California lies in the vast yield of fruit which is sent to the ends of the earth, and in return comes golden tribute from almost every civilized country. The greater part of the valuation of real estate in California arises from the fact that fruit either is growing or can be grown upon its acres.
"Misfortune unspeakable would come upon us if, as in Queensland, the orchardists, weary and defeated in a fight against a creeping army of fruit destroyers, should give up in despair, make fuel of the trees and convert to wheat and cattle raising the orchards that have supported the great canneries, dryers and fruit shippers. Hence we shall follow the quest of George Compere with more interest than all the stories of battles between the nations. for somewhere under the sun is the parasite of the Queensland Fly, and in a glass case no bigger than is necessary to inclose one orange or peach tree can be bred enough of the soldiers of that tribe to defend all the orchards of California.
"There are those who will doubt that a few flies could ever increase to such appalling numbers as to make the great State of California fruitless, yet one gypsy moth escaping from a box in an Eastern State is now costing the local government there $100,000 a year to hold it in check. It eats, when in the caterpillar form, every green thing which is in its way. And hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of apples are destroyed in California by the codling moth yearly because a farmer sent East to his old home for a barrel of apples to exhibit at the State Fair. That was before there was any Board of Horticulture, and the judges, finding the apples wormy, were at a loss what to do with them Not assuming the authority to destroy them and not realizing their blunder, they allowed the farmer to take them back to the farm on his promise not to let the worms get away. But they did get away and now the codling moth eats half the apple crop of California."
George Compere's son, Harold, born in 1896, followed in his scientific footsteps, becoming an internationally known taxonomist, expert biologist and biological control historian.
It was a dismal year in Vacaville (and other parts of California) for monarch-rearing. Of the 10 caterpillars we collected from milkweed in our pollinator garden in early September and tried to rear, only eight made it.
One caterpillar died when a sibling attacked it. Another caterpillar made it to the chrysalis stage, and then it succumbed.
"The intersegmental membranes are showing," observed butterfly guru Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, who has researched butterflies for more than four decades and maintains a research website at http://butterfly.ucdavis.edu. "Whatever caused that, it opens the door to severe water loss, so the pupa will probably die."
Yes, it did.
Black lines rimmed the non-viable chrysalis, and then it deteriorated almost beyond recognition.
Lynn Epstein, UC Davis emeritus professor of plant pathology, photographed it under a Leica DVM6 microscope on Nov. 2. An amazing image.
Meanwhile, perhaps the eight monarchs we reared and released made it to an overwintering site along the California coast...maybe to the eucalyptus grove at the Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz.
Or maybe they encountered a predator--a praying mantis or a bird.
Regardless, the declining monarch populations at the overwintering sites along coastal California are troubling.
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, based in Portland, Ore., noted in a news release Feb. 2, 2018 that the "annual census of monarch butterflies overwintering along California's coast reveals that populations in western North America are at their lowest point in five years, despite recovery efforts. Volunteers with the Xerces Society's Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count visited more sites this past year than have ever been counted since the survey began in 1997, yet they tallied fewer than 200,000 monarchs."
“This year's numbers indicate a continuing decline in the monarch population,” noted Sarina Jepsen, the Xerces Society's endangered species program director. “Two decades ago, more than 1.2 million monarchs were recorded from far fewer coastal sites, and just last year nearly 300,000 monarchs were observed at almost the same number of sites.” Population estimates at individual sites also suggest that the western monarch population has continued to shrink. Of the 15 sites which have been monitored annually for more than two decades, 11 had lower counts than last year."
Also in the news release, Emma Pelton, conservation biologist with Xerces, said: “Counts at some of the state's largest sites were dramatically lower. Pismo Beach State Park was down by 38 percent, a private site in Big Sur was down by 50 percent, and the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove was down 57 percent, from 17,100 to just 7,350 butterflies.”
Xerces Society officials also noted that "the few sites in which monarch numbers remained stable or increased compared to 2016, include Natural Bridges State Park, Moran Lake, and Lighthouse Field State Park, all in Santa Cruz County."
We like to think that The Vacaville Eight were The Lucky Eight.
Think bed bugs, cockroaches, carpet beetles and pantry pests, among others.
Those are some of the critters you'll learn about if you attend the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house on urban entomology, set from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 18 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. It's free and family friendly.
Karey Windbiel-Rojas of the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM)--she's the associate director for Urban and Community IPM who serves as the area urban IPM advisor for Yolo, Sacramento and Solano counties--will be there to greet visitors and answer questions, as will Bohart Museum scientists and staff.
The pests the UC IPM scientist has been dealing with lately include carpet beetles, bed bugs and pantry pests. She'll hand out two newly published Quick Tips on carpet beetles and pantry pests, as well as information on other pests. What are some of the other pests? UC IPM's Quick Tips library ("some are household insects, some are pests in the garden/landscape, and some are obviously not arthropods") is here: http://ipm.ucanr.edu/QT/index.html.
The open house will focus on both household and garden insects, said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis. "The focus is urban entomology," she said. "We'll have out examples of all the wonderful household pests/friends and garden pests, along with the kinds of things they inspect restaurants for."
Like cockroaches, which thrive in human habitats and date back 350 millions years ago.
As an aside, Windbiel-Rojas promises to wear--or display--her cockroach costume that she wore on Halloween.
For the family arts and crafts activity, visitors will create mosaics rice in various colors. The youngsters will layer the colors in glass jars with lids. "This can serve as pretty artwork but also remind their parents to store grains in tightly sealed containers to keep pantry pests from infesting," Windbiel-Rojas said.
At a previous open house, youngsters glued dried rice and beans on insect images created by UC Davis entomology student/artist Karissa Merritt. It proved to be a popular activity.
Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the butterfly and moth collection at the Bohart, will be among the scientists at the open house. He worked in the pesticide industry for years, training people about entomology, noted Tabatha Yang, the Bohart's education and outreach coordinator.
The open house is free and open to the public. A donation jar will be set up to help Bohart Museum specialist Brennen Dyer; he and his wife lost their home in the wildfire fueled by strong winds that destroyed most of Paradise, Butte County. Profits from the sale of items in the gift shop on Sunday are also earmarked for the Dyers. (See Bug Squad blog.)
The Bohart Museum, home of nearly eight million insect specimens, is the seventh largest insect collection in North America and houses the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of insect biodiversity. In addition, the Bohart features a live "petting zoo," comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, tarantulas and praying mantids; and a year-around gift shop, which is stocked with T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
Other public weekend hours for the academic year 2018-2019 are:
- Saturday, Jan. 12, from 1 to 4 p.m.: "Time's Fun When You're Studying Flies"
- Saturday, Feb. 16, times vary: (campuswide) Biodiversity Museum Day
- Saturday, March 9, 1 to 4 p.m., "Eight-Legged Wonders"
- Saturday, April 14, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., (campuswide) UC Davis Picnic Day
The Bohart Museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. It is closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and on major holidays. Admission is free. More information on the Bohart Museum is available on the website at http://bohart.ucdavis.edu or by contacting (530) 752-0493 or emailing email@example.com.
That would be world-renowned honey bee geneticist Robert Eugene (“Rob”) Page Jr., the 2018 recipient of the Thomas and Nina Leigh Distinguished Alumni Award, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. His work includes the book, The Spirit of the Hive: The Mechanisms of Social Evolution, published by Harvard University Press in 2013.
Page will deliver the Leigh seminar--appropriately titled "In Search of the Spirit of the Hive: a 30-Year Quest"--at 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29 in the International House, 10 College Park, Davis.
With close ties to UC Davis, Page received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis and served as a professor and chair of the UC Davis entomology department before capping his academic career as the Arizona State University (ASU) provost. He maintained a honey bee breeding program managed by bee breeder-geneticist Kim Fondrk at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis, for 24 years, from 1989 to 2015.
Now provost emeritus of ASU and Regents Professor since 2015, he continues his research, teaching and public service in both Arizona and California and has residences in both states. He plans to move to California in December.
Page focuses his research on honey bee behavior and population genetics, particularly the evolution of complex social behavior. One of his most salient contributions to science was to construct the first genomic map of the honey bee, which sparked a variety of pioneering contributions not only to insect biology but to genetics at large.
His contributions to the California beekeeping industry--notably the Page-Laidlaw Closed Population Breeding theory--are legendary, says bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey of Washington State University and formerly of UC Davis, where she managed the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. "This has offered a practical system of stock improvement for honey bees, used worldwide. My career has been based upon applying this theory to develop and maintaining a population of Carniolan bees, now in their 36th generation."
"Often there is a large gap between research and industry interests and the impacts can be slow to be realized,"Cobey said. "The beauty of this system is that it is practical and addresses the unique challenges of honey bee stock improvement."
Traditional animal breeding models do not apply well to honey bees, Cobey explained. "Queens mate in flight with numerous drones and selection is based upon complex behaviors at the colony level. Rob's work in the behavior of social insects and contributions toward mapping the honey bee genomic opened new doors in bee research."
A native of Bakersfield, Kern County, Page received his bachelor's degree in entomology, with a minor in chemistry, from San Jose State University in 1976. After receiving his doctorate from UC Davis, he began his career at The Ohio State University, in 1986 and then returned to Davis in 1989 to accept an associate professor position in 1989. He served as department chair from 1999 to 2004, when he was recruited to be the founding director of the School of Life Sciences of ASU. His career advanced to dean of Life Sciences; vice provost and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and provost.
Among his many honors:
- Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
- Awardee of the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award (the Humboldt Prize - the highest honor given by the German government to foreign scientists).
- Foreign Member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences.
- Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
- Elected to the Leopoldina - the German National Academy of Sciences (the longest continuing academy in the world)
- Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.
- Fellow of the Entomological Society of America.
- Awardee of the Carl Friedrich von Siemens Fellowship.
- Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences.
- Fellow, Carl Friedrich von Siemens Foundation, Munich, Germany, September 2017-August 2018
The Leigh seminar memorializes cotton entomologist Thomas Frances Leigh (1923-1993), an international authority on the biology, ecology and management of arthropod pests affecting cotton production. During his 37-year UC Davis career, based at the Shafter Research and Extension Center, also known as the U.S. Cotton Research Station, Leigh researched pest and beneficial arthropod management in cotton fields, and host plant resistance in cotton to insects, mites, nematodes and diseases. In his memory, his family and associates established the Leigh Distinguished Alumni Seminar Entomology Fund at the UC Davis Department of Entomology. When his wife, Nina, passed in 2002, the alumni seminar became known as the Thomas and Nina Distinguished Alumni Seminar.
For information on the Rob Page seminar, contact Nicole Brunn at firstname.lastname@example.org. A reception is planned for 3 p.m.
The incredible University of California Linnaean Games Team, comprised of graduate students from UC Davis and UC Berkeley, won the national championship at the popular and highly competitive Linnaean Games hosted this week at the Entomological Society of America's meeting in Vancouver, B.C.
This makes the third year that a UC Davis-based team has won the national championship.
"In the final, UC defeated Texas A&M (graduate students), 140-20," said Joe Rominiecki, manager of communications for the Entomological Society of America (ESA). "UC defeated the University of Florida 110-100 in the semifinal round. In the preliminary round, UC defeated the Texas A&M undergrad team."
The Linnaean Games, launched in 1983, are lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competitions on entomological facts and played by winners of the ESA branch competitions. The teams score points by correctly answering random questions.
The UC team is comprised of captain Ralph Washington Jr., a UC Davis entomology graduate who is studying public policy at UC Berkeley; UC Davis doctoral students Brendon Boudinot, Jill Oberski and Zachary Griebenow, all of Phil Ward lab, specializing in ants; and UC Davis doctoral student Emily Bick of the Christian Nansen lab, a lab that specializes in insect ecology, integrated pest management and remote sensing.
In the first round, the UC team defeated the Texas A&M undergrads, the defending champions, by 120 to 0. "In the second round, we played Florida (including doctoral candidate David Plotkin, who specializes in the systematics and morphology of emerald moths), and won it in a nail-biting competition down to the last question!" said Boudinot. "Our final round was against the Texas A&M grads."
"Before us, there was a sudden death double overtime game (Texas A&M grads vs University of Delaware) which was really exciting," Boudinot said.
Griebenow recalled that among the questions the UC team correctly answered in the championship round:
Question: The longest-lived lepidopteran is a wooly-bear moth in the Arctiidae. In what habitat would you find these?
Answer: Arctic tundra
Question: The Passandridae are a family of beetles. What is unusual about their larvae?
Answer: The larvae are e ectoparasitoids of wood-boring insects.
The UC Davis Linnaean Games Team, captained by Washington, won the national championship twice, defeating the University of Georgia in 2016 and the University of Florida in 2015. Boudinot served on both championship teams, and Bick, the 2016 team. Last year UC Davis did not compete. Texas A&M won the national championship, with Ohio State University finishing second.
Each ESA branch hosts a Linnaean game competition at its annual meeting. The winning team and the runner-up both advance to the national competition. The national preliminaries took place Sunday, Nov. 11 while the finals got underway at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13.
Members of the winning team will each receive a gold medal and and a plaque for the team's department.
To get to the national finals, the UC team won the regional championship hosted by the Pacific Branch of ESA at its meeting June 10-13 in Reno. They defeated Washington State University in a sudden death overtime to win the title.
Congrats, UC Linnaean Team!
(Editor's Note: More information and photos are pending.)