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They Met the Mantids--and Scores of Other Critters

A tropical praying mantis, Choeradodis stalii: camouflaged. Lohit Garikipati displayed five of his female praying mantids. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

They met the mantids, walking sticks, beetle-mimicking roaches, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, tarantulas, silkworm moths, a butterfly, a dozen...

A tropical praying mantis, Choeradodis stalii: camouflaged. Lohit Garikipati displayed five of his female praying mantids. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A tropical praying mantis, Choeradodis stalii: camouflaged. Lohit Garikipati displayed five of his female praying mantids. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A tropical praying mantis, Choeradodis stalii: camouflaged. Lohit Garikipati displayed five of his female praying mantids. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Middle school students from the Elk Grove Unified School District talk to praying mantis expert Lohit Garikipati, a UC Davis alumnus who rears mantids. In back is Bohart associate Emma Cluff. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Middle school students from the Elk Grove Unified School District talk to praying mantis expert Lohit Garikipati, a UC Davis alumnus who rears mantids. In back is Bohart associate Emma Cluff. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Middle school students from the Elk Grove Unified School District talk to praying mantis expert Lohit Garikipati, a UC Davis alumnus who rears mantids. In back is Bohart associate Emma Cluff. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Doctoral student and Bohart associate Ziad Khouri talks to visitors about tarantulas and millipedes. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Doctoral student and Bohart associate Ziad Khouri talks to visitors about tarantulas and millipedes. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Doctoral student and Bohart associate Ziad Khouri talks to visitors about tarantulas and millipedes. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Bohart associate Greg Kareofelas explains the moth and butterfly collection to a group of Elk Grove middle students. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bohart associate Greg Kareofelas explains the moth and butterfly collection to a group of Elk Grove middle students. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Bohart associate Greg Kareofelas explains the moth and butterfly collection to a group of Elk Grove middle students. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomology alumnus Nicole Tam talks about her beetle-mimicking roaches. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Entomology alumnus Nicole Tam talks about her beetle-mimicking roaches. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomology alumnus Nicole Tam talks about her beetle-mimicking roaches. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomology student Ian Clark staffs the family crafts activity, which involved decorating silkworm cocoons for finger puppets. In back are silkworm moth expert İsmail Şeker and UC Davis entomology student Andrew Goffinet. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Entomology student Ian Clark staffs the family crafts activity, which involved decorating silkworm cocoons for finger puppets. In back are silkworm moth expert İsmail Şeker and UC Davis entomology student Andrew Goffinet. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomology student Ian Clark staffs the family crafts activity, which involved decorating silkworm cocoons for finger puppets. In back are silkworm moth expert İsmail Şeker and UC Davis entomology student Andrew Goffinet. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomology student Ben Maples shows a Madagascar hissing cockroach. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Gavey)
Entomology student Ben Maples shows a Madagascar hissing cockroach. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Gavey)

Entomology student Ben Maples shows a Madagascar hissing cockroach. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Gavey)

A Bohart Museum of Entomolgoy visitor gets acquainted with an Australian walking stick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A Bohart Museum of Entomolgoy visitor gets acquainted with an Australian walking stick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A Bohart Museum of Entomolgoy visitor gets acquainted with an Australian walking stick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the Lepitoptera section, awaits visitors. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the Lepitoptera section, awaits visitors. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the Lepitoptera section, awaits visitors. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomologist Ann Kao, a 2019 UC Davis graduate who now works at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, crafts insect jewelry. At right is one of the t-shirts from the gift shop. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Entomologist Ann Kao, a 2019 UC Davis graduate who now works at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, crafts insect jewelry. At right is one of the t-shirts from the gift shop. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomologist Ann Kao, a 2019 UC Davis graduate who now works at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, crafts insect jewelry. At right is one of the t-shirts from the gift shop. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The Stamp of Approval

What a wonderful surprise!  I walked into our local post office today asking for a book of flower stamps.  I was shown the “usual suspects” of rose love stamps and the cactus stamps.  And then, the clerk brought out the newest stamps—a book of winter berries.  They're beautifully designed and seasonally perfect.

The book has four different winter berries, each perfectly executed: Juniper Berry, Winter Berry, Beauty Berry, and Soap Berry.  After using a few, I became curious about each of these seasonal berries.  So, a quick check found these few bits of information:

Winter Berries: Ilex verticillata, is a holly, native to eastern North America in the US and Southern Canada.  It's a dioecious plant—one that has separate male and female plants and is fast-growing.

Soap Berry:  Shephercia canadensus: is in the Oleaster family. It's found in most of Northern and Western North America.  Here, in our area, it can be found inland and is most happy in dry, moist open woods with rocky or sandy soils.

Juniper Berry: Is the female seed cone produced by various specious of Junipers.  The cones from a handful of species are used as a spice—especially in European cuisine and is what gives gin its distinctive flavor.  It may be the only spice derived from conifers.

Beauty Berry: Callicarpa americana: grows 3-5 feet tall—often as tall as 9 feet.  It's a deciduous shrub found in the Southeast US.  While the foliage is not spectacular, it's known for it's one remarkable feature—the bright purple berries that grow around the plants stems in plump clusters.

It would have been great if some information about these wonderful berries could have been printed on the stamp packet—but, how grand that the postal service has featured them and we have these beautiful stamps to use.  I think they'll be getting everyone's “stamp of approval”!

 

Posted on Friday, December 6, 2019 at 8:32 AM

Silkworm Moths Draw Widespread Interest at Bohart Museum of Entomology Open House

Silkworm moth expert, İsmail Şeker, a Turkish medical doctor and author of a silkworm moth book, answers questions from the crowd at the Bohart Museum open house. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Interest in silkworm moths soared high at the recent UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology open house on “Arthropod Husbandry: Raising Insects...

Silkworm moth expert, İsmail Şeker, a Turkish medical doctor and author of a silkworm moth book, answers questions from the crowd at the Bohart Museum open house. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Silkworm moth expert, İsmail Şeker, a Turkish medical doctor and author of a silkworm moth book, answers questions from the crowd at the Bohart Museum open house. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Silkworm moth expert, İsmail Şeker, a Turkish medical doctor and author of a silkworm moth book, answers questions from the crowd at the Bohart Museum open house. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The adult silkmoth cannot fly, İsmail Şeker tells the Bohart Museum of Entomology visitors. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The adult silkmoth cannot fly, İsmail Şeker tells the Bohart Museum of Entomology visitors. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The adult silkmoth cannot fly, İsmail Şeker tells the Bohart Museum of Entomology visitors. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

İsmail Şeker with his book containing his macrophotographs.(Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
İsmail Şeker with his book containing his macrophotographs.(Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

İsmail Şeker with his book containing his macrophotographs.(Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The silkworm moth display included eggs, larvae, pupae and adults. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The silkworm moth display included eggs, larvae, pupae and adults. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The silkworm moth display included eggs, larvae, pupae and adults. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Cora Tatum, 3, of Davis, checks out her newly created finger puppet--a silkworm cocoon. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Cora Tatum, 3, of Davis, checks out her newly created finger puppet--a silkworm cocoon. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Cora Tatum, 3, of Davis, checks out her newly created finger puppet--a silkworm cocoon. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Nobody Said Mother Nature Is Perfect

A Gulf Fritillary butterfly that never eclosed. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Some people are born good-looking. Some have the gift of gab. And some are lucky enough to be born smarter than the rest of us. Whether we like it or...

A Gulf Fritillary butterfly that never eclosed. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A Gulf Fritillary butterfly that never eclosed. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A Gulf Fritillary butterfly that never eclosed. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A newly eclosed Gulf Fritillary. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A newly eclosed Gulf Fritillary. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A newly eclosed Gulf Fritillary. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A Gulf Fritillary, one of Mother Nature's perfect specimens, covers a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A Gulf Fritillary, one of Mother Nature's perfect specimens, covers a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A Gulf Fritillary, one of Mother Nature's perfect specimens, covers a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2019 at 7:20 PM

History of the Poinsettia

Now that we're in the midst of the holiday season you see poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) plants in many homes and businesses.  But how much do you know about the history of the poinsettia?  And have you wondered why it's associated with the holidays?

Native to Central America, the Aztecs called the plant “Cuetlaxochitl.”  They used the plant's latex as a fever treatment and made a dye from the plant's leaves. 

The plant was named after Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779 – 1851), who was a doctor, amateur botanist, former member of Congress, and who served in a variety of government positions.  He helped found the National Institute for the Promotion of Science and the Useful Arts, which later became the Smithsonian Institution.  While he was the first American Ambassador to Mexico, he first encountered the red-leaved plants and was taken by its beauty.  So he sent plants home to his greenhouse and began propagating the plant in smaller sizes (it can grow naturally in Central America to small tree size) and sending it to botanic gardens.  Since Mr. Poinsett is credited with introducing the “Cuetlaxochitl” to the United States, the plant became known as the Poinsettia.

There are a few explanations as to how it became associated with Christmas.  The first is in Mexico the plant leaves only turn red naturally around Christmas.  Another explanation is that the shape of the plant leaves is believed to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem and the red leaves the blood of Christ.  The third explanation concerns an old Mexican legend.

According to the legend, a poor Mexican girl didn't have a present to give to the Baby Jesus during Christmas Eve services.  As she walked to the chapel with her cousin, her cousin told her that any gift given by someone who loves him will make him happy.  She still had nothing to give him.  So along the road, she gathered a small bouquet of weeds to give him.   When she arrived at the chapel she placed the bouquet of weeds at the base of the nativity scene.  To everyone's surprise, the weeds suddenly turned into beautiful bright red flowers, i.e. poinsettias.

Poinsettias have become a very important floriculture crop in the United States.  In fact, December 12th is now celebrated as National Poinsettia Day.  So if you've purchased poinsettia plants for your home this holiday season, you're not alone!

free image on Pixabay-Poinsettia, Plant, Red Flower
free image on Pixabay-Poinsettia, Plant, Red Flower

Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2019 at 12:57 PM

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