Friday, July 27, 2012

In recognition of the 2012 Bradshaw Entomology Lab...

So, it has been another great summer in the lab with another great crew (pictured to the right is everyone but Sean and Kelli). Sure there is plenty of work left to do in order to finish out the season; however, about 1/3 of the lab will be left after most of them go back off to school next month. So, I took the opportunity to take a photo today. I got a bit carried away this year and designed t-shirts for the lab.

There is sort of a Nebraska story and tradition that explains the "entomology blackshirts" shirts that we are wearing. According to Wikipedia, "The Blackshirts are the first-string defensive unit players for the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team." The short of it is that Nebraska football coaches in the 1960s began giving out black shirts to their top defensive teams. It eventually became a tradition where players had to "earn" their black practice shirts and at some point the entire Nebraska football defensive line became popularly known (at least in Nebraska and to all Husker fans) as "Blackshirts". So I felt it apt to hand out my blackshirts about mid-season once the summer crew had earned them. You can see the shirt fronts in the photos. The symbol for the Husker Blackshirts is often a skull and crossbones. Therefore, obviously, the back of the shirts have a screen print of Acherontia lachesis (the death's head hawkmoth, of Silence of the Lambs fame). There are actually three species of Acherontia that are commonly known as death's head moths. However, Acherontia lachesis could be roughly translated from old Greek as "proportioner of pain" and I kind of like the ring of that. This may seem as a bit of an eccentric act; however, a well-rooted team needs a bit of mythology and I have got a rock-solid crew deserving of my gratitude. Go team!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

More sawfly damage...

As indicated in a previous post, 2012 has been a boom year for wheat stem sawfly damage. I decided to put together a short video. I have had a few phone calls to the office inquiring about lodged wheat and some word-of-mouth chatter that would indicate that some wheat producers do not recognize wheat stem sawfly damage. It has been a windy year for a windy part of the country, so apparently a number of producers, understandably, are blaming their lodged wheat on the wind. Some are blaming the lodged wheat on the variety and suggesting that the variety that they planted had poor straw strength (or poorer than expected). This is only part of the story. Because the wheat stem sawfly girdles wheat tillers near the base late in the growing season, it often takes a bit of wind to knock the wheat down. When the wheat finally does fall, it often does so in dramatic fashion. The video is a bit of a crude "Duke Dukem" style view of sawfly damage, but I think it gets the point across.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Inventive students

An undergraduate in my lab developing a device to carry cow dung samples. That's right dung samples. She is working on a project that explores the attraction of dung beetles to various "qualities" of cow dung. She needed a better way of transporting her bait into the field. I've been telling my students this summer that they have unofficial minors in arts & crafts.