As a graduate student, publishing a paper is a big deal. After spending countless hours doing the research, slogging through the writing process, soliciting comments from co-authors, formatting the paper to meet journal guidelines, and dealing with reviewer comments, it’s nice to finally get that acceptance letter and know that your work is getting out there. The ESC Student Affairs Committee is happy to be posting a fourth roundup of papers authored by Canadian graduate students. Stay tuned to the ESC blog for some full length guest posts from some of the students below in the coming weeks!

Have a look at what some entomology grad students in Canada have been up to recently! Articles below were published online from April through June 2015.

Forestry

Seehausen et al. found that parasitism of hemlock looper Lambdina fiscellaria (Guenée) (Lepidoptera: Geometridae) pupae was significantly reduced in plots with high partial cutting intensities (40%). To sustain parasitism rates in forest stands vulnerable to hemlock looper defoliation at naturally high levels, it is recommended to refrain from high intensity partial cutting. Article link

Apechthis Ontario parasitizing a hemlock looper pupa (Photo credit: Lukas Seehausen)

Apechthis ontario parasitizing a hemlock looper pupa (Photo credit: Lukas Seehausen)

During its recent outbreak starting in the early 2000s, the mountain pine beetle destroyed huge areas of lodge pole pine forests in BC and Alberta while also expanding its geographic range east and north. More recently, the beetle has been confirmed to be attacking and reproducing in a novel host, jack pine, which is distributed from Alberta to the Atlantic coast. New research by Taft et al. looks at how specific chemicals in jack pine trees that affect mountain pine beetle vary in jack pine across its range. Article link

Another study from the Erbilgin lab at University of Alberta by Karst et al. revealed that stand mortality caused by prior beetle attacks of mature pines have cascading effects on seedling secondary chemistry, growth and survival, probably mediated through effects on below-ground mutualisms. Article link

Physiology and Genetics

Proshek, Dupuis, et al. found the genetic diversity of Mormon Metalmark species complex are more diverse than traditional morphological characters. Article link

A Lange Metalmark butterfly (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Oudin, Bonduriansky, and Rundle at the University of Ottawa found the amount of sexual dimorphism present in antler flies is condition-dependent. Article link

Nearby at Carleton University, Webster et al. studied the edge markings on moths to show they can provide camouflage by breaking up their body outline. Article link

Another study from Carleton University, from Hossie et al., showed that predator-deterring eyespots tend to appear on larger-bodied caterpillars and that smaller species are better off remaining undetected. Check out the detailed blog post about this study on the lead author’s blog, and a great photo gallery of caterpillars with eyespots! And here’s the link to the Article.

Jakobs, Gariepy, and Sinclair established that adult phenotypic plasticity is not sufficient to allow Drosophila suzukii to overwinter in temperate habitats. Article link

Insect Management

Part of the PhD work of Angela Gradish focused on the White Mountain arctic butterfly (WMA), a very rare butterfly occurring only on the alpine zone of Mts. Washington and Jefferson in New Hampshire. Despite its threatened status, little was known of the WMA’s population structure, distribution, and behaviour. So Gradish grabbed a net and headed up Mt. Washington, where she spent part of two summers collecting WMA samples for genetic analyses while performing a mark-release-recapture study on the population. She was the first to use genetic analyses to study the WMA, the results of which are presented here.  Find the results of the mark-release-recapture study here.

Angela Gradish collecting

Collecting butterflies on Mount Washington (photo credit: Angela Gradish).

Marshall and Paiero, from the Marshall lab at University of Guelph, gives a new record of a Palaearctic leaf beetle, Cassida viridis, which has been present in Ontario since 1974. Article link

Maguire et al., from the Buddle lab at McGill University, found destructive insect herbivores can positively or negatively impact ecosystem services depending on outbreak conditions. Article link

Biodiversity

Ernst and Buddle discovered that the diversity and assemblage structure of northern carabid beetles show strong latitudinal gradients due to the mediating effects of climate, particularly temperature. Article link

Behaviour and Ecology

The Luong lab at University of Alberta observed that ectoparasitic mites have deleterious effects on host flight performance of Drosophila species. Article link

Therrien et al. from the Erbilgin lab at the University of Alberta found that bacteria can influence brood development of bark beetles in host tissue. Article link

Desai, Kumar, and Currie from the Currie lab at the University of Manitoba conducted the first major baseline study of viruses in Canadian honey bees to show that deformed wing virus has the highest concentration among worker bees. Article link

Baines, McCauley, and Rowe from the Rowe lab at University of Toronto showed that dispersal is a positive function of body condition in backswimmers, but not interactive with predation risk. Article link

Backswimmers can often be seen swimming just under the surface of the water, ventral side up (Photo credit: Shannon McCauley).

Backswimmers can often be seen swimming just under the surface of the water, ventral side up (Photo credit: Shannon McCauley).

Strepsiptera is a peculiar and enigmatic insect order. All are entomophagous endoparasitoids. Unusually for parasitoids, they possess a very broad host range, encompassing 7 orders and 34 families of insects, in various habitats worldwide. Despite their broad host range, and cosmopolitan distribution, surprisingly little is known about their biology. The gaps in knowledge of this group has led to many generalizations about their biology and behaviour. Only recently are studies beginning to uncover a hitherto unforeseen diversity in reproductive strategies. In this review, Kathirithamby, Hrabar, and colleagues discuss the reproductive biology of Strepsiptera: what is known, and what mysteries remain to be solved. Article link

In the Sargent lab at University of Ottawa, Russell-Mercier and Sargent investigated herbivore-mediated differences in floral display traits and found that they impacted pollinator visitation behaviour, but not in female reproductive success. Article link

Techniques

Can you use gut content DNA analysis of a staphilinid beetle to track predation of spotted wing drosophila? Here’s what Renkema et al. found.

Rosati et al., from the Vanlaerhoven lab at University of Windsor, discuss using ImageJ software to quantify blow fly egg deposition in a non-destructive manner. Article link

We are continuing to help publicize graduate student publications to the wider entomological community through our Research Roundup. Find the previous edition here: http://escsecblog.com/2015/05/04/canadian-entomology-research-roundup-march-2015-april-2015/. If you published an article recently and would like it featured, e-mail us at entsoccan.students@gmail.com. You can also send us photos and short descriptions of your research, to appear in a later edition of the research roundup.

For regular updates on new Canadian entomological research, you can join the ESC Students Facebook page or follow us on Twitter @esc_students

Emerald Ash Borer. Credit Debbie Miller, USDA Forest Service. Bugwood.org

Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis). Credit: Debbie Miller USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org.

To mark the publication of the Emerald Ash Borer special issue from The Canadian Entomologist, guest editors Chris MacQuarrie and Krista Ryall from Natural Resources Canada have co-authored this blog post about the issue.

In 2002, residents of Detroit, Michigan noticed something was killing their ash trees. Ash trees in North America are susceptible to some diseases that can result in decline and mortality, so a forest disease specialist was dispatched to investigate why these trees were dying. It was soon determined that the culprit was not a disease, but an insect: a shiny, metallic-green, buprestid beetle not previously known from Michigan, or anywhere else in North America. Authorities in Michigan notified their Canadian counterparts who soon discovered numerous ash trees dying in Windsor, Ontario from damage caused by the same beetle. Eventually, with the help of a European systematist the insect was determined to be the previously described (and previously rare) Agrilus planipennis. Today, this insect is better known by its common name:  the emerald ash borer.

To commemorate the discovery of emerald ash borer in North America, we organized a symposium and workshop at the 2013 Entomological Society of Canada’s and Ontario’s Joint Meeting in Guelph, Ontario. The timing and location of this workshop seemed appropriate because 2013 marked 10 years of research on the emerald ash borer and Guelph is located only a few 100 kilometres from where emerald ash borer was first found, and is now well within the insect’s Canadian range. Our goal with this symposium was to review the state of knowledge on emerald ash borer after ten years of research, and look ahead to the questions that researchers will be asking as the infestation continues to grow and spread. We were fortunate that many of the researchers who have contributed so much of what we know about emerald ash borer were able to participate.

We were quite pleased with how well the symposium turned out. However, information presented in a symposium is ephemeral and fades away as soon as the last talk is over. To prevent this, we imposed upon our presenters to also prepare written versions of their presentations. It took some time, but now these papers are all complete, and have been put together to form a special issue of The Canadian Entomologist dedicated to the emerald ash borer.

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer.  Image credit: Chris MacQuarrie

Ten years is a long time in research. We estimated that over 300 papers on emerald ash borer had been produced over that period, with more being produced every month. It is our hope that this special issue can serve as an entry point into this literature for researchers new to the field. We also hope that this issue can be valuable to more established researchers as well, to use as a resource and a touchstone in their own work. This special issue can also serve as a reminder of how much effort is required (in both research and by people) to understand a new pest. What we have learned about emerald ash borer over the past ten years (well, 13 years now) is immense. There is still much to learn though.”

The Emerald Ash Borer special issue is the free sample issue of The Canadian Entomologist for 2015.

Access the special issue for free until 1st January 2016 here.

Main image credit: Debbie Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

—- By Gwylim S. Blackburn & Wayne P. Maddison—-

Animals reveal a lot about their lives simply by the way that they behave. When observed in the wild, they also offer insights to the function of behaviours in a natural context. Capturing these insights just requires a little patience, and attention to the right details.

In a recent study printed in the journal Behaviour, we set out to document Habronattus americanus jumping spider behaviors that would shed light on their ‘mating strategies’—the tactics used by females and males to acquire mates. Specifically, we wanted to know if males show off their flashy displays only to females or also compete directly with each other, if they invest heavily in mate search, and if females are choosy when deciding who to mate with.

HamericanusMaleFront_Blackburn&Maddison

An adult male Habronattus americanus jumping spider travels through beach habitat in British Columbia, Canada. The bright coloration on his face and legs is presented to females during elaborate courtship dances. Photo credit: Sean McCann.

To pursue these issues, we followed 41 adults for up to 30 minutes each, and we also staged interactions between an additional 36 male-female pairs, in natural habitat.

Typical Habronattus americanus habitat is fairly flat, well-drained, and sparsely covered with plants, sticks, or pebbles. Photo credit: Maxence Salomon

Typical Habronattus americanus habitat is fairly flat, well-drained, and sparsely covered with plants, sticks, or pebbles. Photo credit: Maxence Salomon

The behaviours of both sexes pointed quite strongly to indirect male competition for choosy females. Males did not display to (or fight with) each other. Instead, they travelled far and wide, eating nothing but displaying to every female they met. Females, on the other hand, focused on hunting rather than travel, and they almost never permitted copulation despite the vigorous courtship efforts of males.

Collectively, these behaviours supply deeper lessons than their individual functions; they also indicate how natural selection might shape several of the traits involved. In particular, our findings suggest that female mate choice may be the key source of selection favouring the evolution of male display traits.

An adult female Habronattus americanus jumping spider in natural beach habitat. Females are avid hunters. Photo credit: Sean McCann

An adult female Habronattus americanus jumping spider in natural beach habitat. Females are avid hunters. Photo credit: Sean McCann

The apparently high investment by males in mate search also represents a potential factor shaping female mate preferences. In a variety of other species, mate search costs have been shown to provide a way for females to judge the quality of prospective mates. This is because males who are able to pay those costs while still producing an impressive display can make better fathers (e.g., by providing better parental care, or by passing along advantageous genes to their offspring). To determine if this is the case in H. americanus, further research will be needed to see how male condition is linked to the quality of their displays and the success of their offspring.

The Habronattus jumping spiders are famous for their stunning array of male displays. It would be fascinating to know how mating strategies, and the natural surroundings in which they unfold, have influenced this diversity. Behavioural observations of different species in the wild will be essential for getting at this question.

As a graduate student, publishing a paper is a big deal.  After spending countless hours doing the research, slogging through the writing process, soliciting comments from co-authors, formatting the paper to meet journal guidelines, and dealing with reviewer comments, it’s nice to finally get that acceptance letter and know that your work is getting out there. The ESC Student Affairs Committee is happy to be posting a third roundup of papers authored by Canadian graduate students. Stay tuned to the ESC blog for some full length guest posts from some of the students below in the coming weeks!


Here’s what some entomology grad students in Canada have been up to recently (Articles published online in March and April, 2015):

Ecology and Evolution

All species are variable and are constantly evolving but we simply do not know how ecologically important this is. Nash Turley and colleagues at the University of Toronto Mississauga showed that genetic variation and evolution over the course of a month in a rapidly reproducing insect herbivore (green peach aphid) plays large roles in shaping the growth of plants they feed on. This suggests that genetic and ongoing evolutionary processes are important to consider when trying to understand the ecological effects of interactions among species. Article link

Top: Different genotypes of the green peach aphid; Bottom: A field experiment to test the effect of contemporary aphid evolution on plants

Top: Different genotypes of the green peach aphid; Bottom: A field experiment to test the effect of contemporary aphid evolution on plants (photos provided by Nash Turley)

Emsen Hamiduzzaman (University of Guelph) and colleagues compared viral infection rates between honey bee colonies with high and low rates of parasitic mite population growth. Article link

Many of the 5,000+ bark beetle species produce acoustic signals to communicate with the opposite sex, but the question that has never before been answered is, what are they trying to say? Amanda Lindeman and Jayne Yack (Carleton University) determined that these signals likely communicate the signaller’s fitness and are the proverbial password that encourages a female to step aside and grant a male admittance to her gallery. Article link

A male red turpentine beetle at the entrance to a female’s gallery. Female is visible blocking the gallery entrance

A male red turpentine beetle at the entrance to a female’s gallery. Female is visible blocking the gallery entrance (photo provided by Amanda Lindeman).

Mating experience matters! Joanna Konopka (Western Univeristy) found that Western bean cutworm moth females with more than one mating experience are ready to go again sooner, with a shorter refractory period and earlier onset of calling. Article link

‘Bee hotels’ are nesting habitat analogues of cavity-nesting bees and wasps. These devices are great research and monitoring tools, but more recently, concern for declining bee populations has led to their commercialization and conveyance as a means to ‘save the bees’ and house native pollinators. In a study conducted by Scott MacIvor (University of Toronto), 600 bee hotels were used to sample populations and found that 50% of colonizers were wasps and another 25% were exotic bees. Further, native bees were parasitized significantly more often than exotic bees. Many native bees use bee hotels but communicating the diversity of occupiers is needed to avoid ‘bee-washing’. Article link

Nestbox JSM

A ‘bee hotel’ nest box (photo provided by Scott MacIvor).

A molecular phylogeny of Taeniapterini (Stilt-legged flies, Micropezidae) created by Morgan Jackson and colleagues (University of Guelph) leads to a reclassification of the large genus Taeniaptera and the resurrection two genera. Article link

Aaron Hall (University of Toronto) and colleagues found that recreational boating pressure affects dragonfly/damselfly community composition and can impact conservation planning. Article link

Thomas Onuferko and colleages (Brock University) found that warmer climate leads to earlier nest initiation and lengthening of the flight season, but not to colony social organisation or queen-worker reproductive skew in a eusocial sweat bee. Article link

Gwylim Blackburn and colleagues at the University of British Columbia investigated the mating strategies of Habronattus americanus jumping spiders by documenting the movements, hunting activity, and social interactions of more than 100 individuals in their natural habitat. Males did not display directly to each other to compete for female mates. Instead, they traveled widely, eating nothing and displaying to every female they met. Females traveled significantly less than males and spent more time hunting. They also appeared picky when choosing mates, rejecting nearly every courting male that they encountered. These findings point to female mate choice as a potentially strong source of selection on male sexual displays. Article link

HamericanusMaleFront_Blackburn&Maddison

An adult male Habronattus americanus jumping spider travels through beach habitat in British Columbia, Canada. The bright coloration on his face and legs is presented to females during elaborate courtship dances. Photo credit: Sean McCann.

Agriculture

With no natural enemies in North America, 4-5 generations per year, and early- and late-emerging phenotypes, local swede midge populations can overwhelm established management tactics and cause significant damage to broccoli, cauliflower, and other Brassica crops.  Laboratory experiments by Braden Evans, and his colleagues at the University of Guelph, showed that native (Ontario) strains of the entomopathogenic nematodes Heterorhabditis bacteriophoraSteinernema carpocapsae and Steinernema feltiae,and the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium brunneum all infected swede midge larvae, pupae and pre-pupal cocoons and all three nematode species successfully reproduced inside swede midge larval hosts.  Field experiments showed some suppression of adult emergence from the soil, suggesting that entomopathogens may hold some potential as a swede midge management tactic for conventional and organic producers. Article link

Adult swede midge, Contarinia nasturtii. Photo credit: D.K.B. Cheung

Adult swede midge, Contarinia nasturtii. Photo credit: D.K.B. Cheung

Haley Catton (UBC-O and AAFC Lethbridge) and colleagues found out that a controversial biocontrol weevil with low host specificity rarely attacks non-target plants in the field. Article link

Rassol Bahreini (University of Manitoba) found that differential Varroa mite removal of different honey bee stocks was possible under low temperature. Article link

Lygus lineolaris is the dominant mirid species in soy, navy, and pinto bean fields in Manitoba, reports Tharshi Nagalingam at the University of Manitoba. Article link

Ground beetles aren’t just important generalist predators – they eat weed seeds! A new review by Sharavari Kulkami (University of Alberta) and colleagues here: Article link

Physiology and Genetics

Genes encoding the peritrophic matrix of Mamestra configurata (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) were expressed in the midgut of feeding larvae and the results were used to update a model on the lepidopteran peritriphic membrane. This work was conducted in part by Umut Toprak at the University of Saskatchewan. Article link

Christina Hodson, Phineas Hamilton and colleagues (University of Victoria) co-authored a review article by on the major consequences of uniparental transmission of mitochondria, and an unusual case of extreme sex ratio distortion in a booklouse. Article link

Two genes from the mitochondria genome have potential as genetic markers for examining the population genetics and phylogeography of black legged ticks reports Chantal Krakowetz and colleagues at the University of Saskatchewan. Article link

Harvir Hans and Asad Lone (McMaster Unviersity) found hormetic agents like metformin may derive significant trade-offs with life extension in crickets, whereas health and longevity benefits may be obtained with less cost by agents like aspirin that regulate geroprotective pathways. Article link

Work conducted by Litza Coello Alvarado and colleagues from the Sinclair lab at Western, found that increased tolerance of chilling is associated with improved maintenance of ion and water homeostasis in the cold for Gryllus crickets. Article ink


We are continuing to help publicize graduate student publications to the wider entomological community through our Research Roundup.  Find the first two editions here and here. If you published an article recently and would like it featured, e-mail us at entsoccan.students@gmail.com.  You can also send us photos and short descriptions of your research, to appear in a later edition of the research roundup.

For regular updates on new Canadian entomological research, you can join the ESC Students Facebook page or follow us on Twitter @esc_students

As part of the Canadian Entomology Research roundup (the first two posts can be found here and here), we will be sharing more detailed posts from the grad students involved in the published research.

Below is a post from Jessica Ethier, sharing her research experience that spanned an undergraduate and PhD degree.


I just published a paper in Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata. From start to finish, the work only took a decade.

Ten years ago, in the summer of 2005, I had just finished my first year as an undergraduate student at Concordia University. I had no plans yet for what I would do after graduating; really, I was just glad I’d survived that first year. But across the country, unbeknownst to me, traps were being set, insects were being collected, and by the time I was starting my second year of university here in Montreal, a student at the University of Alberta was busy pulling the wings off a bunch of dead moths.

A horrific sight to innocent insect passers-by.

A horrific sight to innocent insect passers-by.

That student was Kevin Lake. He was doing his undergraduate research project on the effects of population density on wing size and colour in the Malacosoma disstria moth with Maya Evenden and Brad Jones. Fast-forward one year to the fall semester of 2006, and I had now transformed (one might say, metamorphosed) into a seasoned third year undergrad dabbling in research for the very first time. In Emma Despland’s lab, I had a freezer-ful of more dead moths just waiting to be de-winged and studied, and (thanks to Maya and Emma) the protocols Kevin used for wing removal and colour scoring. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, it was 2009 and I had just fast-tracked to a PhD from a Master’s for my research on colour polymorphism and wing melanization in the M. disstria moth.

One of the aims of my graduate research as a whole was to try and figure out why there was always so much individual variation in colour within the genetically-based phenotypes. Emma and I developed an experiment for spring of 2010 to see if limiting dietary protein in the larval stage limited the expression of colour in the adult moth. I even had my very own undergraduate student for the project, Michael Gasse, to rear the insects, process the wings, and collect the colour data. But it wasn’t all rainbows and puppies and pulling wings off dead moths. First we had to get the insects from somewhere.

As luck would have it, there was a forest tent caterpillar outbreak about an hour away from the city that year (for some reason, the landowners – maple syrup producers – were not nearly as gleeful about this infestation of their sugar maple forests as all the members of the Despland lab were). So off we trooped in the middle of February, tree clippers, binoculars, and plastic lunchboxes in hand, to go collect as many egg masses as we could get our mitts on.

You thought the lunchboxes were for lunches? Photo by Alison Loader

You thought the lunchboxes were for lunches? Photo by Alison Loader

Then it was back to school, to spend most of April, May, and June in the sub-basement dungeon lab, slaves to the needs of the exponentially-growing, insatiable eating and pooping machines that we called our experimental subjects.

First instar M. disstria colonies in 30mL hatching cups with artificial diet. Those cups are basically the little plastic shot glasses you see at dollar stores. By the time they reach the final instar, the caterpillars are typically longer than those cups are tall. Photo by Alison Loader.

First instar M. disstria colonies in 30mL hatching cups with artificial diet. Those cups are basically the little plastic shot glasses you see at dollar stores. By the time they reach the final instar, the caterpillars are typically longer than those cups are tall. Photo by Alison Loader.

We all survived another research season, and Mike moved on to wing-pulling and colour scoring a few hundred moths. Time flew by, as time will do, but in 2012 I finally finished and submitted my article on nitrogen availability and wing melanization in the Malacosoma disstria moth!

It was rejected.

Undeterred, I chose another journal and submitted again. And again. And again. After the fourth or fifth rejection, I stopped resubmitting. Not because I was giving up, but because I had to write my thesis and graduate. Once that little matter was taken care of, I went back to my pesky paper. Looking at it with fresh eyes, I realized that the two sections I had divided my paper into just did not complement each other, despite being based on the same experiment. Then I had an epiphany. One of the reasons for forest tent caterpillars to suffer nitrogen limitation in real life is high population density.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

By Dr. Tom Chapman, Memorial University

—-

I used scissor to cut my pant into short. A jarring opening sentence, I know. It is how I use to feel when someone dropped the “s” in “thrips”; it is a plural noun, don’t you know? If you see a solitary individual of these animals it is still referred to as a “thrips”.  I have been quick to correct people that have made this mistake. But lately on this issue, I have become tired of being the grammar pedant.

Art work done by Michael McLeish and Andrew Chaulk.

Art work done by Michael McLeish and Andrew Chaulk.

I don’t mean to be insulting to the readers of this blog, I am assuming you are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about insects, but just maybe you haven’t heard much of thrips. They are members of the insect Order Thysanoptera, and world wide there are at least 5000 species. They are small; in fact, they are typically the size and colour of the commas in this very sentence. These slithering punctuation marks do not commonly attract the attention of insect enthusiasts. However, for a small number of economically important species there is a large and vibrant community of researchers. These scientists routinely gather together to describe and discuss their research outcomes, with their next big event to be held in California (2015, Xth International Symposium on Thysanoptera & Tospoviruses).  Among the dominant applied work that will be presented at this meeting, and those of the past nine meetings, will also be more curiosity driven research.  This group of non-applied thrips-focused researchers could book a table at most restaurants. No more or less important, just a more private club. A club I joined as a PhD student.

Professor Bernard Crespi, in his early career, did a stint in Australia as a Research Associate. His motivation to travel to the antipodes was to answer the challenge, are there social thrips? The evolution of altruism (sub-fertility in part of a population) in the insects was and remains an outstanding conundrum for evolutionary theory. Theoretical attempts made in the sixties and seventies to explain these incidences of self-sacrificing castes appeared to also predict that somewhere within the diversity of thrips species we should also find sociality. There were no ready examples. Crespi had a hunch that social thrips would be found among the gall-inducing thrips on Australian Acacia.  In brief, he was right! Subsequently (Again, drastically shortening the story. Hey, I am not trying to write Crespi’s biography here.), Crespi took a position at Simon Fraser University where his research began with a focus on Australian social thrips. I was the first graduate student he recruited.

I will admit that the thrips played no part in attracting me to the program. Instead, it was Crespi’s strong scientific reputation and the chance to do field work in Australia that was the lure. However, it was several years of working in Canada with preserved and frozen specimens of thrips before I saw their full charm in their native habitat. I was hosted in Australia by Crespi’s major collaborator with the thrips work, Dr. Michael Schwarz, at Flinders University. In this prominent social insect lab I met three students with the same taxonomic focus as me.  Like Tigger in The Tigger Movie, I had started to fear that I was the only one. We connected quickly, and one of the pivotal bonding events happened during a trip to a Nursery outside the city of Adelaide. We needed native Australian plants for an experiment and the Nursery that could provide them was located inside a national park. On the way in we saw a sign warning visitors that they were not permitted to bring in plants or soil for fear of introducing pests. The list of pests included “thrip”. On our way out of the park, we stopped our truck; one of us jumped out with a permanent marker and added an “s”. Having scored one for thrips, we cheered and drove away.

It has been almost twenty years since we vandalized that sign (I hope that is longer then the crime’s statute of limitation). Since then I have continued research on social thrips, and I have given lectures in undergraduate and graduate classes, job interviews, conferences, public lectures and even dinner parties. Many people have engaged me after these events to express further interest in the work. If they said “thrip”, I corrected them. I thought educating people outweighed the potential risk of embarrassing them. My behaviour has certainly lost me a few acquaintances, some people have skin that is thin, but is there any evidence that I have been successful in educating people? I think the answer is no. A student of mine was interviewed a little while ago on the national radio science show, Quirks and Quarks. She corrected the host when he dropped the “s”. Two students and I submitted a paper to an entomological journal, and one reviewer pointed out to the editor the poor grammar of our presentation. The example they used to illustrate our incompetence was our failure to drop the “s”. I am co-writing a book chapter with a longtime friend and colleague, he edited my part by dropping a few of the “s”s. I give up. Not research or a fascination with thrips, just the “s” thing. It is now my opinion that the thrips research community is better off without this plural noun. To the uninitiated it sounds weird to use “thrips” in the singular, and to insist on its proper use is alienating. I don’t know how to change this. Who is in charge? How do you start a revolution? In the mean time, to those that naturally say “thrip” I am sorry I have offended you, let’s be friends.

As a graduate student, publishing a paper is a big deal.  After spending countless hours doing the research, slogging through the writing process, soliciting comments from co-authors, formatting the paper to meet journal guidelines, and dealing with reviewer comments, it’s nice to finally get that acceptance letter and know that your work is getting out there.

We are continuing to help publicize graduate student publications to the wider entomological community through our Research Roundup. The ESC Student Affairs Committee is happy to be posting a second roundup of papers authored by Canadian graduate students. If you published an article recently and would like it featured, e-mail us at entsoccan.students@gmail.com.

For regular updates on new Canadian entomological research, you can join the ESC Students Facebook page or follow us on Twitter @esc_students.

So, what’s hot off the press, you ask? Here’s what some entomology grad students have been up to between 31 January 2015 and 4 March 2015:

Systematics and Morphology

Piophilidae is an important family of flies to forensic entomology: their occurrence on a corpse can help determine post-mortem interval and assist legal investigations. Sabrina Rochefort (McGill University) and colleagues provide an updated key to the forensically pertinent Piophilidae in the Nearctic Region. Article link

Read more in a post on the ESC Blog

Physiology

Enrique Rodriguez (University of Ottawa) and colleagues put the membrane pacemaker hypothesis to the test for the first time in invertebrates. They found that membrane composition of flight muscle in tropical orchid bees varies with body size and flight metabolic rate. Article link

Behaviour and Ecology

How do bumblebees deal with flowers that are blowing in the wind? Hamida Mirwan (University of Guelph) and colleague found that one species of bee showed no preference between mobile and immobile flowers but motion may be a factor in terms of foraging performance. Article link

Bombus impatiens

Bombus impatiens – By [1] [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Raphaël Royauté and colleagues found that the personality of a jumping spider was affected by sublethal insecticide exposure. Royauté wrote to us,

Jumping spiders exposed to low doses of insecticide show changes in their personalities. Insecticides alter behaviours by jamming neural transmission. Most studies on insecticide toxicity compare how behaviours differ in average between insecticide-exposed and control groups, but they don’t take into account how insecticides affect variation in behaviour (aka personality). Bronze Jumping Spiders exposed to the insecticide had lower amount of personality differences in activity and prey capture behaviours and exposed spiders were in general more “unpredictable”. These effect also varied by sex. Activity differences were more strongly affected in males while prey capture capacities were more strongly altered in females. 

These results suggest that the effects of insecticides on personality differences may manifest before any effects on the population as a whole are detected, in which case scientists may be frequently underestimating the toxicity of insecticides. Spiders play an important role in agricultural fields as they help regulate pest outbreaks. These personality alterations may affect spiders’ capacity to provide this important ecosystem service.

A more detailed explanation of this research is available here » 

Eris militaris

A female jumping spider, Eris militaris (Araneae: Salticidae). Photo by Crystal Ernst; provided by Raphaël Royauté

Matt Yunik (University of Manitoba) and colleagues discovered that unfed American dog ticks have the ability to survive an additional winter. Prior to this research, it was thought that these unfed ticks searching in spring died before the next winter. Article link

Fanny Maure (Université de Montréal) and others found and characterized a new RNA virus of Dinocampus coccinellae, a parasitoid of the ladybird beetle Coleomegilla maculata. The virus appears to be a symbiont of the parasitoid which is stored in the adult wasps’ oviducts and is transmitted by the parasitoid larva to its ladybird host. The virus then moves to the ladybird’s brain and replicates, inducing paralysis and twitching, around the same time that the parasitoid larva emerges and spins a cocoon between the legs of its host. The infected ladybird then acts as a twitchy bodyguard against predators while the parasitoid develops. Then, amazingly, when the adult parasitoid emerges from the cocoon, the viral infection in the ladybird’s brain clears and the host resumes normal behaviour! Article link

A ladybird "bodyguard" protecting its parasitoid from predators.  Photo provided by Jacques Brodeur.

A virally-manipulated ladybird « bodyguard » protecting its ‘puppet master’ from predators. Photo provided by Jacques Brodeur.

Former UdeM student Fanny Maure with her PhD work featured on the cover of National Geographic! Photo provided by Jacques Brodeur.

Former UdeM student Fanny Maure with her PhD work featured on the cover of National Geographic! Photo provided by Jacques Brodeur.

Megan McAuley (University of Guelph) and colleagues found that repeated conditioning with a floral scent is needed for long-term memory establishment in bumblebees. Article link

Murali-Mohan Ayyanath and colleagues show that sublethal doses of an insect growth regulator stimulate reproduction in the green peach aphid. Article link

Myzus persicae

Myzus persicae – By Scott Bauer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Do different pollen-packing behaviours by bees affect the functional value of pollen? PhD student Alison Parker and colleagues found that the pollen transported by non-corbiculate bees remains fully functional whereas the packing behaviour by corbiculate bee species can decrease the functionality of their pollen. This research suggests that non-corbiculate bees may be more valuable pollinators. Article link

A study by Lorraine Adderly and colleague finds that solitary bees are important for pollination in seablush plants in the Gulf Islands and on Vancouver Island. Article link 

Insect Management

Chaminda E. Amal de Silva helped provide evidence for there being high rates of blueberry spanworm parasitism in lowbush blueberry fields in eastern Canada. De Silva and colleagues suggest using augmentative or conservation biological control as a management technique against spanworm. Article link

For a forest moth, colouration is costly—especially under poor conditions (Article link). Coming soon, we will be featuring a post by Jessica Ethier (Concordia University), who took the lead on this long-term project.

As a graduate student, publishing a paper is a big deal.  After spending countless hours doing the research, slogging through the writing process, soliciting comments from co-authors, formatting the paper to meet journal guidelines, and dealing with reviewer comments, it’s nice to finally get that acceptance letter and know that your work is getting out there.

We want to help publicize graduate student publications to the wider entomological community.  Every month or so, the ESC Student Affairs Committee will post a roundup of papers authored by Canadian graduate students.

We don’t anticipate that these lists will be comprehensive (alas, Google Scholar alerts aren’t perfect), but should give a nice ‘taste’ of student entomological research in Canada.  If you want your recently published article featured (or we missed yours last month!), send us an email at entsoccan.students@gmail.com

For regular updates on new Canadian entomological research, you can join the ESC Students Facebook page or follow us on Twitter @esc_students.

Without further delay, here’s what entomology grad students have been up to lately (articles published online between December 1, 2014 and January 18, 2015):

Behaviour and Physiology

Miruna Draguleasa (University of Toronto) and colleagues found that apparently bumblebees love caffeine just like many sleep-deprived grad students.

Two students, Carling Baxter and Rachael Barnett, and their colleagues at McMaster University found that male fruit flies become less choosy when selecting mates as they age.

Drosophila_melanogaster_-_side

Older male fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) are less choosy. Photo by André Karwath aka Aka (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Laura Sedra and colleagues at the University of Toronto Mississagua investigated how blood-feeding assassin bugs (Rhodnius prolixus) control their oviduct contractions

Laura Ferguson (University of Western Ontario) helped to determine that modifications of ion balance mediate cold tolerance in Drosophila.

The downside of being a sexy male tree cricket? You might not live very long. Kyla Ercit (University of Toronto Mississauga) and colleagues found that male Oecanthus nigricornis individuals with wide heads and small legs were most attractive, but individuals with narrow heads, large legs, and intermediate pronotum length were most likely to survive.

Rosemarie Vallières (Université Laval) and colleagues found that metabolism and winter survival of temperate hemlock looper populations in Québec will be more affected by fall heat waves (compared to boreal populations), which are increasing in frequency due to climate change.

Hemlock Looper, Bon Echo

Hemlock looper adult. Photo by D. Gordon E. Robertson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Meet Zandawala and Zina Hamoudi (University of Toronto Mississauga) confirmed the identification of the adipokinetic hormone receptor in Rhodnius prolixus. The hormone is known to mobilize lipids, carbohydrates and proline for energy consuming activities.

New research by Fanny Maure (Université de Montréal) found that ladybirds can survive (and even reproduce!!) after parasitism and behavioural manipulation by a wasp. Featured on the cover of the November 2014 issue of National Geographic Magazine, and discussed in a fantastic accompanying article by Carl Zimmer.

Does the Earth’s magnetic field serve as a reference for alignment of the honeybee waggle dance? Short answer: At least local (ambient) geomagnetic field does not act as the reference for the alignment of waggle-dancing bees. Read more on the research conducted by Veronica Lambient and colleagues at Simon Fraser University here.

Ecology

A recent study by Dorothy Maguire (McGill) and colleagues in a Quebec forest ecosystem finds strong top-down effects of predators on arthropods, but weak effects of fragmentation on predation and herbivory levels.

McGill2

McGill1

Students from McGill's Buddle Lab collecting insects using a beat sheet, sampling bird exclosures, and measuring damage on leaves. Photos courtesy of Dorothy Macguire.

Students from McGill’s Buddle Lab collecting insects using a beat sheet, sampling bird exclosures, and measuring damage on leaves. Photos courtesy of Dorothy Macguire.

Guillaume Sainte-Marie (Université du Québec à Montréal) and colleagues found that promoting hardwoods does not appear to reduce spruce defoliation during outbreaks of spruce budworm.

Crisia Tabacaru (University of Alberta) and colleagues determined that competitors and natural enemies may help prevent establishment of mountain pine beetle after fires.

Gun Koleoglu and Tatiana Petukhova (University of Guelph) found that Africanized honey bees may have higher viral resistance than European honey bees following parasitism by Varroa mites.

Researchers at the University of Alberta, including Devin Goodsman, found that the interactions between a lepidopteran defoliator and a bark beetle shifted from facilitative to competitive depending on outbreak severity.

Sean McCann and Catherine Scott (Simon Fraser University) discovered that the red-throated caracara rivals the predatory impact of army ants on some populations of Neotropical social wasps.

Genetics

A new molecular marker for phylogeographic and population studies of the black-legged tick has been identified by Chantal Krakowetz (University of Saskatchewan) and colleagues. And in a follow-up study, the mitochondrial gene variation could point to origins of tick populations in the United States and the potential risk for Canada.

A deer tick, Ixodes scapularis. Photo Credit : Jim Gathany [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

At York University Daria Molodtsova and Brock Harpur, together with colleagues, linked genetic mutations in a transcriptional network to the evolution of complex behaviours in honey bees.

Pest Management and Biological control

Two studies conducted at the Université de Montréal by Julie Faucher-Deslile and colleagues found protein content is not the only factor important in selecting diet supplements for predatory mites and that supplementing predatory mite applications with apple pollen may increase the control of thrips in greenhouses.

Insects used in modern weed biological control programs are highly host-specific to their target weed, but can sometimes exhibit ‘spillover’ herbivory on related nontarget plants. Determining where and why spillover occurs can help us predict its potential to negatively affect native plant populations. Here, Haley Catton (UBC Okanagan) and colleagues used two field experiments to show that a controversial biocontrol weevil exhibits spillover when at high density, but does not find or feed on nontarget plants even a few metres from release points. This is good news, as the more localized the spillover, the lower the chance of negative population-level impacts to nontarget plants.

<i>Mogulones crucifer </i>biocontrol weevils painted for a mark-release-recapture experiment involving target and nontarget host finding.

Mogulones crucifer biocontrol weevils painted for a mark-release-recapture experiment involving target and nontarget host finding. Image by Haley Catton.

Christine Miluch (University of Alberta) and colleagues looked at how to maximize the attractiveness of pheromone traps to diamondback moth males in canola.

An interesting study conducted by Simon P. W. Zappia and Amber Gigi Hoi found that regardless of how energy-deprived they are, DEET will keep mosquitos off your stinky socks!

A Canadian research team from Simon Fraser University, including graduate students Michel Holmes and Jason Draper, has identified the bed bug aggregation pheromone! The discovery was featured at several media outlets, including « Wired ».

Female bed bug

A female bed bug. By Gilles San Martin from Namur, Belgium (Cimex lectularius (bed bug)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Until next time!

The ESC Student Affairs Committee

The Editorial Board of The Canadian Entomologist (TCE) welcomes the comments that we receive from readers and authors.  We take these comments seriously and implement appropriate changes when possible.  We are pleased to announce three such changes that will further improve the speed, quality and flexibility of the service provided by TCE.

  • Simplified submission requirement.  Authors previously were required to submit papers with abstracts in both French and in English.  Although they can still do so, authors now need only submit an abstract in the language of the submitted paper; i.e., French or English.  This change eliminates delays associated with having abstracts translated, which will accelerate manuscript publication.
  • New open access option.  Although TCE has no page charges, there has always been a subscription fee.  As of 2014, authors now have the option of paying a one-time open access (OA) fee.  Payment of the OA fee makes articles freely available as soon as they are published online to anyone with internet access.
  • More content.  Elimination of page charges has increased submissions to the journal, with a consequence increase in the number of papers being accepted for publication.  In response, TCE is expanding its content by 10%.  This equates to an annual increase of 72 pages, or approximately 1-2 additional papers per issue.

In addition to the above changes, there are several other items that may be of interest.  ‘Instructions to Authors’ were revised in March of this year.  Revisions include instructions for the submission of ‘Supplementary Material’ and a link to third-party services that specialize in language editing.

You also may wish to read “Open access, predatory publishers, The Canadian Entomologist, and you”.  This article appears in the Bulletin of the ESC (Sept. 2013, p. 131), and examines issues that should be interest to anyone publishing in scientific journals.

In closing, we note that Dr. Chris Buddle (McGill University, Montreal, QC) will be completing his tenure as Editor-in-Chief this fall.  Dr. Kevin Floate (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge, AB) is the incoming Editor-in-Chief.

 

We thank you, the authors and readers, for making TCE an ongoing success.

Chris Buddle

Kevin Floate

By Justin Renkema, Post-Doc, University of Guelph

—–

It was an early morning after a long drive from Guelph to a small fruit farm in Chatham-Kent where my undergraduate student, Caitlyn, and I were conducting a small-plot spray trial to test the effect s of repellents against Drosophila suzukii (Spotted Wing Drosophila), a recent invasive and serious fruit pest.  I knew the raspberry patch was heavily infested with D. suzukii so before getting to work, to amuse ourselves at the start of the day, I started gently shaking canes, and we watched the swarms of fruit flies disperse and hover over the fresh fruit.  However, as I went to grab a branch low to the ground, I noticed something different about one of the fruit flies sitting on a leaf.  It had characteristic white “racing stripes” along its thorax, unlike any other fruit fly I had seen.  This was it!  This was very likely Zaprionus indianus or African fig fly, another invasive and potential fruit pest that we knew was moving northwards from the southeastern USA.  Caitlyn grabbed a vial and we successfully had, on 10 September 2013, what we thought was the first capture of this fly in Ontario and Canada.

Zaprionis indianus photographed by Dr. Stephen Marshall in Africa. (Photo C Stephen A. Marshall, used with permission)

Zaprionis indianus photographed by Dr. Stephen Marshall in Africa. (Photo © Stephen A. Marshall, used with permission)

 Indeed the fly was Z. indianus, as determined by Meredith Miller, a M.Sc. student at the University of Guelph working on taxonomy of Drosophila spp. in Ontario.  Through contact with Hannah Fraser at Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, we learned that their Ontario-wide monitoring program for D. suzukii had also picked up some African fig flies in apple-cider vinegar traps, and a few at an earlier date than our find in Chatham-Kent.  Colleagues in Quebec (Jean-Phillipe Légaré and others at MAPAQ) had also found what they believed were Z. indianus.  Once all the material was collected and examined by Meredith, we submitted a scientific note documenting our Z. indianus discovery in Canada that was published by the Journal of the Entomological Society of Ontario.

Zaprionus indianus is native to the Afrotropical region.  It was found in Brazil in 1998 where it was given its common name because it became a significant pest of figs.  In 2005, Z. indianus was discovered in Florida and has since been found successively further north and west in the USA (see a map of its distribution here).  It is likely that the North American infestation did not come from the Brazilian population.  Zaprionus indianus is the only member of Zaprionus present in Canada, and therefore the reddish-brown head and thorax and particularly the silvery stripes that extend from the antennae to the tip of scutellum can be used as distinguishing features.

Zaprionis indianus dorsum showing characteristic white stripes

Unlike D. suzukii (thankfully!), female Z. indianus do not possess heavily sclerotized and serrated ovipositors and are not currently seen as a serious threat to temperate fruit crops.  They have been reared from a number of tropical, tree-ripened fruits in Florida and there is concern in vineyards in the eastern USA, where sometimes they outnumber D. suzukii in traps. It is possible that Z. indianus can use fruit that has been oviposited in by D. suzukii, thus increasing damage and possibly complicating control measures.  In Canada, particularly Ontario and Quebec, winter temperatures may preclude establishment of African fig fly, and yearly re-infestation from the south would be necessary for it to show up in future years.  At all but one site, we found just 1-4 flies during late summer and early fall per site, so it will be interesting to see what happens to numbers this coming growing season.  In tropical and sub-tropical locations much larger populations have been detected the year following first detection.

For the past 1.5 years I have been working as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Guelph with Rebecca Hallett on D. suzukii.  We are developing a push-pull management strategy using volatile plant compounds to repel and attract this pest.  With the occurrence of Z. indianus and possible reoccurrence  in larger numbers in the future, we may have a unique opportunity to study how two recent invaders using similar resources interact, and also, perhaps, a more significant challenge ahead of us  in developing management strategies.  If you are interested in this topic or have current or future experiences with Z. indianus, I and co-authors on the scientific note would appreciate hearing from you.  You can contact me at renkemaj@uoguelph.ca.

—-

Renkema J.M., Miller M., Fraser H., Légaré J.P. & Hallett R.H. (2013). First records of Zaprionus indianus Gupta (Diptera: Drosophilidae) from commercial fruit fields in Ontario and Quebec, Canada, Journal of the Entomological Society of Ontario, 144 125-130. OPEN ACCESS [PDF]