December 4, 2018 Christina Mullin

Insectpalooza is an annual insect fair put on by the Department of Entomology at Cornell University, in upstate New York, where the public is educated about the issues related to insects and other arthropods. This was my first time at Insectpalooza, a one-day event hosted by the faculty, staff and students of the Department of Entomology.

The visit was full of wonderful surprise, and the first one was when I held a Leaf Insect for the first time, a remarkable insect that camouflages as a leaf, and can be found from South Asia through Southeast Asia to Australia. It was delicate and pretty. A truly magical creature.

Around the corner, I learned how to make a simple toxin free fruit fly trap for the kitchen. All you need is a glass jar and piece of paper to make a funnel. Since fruit flies are attracted to the alcohol in decaying fruit, use as bait in the jar either a slice of peach, apple or banana. You can also just add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or beer to jar. Add a drop of soap to liquid traps to keep the flies from escaping.

Next was a room about pollinators, full of information. There were samples of Mason Bees houses, and one very simple one you can make yourself from a few pieces of bamboo and zip ties.

Mason bees are docile, do not produce honey and are one of the most effective pollinators of orchard crops in the United States. I have 3 mason bees homes in my garden, and I learned that I could leave them where they are over the winter. The mud seal protects them from the elements.

I found out about this great resource, called the pollinator conservation resource center, an online source for information about pollinator conservation.

 When you go to their site, simply click on your region to find out how to chose the best flowers, where to buy seed or plants, how to create nest sites, and ways to reduce the impacts of pesticides and other management activities.

Cornell is a global leader in pollinator research. They are investigating the roles wild and managed pollinators play in natural and agricultural settings, and what are the variety of factors related to their declines, from habitat loss, to nutrition, exposure to pesticides, disease, climate change and management practices. Since pollinators are essential for the health of natural ecosystems and one third of food production worldwide, the research being done about them is vital.

The Pollinator Health Research Fund was set up to assist in supporting the continuation and growth of new pollinator health research projects, and also the work being done to raise awareness about pollinator health through public outreach, speaking engagements, workshops, and other extension avenues.Support their work here

Did you know that there is an

 Insect Diagnostic Lab, where you can send in a photo of an insect you need help identifying.

I came across a box of bees from Bioquest. Anyone who has land, can buy one of these boxes, and put in their orchard or near their vegetable garden, and the bees will pollinate an orchard, crop or meadow.

I learned about the Citizens Science Projects, where you can monitor pollinators in your area. Have a look at the Great Sunflower Project,

the Great Pollinator Project,

the Monarch Watch,

the Beespotter,

and the Bee Hunt

And at the very end of my visit, I came across The Honey Bee Waggle Dance.

Did you know that Honey Bees are the only non-primate animal to use a symbolic language? Once a foraging worker bee returns to the hive with pollen or nectar, she begins dancing to communicate the location of flowers to other bees. The dance, combined with floral odors on the bee’s body help the recruited foragers to pinpoint the exact location of the food source. The duration of time the bee dances indicates the distance of the flower. A short dance signals there is a flower close by, whereas a long dance signals there is a flower far away. The angle the bee dances tells them the location of the flower in relation to the sun. For example, a flower that is directly in line with the sun is represented by a waggle dance perfectly vertical on the comb. As the sun’s position moves across the sky, foragers adjust the angle of their dance accordingly.

Try out the Honey Waggle Bee Dance!