Monday, September 17, 2012

new book on vespines

Some information on a new book by Michael Archer, which at least one member assures me is quite good. Looking forward to seeing it up close! More information (including discount info) available in this PDF flyer Vespine Wasps of the World.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

An important collection of aculeate wasps and bees at risk – a cry for support

Note: The following article by Friedrich Gess and Sarah Gess was slated to be published in the latest issue of Hamuli. The editor regrets the omission.

The Albany Museum, Grahamstown, holds “the most important collection of southern African aculeate wasps” (James Carpenter in letter 16 July 2010) and the collection of bees which offers “the most important and extensive data resource on flower visitation by southern African bees” (Michael Kuhlmann and Connal Eardley, 2012, in Evolution of Plant-Pollinator Relationships edited by Sébastien Patiny).

Many of you, members of the International Society of Hymenopterists, have borrowed specimens from the collection for taxonomic studies and as a result have type specimens housed in this collection.

The collection was built up over the past 44 years under the curatorship of Friedrich Gess largely through research undertaken by himself and Sarah Gess on aculeate wasps and bees in the semi-arid to arid areas of southern Africa. Major contributions were also made by Charles Jacot Guillarmod who, as Director of the Albany Museum, determined with Friedrich Gess that the specialisation of entomology at the Albany Museum should be aculeate wasps (bees being included as specialised wasps!) and Alan Weaving as Assistant Curator (1981-1996).

Since the retirement, at the mandatory age of 65, of Friedrich Gess (now Curator Emeritus and Contract Researcher) and Sarah Gess (now Contract Researcher) in 2001 and 2003 respectively there has been only one entomologist, a Dipterist, employed in the Department of Entomology and Arachnology on a three year contract (2005-2008). The department has been kept alive and running by the voluntary unpaid efforts of Friedrich and Sarah as official Acting HODs.

The only permanently employed staff member is an Auxilliary Services Officer working as a laboratory assistant trained in house by the Gesses to undertake such jobs as replacing fumigant (camphor blocks) in insect drawers, topping up of alcohol in the wet collection and constructing unit trays.

The only other person working in the department is a data capture assistant employed by Sarah Gess on outside funding.

The two entomologists posts are currently frozen as are all vacant posts in the Eastern Cape Museums which all, regardless of whether they are history/cultural history or natural history museums, fall under the Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture of the Eastern Cape Government!

All natural history collections in South Africa were audited by a team from NRF/SANBI (National Research Foundation/South African Biodiversity Institute) more than two years ago. The report was submitted to NRF but has not yet been released awaiting a reaction from the national Department of Arts and Culture under whom all the South African museums fall. Formerly the museums fell under the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology but this department was split into two departments DAC and DST. DST has also received the report but there has to date been no comment.

In order to give the collections of wasps and bees in the Albany Museum some support for at least the next three years Sarah Gess put together a proposal to JRS Biodiversity Foundation which included a salary for a well qualified collections manager, a compactor and extra insect cabinets (floor space and cabinet space having been filled). The proposal, one of 408 considered by JRS, reached the final with 30 others. Hopes were high but were then dashed. An award was not made largely due to the fact that although there is an excellent foundation for the bridge on this side of the river the distance to the other bank and the nature of the other bank is not known.

What can be done?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

School of Ants Essay Contest

(A message from ISH member Andrea Lucky)

People are hungry to know more about ants, how they live, where they live, what they are doing in your kitchen and in your garden. Who better to explain what these amazing ants are up to than you, the scientist studying them? So go ahead and tell us (and the world) about the coolest thing you've seen, read or studied about ants, and while you’re at it, tell us about you and why you do what you do. Write this essay for the childhood version of you, so that another generation of kids will be inspired to look closely at ants, to understand them and appreciate the richness of life around us.

Who can enter: Students studying any aspect of ant biology
Deadline: Sept 1, 2012
Prizes: Best essay $500, Honorable Mentions featured at

Showcase a feature of ant biology, evolution, diversity, behavior or another scientifically based topic (see examples below) for a general audience. Topic must be based on your research, your observations or the scientific literature. Writing should appeal to the non-scientific public and offer intriguing facts or perspectives on ants. 300 words min, 600 words max. Multiple essays per author permitted. Each submission must be in the form of an email to, with the subject header: ESSAY SUBMISSION, and the following attachments:

  1. 300-600 word essay (Word doc)
  2. short biosketch with your research interests & affiliation (Word doc)
  3. photo of you (jpg file, <1mb)
  4. optional: photo illustrating essay topic

Example Topics:
The biggest ant, The smallest ant, Ant poop, Ants with odd diets, The bacteria in ants, Ant mouths, The chemical world of ants, Ant mysteries (we hope for many of these), The parasites of ants, Slave making ants, Things that look like ants but are not ants, The biggest ant societies, Male ants, The incredible life cycle of (pick an ant species, or an ant-associate), Ant nests, Caste determination, Ant larvae - what do they eat?, Dracula ants - why it makes sense to suck the blood of your offspring, Why ants wage war, Ant interactions with other insects, Ant-plant interactions, Ant mandible diversity, Ant sting structure, Ant territoriality, Task allocation among ants, How long do ants live?, Male ants, Polygyny, Polydomy, Invasive species spread, Pesticide resistance, Ants on islands, Fungus growing ants, Ants as soil architects, Dominance at baits, Nocturnal ants, Seed specialists, Army ants, Maurauder ants, Trapjaw ants, And anything else you can think of…

See Essay Context Announcement (PDF)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Our symposium at the Entomological Society of America meeting is set

We had what I would call a tremendously enthusiastic response to our solicitation of student talks for this year's ISH symposium at ESA. Exciting! Here's the draft schedule, which I'd say is quite compelling:
  1. New insight into an old genus: revising Disholcaspis Dalle Torre & Kieffer, 1910 (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae); Crystal McEwen, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
  2. Phylogenetics and taxonomy of the enigmatic genus Coccobius (Aphelinidae: Coccophaginae); Jason Mottern and John M. Heraty, University of California-Riverside, Riverside, CA 
  3. Cremnops (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) of the World: a phylogenetic analysis; Erika Tucker and Michael J. Sharkey, Departement of Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 
  4. Employing polydnavirus genes to uncover cryptic species in Ichneumonoidea; Victoria G. Pook, Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 
  5. Higher-level molecular phylogeny of Ophioniformes (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae); Andrés Herrera and Barbara J. Sharanowski, Department of Entomology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
  6. Break (10 mins)
  7. The origin and diversification of spider wasps (Hymenoptera: Pompilidae); Juanita Rodriguez, Cecilia Waichert, Carol D. von Dohlen and James P. Pitts, Biology Department, Utah State University, Logan, UT 
  8. The shape of things to come: A morphometric analysis of the Dryinidae chela in relation to host choice; Carly M. Tribull, Dept. of Integrative Biology, University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 
  9. Systematics of the "well-known" family Chyphotidae (Hymenoptera); Emily A. Sadler and James P. Pitts, Biology Department, Utah State University, Logan, UT 
  10. Gustatory and odorant receptor genes in Trissolcus basalis (Platygastridae: Telenominae); Elijah Talamas and Norman F. Johnson, Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 
  11. Business meeting
  12. Announcement of best talk(s) with prize(s)
  13. Foraging and pollination
Send any questions or comments to adeans @ gmail . com

Monday, May 7, 2012

ISH Endowment Student Award 2012

Please join us in congratulating the first recipient of the International Society of Hymenopterists Endowment Student Award: Aline Christina Martins, from the Universidad Federal do Paraná, in Curitiba, Brazil.


Friday, May 4, 2012

ISH at ESA: student research showcase

Are you going to ESA this year? Are you a student whose research focuses on hymenopterans? Then you should think about submitting your oral presentation to the International Society of Hymenopterists (ISH) symposium! Our meeting will highlight student research, and we'll be awarding a cash prize and one year membership for the best talk!

We need your talk title and author list by May 11, 2012 - that's exactly one week from now. Questions and talk information should be emailed to We're looking forward to a great meeting!

Friday, April 6, 2012

ISH student symposium at ESA - cash prizes for best talk(s)!

Right on the heels of our 2nd student award this year (the ISH Endowment Student Award; results will be announced imminently!) I am happy to announce that the International Society of Hymenopterists is hosting a student presentation competition at the next Entomological Society of America annual meeting, in Knoxville. We'll award cash(!) prizes to the best talks by ISH student members. Contact Andy Deans (adeans @ gmail . com) for more details on how to submit your talk, and watch this space and our Facebook page for more information.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

ISH Endowment Student Award - deadline extended

The deadline for the ISH Endowment Student Award deadline has been extended to March 2, 2012!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

2012 dues are due!

Now is the time of year to join the International Society of Hymenopterists or to renew your membership for 2012. There are several methods to pay your dues:
  1. pay with your credit card, using PayPal
  2. pay with a check (or your credit card), using our downloadable form
  3. submit a request for sponsorship
Note that student dues have been lowered this year, to $15! A hard copy subscription of the Journal of Hymenoptera Research is not included in the dues. All members receive the Society newsletter, Hamuli.

Monday, January 16, 2012

HYM Course 2012, at Tovetorp Zoological Research Station, Sweden

(posted on behalf of the HYM Course instructors)

We are pleased to announce the fourth offering of HYM Course (, scheduled for August 5–12, 2012 at Tovetorp Zoological Research Station, Sweden ( The main objective of HYM Course is to provide participants with knowledge and experience in identifying parasitic and predatory wasps, sawflies, wood wasps, bees, and ants. Information on natural history is also presented, and that information is reinforced with fieldwork. Techniques used to collect, rear, preserve, and curate specimens are presented in a hands-on manner to allow participants to learn directly by doing.

The course is limited to 25 participants. Applications are due March 2, 2012. Students in Sweden are eligible for financial aid through the Swedish Taxonomy Initiative. Please visit the HYM Course website ( for details, including information on how to apply, costs for taking the course, and logistics of travel to and within Sweden. We look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

International Society of Hymenopterists (ISH) Endowment Student Award

The Executive Committee is pleased to announce the International Society of Hymenopterists (ISH) Endowment Student Award. Please note that this is a different award from the Student Travel Awards, already announced by the Society in November, 2011.

Applicants should follow the instructions below, and submit applications electronically to Andy Deans, Secretary, ISH (adeans @ Applications should clearly indicate that they are for the ISH Endowment Student Award.

Deadline for submission: February 15, 2012 [UPDATE: deadline has been extended to March 2, 2012]

Purpose and value of the award: The Society has created this award to support and encourage predoctoral students working on the systematics, ecology, physiology or some other aspect of the insect order Hymenoptera, which is being undertaken as part of a predoctoral program (normally a PhD or equivalent qualification). They will be advertised on a regular basis through the Society, and an individual award will be valued at US$2,500. These funds can be used for any purpose that makes a contribution to a student’s research such as attendance at a conference, fieldwork, direct research costs or purchase of a piece of equipment. If for travel to a conference, the student also needs to be giving an oral presentation or poster.

Eligibility and application process:  Only full-time predoctoral students are eligible to apply and they do not have to be members of the Society. From time to time, the Society may emphasize encouraging applicants from particular countries (see below*). The application needs to be written in English, in a font no smaller than Times New Roman 12-point, single-spaced with margins of at least 2 cm. The application must contain the following information:
  • Full name
  • Institutional address
  • Telephone number and email address
  • Name and email address of principal supervisor/major professor
  • Degree program (PhD, etc.)
  • Time since starting this degree (years and months)
  • Title of thesis/dissertation
  • Brief description of thesis/dissertation project (500 words max.)
  • Purpose for which award funding will be used (e.g. conference, fieldwork, research costs, equipment)
  • Explanation of how the award will enhance the student’s research (500 words max.)
  • Endorsement by principal supervisor/major professor AND Head of School/Department
Deadline and Selection Process: Applications must be emailed to the Secretary of the Society (Andy Deans: adeans @ by February 15, 2012 [UPDATE: deadline has been extended to March 2, 2012], as an attached Word document or PDF . A committee of three senior members of the Society will assess the applications and select the winner. The decision of the committee will be final. The winner will be announced by the President of the Society.

*For the first competition, the Society particularly wishes to encourage applications from students who are resident in any country OTHER THAN THE 30 MOST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES as listed by the UN Development Program: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States.