Specialization is for insects

Happy New Year with a New Species!

Not at the top of a mountain, nor at the bottom depths of the ocean. Not in Cambodia nor in Greater Meekong.  A new species has been discovered by Daniel L. Hubert, Morgan D. Jackson, and James J. Smith of the Michigan State University and University of Guelph.  Wow!!!

“Speciation is the process by which life diversifies into discrete forms, and understanding its underlying mechanisms remains a primary focus for biologists. …The speciation mechanism he proposed described a situation where a subpopulation of a herbivore specialist species begins to oviposit (lay eggs) in a host plant species other than its own, and within a “sufficient number” of generations, the laws of inheritance reinforce this subpopulation’s fidelity for that host such that it becomes a ‘phytophagic variety’ distinct from its ancestors. ”

Rhagolitis Bushi New species of Tephritidae. Shepherdia argentea, commonly called silver buffaloberry bull berry, or thorny buffaloberry. CC-BY-SA-3.0 credit Julia Adamson
Rhagolitis Bushi a new species of Tephritidae and the bush Shepherdia argentea, commonly called silver buffaloberry bull berry, or thorny buffaloberry. CC-BY-SA-3.0 credit Julia Adamson

An absolutely beautiful little “Peacock fly” referred to as Rhagoletis Bushi is the name of the new species. The Tephritidae fly family are often referred to as “Peacock Flies” due to their colourful and intricate markings. This nick name is quite puzzling as the Greek root tephros translates as “ash grey.” Rhagoletis Bushi is not ash grey at all, but rather has a russet or ruddy head, white wings with russet banding, and striping across the thorax longitudinally from head towards abdomen. Wheras the abdomen has circular striping colors and similar markings of dangerous arthropods such as wasps which may help Rhagoletis Bushi avoid predation. Rhagoletis Bushi is a fly and does not have a stinger. Ironically the natural enemies include tiny wasps belonging to the family Diapriidae and parasitoid wasps of the Braconidae family.

God knows Himself and every created thing perfectly. Not a blade of grass or the tiniest insect escapes His eye. Mother Angelica

Rhagoletis Bushi has a unique wing banding pattern which other tabellaria species do not have.

The other identifying feature is that Rhagoletis Bushi loves the fruit of the silver buffaloberry (S. Argentea).

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
— Robert Heinlein

Shepherdia argentea, commonly called silver buffaloberry bull berry, or thorny buffaloberry. CC-BY-SA-3.0 credit Julia Adamson
Shepherdia argentea, commonly called silver buffaloberry bull berry, or thorny buffaloberry. CC-BY-SA-3.0 credit Julia Adamson

To locate a cute little Rhagoletis Bushi, find a patch of Silver Buffaloberry (S. Argentea) shrubs. These small trees grow 1-6 meters [3-20 feet] high, and have large thorns. The berries can be formed into cakes, smoked over a wood fire, and eaten, or added to pemmican [a combination of berry and buffalo meat]. Though the Silver Buffaloberry fruit is described as sout or bitter similar to the chokecherry [Prunus viriniana L.], it is great for pies, james, jellies and wine and have a high Vitamin C content. Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide introudecs presentation of the berries, for beverage, sauce, dessert or jelly.
Besides Rhagoletis Bushi, elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, grouse, and birds love the berries of the Silver Buffaloberry. As a matter of fact, the buffalo berry is a staple food for the Sharp-tailed grouse diet, the provincial bird of Saskatchewan.

Shepherdia argentea, commonly called silver buffaloberry bull berry, or thorny buffaloberry. CC-BY-SA-3.0 credit Julia Adamson
Shepherdia argentea, commonly called silver buffaloberry bull berry, or thorny buffaloberry. CC-BY-SA-3.0 credit Julia Adamson

The Silver Buffaloberry improves the habitat, and has been used for watershed management. Thickets of buffaloberry arise from root stocks which produce clones of dense bush and vegetation affording both food and cover for wildlife. Additionally Silver Buffaloberry is nitrogen fixing for the soil. Look for the Silver buffaloberry across the prairie parklands as it is a native bush, along wet meadows, marshy areas, near streams, and rivers.

Quite often in nature plants will support endangered species. Mardon skipper (Polites mardon) butterfly, and Zerene fritillaries (Speyeria zerene) are two butterflies which depend upon the Early-Blue Violet (Viola adunca) for instance. In this case, the thorny buffaloberry Shepherdia argentea supports Rhagoletis Bushi, a specialized frugivore [fruit eater], with a particular taste for this host plant. The buffaloberry fruit is about 5 to 6.35 mm in diameter or 0.2 to 0.25 inches

According to Hulbert, “the flies themselves don’t cause too much trouble for the buffaloberry especially considering they’re both native to North America and have evolved with each other over the course of millennia or more.”  In regards to the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation area, he continues to say; “This fly is one (albeit small) part of the area’s richness!”

Insect Hotels keep good bugs cozy according to Susan Mulvihill. So if you are set on aiding the plight of pollinators and beneficial insects, one way is to construct an insect hotel, or create a botanical garden with native species of plants. And another is to plant Silver Buffaloberry (S. Argentea)

This autumn, when you are out walking past the Silver Buffaloberry bush, keep your eye peeled for the new species just discovered, Rhagoletis Bushi.  “In North America the genus Rhagoletis, is represented by 24 species widely distributed in temperate regions of Canada and the U.S.A. (Bush, 1966; Berlocher & Bush, 1982; Berlocher, 1984; Foote
et al., 1993).[2] “And now there are 25 species!!! Generally speaking, Tephritidae are small to medium-sized (2.5–10 mm or 0.0984-.39 inches) flies, so keep your eyes peeled; the coloration and markings of Rhagoletis Bushi will make the search quite worthwhile!

So Happy New Year, with a New Species

All the best to you and yours in 2018

Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain. Henry David Thoreau

  • Kingdom — Animalia. Animal
    • Subkingdom Bilateria
        • Superphylum Ecdysozoa
          • Phylum Arthropoda (from Greek ἄρθρον arthron, “joint” and πούς pous, “foot”) an invertebrate animal having an exoskeleton (external skeleton), a segmented body, and paired jointed appendages
            • Subphylum Hexapoda: Insects from the Greek for six legs featuring a consolidated thorax with three pairs of legs.
              • Class Insecta – insects
                • Subclass Pterygota [Greek pterugōtós, “winged”] includes the winged insects.
                  • Infraclass Neoptera – modern, wing-folding insects
                    • Superorder Holometabola. Endopterygota Holometablous complete metamorphism, with four life stages – as an embryo or egg, a larva, a pupa and an imago or adult.
                      Wings develop within body during pupation
                      Immatures (larvae) do not resemble adults

                      • Order Diptera {from Greek di- “two”, and pteron “wings”} True Flies bearing considerable ecological and human importance.
  • Suborder Brachycera
    • Infraorder Muscomorpha
      • Section Schizophora
        • Subsection Acalyptratae having the alula or calypter small or absent. This alula [calypter is defined as a small membranous flap at the base of the hind edge. Alula is latin for winged, and acts as a “Thumb” to help prevent stalling when landing or flying at low speeds. Where Calypter comes from the Greek kalypter translated as covering, or sheath.
          • Superfamily Tephritoidea also from the Greek a- and Calyptratae.
            • Family Tephritidae true fruit flies” or “peacock flies” not to be confused with genus Drosophila “common fruit fly” (in the family Drosophilidae)
              • Subfamily: Trypetinae
                • Tribe: Carpomyiini
                  • Subtribe: Carpomyina
                    • Genus: Rhagoletis. Morphology described in source [1]
                      • Species: Rhagoletis tabellaria (Fitch, 1855) “White Banded Fruitfly”
                        • Rhagoletis Bushi.

If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.
— Edward O. Wilson

1. Foote, Richard H. The Genus Rhagoletis Loew South of the United States. [Diptera: Tephritidae] United States Department of Agriculture. Technical Bulletin Number 1607. Prepared by Science and Education Administration. http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/record/157851/files/tb1607.pdf Retrieved December 28, 2017

2. Hernandez-Ortiz, Vicente and Daniel Frias L. A revision of the striatella specis group of the genus Rahgoletis (Diptera: Tephritidae) 1999. Insecta Mundi.Center for Systematic Entomology, Gainesville, Florida. 322. University of Nebraska. http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1321&context=insectamundi Retrieved December 28, 2017

3. Hulbert, Daniel L., Morgan D. Jackson and James J. Smith. A New Species of Rhagoletis [Diptera: Tephritidae] in the tabellaria species group: morphology, molecular phylogenetics, and host-plant use. Insect Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Laboratory Michigan State University, and University of Guelph. 2017. Scientific Conference ~ The Entomological Society of America annual meeting.

4. Mattsson, Monte Arthur, “The Impeccable Timing of the Apple Maggot Fly,Rhagoletis pomonella(Dipetera: Tephritidae), and itsImplications for Ecological Speciation” (2015).Dissertations and Theses. Portland State University. Paper 2627 https://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.ca/&httpsredir=1&article=3632&context=open_access_etds

5. Rhagoletis Tabellaria (Fitch, 1855) Taxonoic Serial N. 1427808. ITIS Report. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) December 28, 2017. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=142708#null Retrieved December 28, 2017

6. Species Rhagoletis tabellaria. Bug Guide. Iowa State University. Department of Entomology. 2003-2017. https://bugguide.net/node/view/15265 Retrieved December 28, 2017 {Shows images of Rhagoletis Tabelleria}

“A single swallow, it is said, devours ten millions of insects every year. The supplying of these insects I take to be a signal instance of the Creator’s bounty in providing for the lives of His creatures.”
— Ambrose Bierce


For directions as to how to drive to “George Genereux” Urban Regional Park

For directions on how to drive to Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

For more information:

Blairmore Sector Plan Report; planning for the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area,  George Genereux Urban Regional Park and West Swale and areas around them inside of Saskatoon city limits

P4G Saskatoon North Partnership for Growth The P4G consists of the Cities of Saskatoon, Warman, and Martensville, the Town of Osler and the Rural Municipality of Corman Park; planning for areas around the afforestation area and West Swale outside of Saskatoon city limits

Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city. 52° 06′ 106° 45′
Part SE 23-36-6 – Afforestation Area – 241 Township Road 362-A
Part SE 23-36-6 – SW Off-Leash Recreation Area (Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area ) – 355 Township Road 362-A
S ½ 22-36-6 Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area (West of SW OLRA) – 467 Township Road 362-A
NE 21-36-6 “George Genereux” Afforestation Area – 133 Range Road 3063
Wikimapia Map: type in Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Google Maps South West Off Leash area location pin at parking lot
Web page: https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com
Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map
Where is the George Genereux Urban Regional Park (Afforestation Area)? with map

Pinterest richardstbarbeb

Facebook Group Page: Users of the George Genereux Urban Regional Park

Facebook: StBarbeBaker

Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

Facebook: South West OLRA

Twitter: StBarbeBaker

You Tube Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

You Tube George Genereux Urban Regional Park

Please help protect / enhance /commemorate your afforestation areas, please contact the Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc. (e-mail)

Support the afforestation areas with your donation or membership ($20.00/year).  Please donate by paypal using the e-mail friendsafforestation AT gmail.com, or by using e-transfers  Please and thank you!  Your donation and membership is greatly appreciated.  Members e-mail your contact information to be kept up to date!

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“St. Barbe’s unique capacity to pass on his enthusiasm to others. . . Many foresters all over the world found their vocations as a result of hearing ‘The Man of the Trees’ speak. I certainly did, but his impact has been much wider than that. Through his global lecture tours, St. Barbe has made millions of people aware of the importance of trees and forests to our planet.” Allan Grainger

“The science of forestry arose from the recognition of a universal need. It embodies the spirit of service to mankind in attempting to provide a means of supplying forever a necessity of life and, in addition, ministering to man’s aesthetic tastes and recreational interests. Besides, the spiritual side of human nature needs the refreshing inspiration which comes from trees and woodlands. If a nation saves its trees, the trees will save the nation. And nations as well as tribes may be brought together in this great movement, based on the ideal of beautifying the world by the cultivation of one of God’s loveliest creatures – the tree.” ~ Richard St. Barbe Baker.

“Act. Don’t react. See a need, fix it first. Worry about the details later. If you wait until you are asked you have just missed a golden opportunity. They are fleeting and rare.” Philip Wollen founder of Winsome Kindness Trust

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