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Epilachna

Hi all. Chatting with Thranduil about a LOTR/SIL story and figured I'd give a shout out on his forum. Can't recall if I've ever been here before but I recognize some friends.

Name: Epilachna (or Epi when I'm lazy)

Age: 30 in 3 months.

Interests: refereeing for roller derby, writing, reading, crocheting, relaxing on the beach under a huge umbrella wearing spf 70 drinking a cold beer and other hobbies that involve sitting on my ass. I must have been royalty in a previous life.

Fandom(s): Lord of the Rings/Silmarillion, Harry Potter, Highlander, other random stuff

Location: partly sunny Florida

Why at FFN: Posting fanfiction. I don't read it so much. I wish high quality writers were asked to rate stories in their fandoms so I didn't have to sort through the garbage.

Why on This Forum?: I'm a compulsive link follower.

7/5/2010 . Edited 7/5/2010 #2,191
Fear Die Rothaarige

Why on This Forum?: I'm a compulsive link follower.

Lol. I am too.

Glad to meet ya. I'ze Pein.

7/5/2010 #2,192
Aislynn Crowdaughter

Hi there and welcome! Good to see you here! :)

And especially since seeing a fellow Highlander fan around here is so very rare! ^^

7/5/2010 #2,193
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

Well, hello there, Epilachna!

And pray don't mind me -- I'm a Dark-elf sympathizer to the bone.

7/5/2010 #2,194
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

Oh -- just noticed this:

Why at FFN: Posting fanfiction. I don't read it so much. I wish high quality writers were asked to rate stories in their fandoms so I didn't have to sort through the garbage.

We have that to a certain extent with C-2s. Of course, you have to trust the taste of the person compiling the C-2, but you'd have to trust that the high quality authors doing the rating were actually high quality. When it comes to LOTR, you can assume a certain level of quality in any story cross-posted to other archives like HASA and SoA. Unfortunately, for other fandoms, you're on your own. But that's what I like about FFN -- the multiplicity of fandoms.

7/5/2010 #2,195
AltearazCreator

Epi! Been too long! I was just outside doing some of the activities you listed!

7/5/2010 #2,196
Epilachna

Highlander

Forgot to put that on my fandom list.

Dark elf sympathizer

I tend to sympathize with the dark elves, but hands down Maglor is my favorite character from Sil. The potential for complexity is there and that's what inspires me to write fanfics.

C-2s

I check out C2s and favorites of authors I like, but it's still a crap shoot sometimes. And I tend to enjoy minor characters/pairings that don't get a lot of attention or their own C2s.

7/5/2010 #2,197
Aislynn Crowdaughter

Forgot to put that on my fandom list.

I remembered I've seen a story or two of you in that fandom, once. Now busy checking out the ones you posted. ^^

Interests: refereeing for roller derby, writing, reading, crocheting, relaxing on the beach under a huge umbrella wearing spf 70 drinking a cold beer and other hobbies that involve sitting on my ass. I must have been royalty in a previous life.

Or been a servant of the royals now prone to get what they always had. ^^

Relaxing on the beach under a huge umbrella sounds like a plan.

You have a scary avatar! May I ask what this is?

7/5/2010 #2,198
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

Maglor is my favorite character from Sil. The potential for complexity is there and that's what inspires me to write fanfics.

Maglor had the good grace to feel conflicted about what he was doing, and that makes for a complex character.

I think my favorite character from the Sil would be Thingol, even if he did get a bit full of himself toward the end.

7/5/2010 #2,199
Epilachna

Been too long! I was just outside doing some of the activities you listed!

Al! Just survived 8 months of hell and lived to tell the tale. I updated my fanfic for the first time since last November. People were threatening to send ninjas to kill me if I didn't update. How you been? Some outdoor activities? I'll bet it wasn't crocheting. :D

Now busy checking out the ones you posted.

They're a bit weird. Especially my crossover. Methos fan to the core.

You have a scary avatar! May I ask what this is?

It's a scanning electron micrograph of a weevil. I'm an entomologist and I work on weevils and other plant pests. 'Epilachna' is a genus of plant eating ladybugs.

Thingol

Ah, Thingol. Like him too, but he's just not bad enough for me - stinginess and setting impossible tasks aside. Though he must have been quite something to win himself a maia.

7/5/2010 #2,200
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

Ah, Thingol. Like him too, but he's just not bad enough for me - stinginess and setting impossible tasks aside. Though he must have been quite something to win himself a maia.

People seem to find him cruel for opposing Beren and sending him on a mission he was sure to fail. But Luthien was his only child, and he must have realized that Beren would be the death of her. As for stingy -- because he tried to send those dwarves away without their pay? They had just tried to scam him by first putting the Silmaril into the Nauglamir and then laying claim to the entire necklace. I might have, instead of telling them to get lost, calmly told them to remove my jewel from their necklace and be on their way -- all work being necessarily on their own time for not telling me in the first place. But I'm not yet as old and cranky as he must have been. LOL

7/5/2010 #2,201
AltearazCreator

Al! Just survived 8 months of hell and lived to tell the tale. I updated my fanfic for the first time since last November. People were threatening to send ninjas to kill me if I didn't update. How you been? Some outdoor activities? I'll bet it wasn't crocheting. :D

You'd win that bet. I did all my exercise out in the sun, sat and read and pretty soon it's beer time.

7/5/2010 . Edited 7/5/2010 #2,202
hixto

I'm an entomologist and I work on weevils and other plant pests.

Is "work on" a euphemism for finding new ways to kill them?

'Epilachna' is a genus of plant eating ladybugs.

Aw, I like ladybugs.

And isn't it too hot to crochet?

Also, welcome to the forum. :-)

7/5/2010 #2,203
hixto

Luthien was his only child, and he must have realized that Beren would be the death of her.

That's what fathers always think of their daughter's beau. lol

At least he wasn't a vampire.

7/5/2010 #2,204
Epilachna

Is "work on" a euphemism for finding new ways to kill them?

Nope. I study insect chemical ecology. My main focus is identifying insect pheromones and attractive/repellent plant volatiles and identifying their precise function in the behavior of insects. I've worked on studies dealing with host plant location, male-male competition, female mate selection, oviposition site selection and aggregation behaviors. Someone might come along and use my work to control pests but that's not what I do.

7/5/2010 #2,205
hixto

Nope. I study insect chemical ecology. My main focus is identifying insect pheromones and attractive/repellent plant volatiles and identifying their precise function in the behavior of insects. I've worked on studies dealing with host plant location, male-male competition, female mate selection, oviposition site selection and aggregation behaviors. Someone might come along and use my work to control pests but that's not what I do.

Ok, that is seriously cool! So you're a research scientist? Do you work with one particular species at a time or a variety?

7/5/2010 #2,206
Epilachna

So you're a research scientist? Do you work with one particular species at a time or a variety?

I work for a University now and in two months I'm starting a new job with the USDA. Right now I'm working on pepper weevil, southern chinch bug, and cactus bug. It's nice to work on multiple things so if one project isn't working out you have other things to keep you busy.

7/5/2010 #2,207
Olorime

southern chinch bug,

Southern Chinch BUGS, those devils!!!

You must let me know if there is a pesticide free way of getting rid of them! They cost me mucho dinero. :(

7/5/2010 #2,208
hixto

I work for a University now and in two months I'm starting a new job with the USDA. Right now I'm working on pepper weevil, southern chinch bug, and cactus bug. It's nice to work on multiple things so if one project isn't working out you have other things to keep you busy.

That's awesome. I hope you enjoy your new job. :-)

I'm not a fan of cinch bugs either, and that cactus bug looks pretty nasty too.

You must let me know if there is a pesticide free way of getting rid of them!

Maybe you could start a catch and release program. lol

7/5/2010 #2,209
Epilachna

Maybe you could start a catch and release program. lol

I was going to start a trapping project using the chinch bug aggregation pheromone, but I'm heading to a new job so someone else will have to take it on. Maybe it'll happen and you won't have to re-sod your lawn every year.

7/5/2010 #2,210
Fear Die Rothaarige

You work with bugs.... I do not envy your job.

7/5/2010 #2,211
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

Maybe it'll happen and you won't have to re-sod your lawn every year.

I say, sod my lawn! It grows fast enough as it is. ;P

7/6/2010 . Edited 7/6/2010 #2,212
Clodia

Welcome Nell, hi Epi! It's been a while, nice to see you here. :D

7/6/2010 #2,213
pandemonium-213

You work with bugs.... I do not envy your job.

You work with bugs. More specifically, with a particularly fascinating discipline relating to bugs and plants. Sounds like a great job!

Hope you don't mind if I nerd out a bit here, Epilachna, but what you're doing for a living triggers a number of eager questions in my old noggin:*

What, in general, are the major chemical classes of insect pheromones? Terpenoids? Aromatics (any aromatic ring structures, I mean)? Fatty acid based? I'd imagine these are pretty diverse.

Are the pheromones synthesized de novo and/or altered by the bug's metabolism? I'm guessing the latter is the more prevalent?

How stable are bug pheromones, chemically speaking?

What kinds of molecular signaling processes are involved. i.e., do the pheromones bind to G-protein coupled receptors and set off a signal transduction cascade? Ion channel agonists or antagonists? Or is it still kind of ambiguous as to how the neural signaling process with regard to pheromones in bugs works?

How many chinch bugs need to be, uh, extracted ;^) to get a good read-out of chemical composition via LC-MS or analytical method of your choice?

*By way of background, my undergrad degree is in botany with special interest in natural products chemistry so I'm coming from the plant side of the equation. I loved my classes on co-evolution of bugs and plants and thought the chemical interplay between them was very interesting.

Oh, and welcome to Cabbage patch. I'll second Thranduil's recommendation of the archives for a higher signal to noise ratio of quality fan fic, at least within the Tolkienian framework. I can't speak for other fandoms. I'll also note that FFN strikes me as having a strong advantage of a broad array of fandoms, and that there are plenty of gems to be had here.

7/6/2010 . Edited 7/6/2010 #2,214
Epilachna

Hey, Clodia! How've you been? FYI. I still have Wanderlust bookmarked but thanks to life kicking my ass I haven't finished my tale of Erestor. I plan on reading it soon as mine's done. I hate being influenced by other people's character interpretations.

OK pandemonium, I guess it's my turn to nerd out? Randy, if this conversation should be moved somewhere else let me know. I feel like I'm crowding the intro thread.

What, in general, are the major chemical classes of insect pheromones? Terpenoids? Aromatics (any aromatic ring structures, I mean)? Fatty acid based? I'd imagine these are pretty diverse.

Everything under the sun. But more often than not different classes of insects use different structures and related insects will have related compounds. If you have never been on there before, check out the website Pherobase. It has a pretty up to date, searchable list of pheromones and semiochemicals that are produced by insects or elicit behavioral responses. It includes plant volatiles and other metabolites.

If you want examples: the male pepper weevil, boll weevil, cranberry weevil and others produce an aggregation pheromone composed of various modifications of grandisol, which is a monoterpene.

Pepper weevil and boll weevil females also deposit an oviposition deterring (anti-egg laying) pheromone in a little plug after they infest a fruit so other females won't lay eggs there. The active component is still under investigation (it's a god damned nightmare), but it is secreted in a complex matrix of hydrocarbons and fatty acids (10-18+ C). If you remove the HCs/FAs you can get an active fraction but it is very labile and degrades within a day. The 'plugs' can last for weeks at room temperature so the FAs are stabilizers necessary for proper function (slow release ?) of the active compound(s).

The southern chinch bug (and most bugs in general) are extremely smelly. Their defensive compounds are often hexanoic acid derivatives. If you get near an infestation you'll know what I mean. The chinch bug aggregation pheromone has a number of compounds including a very large limonene peak (which makes them smell sweet). There are also several compounds that are known ant alarm pheromones which may explain why you can have a huge fire ant mound and a huge chinch bug infestation literally on top of one another and the ants won't eat the bugs.

The cactus bug has two pheromone glands, a defensive gland in both males and females and a male sex gland. The defensive glands contain modifications of hexanoic acid (hexanal, hexanol, acetic acid butyl ester, acetic acid hexyl ester).

The male glands change what they are producing depending on the food source. It looks like they might sequester and modify hexadecanoic and octadecanoic acid from cactus fruit seeds when fruit are ripe and they may produce de novo or sequester a C20 alcohol when fruit are green.

Are the pheromones synthesized de novo and/or altered by the bug's metabolism? I'm guessing the latter is the more prevalent?

It really depends on the insect. Some sequester. Some sequester and modify. Some produce de novo. Some change strategies at different times of the year and others will do both with different types of compounds (produce hydrocarbons/fatty acids and sequester cardenolides (class of steroids) or pyrrolizidine alkaloids like some butterflies for example).

How stable are bug pheromones, chemically speaking?

It all depends on the function. Alarm pheromones are often short chain alcohols and aldehydes that work fast and disperse quickly. Marking pheromones need to be more stable so they can 'leave a mark', like the oviposition deterrents. Aggregation or sex attractant pheromones need to be volatile but larger so they last for at least a few minutes to a few hours so they can lure insects in from a distance.

What kinds of molecular signaling processes are involved

There is a whole field of research working on insect neurosensory systems. Not my area of expertise, but in general insect taste/odor receptors and pathways are homologous to those in humans. All sensory information is transmitted along to the glomeruli in the insect brain and integrated there. This is a pretty hot field. Google insect olfaction and you'll find a few labs doing work in the area.

How many chinch bugs need to be, uh, extracted ;^) to get a good read-out of chemical composition via LC-MS or analytical method of your choice?

I do headspace collections to collect chinch bug pheromone since they produce it all the time. 25 bugs for 6 hours under an airflow of 250 ml/min onto a SuperQ filter. Rinse filter with 200 ul of methylene chloride.

Pepper weevil aggregation pheromone is only produced by males while they are feeding - again collected by headspace - the compounds are easily identifiable from plant volatiles.

Cactus bugs only secrete their defensive pheromone when agitated and the sex pheromone when fighting other males or courting so it's easiest to dissect their glands, but you have to be careful because gland contents are not always the same as what they release from the gland.

The pepper weevil deterrent pheromone is a tricky one. I have to dissect 500 1 mm diameter plugs for a single experiment (takes 1-2 weeks with my colony). The active compound degrades on a normal GC. We are now using a cold trap injector to see if we can pick up compounds being lost in the standard injector (an extra $30,000 of equipment, but hey, I'm not paying : ). Preliminary results look good, but the hard part is always collecting samples for testing on the bugs. We have a prep-GC but we'll have to transfer the cold trap to that machine if we want to collect fractions. The compound refuses to behave on LC either. It will only elute on a silica column using ethyl acetate - so no UV detector. It's collecting fractions blind and the active components shift by minutes each time. We can collect the active compound from headspace by heating the plugs, leaving behind the bulky FAs, but it breaks down fast.

That was way more info then you needed I'm sure but I needed a break anyway : )

7/6/2010 #2,215
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

That was way more info then you needed I'm sure

Have you met Pande before? It wasn't. P

Pande is one of our seriously useful scientific resources, much like Darth is for Elvish linguistics.

7/6/2010 #2,216
pandemonium-213

That was way more info then you needed I'm sure

Heh. No, it was not. We speak the same language actually but are in rather different fields. Randy is well aware of my unseemly predilections so I doubt that he minds this sidebar conversation. Besides, it's not the first time "Who the Heck Are You?" has meandered significantly.

but I needed a break anyway : )

Excellent! Your pouring forth was exactly what I hoped to provoke. ;^) It made me wriggle with glee to read so much natural products geekery in one fell swoop! I love the subject, but followed the path to a sub-discipline of chemistry that is perhaps a bit more lucrative (but not performed in a garage).

Pherobase is fantastic and offered a fun romp down memory lane, at least in terms of what I studied as an undergrad. My hands-on natural products experience (performed during a 3 year stint between undergrad and grad school) focused on marine invertebrates: triterpene glycosides from sea cucumbers, haliclonins from sponges and didemnins from tunicates. But my, oh, my, reading about your work made for a real treat today! Stinky organic acids, limnolene, hideous mixtures of long chain hydrocarbons and fatty acids (and yep, I think that's a reasonable speculation that the FAs in the hydrophobic gimish -- likely packed in a tight configuration, molecularly speaking, might serve to modulate release), cold traps on GCs (hey, 30K isn't too bad; my [former] lab's coveted HPLCs that were all tricked out with a multitude of detectors pushed 100K; 30K seems par for the course for good add-ons in analytical instruments), and the chemovariability of the bugs' strategies -- really a lot of fun for me to read!

There is a whole field of research working on insect neurosensory systems.

Heteromeric ligand-gated ion channels FTW! Thanks for the tip. I found some interesting articles on receptors that are homologous in some ways to mammals but also distinctly different. Very cool stuff, and such a neat example of evolution's knack of using molecular toolkits. I suspect there are protein kinases involved along the line. There always are.

I do not envy your having to collect source tissues. Not exactly abundant, and I would expect a pretty high degree of heterogeneity for many of the samples. But then that may be part of the fun.

Thanks so much for indulging me. :^)

7/6/2010 . Edited 7/6/2010 #2,217
Epilachna

It made me wriggle with glee to read so much natural products geekery in one fell swoop!

Natural products chemisty is awesome - too bad I'm not a chemist. I have degrees in general biology and entomology. I do work with some award winning genius chemists, though, and I've learned enough through my years of chemistry classes to understand almost 50% of what they say to me :D The rest of the time I just nod as say 'that's your department'.

my [former] lab's coveted HPLCs that were all tricked out with a multitude of detectors

Then you'll just about swoon over the USDA lab I work with. They have 5 GC-MS machines, all running different column types and housing different injectors. They've got GCs just hanging out, a GC-coupled electroantennography system (you puff compounds over an insect's antenna and record the depolarizations to see if they can detect the compound), 2 prep-GCs for collecting volatile fractions, an LC-MS, at least 4 HPLCs running both normal and reverse phase and a fully automated volatile collection bay with every size and shape glass container you could want to place your samples in. They also have an FTIR spectrometer and an NMR but we generally use the NMR facility at the university because they have microprobes specifically designed for low concentration natural product samples.

I wanted to work in academia when I started grad school but after seeing their tricked out lab facility I can't imagine doing the work I want to do without equipment like this. And I'm told the LC-MS system they have cost close to half a million (seems an absurd price to me - I can't even imagine). I don't know what college lab can possibly get a grant for that kind of equipment.

7/6/2010 #2,218
Clodia

Hey, Clodia! How've you been? FYI. I still have Wanderlust bookmarked but thanks to life kicking my ass I haven't finished my tale of Erestor. I plan on reading it soon as mine's done. I hate being influenced by other people's character interpretations.

Stressing horribly over housing, mostly; but I'm hoping that's going to be completely sorted very soon. Apart from that, good! How about you? I hope life hasn't been kicking your ass too hard! And don't worry about any of my stuff, I totally know where you're coming from there, especially since RL's had me on hiatus lately too. Luck with finishing yours!

7/7/2010 #2,219
militaryhistory

Howdy, Epilachna.

7/10/2010 #2,220
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