- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Visitors at the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house on Sunday afternoon, July 9 not only engaged in maggot art but conversed one-on-one with members of the North American Forensic Entomology Association (NAFEA), on campus July 7-12 for their annual conference. Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is a past president of the group.
Maggot art involves dipping a maggot into non-toxic, water-based paint and guiding it--or letting it crawl--on a piece of paper. It's suitable for framing or for refrigerator art.
Forensic entomologist Rebecca O'Flaherty, a former graduate student of Kimsey's, coined the educational teaching curriculum, "Maggot Art," back in 2001 when she was studying at the University of Hawaii. She was rearing blowflies for her forensic research and wanted an activity to draw the interest of elementary school students. She also wanted to generate interest and respect for forensic entomology.
Her Maggot Art quickly drew national interest. The CSI television show featured one of her works, “Ancient Offering,” which hung on the permanent set in Gil Grissom's office. O'Flaherty also exhibited her work at art shows, including a two-month exhibition at the Capital Athletic Club, Sacramento, in 2007.
Neel Fulde, 7, of Davis, attending with his mother, Shama Mesiwala, created an obstacle-course drawing. "I'd like a faster maggot," he told NAFEA member Royce Cumming of Salinas Valley.
"As soon as I give it a bath," Cumming told him.
"I hope that one is faster than the one I have," Neel said. "I want a fast one."
Olivia Storms, 6, of Davis, attending with her father, David Storms, embellished her art with a colorful signature and whirls and swirls.
Adults tried their hand at it, too, including Jered Bell of Vacaville, aerospace engineering student at UC Davis and Alejandra Wilson of Fairfield, a biotechnology major at Solano Community College. "We've never done this before," Bell said. Maggot art is popular at the annual campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day, when the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology offers the activity at Briggs Hall.
NAFEA member Greg Nigoghosian of Purdue University wore a T-shirt, the work of Purdue students, that read "Crime Scene: Do Not Cross," that included a body outline and the words "Our day begins when your day ends."
The goal of NAFEA is to promote the development of forensic entomology throughout North America and to encourage co-operation with other similar international bodies. NAFEA defines its mission as “to provide a cooperative arena for forensic entomologists to interact and collaborate in ways that enhance the science, moral and ethical foundation, and reputation of forensic entomology.”
The July 9th open house is the first of three open houses during the summer. All are free and open to the public.
Saturday, July 22, Moth Night from 8 to 11 p.m.: Moth Night, held in conjunction with National Moth Week, will enable visitors to explore nighttime nature through a blacklighting setup, enabling the collection of moths and other insects. The event takes place in the courtyard in back of the Bohart Museum. The museum will be open throughout Moth Night.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It is also the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum.
Special attractions include a “live” petting zoo, featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold the insects and photograph them.
The museum's gift shop, open year around, includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.The Bohart Museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
For more information contact the Bohart Museum at (530) 752-0493 or firstname.lastname@example.org