- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
So said a little boy working on his maggot art project last Sunday afternoon, July 9, at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis.
The occasion: a special open house with special presenters, members of North American Forensic Entomology Association (NAFEA). The forensic entomologists are on the UC Davis campus through July 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.
Neel Fulde, 7, of Davis, arrived at the Bohart Museum with his mother, Shama Mesiwala, who watched him expertly use forceps to grab a maggot and dip it into non-toxic, water-based paint and release it on the "canvas"--white paper. Neel guided it around on what he termed his "obstacle-course" drawing.
His maggot, however, crawled too slow and he asked NAFEA member Royce Cumming of Salinas Valley for a "faster maggot."
Cumming said the maggot Fulde wanted was "taking a bath."
"In just a minute," Cumming said, and then handed Neel his forceps with "the faster" maggot attached.
Olivia Storms, 6, of Davis, arrived with her father, David Storms, and she, too, was eager to engage in maggot art. Cumming asked her: "Is the maggot the artist, or is it you, Olivia?" "Both," she said.
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.
Maggot art is a traditional and popular activity at the annual campus UC Davis Picnic Day. The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology conducts the event at Briggs Hall and will do so again at next year's Picnic Day: April 21.
Meanwhile, the Bohart Museum is gearing up for its next two summer open houses (free and open to the public and no reservations required):
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.
Sunday, Aug. 27: Bark Beetles and Trees, Forest Health in California, from 1 to 4 p.m.: The event is in collaboration with Steve Seybold, USDA Forest Service entomologist and an associate of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He and his students and staff will be there to show displays and answer questions.
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