- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Ask any entomology student and it means "Bring Your Own Bug."
And that's exactly what the UC Davis Linnaean Team did this morning during an interview with the TV anchors of Good Day Sacramento.
By request, the team members brought along their favorite bugs: Madagascar hissing cockroaches (see hisser at right) and assorted walking sticks, all from the Bohart Museum of Entomology; and soapberry bugs from professor Sharon Lawler's lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology.
The TV station labeled the event "a bug invasion."
And indeed it was.
Extension entomologist Larry Godfrey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty coaches the team, which includes graduate students Andrew Merwin (who studies with major professor Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology), Meredith Cenzer (major professor Louie Yang), Matan Shelomi (major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology) and prospective graduate student Ralph Washington, who received his bachelor's degree in entomology from UC Davis in 2010.
They competed last December in the national Linnaean Games, a college-bowl type competition that's a traditional part of the Entomological Society of America's annual meeting. Teams answer questions about insects and entomologists and compete for the championship. Ohio State University won the 2010 championship, defeating the University of Nebraska.
But, back to the bugs at the TV station...
Godfrey quizzed the anchors on their knowledge of insects. Each time an anchor answered a question incorrectly, he received temporary custody of a bug.
The final score: Bugs 3; Anchors, 0.
Name the title of the Robert Frost poem that includes this line: “An ant on a table cloth ran into a dormant moth of many times his size.”
No, not "Ants in Your Pants." The answer: “Departmental.”
Another question: “What insect was used as a symbol for the film, The Silence of the Lambs, and what is unusual about the insect’s food habits?”
"No, little more detail, little more detail,” Godfrey coaxed. The answer. “Death’s-Head Hawkmoth” and it raids bee hives (Apis mellifera) for the honey.
The third question dealt with the vedalia beetle: “Where was the vedalia beetle released for the control of cottony cushion scale and what industry did it save?”
“The Southeast" and "Cotton"? No.
“It was released in California," Godfrey said, "and it saved the citrus industry."
The UC Davis team now heads to the next competition, the Linnaean Games at the ESA Pacific Branch meeting, set March 27-30 in Hawaii. Each ESA branch can send two teams to the nationals. Reno is hosting the ESA's 59th annual meeting Nov. 13-16.
Meanwhile, the Bohart Museum should be drawing lots of visitors. It's located at 1124 Academic Surge on California Drive, UC Davis. Admission is free. Visiting hours: Mondays through Thursdays. Times: 9 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 to 5 p.m.
Pop quiz: How many bugs at the Bohart? More than 7 million specimens. Plus, there's the "live petting zoo" where you can touch the hissers and walking sticks...including the ones on the TV show...