- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
There's something about maggots that non-forensic entomologists don't like.
"Those are the larvae of a fly," a mother told her inquiring daughter last Saturday at the Maggot Art table at Briggs Hall, UC Davis campus. The occasion: the 97th annual UC Davis Picnic Day.
Maggot Art? It's been part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology's featured Picnic-Day attractions since 2003.
It started with graduate student Rebecca O'Flaherty, who coined the name, "Maggot Art," and established it as an educational curriculum. She's taught youths and adults alike to dip a maggot in non-toxic, water-based paint and let it crawl (or guide its movements) on white paper. Voila! Maggot Art!
“The beauty of the Maggot Art program,” O'Flaherty told us a few years ago, “is its ability to give hands-on, non-threatening experience with an insect that most people fear or loathe.”
So last Saturday, scores of children crowded around the table awaiting their turns. Once finished, they literally danced away with their masterpieces.
Can't you just see the result? A favorite aunt or uncle comes to visit and there's a colorful "painting" on the refrigerator.
That's definitely a conversation piece.
Anyway, one of the Maggot Art artists at UC Davis Picnic Day was entomologist-artist Diane Ullman, associate dean for Undergraduate Academic Programs, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology. Ullman and colleague Donna Billick co-founded and co-direct the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program and on occasion invited O'Flaherty into their classrooms to teach Maggot Art.
Last Saturday, when Ullman volunteered to staff the Maggot Art table, she found a little time to create her own insect art--again.
"It's just like old times," she said.