"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."
That's the line that came to me Saturday when I released a week-old Gulf Fritillary butterfly I'd reared in our home.
Kris Kristofferson penned that line in his hit song, "Me and Bobby McGee," popularized by Janis Joplin. Kristofferson most definitely was NOT thinking of Agraulis vanillae when he wrote that. According to performingsongwriter.com, he was thinking of a time-tested movie plot. You know, boy loves girl, boy leaves girl, boy cannot forget girl.
Calling freedom a "two-edged sword," Kristofferson explained that the boy "was free when he left the girl, but it destroyed him. That’s where the line ‘Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose’ came from."
Fact is, my little ol' December butterfly picked a terrible time to emerge in the habitat I purchased last summer at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis. With outside temperatures dipping to 22 degrees, I didn't have the heart to make this a nothing-left-to-lose day. Not yet. So I fed it sugar water and waited for a better-chance-to-make-it day.
When the temperature hit 55, I released it on a passionflower vine in our yard. My boy butterfly quickly fluttered away, on the wings of freedom, only to return a few minutes later and touch down on a clump of pampas grass.
I'm sure it never found a mate. In fact, between hungry predators and the just-chillin' weather, it probably ended up as a one-day butterfly.
However, there's always the promise of more butterflies. A quick peek beneath the burlap-covered passionflower vine revealed several caterpillars and chrysalids.
If you're looking for a cause to support, consider the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis.
The museum crew, led by director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and dedicated.
They have gained a state, national and international reputation as a key source of information. The museum houses nearly eight million insect specimens, collected from all over the world. In addition to the insect specimens, they maintain a "live" petting zoo that includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, praying mantids and tarantulas. A year-around gift shop is stocked with t-shirts, sweatshirts, jewelry, books, posters, insect nets, butterfly habitats, and insect-themed candy.
"Every year we have new insect adventures and those head-slapping moments when you think 'insects do that, really?'" Kimsey wrote in a recent letter, adding that "2013 has been a very active year, with our staff and students strengthening our efforts to provide services and educational programs to the public. We are very proud of our dedicated group of volunteers and staff who bring insect-based programs to schools and public functions throughout northern California."
As in the past, long-time supporters Marius and Joanne Wasbauer have given the Bohart Museum another challenge grant of $5000. "They hope that their gift will inspire others to give and they will match your gift, one-for-one, up to $5000," Kimsey wrote. "Funds from the campaign will be deposited in the museum endowment, which provides invaluable operating support to the museum, its collections, programs and staff."
Folks can donate online at http://www.bohartmuseum.com.
Folks can also sign up for a sponsorship of $2500 to be eligible to participate in the Bohart's BioLegay program and will be able to name one of the new species listed on the BioLegacy website, http://biolegacy.ucdavis.edu. This contribution could also be counted toward the Wasbauer challenge grant.
The insect museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, near the LaRue Road intersection. It's open to the public Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m. Special weekend hours are also offered, as are group tours. Contact Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, at email@example.com for more information.
Because that's what it is.
It's an event held in December, specifically Saturday, Dec. 7 from noon to 3 p.m. when the Bohart Museum of Entomology extends its weekday hours so folks can see the global insect collection, hold live critters from the "petting zoo," ask questions, and browse the gift shop.
Wouldn't it be interesting if "The December Event" drew a long line of bug lovers comparable to the swell of Black Friday shoppers? Can't you just see it? Families eagerly waiting in line for the the noon opening...the big dash when the doors swing open...smiles everywhere...
Science never looked so good...or so popular!
The Bohart Museum, home of nearly eight million specimens, is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. The building is near the intersection of LaRue Road and Crocker Lane.
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, was the last graduate student of noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart, for whom the museum is named.
So, Dec. 7 is a good time to stop in, check out the insect specimens, and maybe hold a Madagascar hissing cockroach, a walking stick, a rose-haired tarantula or a praying mantis. Bring your camera. The photo could wind up on a unique holiday card.
Bug lovers can also visit the year-around gift shop, which includes t-shirts, sweatshirts, posters, books, insect nets, butterfly habitats, and insect-themed candy. (Items can also be ordered online. Proceeds benefit the Bohart Museum.)
Wait, there's more! You can have your name or the name of a loved one "permanently attached" to an insect through the Bohart Museum's BioLegacy program.
BioLegacy supports species discovery and naming, research and teaching activities of the museum through sponsorships, said Kimsey. "At a time when support for taxonomic and field research is shrinking, researchers find it increasingly difficult to discover, classify and name undescribed species. Yet there are thousands yet to be discovered. Taxonomy is the basis of all biology and without species discovery and naming much of the world’s biodiversity will remain unknown and therefore unprotectable."
As noted on the BioLegacy website, the program
- Provides donors the opportunity to sponsor and give a scientific name to a newly discovered insect species;
- Provides researchers responsible for identifying the new species with names provided by donors;
- Ensures that names provide by donors are used in a scientifically sound and scientifically correct manner in accordance with International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature rules;
- Provides donors with documentary proof of their name for the new species in question;
- Ensures that donated funds go to the support of taxonomical research in the Bohart Museum of Entomology; and
- Publishes donor-named species and information about the research on its website.
Bottom line: the species naming is a "unique, lasting form of dedication." A minimum sponsorship of $2500 is requested.
“Ooh, look at the dung beetles.”
Those were some of the comments overheard at the Bohart Museum of Entomology’s recent open house, themed “Beauty and the Beetles.”
The museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Drive, UC Davis campus, is home to nearly eight million insect specimens. And many of them are beetles (specimens) and some are walking sticks (live).
Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum’s education and outreach coordinator, said that beetles are “incredible diverse from the dung beetles to the shiny wood-boring beetles to the mighty Rhinoceros beetles. They are also spectacularly beautiful.”
Activities including making jeweled beetles, crafting dung beetles and other figures from clay, checking out assorted insect specimens, and holding live Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, rose-haired tarantulas, and praying mantids.
Here's what visitors learned about dung beetles from the text accompanying the displays:
Dung beetles (family Scarabaeidae, subfamily Scarabaeinae) are found worldwide. They
- Feed on dung, usually mammal dung, but some species can also feed on decomposing plant material or carrion
- Are found in many habitats, including desert, forest and, farmland
- Have a sensitive sense of smell and use it to find dung
- Have an expanded clypeus (area on front of face, above labrum)
- Aid in nutrient recycling and soil structure; beetles removing dung from livestock areas remove habitats for potential pests such as flies.
Fun fact: Ancient Egyptians associated dung beetles with the god of the rising sun, who would roll the sun away at night
The next event at the Bohart Museum is...drum roll..."The December Event." It's set from noon to 3 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7. “Come look at our collection, hold live insects and browse our gift shop,” said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis.
Said Yang: “We will have some Oh, My! drawers pulled (called “Oh, my” because that’s what visitors say when they first see them), and live animals to hold."
Attendees can test out Lizard Island, a new ecological videogamebeing developed by Budding Biologist (http://www.buddingbiologist.com/about.html), an educational publishing company owned by Kristine Callis-Duehl, a post-doctoral associate housed in the Department of Entomology and Nematology. This game is loosely based on ecological research being conducted by Louie Yang, assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Walter Hsiao, the video game developer, will be on hand to answer questions about game design.
Hsaio earlier designed a fly fishing simulation game that included input from Louie Yang and Sharon Lawler, professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology: http://www.flysim.com/flysim/flysim_features.html
The Bohart Museum, housing nearly eight million specimens, is the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum in 1946.
The year-around gift shop (also online) offers t-shirts, jewelry, insect nets, posters and books, including the newly published children’s book, “The Story of the Dogface Butterfly,” written by UC Davis doctoral candidate Fran Keller and illustrated (watercolor and ink) by Laine Bauer, a 2012 graduate of UC Davis. Naturalist Greg Kareofelas of Davis, a volunteer at the Bohart, also provided some of the photos for the 35-page book. It's geared toward kindergarteners through sixth graders, but is for all ages.
Bohart officials host weekend open houses throughout the academic year. Upcoming open houses are:
Sunday, Jan. 12
Theme: "Snuggle Bugs"
Hours: 1 to 4 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 8
Theme: "Biodiversity Museum Day"
Hours: Noon to 4 p.m.
This event will be held in conjunction with the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, Herbarium, Botanical Conservatory, Anthropology Collection and Geology and will take place at each of those locations. (All are free and open to the public.)
Sunday, March 2
Theme: "Garden Heroes!"
Hours: 1 to 4 p.m.
Saturday, April 12:
Theme: “UC Davis Picnic Day: 100 Years”
Hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunday, May 4
Theme: "Moth-er's Day"
Hours: 1 to 4 p.m.
Saturday, July 26
Theme: "Arachnids: Awesome or Awful?"
Hours: 1 to 4 p.m.
The Bohart Museum’s regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The insect museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free. More information is available from Tabatha Yang at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the website. Those who would like to join the Bohart Museum Society, a campus and community support organization dedicated to supporting the mission of the museum, can do so by accessing http://bohart.ucdavis.edu/html/about_society.html.
All that glitters may be beetles--jewel beetles.
You'll want to attend the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house on Saturday, Nov. 23 from 1 to 4 p.m. to bask in the theme, "Beauty and the Beetles."
The museum, located on the UC Davis campus in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, houses nearly eight million insect specimens, plus a live "petting zoo" and a gift shop. The open house is free and open to the public. The museum is people friendly, family friendly and bug friendly.
And the beetles?
"Beetles are awe inspiring because they are so different,” said Fran Keller, who is completing her requirements this year for a doctorate in entomology. She studies with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
“As a human, I and the 7 billion people on the planet are only one species, Homo sapiens," Keller said. "But the insect Order Coleoptera, or beetles, has more than 360,000 species. Beetles have the greatest diversity of all the insects. Butterflies are big and showy, but beetles can be. too. On a ladybug, which is really a beetle and not a bug, those red and black spotted front wings are called elytra. Beetle elytra are not used for flying so beetles actually fly with one pair of wings. But those elytra help protect them because they can be very tough and sometimes incredibly flashy to warn off predators.”
Keller said that “If you can think of an ecological niche there is probably a beetle there taking advantage of the resources. Believe it or not, there is a beetle that is a parasite and lives in the butt of a beaver. Beetles are truly amazing and although I am partial to the flightless, black tenebrionids, I do collect and appreciate the beauty of all beetles. Okay, maybe I don't collect the beaver butt parasite beetle but wow, who would have thought beetles would be there!”
Keller, who noted that Darwin was an avid beetle collector and enthusiast, acknowledged that she has many "favorite groups of beetles," but "one of my favorites has to be the jewel beetles. Most of them are pests but they are very stunning, hence the name jewel beetle. There are so many different types of beetles that we know of or that have been described but there are still so many that await discovery."
So, all you beetle fans and would-be beetle fans, head over to the Bohart Museum on Saturday afternoon. There will be arts and crafts for the youngsters (and adults, too, if they wish!) Find out more here.