So begins Matan Shelomi, Ph.D. candidate in entomology at the University of California, Davis, in a creative video posted on the popular PHD TV website.
It's a compelling site that showcases the work of Ph.D students. In this case, Shelomi is allocated two minutes to describe his work--why he studies walking sticks. There aren't that many doctoral candidates who can describe their thesis in two minutes--and so engagingly!
What's PHD TV all about? As its website says, it "aims to illustrate and communicate the ideas, stories and personalities of researchers, scientists and scholars worldwide in creative, compelling and truthful ways. We believe there is a gap between scientists and academics and how the public perceives what they do and who they are."
Shelomi, who received his bachelor's degree in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard University, studies with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis.
One of the top writers on the Quora site, Shelomi won a Shorty award last year for his answer to an insect question. He's also engaged in unusual research, such as "Cutting Bergmann's Rule Down to Size" and taking a poke at Pokémon (with two other entomologists).
In his PHD TV piece, titled "The Wild World of Insect Digestion," Shelomi explains why "you should go with your gut" and "follow your heart."
The video is so incredible that when when you finish watching it, you may just want to join Shelomi in studying walking sticks.
Or at least check out the stick insects walking around in the Bohart Museum...
Now there's an opportunity for classrooms all across the nation--and butterfly fans--to learn about it in "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.
Net proceeds from the sale of the 35-page book will benefit the education, outreach and research programs of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis.
The book tells the untold story of the California dogface butterfly, Keller said, and how schoolchildren became involved in convincing the State Legislature to select the colorful butterfly as the state insect.
Bauer’s illustrations depict the life cycle of this butterfly. Naturalist Greg Kareofelas of Davis, a Bohart volunteer, contributed photos. As part of their research, the trio visited a Placer County habitat of the butterfly last year.
As for the book, “There are also ecology, life cycle, taxonomy and conservation issues presented that are relevant to grades K-6 that can be used in classroom curriculum,” Keller said. In addition, the book includes information on the butterfly’s host plant, false indigo (Amorpha californica).
“A glossary in the back highlights key terms,” Keller said. “And there is a set of photographs of the California dogface and another yellow butterfly to help you determine if you have ever really seen the California state insect.”
Some people confuse it with it the alfalfa butterfly.
You can meet the writer and illustrator at the Bohart Museum's open house on Saturday, Feb. 2 from 1 to 4 p.m. The museum is located at 1124 Academic Surge on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
The book can also be ordered online from the Bohart website.
The museum's gift shop also has t-shirts and posters depicting the state insect.
Indeed. Those attending the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house on Saturday, Feb. 2, will see them--and see them feeding.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology is one of six museums or educational centers on the UC Davis campus holding an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. This is the second annual campuswide Biodiversity Museum Day, aka "Super Science Saturday," as it's the day before the Super Bowl. The other five are the Botanical Conservatory, Center for Plant Diversity, the Geology Museum, the Anthropology Museum, and the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology. Maps will be available at each site. The event is free and open to the public.
Now, back to the bed bugs.
Danielle Wishon, an undergraduate student majoring in entomology, will be feeding her bed bug colony at 2 p.m. at the Bohart Museum, which is located in 1124 Academic Surge on Crocker Lane. Wishon is rearing a colony, now approaching 100 bed bugs, in a research lab in Briggs Hall.
"Aside from the fact that I find them visually adorable, I am interested in the current public panic over their current increase in population around the United States," said Wishon, who took control of the colony in October 2012. "The idea that several little animals will crawl up to you while you sleep and feed on your blood really disturbs most people, despite the fact that they do not transmit any disease."
Wishon, who studies with forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey and works in the Bohart Museum with director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, loves entomology. She's is a past president of the UC Davis Entomology Club and recipient of the department’s 2011 Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award.
"I think the general public would be very interested to see them feeding," Wishon said. "There is a lot of misinformation on the Internet about them, so it would also be a good opportunity for Q and A."
And speaking of Q and A, be sure to access the Entomological Society of America's bed bug resource page. You'll find information on "the menace in the mattress" (Cimex lectularlu) from all over the country, including right here at UC Davis. The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program's Pest Note says:
"A single feeding may take up to 10 minutes, and feels like a pin prick, but because feeding usually occurs at night when people are asleep they are not aware they have been bitten until afterwards. However, saliva injected during the feeding can later produce large swellings on the skin that itch and may become irritated and infected when scratched. Swelling may not develop until a day or more after feeding, and some people do not show symptoms. Bed bugs currently are not considered to be disease carriers."
Sometimes we divide insects into "the biggest and the baddest."
Such will be the case Sunday, Jan. 13 when the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis, hosts an open house from 1 to 4 p.m., in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building.
The theme: "Extreme Insects!" That's with an exclamation point because these insects are indeed extreme, meaning quite out of the ordinary.
The event is free and open to the public.
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and a UC Davis professor of entomology, says "the biggest and the baddest" include:
- Greatest wingspan – the white witch moth from Central America (11 inches)
- Heaviest beetle – the African goliath beetle (2 ounces, and fist-sized)
- Loudest insect – the American cicada (108 decibels, as loud as a power saw or rock concert)
- Fastest flier – horseflies (more than 80 miles per hour)
- Most painful sting – the tarantula hawk wasp
- Deadliest insect – the house fly for vectoring more than 250 different human pathogens
- Fastest runner – the tiger beetle at 5 miles per hour
- Deadliest insect – the harvester ant, sting 3 times as toxic as honey bee venom
- Most beautiful moth – the moon moths and rainbow moths
The Bohart Museum houses a global collection of nearly eight million insect specimens and is the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum in 1946.
Bohart officials schedule weekend open houses throughout the academic year so that families and others who cannot attend on the weekdays can do so on the weekends. The Bohart’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.
The Bohart Museum also includes a gift shop where visitors can purchase t-shirts, sweatshirts, posters, insect nets, books and jewelry. A live "petting zoo" features Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas.
The Academic Surge building is located on Crocker Avenue, formerly California Drive.
The remainder of the open houses for the 2012-2013 academic year are:
Saturday, Feb. 2, 1 to 4 p.m.
Theme: "Biodiversity Museum Day"
Sunday, March 24, 1 to 4 p.m.
Theme: "Aquatic Insects"
Saturday, April 20: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Theme: UC Davis Picnic Day
Saturday, May 11, 1 to 4 p.m.
Theme: "Moth-er's Day"
Sunday, June 9, 1 to 4 p.m.
Theme: "How to Find Insects"
For further information, contact Lynn Kimsey at firstname.lastname@example.org or senior museum scientist Steve Heydon at email@example.com. The Bohart phone number: (530) 752-0493.
"Americans spend millions of dollars on sprays and pest control devices or services to kill insects. Yet much of this is unnecessary. Education about insects, spiders and their relatives is critical to reduce fear of these fascinating creatures and increase appreciation of the services they provide and their beauty. This is our goal."
"The Bohart Museum provides unique educational services to the UC Davis campus and the Northern California region," she continued. "We provide tours for everyone from preschoolers to retirees. We even designed and conducted a tour for a class of blind students this year! The Beth Spiva Timmons Foundation continues to support our outreach programs with another generous grant this year. Thanks to their donation, last year we developed a high tech program to take to schools to show students details of insects and spiders that they've never seen before. We'll be able to show them scales on butterfly wings, the gorgeous colors and textures of the insect exoskeleton, how crickets make sound, and so much more."
The Bohart Museum, home of nearly eight million insect specimens collected from around the world, also continues its national and international presence. Requests for information this year came in from National Geographic, the Discovery Channel and Myth Busters, to name a few.
Now longtime supporters Marius and Joanne Wasbauer have given the Bohart a 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 the $5000 program maximum," Kimsey related.
Funds will be deposited in the musuem endowment, which, Kimsey says will provide "invaluable oprating support to the museum, its collections, programs, and staff."
The challenge grant will extend until Dec. 31, 2012. Folks can donate online at http://www.bohartmuseum.com or mail a check to the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616.
And those who offer a sponsorship of $2500 will be eligible to participate in the Bohart's biolegacy program; they can name a new species. "This could also go toward matching the Wasbauers' challenge grant, doubling the impact of your donation," Kimsey noted.
It's good to see all the services that the Bohart Museum offers, and the generosity of its supporters.