And maybe give them a hug? Or two? Or three?
Some 3000 third-graders who participated in the annual Solano County Youth Ag Day on March 18 at the Solano County Fairgrounds made a beeline for the bugs at the Bohart Museum of Entomology's hands-on activity.
Future entomologists? Maybe.
The UC Davis-based insect museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, provided just one of the activities on the Vallejo fairgrounds, where the youngsters visited cows, rabbits and chickens; watched sheep-herding dog demonstrations; participated in 4-H SET (science, engineering and technology) events, and went home knowing that chocolate milk doesn't come from brown cows.
The bugs? Oh, sure, some of the youngsters were initially a little squeamish and squirmish when they saw the Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks. But the "fear factor" soon vanished as they watched the insects crawl up their arms. The bugs tickled and the youngsters giggled.
Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator, said the youths really enjoyed the "hissers" and "stick insects" and learning more about them. Bohart museum volunteers Maia Lundy, Noah Crockette and Rachael Graham delighted in showing the bugs to the youngsters. A display of bee and butterfly specimens also drew "oohs" and "aahs."
The Bohart Museum, home of nearly eight million insect specimens, plus a live "petting zoo," traditionally provides an educational display at the Solano County Ag Day. The Solano County Fair Association hosts the annual event.
Next up in the Bohart Museum's lineup of educational activities: an open house from 1 to 3 p.m., Saturday, April 12 at its headquarters in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane. It's part of the campuswide Picnic Day.
"Go native" with native bees, that is.
A bee condo is a block of wood drilled with specially sized holes for nesting sites. Bees lay their eggs, provision the nests, and then plug the holes. Months later, the offspring will emerge.
In our backyard, we provide bee condos for BOBs (short for blue orchard bee) and leafcutter bees.
In the summer it's fun watching the leafcutter bees snip leaves from our shrubbery and carry them back to their bee condo. It's easy to tell the nesting sites apart: BOB holes are larger and plugged with mud, while the leafcutter bee holes are smaller and plugged with leaves.
Osmia lignaria, a native species of North America, is sold commercially for use in orchard crop pollination.
If you want to learn how to build them or where to buy them, Thorp has kindly provided a list of native bee nesting site resources on the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility website. You can also purchase them at many beekeeping supply stores. (Also check out the Xerces Society's website information.)
Better yet, if you'd like to learn more about native bees and their needs, be sure to register online for the Pollinator Gardening Workshop on Saturday, March 15 on the UC Davis campus. Hosted by the California Center for Urban Horticulture, it begins at 7:30 a.m. in Room 1001 of Giedt Hall and ends at 2 p.m. with a plant sale at the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery and a tour of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus. For the small fee of $40 you'll receive a continental breakfast and box lunch and return home with an unbee-lievable wealth of knowledge. Speakers will include several honey bee and native bee experts: native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp; pollination ecologist Neal Williams and Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen. See the complete list on the website.
You'll be hearing from Robbin, Neal and Eric, but you'll be thinking about BOB.
Well, why wouldn't anyone NOT want to? That's the question we ought to ask.
Enter doctoral candidate Matan Shelomi of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He will present his exit seminar on "Digestive Physiology of the Phasmatodea" on Wednesday, March 5 from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall, UC Davis campus. His seminar is scheduled to be video-taped for later posting on UCTV.
For a preview of his work, watch Shelomi's phdcomics.com video; he cleverly explains his complicated research in two minutes. It's a classic Matan Shelomi.
Shelomi, who studies with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and UC Davis professor of entomology, will receive his doctorate this spring and will then seek a postdoctoral position.
What will he be covering in his seminar?
Shelomi received his bachelor's degree in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard University in 2009, and immediately after, enrolled in graduate school at UC Davis.
His work in Davis is funded by the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship program. Twice he has won the National Science Foundation's East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes' Fellowship: once to work in the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences in Tsukuba, Japan, and once to work in Academia Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan.
Shelomi served as a teaching assistant for Bob Kimsey's forensic entomology class. In addition, he co-taught a freshman seminar with Lynn Kimsey on "Evolution, Creationism, and Intelligent Design." He has guest-lectured for Entomology 10 "Natural History of Insects"; Entomology 100 "Introduction to Entomology"; and Entomology 102 "Insect Physiology."
He has presented at numerous meetings of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) and the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America (PBESA) and organized or co-organized four symposia at those meetings. He participates in the ESA's Linnaean Games and Student Debate teams. For his work with ESA and outside it, he won PBESA's John Henry Comstock Award in 2013.
There's more, much more. Shelomi presented a workshop at the 2012 International Conference on Science in Society, and received first place for his talk this past summer at the International Congress of Orthopterology in Kunming, China. He has published his research in number of peer-reviewed journals.
The doctoral candidate's work has been spotlighted in the Sacramento Bee, California Aggie, DavisPatch, plus blogs and vlogs like LiveScience, PHD TV, and Breaking Bio. In addition, Shelomi answers entomology and biology questions on Quora.com, where he has been a top writer for two consecutive years. Huffington Post and Slate printed some of his Quora answers. You might remember that he won a "Shorty" (social media) award for his post "If you injure a bug, should you kill it or let it live?"
Lynn Kimsey says she doesn't know when he finds time to sleep.
Frankly, we don't, either.
Ladybugs--actually, they're "lady beetles"--are garden heroes. And that's the theme of the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house on Sunday, March 2 from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, University of California, Davis.
The event is free and open to the public. And, it's family oriented with lots of activities planned, said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator at the Bohart Museum.
“This time of year aphids are invading our gardens,” Yang said. “Garden heroes, like lady beetles, help us out.” Other garden heroes include lacewings, bigeyed bugs, assassin bugs, damsel bugs, and soldier beetles. (See a list of natural enemies on the UC Integrated Pest Management website.)
Another key attraction at the Bohart Museum open house will be a return appearance of the Budding Biologist, creator of ecology video games. Budding Biologist is an educational publishing company owned by Kristine Callis-Duehl, who is with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Irvine. 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.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses nearly eight million specimens and 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 (gifts are also available 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. The 35-page book, geared toward kindergarteners through sixth graders, also includes photos by naturalist Greg Kareofelas of Davis, a volunteer at the Bohart.
The museum is located near the intersection of LaRue Road and Crocker Lane. The museum's regular public hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Group tours can be arranged with Tabatha Yang at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 752-0493. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and UC Davis holidays./span>
Among the many activities at their recent "Snuggle Bugs" open house was a "mite/art station." Visitors were given a paper plate and invited to draw a mite, or other parasitic critter, and then attach the plate to an unsuspecting host.
Alex Nguyen, a third-year entomology student at UC Davis, managed to get most of the mites..er plates. Maybe it was because he was wearing a UC Davis Graduate Students' Association t-shirt lettered with "Entomology's Most Wanted." Or maybe the crowd saw him as a virtual parasitic pincushion.
"if you were a honey bee," the Bohart Museum sign at the mite table read, "this plate would be about the size of a varroa mite on you."
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology, is the home of nearly eight million insect specimens, plus a live "petting zoo" that includes Madasgascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, rose-haired tarantula, millipedes and praying mantids. Located in Room 1124of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, the insect museum is open to the public Monday through Thursday throughout the year (except on holidays).
Next event? On Saturday, Jan. 25, the Bohart staff and volunteers will travel to the InsectFest at the World of Wonders (WOW) Museum, Lodi, to showcase their insects.
The Bohart's next weekend "home" event is Saturday, Feb. 8, which is the annual UC Davis Biodiversity Day.
Six biological museums will be included in the campuswide event. You'll see the open collections of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, the Botanical Conservatory, the Center for Plant Diversity, the Anthropology Collections, and the Paleontology Collections.
The Biodiversity Day takes place from noon to 4 p.m. and is an opportunity to see "see carnivorous plants, touch fossils, learn about birds and hold insects," said Tabatha Yang, outreach and education coordinator at the Bohart.
Free and open to the public, it's a family friendly event. See the Bohart for more information and a map.
Insects? Plants? Fossils? Birds? "Bio Day" promises to be educational, informative and entertaining.