“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 email@example.com 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.
You've heard of "The Beauty and the Beast?" A fairy tale?
How about "The Beauty and the Beetles?" No fairy tale.
That's the theme of the open house on Saturday, Nov. 23 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on the UC Davis campus, Crocker Lane.
The family friendly event, free and open to the public, should draw a good crowd.
"Beetles," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator at the Bohart," are incredibly diverse from the dung beetles to the shiny wood-boring beetles to the mighty rhinoceros beetles. They are also spectacularly beautiful. Besides specimens from around the world, we also be displaying (not selling!) jewelry made from the wings of beetles- this was common practice in South America's indigenous populations."
In addition to displays of beetles, "we will have a fun hands-on craft, something involving sequins and another craft involving 'dung balls,' " Yang said.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis and 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.
Special attractions at the Bohart include a live "petting zoo," with critters such as Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, tarantulas and praying mantids. Visitors can also shop at the year-around gift shop for 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.
Bohart officials schedule weekend open houses throughout the academic year. 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.
The society's annual Halloween party in the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis, showcased a combination of insects and costumes.
A skull shared the habitat of the giant cave cockroach (Blaberus gigante), native to tropical Central America and northern South America. This cockroach is considered one of the largest cockroaches in the world, according to Wikipedia, with the male reaching lengths of 7.5 cm and the female, 10 cm. Its diet consists of everything from decaying plant material, fruits and seeds to dead insects and bat guano.
The partygoers? Senior museum scientist Steve Heydon came dressed as a witch.
Kate Brown, a third-year student at the UC Davis School of Medicine, donned Monarch butterfly wings.
Meanwhile, the Bohart Society members checked out the assorted insects, ranging from praying mantids to Madagascar hissing cockraoches to walking sticks. Entomologist Leia Matern of Woodland, who is studying for her master's degree at UC Davis, answered questions about a bug display to her curious daughter, Tilly.
The Bohart Museum Society is a campus and community support organization dedicated to supporting the mission of the museum, according to director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis. The museum, which houses neearly eight million insect specimens, and the Bohart Museum Society are dedicated to teaching, research and public service. "Our current growth is financed by memberships and your contributions," Kimsey said. (See membership benefits)
Meanwhile, the Bohart Museum is gearing up for its next Nov. 23rd open house. The theme: "Beauty and Beetles." It will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane. See schedule of weekend open houses. The museum is open to the public Mondays through Thursdays.
UC ANR Vice-President Barbara Allen-Diaz promises to wear bees—honey bees—if she can raise $2500 by Thursday, Oct. 31 for the UC Promise for Education, a fundraising project to help needy UC students. See her promise page to donate.
Veteran professional bee wrangler Norm Gary, UC Davis emeritus professor of entomology, promises to come out of retirement (he retired from bee wrangling, academic service and beekeeping) to assist with the project.
If all goes well—that is, if Allen-Diaz can raise $2500 by Oct. 31--this bee stunt will take place next spring at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the central UC Davis campus.
However, if she raises $5000, she will eat insects or insect larvae. Entomophagy!
We asked senior museum scientist and world traveler Steve Heydon of the Bohart Museum of Entomology if he has any insect-eating recommendations.
“Crickets,” he said. “Fresh-roasted crickets. They’re really good with a little salt.”
What about termites? “Termites don’t have that much of a taste,” Heydon said.
If Barbara Allen-Diaz needs a little practice, she can enjoy some insect-embedded lollipops available at the gift shop at the Bohart Museum, Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane. The choices are crickets, ants and scorpions. Heydon says the lollipops are especially popular as Christmas stocking stuffers. Cost? $3 each.
Butterfly expert Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis, has eaten butterflies, including Cabbage Whites (Pieris rapae). “I’ve eaten several to see if they’re edible to me, ‘though I’m not a bird. They are (edible), but I prefer fried grasshoppers. Yum!"
And what do Cabbage Whites taste like? “Toilet paper,” Shapiro said.
“My former student Jim Fordyce--he has a background in chemical ecology--used to say that he would never work on a bug he hadn't tasted,” Shapiro related. “However, he did work on the Pipevine Swallowtail, which sequesters the two aristolochic acids, which are mutagenic, carcinogenic and can apparently cause kidney atrophy. So I hope he never swallowed it. Fortunately, it tastes awful, or so I hear--I haven't tried it. Female European Large Whites (Pieris brassicae) are somewhat unpalatable and may be the basis of a loose mimicry ring. Larvae of the Large White are gregarious, inedible and smell like spoiled corned beef and cabbage."
According to Wikipedia, more than 1000 species of insects “are known to be eaten in 80 percent of the world’s nations.” Wikpedia lists some of the most popular insects as crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers, ants, various beetle grubs (such as mealworms), the larvae of the darkling beetle, various speces of caterpillars, scorpions and tarantulas.
Barbara Allen-Diaz hasn't indicated which insect or insect larvae she will select, but oh, the choices!
But first...the bee promise!