And ants, honey bees, bumble bees, beetles, and skeeters, oh yes!
Don't see "Ewww!" Say "Wow!"
Those are just a few of the bugs that will be part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology's activities during the 98th annual campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day on Saturday, April 21.
Entomological activities will take place at two sites: Briggs Hall on Kleiber Hall Drive and the Bohart Museum of Entomology, located at 1124 Academic Surge on California Drive. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, coordinator of the department’s Picnic Day activities, promises not to disappoint. Indeed, thousands of people flock to the Bohart and Briggs every year just to see the bugs. What's a picnic without bugs? Bohart, Briggs and bugs. Now that's alliteration.
At Briggs, the popular events will include Maggot Art, termite trails, cockroach races and honey tasting, as well as displays featuring forensic, medical, aquatic, apiculture and forest entomology. Exhibits also will include such topics as fly fishing/fly-tying, insect pests of ornamentals, and pollinators of California.
Visitors to Briggs can cheer for their favorite cockroach at the American cockroach races; watch a termite follow a line drawn with a Bic ink pen (they follow the line because the ink acts as a pheromone or attractant) and create a Maggot Art painting suitable for framing.
Maggot Art, a term coined and trademarked by forensic entomologist Rebecca O’Flaherty, a former doctoral candidate at UC Davis, involves dipping a maggot in non-toxic, water-based paint to create art. O’Flaherty launched Maggot Art in 2001 as a community outreach project to teach--and reach--youths while she was studying entomology at the University of Hawaii.
At Briggs, the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) will "display information and tools for managing pests in homes and gardens," said Mary Louise Flint, UC IPM's associate director of urban and community IPM and an Extension entomologist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology. "We'll give advice on managing pests with less toxic, environmentally sound IPM methods. We will have Quick Tips to hand out, people can try out our touch screen IPM kiosk to answer questions and we will also be distributing live lady beetles (aka ladybugs) for children."
Those polka-dotted ladybugs are a big hit--and an even bigger hit if you watch them chow down aphids in your garden.
Also at Briggs, plans call for a “Bug Doctor” to answer insect-related questions from the public. Last year’s “Bug Doctors” included Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. There's another "doctor in the house," too: Dr. Death. That would be forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey perched at a microscope and inviting folks to have a look-see.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology, home of more than seven million insect specimens, will showcase displays of specimens and live pollinators. The theme: "Insects Are Forever." Bohart Museum officials insist that insects can be a girl’s best friend (just like diamonds or dung beetles). They'll feature photos of UC Davis women entomologists. The Bohart Museum also will include a live “petting zoo” where visitors can hold Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks.
Also at the Bohart, native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology, and graduate student Emily Bzdyk, who studies with major professor Lynn Kimsey, will provide a live display of pollinators, including bumble bees, carpenter bees, leafcutting bees and green metallic sweat bees.
Is this going to "bee" fun or what?
Perhaps, just perhaps, the entomologists can steer folks clear of saying "yecch!" and "ewww!" and encourage them to ponder the wonderful world of bugs.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology's newly published newsletter, written by Lynn Kimsey, director of the museum and a professor of entomology at UC Davis, reveals the answers. She gleaned much of the information from the University of Florida's Book of Insect Records.
So, what is the heaviest insect? "We used to think that several large beetles, including the Goliath beetle and the titan long-horned beetle were the heaviest," Kimsey said. "But now the giant weta, Deinacrida heteracantha White of New Zealand is unquestionably the winner."
It weighs 2.5 ounces, or "more than a mouse," Kimsey said. "OK, so it's not even one pound, but that's still really heavy for an insect."
Indeed it is.
The longest? A walking stick, Pharnacia kirbyl, found in Malaysia and measuring 22 inches from front leg tip to hind leg tip.
The fastest runner? That would be the Australian tiger beetle, Cicindela eburneola, recorded running at 5.5 miles per hour.
The fastest flying insect? The male horsefly, Hybomitra hinei Johnson, which reached 89 miles per hour chasing an air rifle pellet.
The loudest? The North American cicada, Tibicen walkeri Metcalf, which can reach 108 decimels--"about as loud as a rock concert or power saw," Kimsey says.
The greatest wingspan? The Central American moth, Thysania agrippina Cramer (Noctuidae), also known as the white witch. Its wingspan measures up to 11 inches long.
The smallest adult? The mymarid fairy wasp, Dicopomorpha echmeptrygis Mockford. The males are 139 microns or 0.005 inches.
And if you think rabbits are highly productive, think again. Aphids win for the shortest generation time. "Female aphids are essentially born pregnant," Kimsey says. "Cotton aphids and corn aphids can complete a generation in five days at 77 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that one female and all her offspring could produce more than 1 trillion offspring in a season. That is as many aphids as there are stars in five average-sized galaxies."
We need more ladybugs and soldier beetles!
(P.S. If you have an insect question, want an identification or want to become a member of the Bohart Museum Society, contact the Bohart Museum at email@example.com)
Just call it a case of identity theft at the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
But wait! Before you ask "Is everything okay?" and suggest contacting law enforcement immediately, not to worry. This is a different case of identity theft.
Insects! Camouflaged insects!
Take the walking stick. This insect looks so much like a twig, that you not only THINK it's a twig, you KNOW it is.
Question: Is the insect masquerading as a twig or is the twig masquerading as an insect?
You can learn about insect camouflage if you attend the Bohart Museum's open house from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, March 10. The theme: "Hide 'n' Seek: Insect Camouflage." The event is free and open to the public. The site: Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on California Drive, UC Davis campus.
"We will have specimens from the collection like leafy katydids and bark-like moths and butterflies with clear wings," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator at the Bohart Museum.
"There will be live walking sticks to hold and touch," Yang said. And, she said, visitors will "have a chance to make some stick insects from pipe cleaners that they can take and hide around their homes."
The walking stick (below is a Great Thin Stick Insect (Ramulus nematodes). Said Yang: "We like to call them Avatar Stick Insects, because the males are long, skinny and blue."
Staff and students will be on hand to answer questions.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology, and founded in 1946 by her major professor, Richard Bohart (1913-2007), houses a global collection of more than seven million insect specimens, the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of insect biodiversity.
If you should miss the March open house, there are three more this academic year:
Saturday, April 21: 10 to 3 p.m., UC Davis Picnic Day
Saturday, May 12, 1 to 4 p.m., “Pre-Moth’ers Day”
Sunday, June 3, 1 to 4 p.m., “Bug Light, Bug Bright…First Bug I See Tonight.”
Regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The museum is closed on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
More information is available on the Bohart website or by contacting Tabatha Yang at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 752-0493. Due to limited space, group tours will not be booked during the weekend hours.
Izzo, who finished her doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology last year at the University of Michigan, where she worked with Elizabeth Tibbetts on wasp communication and sexual selection, will speak on "Spotting the Top Male: Sexual Selection in a Lekking Paper Wasp." (Lekking means to engage in courtship displays.)
The seminar is sponsored by the Animal Behavior Graduate Group, which is hosting a series of winter-quarter seminars every Friday at noon in 6 Olson Hall. The series began Jan. 13 and will continue through March 16.
“Sexual selection has seen many advances over the past several decades, yet many questions remain,” said Izzo in her abstract. "Polistes dominulus paper wasps are a good system in which to study sexual selection, as males have a lek-based mating system and sexually dimorphic abdominal spots.
“Here, I demonstrate that these spots are used in both inter- and intra-sexual selection. Males with smaller, elliptically-shaped spots are more dominant over male rivals and are more preferred by females than males with larger, irregularly shaped spots. Additionally, the spots are condition-dependent and advertise quality.
“Further, spots function as signals: males with experimentally reduced abdominal spots win a greater proportion of fights and are preferred by females as mates over control males. Finally, female choice for attractive spots results in direct benefits to females. Females mated to males advertising high quality survive hibernation longer than females mated to males that advertise low quality. These results demonstrate that male ornaments are an important mediator of mating dynamics in paper wasps, and that females can gain direct benefits in non-economic mating systems. ”
Last summer we spotted her subject--Polistes dominulus--on a leaf in our backyard.
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis, confirmed the identification. "Note the clean black and yellow coloration and the two circular spots on the second abdominal segment," she said.
(Michigan State University has some interesting information posted on this wasp. It's an Old World Species with a native range from Europe to China. It was first discovered in the United States--Cambridge, Massachusetts--in 1981.)
About Mandy Izzo: she initially accepted a postdoctoral researcher position in the UC Davis Department of Entomology involving honey bees but is now affiliated with the UC Davis Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology and hopes to work on animal coloration projects.
She holds a master’s degree in biology from California State University, Northridge (2005) and a bachelor’s degree in integrative biology from UC Berkeley (2001).
Gotta love those entomologists and all the "bug people" who love bugs.
The folks at the Bohart Museum of Entomology on the UC Davis campus not only love their bugs but they're quite creative in showcasing them.
Take Fran Keller, a UC Davis Department of Entomology doctoral candidate who studies beetles with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart. Several days ago, during lunch, Keller crafted a colorful outline of a yule tree using assorted beetle specimens.
That was the tree. Then came the wreath.
Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, figured--and correctly so--that the metallic greens and reds would make a stunning wreath. So, she assembled a wreath starring carabids (ground beetles), scarabs, buprestids (metallic wood-boring beetles), a katydid and a praying mantis, among other insects.
James Heydon, 10, of Davis, whose father is a senior museum scientist at the Bohart Museum, thought it quite pretty as he watched Yang make the wreath on Friday, Dec. 23.
Will he become an entomologist?
“I’m not sure,” he said, but he does like bugs.
There’s no “Bah, humbug!” in his vocabulary.
Meanwhile, Bohart Museum personnel are gearing up for the next weekend open house, themed “A New Year, a New Bug, How Insects are Discovered.” Free and open to the public, the event will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14 at the museum, located at 1124 Academic Surge on the UC Davis campus.
The Bohart Museum, home of more than seven million insects, houses the seventh largest insect collection in North America. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum in 1946.
On any given day, visitors also can enjoy a live “petting zoo” with such permanent residents as Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks. A gift shop, where visitors can purchase t-shirts, sweatshirts, jewelry, insect nets and “insect candy,” is also open.
It's a fun and educational place to be.
The Bohart Museum launched its series of weekend openings for the fall season on Saturday, Sept. 24 with “Catch, Collect and Curate: Entomology 101.”
The remaining schedule for the 2011-2012 academic year:
Saturday, Jan. 14, 1 to 4 p.m.: “A New Year, a New Bug, How Insects Are Discovered”
Sunday, Feb. 12, 1 to 4 p.m.: “Bug Lovin’”
Saturday, March 10, 1 to 4 p.m.: “Hide ‘n’ Seek: Insect Camouflage”
Saturday, April 21: 10 to 3 p.m.: UC Davis Picnic Day
Saturday, May 12, 1 to 4 p.m.: “Pre-Moth’ers Day”
Sunday, June 3, 1 to 4 p.m.: “Bug Light, Bug Bright…First Bug I See Tonight.”
The Bohart's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. It is closed on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
More information is available on the Bohart website or by contacting Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator at email@example.com or (530) 752-0493. (Due to limited space, group tours will not be booked during the weekend hours.)