Noted medical entomologist Robert "Bob" Washino, emeritus professor of entomology and a veteran academic administrator at UC Davis, was hanging out in his back yard in Davis last spring when an aedine mosquito bit him.
He wondered whether it might be associated with the Zika virus so he headed over to the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis and handed the specimen to fellow mosquito researcher Tom Zavortink.
"The truth of the matter is that I was concerned that the mosquito biting me was either aegypti or albopictus associated with the Zika virus that is raising commotion all over the U.S. and the world," Washino related. "For that reason, I took the specimen to the museum and asked Tom Z. to identify the specimen, and of course, he excused himself from the meeting he was involved in, and examined the mosquito. When he completed the examination, he looked up at me and just smiled."
The mosquito: Aedes washinoi. Bob Washino's namesake.
"I loved the irony of it all," said his close friend Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis. "Bob Washino being bitten by Aedes washinoi in the Washino yard! Truly awesome."
Aedes washinoi is one of five mosquitoes named for former University of California faculty:
- Anopheles hermsi: for William B. Herms (1876-1949), UC Berkeley
- Anopheles freeborni, for Stanley Freeborn (1891-1960), first UC Davis chancellor (1958-59)
- Culex boharti: for Richard Bohart (1913-2007) UC Davis, for whom the Bohart Museum of Entomology is named
- Culex reevesi for William Reeves, (1916-2004), UC Berkeley
- Aedes washinoi for Robert Washino, UC Davis
UC Davis medical entomologists Bruce Eldridge (now emeritus) and Gregory Lanzaro named the mosquito in his honor in 1992.
Born and reared in Sacramento, Washino never strayed far from his roots, except for two years in France as a medical entomologist with the Army Medical Service Corps, 1956-1958, during the Korean War. His parents, natives of Japan, grew hops on their farm in the Sacramento Valley. Later his father became a successful Sacramento florist shop and hotel owner.
Washino said a career in biomedical sciences always intrigued him, “but there was no one event that led me to a career in medical entomology. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.” He received his bachelor of science degree in 1954 from UC Berkeley; his master's degree in entomology from UC Davis in 1956; and his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1967.
His career at UC Davis spanned 30 years, from 1964-1994. That included multiple terms as chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology (now the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology) and he also served as an associate dean of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and as a special assistant. He is a past president of both the American Mosquito Control Association and the California Mosquito and Vector Control Association, and co-author of Mosquitoes of California with Richard Bohart. He is a fellow of the Entomological Society of America.
More locally, he was appointed by the City of Davis to the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District's Board of Trustees in 1973 and served 38 years, longer than any other trustee. He was elected president five times. For research and teaching purposes, he generously gifted his entire collection of books and journals, reprints, unpublished master of science and doctorate theses (from UC Davis, UCLA, UC Riverside) and an estimated 1000 2x2 slides to the library. The building that houses the library, laboratory and lab staff bears his name, the Washino Laboratory.
One of the many highlights of his career: Washino received the prestigious Harry Hoogstraal Medal from the American Committee of Medical Entomology at the 54th annual meeting of the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH), held in December 2005 in Washington, D.C.
In 2010, Washino coordinated an all-day mosquito symposium at the American Mosquito Control Association's five-day conference in Anaheim, Orange County. He gathered together 17 U.S. and worldwide speakers, including experts from London, Japan, Australia, Portugal and Germany.
And then, six years later...what are the odds? His namesake, Aedes washinoi, bit him in his own back yard.
"I think Lynn really enjoyed the irony of that incident," Washino said, smiling, "and we all had a big laugh at my expense."
"Live, from the Bohart Museum! It's Wednesday Morning Live!"
Well, it wasn't quite like that, but close, when Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart and professor of entomology at UC Davis, greeted KUIC listeners. The station, based in Vacaville, serves the surrounding area, including Solano and Yolo counties.
Bugs and laughter abounded.
KUIC host Barbara Hoover, the station's direct marketing coordinator, experienced bugs galore. All good. The Bohart, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus, is home to nearly eight million insect specimens, plus a live "petting zoo," comprised of such critters as Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and taranatulas.
As Hoover and Kimsey conversed on the air, senior museum scientist Steve Heydon summoned Madagascar hissing cockroaches to hiss for the KUIC listeners. The hissers, however, had other ideas. The Sound and the Fury? No, the Sound and the Scurry, as the hissers crawled up Hoover's arm.
Then entomologist/Bohart associate Wade Spencer, a UC Davis undergraduate student, introduced Hoover to Coco McFluffin, a Chaco golden knee tarantula that's a crowd favorite. Spencer assured her it's been held more than 2000 times. Now 2001.
Hoover also met a walking stick, which did what walking sticks do. Walk. Up. Her. Arm.
Meanwhile, the Bohart Museum scientists--along with Coco McFluffin--are gearing up for the sixth annual UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day, to be held Saturday, Feb. 18 when 12 campuswide collections will be showcased in a family-friendly, science-based day set from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. And it's all free--free admission, free parking, and free encounters with the scientists. Food will be available for purchase.
The event will "showcase natural history, biodiversity and the cultural-ecological interface," said Biodiversity Museum Day coordinator Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum of Entomology. All collections are within walking distance on campus except for the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road for the Raptor Center on Old Davis Road.
The following will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.:
- Arboretum and Public Garden, headquartered on LaRue Road
- Bohart Museum of Entomology, Academic Surge Building
- California Raptor Center, Old Davis Road
- Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, Academic Surge Building
- Paleontology Collection, Earth and Physical Sciences Building
- Phaff Yeast Culture Collection, Earth and Physical Sciences Building
- Viticulture and Enology Culture Collection, Earth and Physical Sciences Building
The following will be open from noon to 4 p.m.:
- Anthropology Museum, Young Hall
- Botanical Conservatory, greenhouses along Kleiber Hall Drive
- Center for Plant Diversity, Sciences Lab Building
- Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, Bee Biology Road
- Nematode Collection, Sciences Lab Building
Visitors can download a map from the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day website.
Did you read the abstract published Jan. 17 in the journal ZooKeys about the newly discovered and named moth, Neopalpa donaldtrumpi?
No? Well, you probably read the news story. It went viral.
Somewhat overlooked was the role that scientists at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis, played. The tiny moth was part of a desert insect collection that the UC Davis researchers loaned to evolutionary biologist and systematist Vazrick Nazari of Canada.
In sifting and sorting through the Bohart specimens, the brightly colored miniscule moth drew Nazari's attention. A new species! The yellow scales on the tiny moth's head reminded him of President-Elect Donald Trump's hairstyle.
Like a moth to a flame, Nazari decided on a name: Neopalpa donaldtrumpi.
Species: N. donaldtrumpi
“The reason for this choice of name is to bring wider public attention to the need to continue protecting fragile habitats in the U.S. that still contain many undescribed species,” Nazari wrote in ZooKeys.
Bohart Museum associate/research entomologist Thomas "Tom" Zavortink and colleagues collected the tiny moth with the orange-yellow and brown wings in the Algodones Dunes, bordering Arizona and the Mexican state of Baja California. Tiny? It has a wingspan of less than one centimeter.
"We surveyed the insects of the Algodones Dunes for more than six years with a contract from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management," Kimsey said. "It was a really fun/interesting project. We collected nearly 2,000 species of insects from about 200 square mile of 'sand.' Six percent were new to science. The moth was collected in a Malaise trap in one of the washes on the east side of the dunes."
As for Zavortink, he's been a Bohart Museum associate since 2001. He's a former professor and chair of the University of Francisco Department of Biology. His career also includes research entomologist with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington, D.C. He holds a doctorate in zoology from UCLA, where he also received his master's degree.
Zavortink is known for his mosquito identification for vector/mosquito control districts, California Department of Public Health, Latin American culicidologists and professional colleagues, and his bee identification for professional colleagues. He completed and published a survey of the bees of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, Imperial County, for the Bureau of Land Management.
One of the bees he's researched is the European wool carder bee (Anthidium manicatum), discovered in New York in 1963 and in California in 2007. (See Bug Squad.)
Naming critters for people--from citizens to celebrities to presidents to other public figures--isn't new. President Barack Obama has nine species named for him (more than any other president). His namesakes include a long-legged, resourceful Northern California spider, Aptostichus barackobamai, and a colorful spangled darner, a perchlike fish, Etheostoma obama.
Having your name associated with a new species is considered an honor, scientists say. It's a permanent legacy, unlike the names of many streets, schools, other buildings, and parks, which can be subject to removal.
But here's a good thing: if you're interested in naming an insect for you or a loved one, the Bohart Museum offers a biolegacy program. For a sponsorship of $2000 (which helps fund the museum's research program), you can select a species for naming, and receive a framed photo and documentation (publication).
The Bohart Museum scientists describe as many as 15 new species annually, and their associates, "many more," Kimsey says. "We could use your help with the selection of new species names in the course of our research."
How much do you know about nematodes?
What would you like to know?
You'll be able to learn more about both, plus fleas, mites, lice, bed bugs, botflies and other critters, when the Bohart Museum of Entomology of UC Davis hosts an open house on “Parasite Palooza: Botflies, Fleas and Mites, Oh, My” from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 22 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane.
It's free and open to the public. You can meet scientists one-on-one and ask questions.
Senior public health biologist Mike Niemala of the California Department of Public Health will participate in the three-hour open house, discussing ticks and other health issues, and handing out fliers and brochures. He received his master of science degree from UC Davis.
What are nematodes? That's a question often asked of nematologists.
"Nematodes are a large group (phylum) of roundworms," Camp said. "Most nematodes are not parasites, but people may be familiar with some of the parasitic species. Some well-known nematode parasites of humans are pinworm, Ascaris, hookworm, and guinea worm. Dogs and cats can also become infected with nematodes including heartworm, hookworm, or Toxocara."
Camp, who grew up in rural northern Indiana, received her bachelor's degree in biology in 2005 from the University of Chicago and her master's degree in biology in 2007 from Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C. As a UC Davis graduate student, she focused on the evolutionary relationships and genetic diversity of Baylisascaris procyonis, a nematode parasite of raccoons. Her career plans? Researcher in infectious diseases or genetics/genomics or a science communicator.
"I first became interested in parasites during my undergrad degree at the University of Chicago," Camp said. "My specific interest in nematode parasites developed when I read some of Dr. Nadler's work on the evolutionary relationships of nematodes for an invertebrate biology class. Nematodes are an amazing phylum of organisms- they exist in almost every known environment on the planet, and different species eat everything from bacteria and fungi to plant and animal tissue. I find parasites particularly fascinating, because they are dependent on another organism (or organisms) for part or all of their life cycle."
The Bohart Museum event is free and open to the public. For the family craft activity, attendees will attach stickers of parasites on origami paper hats.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology, is a world-renowned insect museum that houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It also maintains a live “petting zoo,” featuring walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches and tarantulas. A gift shop, open year around, includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
The Bohart Museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
More information on the Bohart Museum is available by contacting (530) 752-0493 or email@example.com.
When you enter the Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, on Crocker Lane, University of California, Davis, be sure to look up. Way up!
Way up? Where?
Up there, on your left! See them? Above the shelved books.
What are they? Insects?
Right, they're insects. They're the mounted heads of rhinocerous beetles--the insect museum's answer to mounted deer heads.
Super Family: Scarabaeoidea
"You know we have some silly moments in the museum," said Lynn Kimsey, museum director and professor of entomology, in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
"Some time ago we received a shipment of rhino beetle donations that were badly damaged by carpet beetles. We decided to prove to the UC Davis Museum of Wildlife and Fish that we had trophy head mounts just as nice as theirs..."
It was Bohart Museum associate Greg Karofelas of Davis who suggested that the rhino beetle heads be mounted. He cut the boards from Sika spruce from a "Shield pattern," which is used to mount game heads.
Dynastinae can reach six inches in length. No, they're don't bite. No, they don't sting. The common name, "rhino," refers to the horns on the male head, used in fighting other males during the mating season, and for digging.
No battles, though, on the Bohart wall. Just one male rhino and one female rhino. Together.
Frankly, how often do you see male and female deer heads together?