That these students were, even after a four-hour, 226-mile bus trip from Tulare County to Yolo County.
Destination: the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis, campus.
The 11 students, all children of California migrant workers, filed into the Bohart Museum to learn about the diversity of insects, and polish their journalism skills by participating in a press conference.
And then something unexpected happened.
It occurred after they learned about the museum's global collection of nearly 8 million specimens--from pollinators to pests to parasites. It occurred after they went eye-to-eye with the critters in the live petting zoo, holding walking sticks and touching a tarantula named Coco McFluffin. It occurred after they quizzed Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology, at their press conference.
The unexpected: On the way home, most said they wanted to become entomologists.
And most said they wanted to study at UC Davis.
At the Bohart Museum, Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, opened drawer-after-drawer of specimens, introducing them to the beauty of the butterflies, from the large blue Morpho to the iconic monarch. The students marveled at the diversity of insects, from orchid bees to rhinoceros beetles. "You can become an entomologist," Yang told them, "and collect insects and find new species."
Then, the visitors switched from budding entomologists to budding journalists. Wearing press badges and carrying yellow notepads (jotted with "who, what, when, where"), they quizzed Kimsey on her occupation, the Bohart Museum collections, and her childhood.
They sat on the floor, circling her, and politely raised their hands to ask questions.
“Yes?” she said. “Go ahead.”
.”How long have you here at UC Davis?
“I've been on the faculty for 28 years,” Kimsey told them. “I got my bachelor's degree here in 1976 and then went on to get my doctorate in 1979. That was a long time ago. It makes me feel old.”
What do you like best about your job?
“I like insects and I like being with people.”
What do you study?
How many specimens are there at the Bohart Museum?
“We have nearly eight million specimens and they're from all over the world. Scientists come here to study them. We also have open houses during the academic year and the museum is open Monday through Thursday for visitors.”
How many live insects do you have at the Bohart?
“We have 200 to 300 in our petting zoo. We have Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. Some of the tarantulas get grumpy like people do. And when you see them, there are three illegal words you're not allowed to say here at the Bohart Museum: yuck, eww and gross.
Have you ever been stung by a bee?
“Yes, but it just hurts for a little while, but some people are allergic to them and get very sick. Honey bees sting when they're guarding their hive, their home. It's a defensive measure.”
“When I was five, my parents gave me an insect net.”
Do you have a sister and does she like bugs?
“Yes, I have a sister but she's never liked bugs. She likes horses and now raises horses.”
Have you ever eaten a bug?
“When I was little I used to eat bugs and my sister ate an earthworm or maybe it was the other way around. I was two years old and have no memory of that.”
What do you think is the most beautiful insect?
“The Western yellow tiger swallowtail is big, yellow and pretty.”
Kimsey said her major professor, Richard M Bohart, for whom the museum is named, influenced her to study bees and wasps. She said she enjoys collecting insects throughout the world.
As she spoke, the students--all staffers for the Migrant Voice newspaper--jotted down her comments.
Preparation played a key role in their visit to the Bohart Museum. Before embarking on their trip, the youths studied insects as well as journalism techniques, said Gloria Davalos, area administrator of the Migrant Education Program, Tulare County Office of Education. “I have four school districts in Tulare County that participate in journalism: Tulare City, Tipton, Pixley and Earlimart. “Of these schools Tulare City attended the study trip to UC Davis. In Tulare City we have Roosevelt School, Pleasant School, Heritage School, and Maple School.”
How did they prepare for the press conference? “The students participated in an extended day journalism curriculum that taught them what a newspaper entailed, the different parts of a newspaper parts of an article--hook, lead sentence, details, and conclusion--how to conduct an interview, how to create meaningful questions for an interview utilizing the five W's--who, what, when, where, and why.”
“We loved our Bohart Museum experience,” Davalos said. “It was fascinating to think of insects in a different light and to expose our migrant students to a realistic career in something that is common in all parts of the world."
Kimsey smiled when she told the 11 students the "one" visitor rule: No saying "yecch" or "ick" or "gross" when you meet the petting zoo residents, including the Madagascar hissing cockroaches, tarantulas, and walking sticks. They quickly obliged, apprehensive looks quickly flashing into approving smiles. "Cool!" "Neat!" "Can I hold it?"
"The bugs weren't as scary as they looked,” Davalos said.
The mission of the Migrant Education Program, she said, is “to create a college-going culture empowering the child and family, through advocacy, education, and collaboration of resources, to reach their highest potential."
When the students departed the Bohart Museum, they thanked the scientists, who encouraged them to return and "not be strangers." The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, is open to the public Monday through Thursday.
“We appreciate the time and opportunity spent with our migrant students and the wealth of knowledge they brought back,” Davalos said.
The students published their stories in "The Migrant Voice," part of the Tulare County Office of Education:
Some of the excerpts:
- "While at UC Davis, I asked Professor Lynn Kimsey who influenced her to get the job as an entomologist. She said 'Richard M. Bohart'; he was her teacher at UC Davis when she was then a student. She likes it that she gets to learn new things and travels a lot. Professor Kimsey has discovered new bugs."
- "The entomology museum is a great place to see new species of bugs....a professor showed us a container of unknown bugs from all over the world. Next, we opened a storage room that was organized like a library and we saw walls filled close to the ceiling with cases of beautiful and exotic dead butterflies...our journalism team learned that the entomologists not only get to find new species of bugs, but have the remarkable job of naming them. Before our journalism team went on our trip to UC Davis, I was grossed out and anxious about seeing and touching bugs. However, after visiting Davis' awesome entomology museum, I was thrilled that we had the opportunity to see and learn about exotic new species of bugs."
- "We went to college and learned about crazy bugs...We interviewed Professor Kimsey; she is an entomologist. An entomologist studies bugs. She told us her parents gave her a bug net when she was young. Professor Kimsey and her sister even ate a bug. One of her favorite bugs is the wasp. She has traveled to other countries and likes to learn new things. There are a lot of butterflies around the world. Some of the butterflies looked like they had eyes on them."
- "Professor Kimsey takes care of the bugs; she is also a teacher there. We interviewed her and she said that she has loved insects since she was five years old! She enjoys catching them and has been doing that since her parents gave her a bug net when she was little."
- "Do you know what a walking stick is? We do! A walking stick is an insect. It looks like a real stick. This is so other animals can't see it....we were even allowed to touch the walking stick. Their feet felt sticky...Bugs are fun to learn about and some can be helpful to people."
The students headlined their stories: "Beautiful UC Davis," "One Amazing Study Trip," "The Day We Went to UC Davis, "My Dreams, UC Davis!" and "Butterflies Everywhere!"
One wrote: "Now you know what college I went to visit. You should consider going there, too! I hope I go to UC Davis when I go to college. That is my dream."
Yang, who joined the Bohart Museum nine years ago, coordinates museum tours, classroom visits, special weekend hours, summer camp programs, and other outreach- activities that connect science and scientists with the public. She collaborate with interns, undergraduates, staff, graduate students and faculty to accomplish the outreach program.
Stacey Brezing, chair of the UC Davis Staff Assembly Citations of Excellence Committee, wrote to Yang: “It gives me great pleasure to notify you that you have been selected as the top selection for this category, the committee was greatly impressed with your work."
Yang will receive a cash prize of $1000 as a “gesture of appreciation for your contribution to the campus community,” Brezing said.
Nominations for the service award are based on achievements such as fostering engagement and inclusion in campus community, leadership, and volunteerism.
Yang was nominated, confidentially, by Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis; senior museum scientist Steve Heydon of the Bohart Museum, and Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist for the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
They wrote: “Our nominee is a treasure, a one-of-a-kind gem and an all-around ambassador who exemplifies all that is good and great about UC Davis. A friendly and caring person who joined the campus museum workforce in 2009, she makes all of us feel needed, wanted, and appreciated as if we were ‘Person of the Year.' Throughout the year, she engages more than 20,000 children, families, students, faculty and staff who visit the museum or attend her science outreach programs. She enthusiastically and freely gives of her time to plan and participate in weekend open houses. She co-founded the annual UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day six years ago, which this year drew 12 participating museums and an attendance of 3000. This year she chaired the committee.
“Five years ago, she launched an annual summer camp for children that is so popular it draws youths from around the nation, resulting in multiple camps and waiting lists. She helps coordinate the UC Davis Picnic Day activities in the museum, engaging more than 3500 excited and enthusiastic visitors. At the Solano County Ag Day, she shared scientific information with 3000 youngsters over a four-hour period, always smiling and genuinely interested in each person.
“Our nominee is kind, caring, thoughtful and never without a smile or a word of encouragement. She strongly believes in inclusion. For example, she wears a safety pin, a way of showing that she is a safe space for those who are afraid. She shows she is in solidarity with victims of racism, homophobia and religious discrimination and will protect everyone who feels in danger, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, disability or religion. 'You are safe with me!'
“We watched her lead a tour of children of migratory workers, educating them about what could be a lifelong interest or their occupation. ‘You can be anything you want to be. You can do this! We know you can!' She can reach the shyest of the shy.
“One volunteer at the museum says ‘Wherever I go, her name is legendary. People just rave about her and her work.' Said another: ‘She is one of the most patient, outgoing individuals I know who loves to teach and share information.'
“Said her supervisor: ‘She has greatly expanded our outreach programs, participating in Solano County Youth Ag Day, and many other STEM programs offered at libraries, schools and county facilities. She gives science outreach programs to about 15,000 adults and children every year. She is particularly good at working with groups of children and maintaining discipline at the same time as engaging them in the topic, so that everyone can see, hear and learn. We always request an evaluation from groups she talks to and they always rave about her presentations.'
“Our nominee is so appreciative! She always praises her volunteers individually and in departmental emails with “Thank you!”
“In summary, our nominee's exemplary service, high morale, encouragement, passion and inclusion are a treasure-trove of qualities that single her out as the gem she is.
The Staff Assembly's annual Citations of Excellence Awards Program provides recognition for individual staff and staff teams who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in one of the following areas: teaching, research, service, supervision and innovation. There is also a team award for campus community contributions and service. Teams include project or program staff, office staff, or other similar groups.
The Bohart Museum 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
So says entomologist Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis. “They amount to a mind-boggling, data-clogging nightmare.”
“This is a major deal for scientific teaching and research,” Kimsey emphasized. “Teachers who assign their students to make insect collections will now have to apply for a permit, and only eight persons are allowed on any one permit. Plus, they have to notify California Fish and Wildlife 48 hours in advance before they collect, and inform them what exactly they will be collecting. It doesn't matter what they're studying—cockroaches, wasps or corn earworms.”
“This will make it even more difficult to study or teach about insects in California,” she said, adding that “Today, California is the only state in the U.S. that requires collecting permits to collect any terrestrial invertebrates, insects, slugs, millipedes, spiders, etc. anywhere in the state, private property, parks, federal lands, cities even, if it's being done for scientific research or teaching in K-12 and college. Ironically, there are no permit requirements for amateur collectors who can collect as much as they want.”
“These requirements,” she said, “will make research and teaching on invertebrates, particularly insects so difficult that it might very well stop our training in entomology and drive researchers to work out of state.”
The permit information is posted online at: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Scientific-Collecting.
Kimsey, who received her doctorate in entomology at UC Davis, has directed the Bohart Museum of Entomology, since 1990. The seventh largest insect collection in North America, it houses nearly eight million insect specimens (terrestrial and fresh water arthropods) collected globally. The museum is also home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity of California's deserts, mountains, coast, and the Great Central Valley. Founded in 1946 by its namesake and noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) of UC Davis, the museum is dedicated to teaching, research and service.
In examining the proposed new rules for collecting insects, Kimsey cited seven crucial issues:
1. New Species. There may be as many as 100,000 species of terrestrial invertebrates in California and perhaps 6 percent are new to science. “This is far more species than we have the expertise in-state to identify,” she pointed out. “Sometimes it takes decades for someone to study a particular group. So it's impossible to give CDFW identifications much more detailed than Insecta for the permit paperwork.”
2. All Insects. These permit requirements apply whether “you're surveying the insects of a vernal pool or the distribution of dangerous invasive species, such as the yellow fever mosquito,” Kimsey said. “They also apply to the study of pest species, such as cockroaches and bedbugs.”
3. Bureaucracy. The required fees and detailed reports are onerous, obtrusive and seem to punish researchers and students studying and learning about insects, Kimsey declared. Permits take 6-8 weeks to be awarded and every time a change is needed, an emendation fee applies. “At UC Davis we are on the quarter system, which is 10 weeks. This means that a permit would be awarded by the time a class requiring students to make a collection is nearly over.”
4. Identification. “When we collect insects,” Kimsey explained, “we generally do not know what we've found until the material has been sorted, curated and identified to major group under the microscope--the vast majority of insects cannot be sight-identified and most are less than 1/4 inch long. This could take weeks and months. Specimens then need to be examined by experts who could be anywhere in the world.”
5. Chain of Custody. Every time the Bohart Museum of Entomology, home of nearly eight million insect specimens, ships specimens collected in California to an expert, “we would have to do CDFW chain-of-custody paperwork,” Kimsey said. “We take in an average of 30,000 specimens a year from university researchers and students. We loan up to 1,000 specimens a year to experts around the world. The paperwork would be crushing.”
6. Non-Target Insects. CDFW also requires permitees to account for by-catch, that is, non-target insects. “It's not clear if this includes insects collected on the radiator while driving in the study site,” she said.
7. Crime Scenes. Permits would also be required for the study of insects at crime scenes and any training that pertains to forensic entomology.
Kimsey said the simplest solution to this issue is “to simply remove terrestrial invertebrates from the permit requirements. But after the recent public meeting, that seems unlikely to happen.”
“We cannot see any benefit to the state in requiring permits for invertebrates when the information gained would be close to useless,” Kimsey declared. “California Wildlife and Wildlife informed us that the permit fees were necessary to cover the costs of dealing with the specimen data, but the data will not be useful and it would make much more sense to simply not cover terrestrial invertebrates.”
The entire data collection/permit process would result in a mind-boggling, data-clogging nightmare, she said. “If everyone in the state working on insects and teaching about them sent the specimen data to CDFW, they might be dealing with hundreds of thousands of data entries and thousands of reports annually, most of which would provide very little data. This amounts to an unfunded mandate, which will cost museums, scientists and teachers time and money. Museums would literally have to hire additional personnel to do the paperwork.”
Editor's Note: Not many people, apparently, were aware of this or that "All written comments must be received by the Department via mail or email no later than 5:00 p.m., May 8, 2017, as outlined in the Notice." Comments are continuing. (https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Notices/Regulations/SCP)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Regulations Unit - Scientific Collecting Permits
Attn: Ona Alminas, Environmental Scientist
1416 Ninth Street, Room 1342-A
Sacramento, CA 95814
The Bohart Museum of Entomology of UC Davis is hosting 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.
Senior public health biologist Mike Niemala of the California Department of Public Health, who received his master of science degree from UC Davis, will participate in the three-hour open house, discussing ticks and other health issues, and handing out fliers and brochures.
Nematologist Lauren Camp, who received her doctorate in December, will head the program on nematodes. She studied with major professor Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
"Nematodes are a large group (phylum) of roundworms," she 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."
"I first became interested in parasites during my undergrad degree at the University of Chicago," she 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."
Also scheduled to participate: Adrienne Mora, a National Science Foundation postodoctoral research fellow in the UC Davis lab of Andy Sih, Department of Environmental Science and Policy. Mora studies trematode parasites, that she says, "behaviorally manipulate their fish hosts to perform strange behaviors that make them more likely to be eaten by final host bird predators."
Free and Open to the Public
The Bohart event, free and open to the public, will also spotlight such arthropod parasites as lice, mites, and bed bugs. The family craft activity will focus on origami paper hats; attendees can make and can attach stickers of parasites.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, 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.
The emeritus professor, who retired in 1987, was the last surviving member of the original entomology faculty.
Dr. Bacon chaired the department (now the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology) from 1967 to 1974. In 1964, Mrak appointed him to spearhead the UC Davis conversion of the two-semester system to four quarters.
Dr. Bacon was chair of the entomology department when it moved to the newly constructed Briggs Hall in 1972. An appreciative faculty presented him with a plaque thanking him for his “stewardship during a period when new teaching and research areas were initiated and when a great increase in the numbers of students enrolled in the department occurred has contributed significantly to the future of the department and to entomology.”
As a 41-year UC agricultural entomologist, Dr. Bacon specialized in the biology, ecology and population dynamics of insects associated with field crops. He pioneered the biological control course on the UC Davis campus and was instrumental in forming the Plant Protection and Pest Management Graduate Group. He is credited with co-authoring the term, “integrated pest control.”
Colleague Norm Gary, emeritus professor of entomology, said: "The last time I visited with Oscar was this past year when he attended a music performance by my band at the senior home where he lived the last years of his life. He was amazingly sharp and active at 96!"
“When I first arrived in Davis in 1962 Oscar gave me an orientation tour to see California agricultural activities and visit his field research projects just north of Woodland," Gary said. "Years later, after he became department chair, I was impressed and appreciative that he actually took time to visit my active field research activities with bees near Dixon. Oscar was very supportive in many ways to our Entomology faculty and highly regarded as a professional. He was always cheerful, thoughtful, considerate, and fun to be with, whether at morning coffee breaks, faculty meetings or at Christmas parties. He was an amazing man in all respects. He enriched all of our lives, professionally and socially.”
Emeritus professor Robert Washino, former chair of the department and former associate dean, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, recalled: “I was appointed to the faculty in Entomology during the Bohart to Bacon transition period as department chair and so my interaction with Oscar dealt mostly as a newly appointed junior faculty. However, during all the years since then as a colleague and friend, I've never, ever heard Oscar make an unkind remark about anyone in teaching/advising, research and administration.”
Said distinguished emeritus professor Robbin Thorp, who collaborated with Bacon on alfalfa leafcutter bees in the mid-1960s: "I always had a great deal of respect and admiration for Oscar as a meticulous scientist, outstanding teacher, leader and person. Oscar and his research associates, Dick James and Walt Riley, in collaboration with a grower, Dan Best in the Woodland area, designed and tested shelters to provide shade and ventilation for these relatively new pollinators for alfalfa seed production. The shelters were successful.”
“Oscar and his crew also tested pesticide effects on these bees and discovered a number of biological traits important to their management as commercial pollinators," Thorp said. "Oscar co-authored the first Cooperative Extension publication on the alfalfa leafcutting bees with several of us.”
Dr. Bacon, who humbly said of himself: “I'm the jack of all trades and master of none,” pursued many diverse interests. He was not only agriculturist, entomologist, researcher, professor, administrator, but a mechanic, furniture builder, boating enthusiast and ag history docent. He restored antique cars and boats, from rustic Model T's to a 1964 mahogany Chris-Craft cabin cruiser. As a wood carver and artist, he crafted furniture and carved birds.
Born Nov. 8, 1919, Oscar grew up in Sanger, Fresno County on a 60-acre family farm. He was an only child. Oscar harvested grapes, figs and peaches, drove tractors, raised 4-H pigs and renovated Model T's.
“Back then it seemed like nearly every farm had an old worn-out Model T along the fence lines,” he recalled in a feature story published in 2009 on the UC Davis Entomology website. “A boyhood friend from a neighboring ranch and I would give a farmer a couple of dollars for his car and then restore it.” The Tin Lizzies purred back to life.
Young Oscar attended school in a two-room schoolhouse; he recalled that grades one through four shared one room, and grades 5 to 8, the other.
Nature fascinated him. “I collected insects and watched birds and mammals and collected rocks and minerals.”
Oscar graduated from Sanger High School, Reedley Junior College and Fresno State College, majoring in zoology. He planned a career as a ranger naturalist with the National Parks Service, but the federal agency had no openings. So he accepted a position with the USDA Dried Fruit Insect Laboratory, Fresno, as a field aide.
It proved to be a two-year stint. In 1943, his boss steered him toward entomology and encouraged him “to get a degree” at UC Berkeley and return to the USDA.
Oscar went on to earn two degrees from UC Berkeley: his master's degree in entomology in 1944, following a year of study, and his doctorate in entomology in 1948.
His major professor at UC Berkeley was the legendary entomologist and aphid specialist Edward O. Essig (1884-1964), but Oscar worked more closely with another accomplished entomologist, Abraham Michelbacher (1899-1991). “Abe was like a second father to me,” he recalled.
Dr. Bacon landed his first full-time job in entomology in 1946 as an associate in the agriculture experiment station. Upon completing his Ph.D., he became a junior entomologist and instructor. As a Ph.D., his starting salary was less than $5000 a year.
His first major crop work: controlling aphids in spinach. Then it was on to other crops, including sweet corn, seed alfalfa, potatoes, small grains, tomatoes and melons.
“In 1953 I had the opportunity to come to Davis to develop my own programs,” he related. “I was extremely grateful for that opportunity.” At the time, the UC Berkeley Department of Entomology offered a two-year ;Farmers' Short Course' on the Davis campus for students interested in farming. The career-oriented program was phased out in 1959.
“Stanley Freeborn (first chancellor of UC Davis) and his wife welcomed us to campus,” he said. “He was very gracious--a very nice person.”
At the time, the original faculty members included Richard Bohart (1913-2007), insect systematics and Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. (1907-2003), apiculturist. Today the Richard Bohart Museum of Entomology and Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility bear their names.
It was an era when secretaries typed manuscripts from handwritten notes; “office space” consisted of temporary buildings or renovated garages; and faculty (usually all male) wore a tie and jacket in the classroom. It was also a period of rapid growth and steady challenges.
In 1964 UC President Clark Kerr announced the plan to convert the entire UC academic system from two semesters to four quarters. UC Davis Chancellor Mrak asked Oscar Bacon to head the conversion efforts at Davis. “We had 1687 courses, and they all had to be reviewed and shortened from 15 weeks to 10 weeks,” recalled Bacon. Remarkably, the conversion took only a year.
Oscar Bacon was considered UC's “No. 1 Alfalfa Seed Insect Man.” In 1987, the California Alfalfa Seed Production Board recognized him for 13 years of service. In 1975, the Pacific Seed Association, based in Los Angeles, named him “Man of the Year.”
Integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, distinguished professor of entomology and former vice chair of the department and a past president of the Entomological Society of America, said he has long admired Bacon as an advocate for agricultural entomology research.
Said Zalom: “Many entomologists may not appreciate that the credit for first using the term ‘integrated control' is generally attributed to Abraham Ezra Michelbacher and Oscar Bacon, who in a 1952 paper in the Journal of Economic Entomology on control of codling moth mentioned the importance of ‘considering the entire, entomological picture in developing a treatment for any particular pest.' ”
Michelbacher and Bacon developed an effective integrated control program of the important pests of walnut, Zalom said. They “described methodologies for selection, timing and dosage of insecticide treatments for the codling moth to preserve the parasitoids of the walnut aphid that had achieved biological control following their introduction to California.”
“This was an important step in the development of the IPM paradigm and is still relevant,” Zalom said. "I also appreciate his role in the development of the Plant Protection and Pest Management Graduate Group at UC Davis that produced many students who are working as pest management practitioners across the state and across the country.”
Dr. Bacon is survived by his wife, Barbara, of Davis, and a daughter, Bonnie Krisiak, son-in-law Steve Krisiak and granddaughter Stephanie Krisiak, all of the Sacramento area. He and his first wife, the late Dorothy Flagg Bacon, raised three daughters, Beverly and Gayle (now both deceased), and Bonnie.
Some of the highlights of his life:
Field-Oriented Entomologist: He worked on field crops, including seed alfalfa, potatoes and small grains, establishing a state, national and sometimes global presence (potato crops in Bolivia). He targeted the lygus bug, the main pest of alfalfa seed production. “The lygus bug has no natural enemies, so we had to depend on insecticides. Then the lygus bug developed resistance to those insecticides.” He developed economic thresholds, determining at what point the cost of pest damage exceeds the cost of pest control.
In 1944 Bacon showed that Catalina cherry moth, which infests Catalina cherry and large galls of the blue oak, is an important pest of walnuts in the Sacramento Valley. Today it attacks certain varieties of walnuts throughout the state.
Research: Bacon researched whether an 18-acre field of alfalfa seed would show the same yields without insecticides. Would predators and parasites be able to control the pests? His three-year study showed the organic field yielded 200 to 300 pounds per acre instead of the normal yield of 600 to 800. “Agricultural chemicals will be necessary on certain crops for some time to come,” he concluded. “The world's food supply would certainly not exist without the control measures as we know them today.”
Teaching and Advising: As a devoted teacher, Dr. Bacon developed “The Natural History of Insects” into one of the most popular undergraduate classes on the UC Davis campus. He initiated the biological control course at UC Davis. He advised scores of undergraduate and graduate students. He helped launch the Plant Protection and Pest Management Graduate Group Program. When he retired, Bacon received a plaque from the graduate program applauding his dedication, perseverance and accomplishments. It's one of his cherished awards “because it's from the students.”
Administration: His role as a chancellor's assistant for UC Davis Chancellor Emil Mrak included the project of converting the UC Davis two-semester system to four quarters: completed in one year. As chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology from 1967 to 1974, he moved his department to the newly constructed Briggs Hall in 1972. Upon his retirement as chair, the faculty presented him a plaque thanking him for his “stewardship during a period when new teaching and research areas were initiated and when a great increase in the numbers of students enrolled in the department occurred has contributed significantly to the future of the department and to entomology.”
Heidrick Ag History Center: In 1996, Bacon began volunteering at the Hay's Antique Truck Museum, Woodland, which later merged with the Heidrick Ag History Center. He's known as “the friendly docent with first-hand knowledge of the farm equipment.” In his boyhood, he drove tractors similar to those on display. Today he volunteers once a week, more on special occasions.
U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Bacon took up boating and fishing in 1956. In 1975, he joined the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. In December 1987, Bacon was elected commodore of a district that encompassed northern California and parts of Wyoming, Nevada and Utah. He taught boating safety, inspected crafts and patrolled the Delta waters for more than 25 years. The U.S. Coast Guard, the parent organization, awarded him a citation in 1988, praising his accomplishments and dedicated support.
Artist: In 1990, Bacon enrolled in a woodworking class in Sacramento, and carved birds from basswood, sugar pine and tupelo blocks, and textured and painted them. “There's a bird in every block,” he recalled. “It's tedious and time consuming but very rewarding. I've never been interested in making them for sale.” His favorites include an American kesterel sparrow hawk that he carved in 1997. His other favorites include a white-breasted nut hatch, white crown sparrow, California quail, stellar jay and a redwing blackbird. He's also completed other works, including a replica of a team of Clydesdale horses pulling a Anheuser-Busch wagon. “No, the company has never seen it,” he said.
Restoration: Bacon advanced from restoring rustic Model T's in his childhood to renovating antique cars and boats. At one time he owned four boats and five cars. One of his prized possessions: a 30-foot Chris-Craft cabin cruiser, a 1964 model that he restored in 1973 and sold in 2008. He has also crafted furniture for his home and family. Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist emeritus, still marvels at how Bacon could tuck his 6-foot, 4-inch frame inside his Triumph TR3, a tiny British sports car he restored.
All Things Entomological: Bacon served as president of the Northern California Entomology Society and held membership in the Entomological Society of America and the Pacific Branch of ESA.
Cooperative Extension: In 1987, the UC Davis Cooperative Extension (CE) group honored him for his public service, naming him “the best problem solver.” The group included CE specialists Vern Burton (deceased) and Eric Mussen; research associate Wayne Johnson (deceased); and administrative assistant Shirley Humphrey.
(Editor's Note: At his request, the family will not be holding a memorial service."