- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
And yes, there was. A Madagasar hissing cockroach was one of the critters that UC Davis entomology major Wade Spencer showed to guests at the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house last Saturday during the 101st annual campuswide Picnic Day.
Some folks call them "hissers." That's because of the hissing sound they make when when they force air through their spiracles, or respiratory openings. Sometimes they hiss when you touch them or pick them up. Want to hear them hiss? Access George Gavin's program on the BBC website.
Madagascar hissing cockroaches can reach three inches long. They seem to favor rotting logs for their homes. They're vegetarians, so guests at the Bohart Museum don't have to worry about them as predators.
Hollywood producers can't get their fill of them.
And then there was the television series Fear Factor. (The Bohart Museum received some of the excess roaches.)
We also remember when Six Flags Great America sponsored a Halloween contest at its 2006 FrightFest and challenged people to eat a hisser. Eat 36 hissers in one minute and beat the world record. Fortunately, they rescinded the idea and the offer.
The hissers at the Bohart, though, are not for eating. They're for admiring. Some 4000 people visited the Bohart Museum last Saturday to view all the exhibits, which included a pollination display and the ongoing live "petting zoo." Although the crowd favorite is Peaches, a rose-haired tarantula, also popular are the walking sticks and hissers.
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, houses nearly eight million insect specimens. Directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, it is open to the public from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and on special weekends.
The next weekend open house is from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, May 17. The theme? “Name That Bug! How About Bob?” Admission is free.