- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Take it from UC Davis entomology student Wade Spencer.
Spencer decided to create a Bohart Museum of Entomology Christmas card--an insect version--and sure enough, Santa is a robber fly. And Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a male argid sawfly.
The idea surfaced when Christine Melvin (who just received her bachelor's degree in entomology from UC Davis) and Spencer were TA'ing (serving as teaching assistants) for Lynn Kimsey's Entomology 100L lab. Kimsey directs the Bohart Museum, home of nearly eight million specimens, and she's a professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The young entomologists decided that the male argid sawfly needed a red nose, just like Rudolph.
As Spencer was photographing the argids, Bohart Museum teen volunteer Noah Crockette walked by. "He suggested we should find an insect with fluffy white facial setae for an 'insect Santa' and the moment he said that the image of an Asilid (robber fly) popped into my mind."
Spencer then searched through the Bohart's asilid collection and found a perfect robber fly. The rest, as they say, is history--or hysterical.
"I'm hoping to image some Phasmids (stick insects) to make an insect menorah for Hanukkah as well," Spencer said. (And he just did! See below)
Remember Wade Spencer? He's the one created a peacock jumping spider costume for the Bohart Museum's inhouse Halloween party. Bohart Museum associate Fran Keller videotaped his courtship dance and it went viral--more than two million hits. See Bug Squad.