- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
It was a great day to get acquainted with insects and arachnids and learn how to raise them.
And the nearly 300 visitors did just that at the recent UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology open house, "Arthropod Husbandry: Raising Insects for Research and Fun." The guests held the critters, photographed them, and asked questions of the scientists.
At first they didn't see the praying mantids reared by entomologist and UC Davis alumnus Lohit Garikipati. They were there, all right, but camouflaged amid the leaves and branches.
The five species of mantids Garikipati displayed included a tropical shield praying mantis, Choeradodis stalii, also known as a hooded mantis or leaf mantis, and a spiny flower praying mantis, Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii.
UC Davis entomology student Andrew Goffinet, a former UC Davis Bio Boot Camper, discussed rearing butterflies and moths. He showed the visitors a display of Gulf Fritillaries, caterpillars and a chrysalis.
Entomology alumnus Nicole Tam, showed her beetle-mimicking roaches and talked about rearing insects in the Geoffrey Attardo lab. Doctoral student and Bohart associate Ziad Khouri explained how to rear tarantulas and millipedes. Entomology student Ben Maples kept the crowd interested with the "hissers"--Madagascar hissing cockroaches.
Jeff Smith, who curates the Lepidoptera section, and naturalist Greg Kareofelas, opened the drawers of butterflies and moths. Entomology student Ian Clark staffed the family crafts activity, assisting youngsters in making decorated finger puppets from Seker-donated silkworm cocoons.
Entomologist Ann Kao, a 2019 UC Davis graduate and newly employed by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, crafted and displayed her insect jewelry.
Tabatha Yang, educational and outreach coordinator, coordinated the open house. The Bohart crew also included Bohart associates Emma Cluff, James Heydon, Brennen Dyer and Xiaofan Yang.
Special guests included 40 students from the Samuel Jackson Middle School and the James Rutter Middle School, Elk Grove Unified School District, in a program offering special educational opportunities and mentoring. The youths wore t-shirts lettered with "The Power of Us" on the front, and "Resilient, Authentic, Passionate" on the back.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology, houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It is also the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum.
In addition to the specimens, the Bohart Museum maintains a live "petting zoo," featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks or stick insects and tarantulas. The museum's gift shop, open year around, is stocked with T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.