- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Rain dampened the Crocker Lane event but not the enthusiasm as the crowd toasted the work of the Bohart Museum and its director Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology. She has administered the Bohart Museum since 1990.
The UC Davis museum traces its origins back in 1946 to two Schmitt boxes filled with insect specimens collected by noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007), UC Davis professor of entomology and museum founder. Named the Bohart Museum in 1982, it is now the home of nearly eight million insect specimens, collected worldwide.
“We should take a moment to not only express our appreciation of the Bohart Museum and the legacy that Dr. Richard Bohart left, but to all the work Lynn has done to make events like this possible and to continue the important work,” emcee Jason Bond, the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair and professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, told the crowd.
“Collections have a tremendous educational value,” Bond said, “and they also have amazing research value as well. Discoveries of new species don't actually happen in the field, they happen in the museum collections. New species on the average spend about 25 years on the shelf before a graduate student, undergraduate student or a researcher pulls them off shelf and describes or discovers them.”
He offered a toast to Kimsey, who in turn praised the thousands of collectors “who have their names” on the specimens. “We've been doing this for a long time. Eventually we'll be able to serve the public again like we should. Otherwise it would just be a dead collection in a building somewhere.”
Kimsey interviewed “Doc” Bohart, then 82, in 1996 as part of the Aggie Videos collection. (See https://bit.ly/2Zv8rvO.) Bohart, who began his UC Davis career in 1946, chaired the Department of Entomology from 1963 to 1967.
Unparalleled Research. “His scientific research on insect taxonomy and systematics is unparalleled,” Kimsey wrote on the Bohart website. “His publications include three of the most important books on the systematics of the Hymenoptera, including the well-used volume Sphecid Wasps of the World. His journal publications total over 200 articles. He revised many groups of insects, discovered new host-associations or geographic ranges, and described many new species."
Kimsey, an alumnus of UC Davis, received her undergraduate degree in 1975 and doctorate in 1979. She joined the UC Davis faculty in 1989. A two-term president of the International Hymenopterists, and a recognized global authority on the systematics, biogeography and biology of the wasp families, Tiphiidae and Chrysididae, she won the 2020 C. W. Woodworth Award, the highest award given by the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America, for "her 31 years of outstanding accomplishments in research, teaching, education, outreach and public service."
Entomologist and UC Davis biology manager Ivana Li prepared and served a buffet. Kimsey cut a specially decorated cake, adorned with images of a monarch, a morpho and a dogface butterfly (the state insect), a dragonfly, and assorted beetles. Tiffany Warrick of CreaTions N EvenTs, Rancho Cordova, created the cake and dozens of Bohart-motif cupcakes.
The costumes drew smiles of approval and delight. Bohart senior museum scientist Steve Heydon and his wife, Anita, came dressed as steampunk figures; Bohart education and outreach coordinator Tabatha Yang donned a horse fly costume; entomology major Gwendolyn "Gwen" Erdosh portrayed a monarch butterfly; and UC Davis entomology graduate Benjamin Maples (now a California Department of Food and Agriculture scientist) walked in wearing a lampshade.
With crayons and ink pens, attendees drew insects and pasted them on a piñata, formed in the shape of the number 75. Then, cheered by the crowd, they took turns whacking it, spilling out Halloween candies, and mementos from the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Financial support. Bond urged the crowd to help support the outreach mission of the museum. Bohart Museum scientists are seeking donations for their traveling insect specimen displays. They aim to raise $5000 by 11:59 p.m., Oct. 31 for their UC Davis CrowdFund project to purchase traveling display boxes for their specimens, which include bees, butterflies and beetles. These are portable glass-topped display boxes that travel throughout Northern California to school classrooms, youth group meetings, festivals, events, museums, hospitals--and more--to help people learn about the exciting world of insect science.
Donors can do so in memory of someone, a place, or a favorite insect. Bond donated $500 in honor of Lynn Kimsey, and Lynn Kimsey donated $500 in memory of the founder, Richard M. Bohart. The donation page and map are at https://bit.ly/3v4MoaJ
The Bohart Museum, currently closed to the public due to COVID-19 precautions, is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane. In addition to its insect collection, which is the seventh largest in North America, the museum houses a live “petting zoo,” comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas, and a gift shop (now online), stocked with insect-themed t-shirts, hoodies, jewelry, books, posters and other items. Further information is on the website at https://bohart.ucdavis.edu.