- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
The Bohart Museum of Entomology open house, "Eight-Legged Encounters," co-sponsored by the American Arachnological Society (AAS) and held June 25 in the Academic Surge Building, drew more than 250 attendees and 40 volunteers.
"It was an absolutely amazing event!" said arachnologist Jason Bond of UC Davis, co-host of the AAS meeting.
"We were pleased to see such a large turnout from the community but even more so delighted to see so many young people," said Bond, associate dean, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and professor and the Evert and Marion Schlinger Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. "There were over 40 volunteer arachnologists representing a national and international contingent of expertise. While we couldn't have done it without them, they also contributed a tremendous amount of expertise, excitement, and energy to the event."
Hebets, the Charles Bessey Professor at UNL and president of the Animal Behavior Society, co-hosted the open house as part of a U.S. National Science Foundation grant, “Eight-Legged Encounters” that she developed as an outreach project to connect arachnologists with communities, especially youth. (See her website).
Some 20 activity tables lined the hallway of the Academic Surge Building.
"Our Eight-Legged Encounters event at the UC Davis Bohart Museum far exceeded our expectations!" said Professor Hebets. "It was an incredibly successful event, with well over 250 attendees and more then 40 volunteers, many of which were graduate students and post-doctoral researchers from across the country and world. There is no doubt it was a life-changing experience for some of our young attendees as well as some of the student volunteers. I am so very thankful for the help and support we received from the Bohart Museum and from Dr. Jason Bond and his laboratory. It could not have happened without them."
Bond co-hosted the AAS conference, held June 26-30 on the UC Davis campus, with Lisa Chamberland, postdoctoral research associate of the Bond lab, and Joel Ledford, assistant professor of teaching, Department of Plant Biology, College of Biological Sciences. Chamberland coordinated the spider-species naming project with second-year doctoral student Emma Jochim of the Bond lab and incoming doctoral student Iris Bright, who starts this fall. No winner has yet been announced.
Some of the displays:
- "Black widow hourglasses are actually on their bellies. These spiders are actually social!"--Laura
- "I want to learn what is in spider venom and how it helps catch prey."--Greta
- "Trapdoor spiders live in California and eat bugs. There are many unknown species. I use DNA to find new species."-Jim
The Bohart Museum also drew scores of visitors during the 1 to 4 p.m. open house. Entomologist Jeff Smith, curator of the Lepidoptera collection and Bohart associate Greg Kareofelas showed visitors butterfly and moth specimens, while other volunteers discussed other collections, including spider wasps and small-headed flies. The museum, directed by UC Davis distinguished professor Lynn Kimsey, houses a global collection of eight million insect specimens, as well as a live "petting zoo" (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas) and an insect-themed gift shop.