- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
When the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis recently hosted an open house on "Weird and Wonderful Wasps," the family arts-and-craft activity was to create a gall ghost.
Tabatha Yang, the Bohart's education and outreach coordinator, invited guests to take an oak gall for the head, drape a white cloth over it, rubber-band the head, and then draw its facial features. Then a Bohart associate would complete the project by sewing a thread on it--perfect for hanging as a Halloween decoration.
It was all part of learning about oak galls. Female wasps from the family Cynipidae lay eggs in the developing leaf buds, explained Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and a UC Davis distinguished professor. The eggs hatch into larvae or "caterpillars," which feed on the secretions. The oak bud transforms into what amounts to a protective ball--an oak gall, also known as an apple gall.
UC Davis student and Bohart volunteer Elizabeth Gromfin, who is majoring in wildlife, fish and conservation biology, showed the participants how to make the gall ghosts. Then Gromfin and volunteer Barbara Heinsch of Davis sewed the "hanging thread."
A very creative youngster, 10-year-old Isaac Nottie, whose mother, Natya Nottie, is an analyst in UC Davis Risk Management, made an entire gall ghost family. Isaac named each member and related a story about them. "They're all brothers," he explained, "and they were all born at the same hospital. Here's Bob, that's Jimmy--he's known as Timmy Biscuit--and here are Harry and Alex." Two of the brothers purposefully had no facial features. One had hair. Isaac said his favorite was Bob, who sported vertical lines for eyes and a horizontal line for his mouth.
Upcoming special events, all free and family friendly:
Saturday, Oct. 15, 1 to 4 p.m.
Insects, Art & Culture
Visitors will learn about insects through the lenses of art and culture. This event is part of Spirit Week (Oct. 10-16) for Aggie students, parents and alumni, but all are welcome.
Saturday, Oct. 15, 11 a.m. to 11:50 a.m.
Special Talk: Plants, Insects and Art: Mary Foley Benson's Scientific Illustrations
Location: Teaching and Learning Complex (TLC) Building, 482 Hutchison Drive, UC Davis campus
This event is part of Spirit Week for Aggie students, parents and alumni, but all are welcome. Srdan Tunic, a candidate for a master's degree in art history and a Bohart associate, will be highlighting the scientific illustrations of Mary Foley Benson (1905-1992), formerly of the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Entomology and the Smithsonian Institution and who later worked for UC Davis entomologists. Much of her work appears on campus. (See research story on the artist by Malcolm Furniss)
Sunday, Nov. 6, 1 to 4 p.m.
Dragonflies are described as "the ultimate predator both in the water and the air." Visitors will meet scientists and natural historians who will share information on the world of dragonflies.