- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Visitors "can learn about the defensive strategies these insects use for survival, such as camouflage, warning coloration, mimicry of other species," says entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the Lepidoptera collection. "We love to teach about the importance of Lepidoptera in the environment, either to their habitat directly or possibly as an indicator of the health of their habitat."
Both Smith and fellow Bohart associate Greg Kareofelas are usually there to show the specimens and answer questions. The Bohart draws scientists and citizens from all over the world.
At the last open house, Kareofelas and Bohart research associate Britanny Kohler showed specimens to a family from Mexico City: mother Martha Leija, daughter Valentina, 8, and father Mario Preciado.
Valentina is keenly interested in morphos and monarchs, and the excitement on her face told it all.
"Without a doubt, the biggest 'Wow Factor' comes from the huge and brilliant metallic blue morpho butterflies from tropical America," Smith said.
The Bohart's monarch butterfly specimens comprise five drawers and they include specimens from the Pacific Islands, Australia and Eastern Asia, as well as the United States.
When are the next open houses?
- Saturday, April 15. The Bohart will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as part of the campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day. The Bohart theme? "Bugs, Boom, Bang."
Sunday, May 21. "Ants!" will theme this open house. It's set from 1 to 4 p.m.
Saturday, July 22. It's the traditional Moth (and Flies) Night. The event takes place in the evening from 8 to 11.
The open houses are always free and family friendly.
The Bohart Museum, directed by UC Davis distinguished professor Lynn Kimsey, 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 1946.
Special attractions include a live "petting zoo," featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold the insects and photograph them. The museum's gift shop, open year around, includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
The Bohart Museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free. More information is available by contacting (530) 752-0493 or Tabatha Yang, education and public outreach coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org