- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
The open house showcased moths, in celebration of National Moth Week, and spotlighted flies, in keeping with the 10th International Dipterology Congress, held July 16-21 in Reno. Bohart officials dedicated the open house to the late Jerry Powell, international moth authority and a former director of the Essig Museum of Entomology, UC Berkeley, who died July 8 at age 90.
A blacklighting display, near the entrance to the Bohart Museum, drew night-flying insects to a white sheet, illuminated by an ultraviolet light.
"There were not many moths," said "Moth Man" John de Benedictus, a research entomologist associate with the Bohart Museum and a former graduate student of Powell's. "Only about 5 or six in all. All but two were the so-called Dusky Raisin Moth, Ephestiodes gilvescentella,which comes as no surprise as it is the most common moth in my yard and probably throughout Davis. Its caterpillar feeds on a wide variety of plants, including dried fruit and nuts, but it is not a major pest. There were two granite moths, probably Digrammia californiaria, and/or Digrammia muscariata. The younger kids entertained themselves by pointing out or trying to catch the other insects that flew in, mainly gnats and other small flies; a few beetles, including lady bugs; some aquatic bugs; and a couple of lacewings and earwigs. An older boy collected some ants that marched to the sheet."
Entomologist Jeff Smith, curator of the Bohart Museum's Lepidoptera collection, and Bohart associate and naturalist Greg Kareoelas, showed visitors many of the moth specimens, including death's-head hawkmoths, featured in the 1991 movie, Silence of the Lambs. In the movie, serial killer, Buffalo Bill (played by Ted Levine), stuffs death's-head hawkmoths inside his victims' throats. FBI trainee Clarice Starling (played by Jodie Foster) seeks the advice of the cannibalistic psychiatrist, Hannibal Lecter (played by Anthony Hopkins), to solve the mystery. The moths appearing in the movie are Acherontia stropos. The moth markings resemble a human skull.
The Bohart Museum, directed by UC Davis distinguished professor Lynn Kimsey, houses a global collection of eight million insect specimens, including some 500,000 moths or butterflies (60 percent moths and 40 percent butterflies). The museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. During the summer, the Bohart Museum is open to the public on Tuesdays from 2 to 5 p.m. For more information, contact the Bohart Museum at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 752-0493.
(More images from the Bohart Museum open house, "A Night at the Museum," will appear this week on Bug Squad)