- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
If Barbie had a praying mantis, it would be pretty in pink.
Do you think Barbie would fawn over a praying mantis nestled in a bed of pink zinnia petals?
We spotted this Stagmomantis limbata in our living laboratory (pollinator garden), and admired her stance. Then Ms. Mantis nabbed an invasive multicolored Asian lady beetle feasting on aphids and proceeded to eat it. (Barbie probably would have preferred a difference menu choice for her pet, such as a stink bug or a cabbage white butterfly.)
"Multicolored Asian lady beetle can be found in almost any type of vegetation that hosts its prey. It was introduced to control soft-bodied pests on fruit and nut trees. Since arriving in California in the 1990s, multicolored Asian lady beetle has become the most common lady beetle in many habitats. It has outcompeted and displaced certain native lady beetles that were more common prior to its arrival in the state."--UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management.
Barbies? I never had a Barbie in my childhood, but the toy, launched in 1959, "has been an important part of the toy fashion doll market for over six decades," Wikipedia tells us. "Mattel has sold over a billion Barbie dolls, making it the company's largest and most profitable line...According to MarketWatch, the release of the 2023 film Barbie is expected to create 'significant growth' for the brand until at least 2030. As well as reinvigorated sales, the release of the film has triggered a fashion trend known as Barbiecore."
Did you know that there is a Barbie, the Entomologist? The playset includes a tree for field research, a workstation for lab work, a magnifying glass, and an insect-collecting net. However, the ad writers made a few mistakes that might make a real entomologist cringe. The ad mislabels the chrysalis as a "cocoon," and spiders as "insects." How many bugs in the playset? 2 butterflies, 2 bees, 2 spiders, 1 beetle, 1 water beetle, 1 ladybug (it's actually a lady beetle) and 1 dragonfly.
Missing from the playset is the praying mantis! What happened to the mantis, Mattel?
If Barbie were real, she'd probably want to take Ken and attend the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house on praying mantises from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 27 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. It's free and family friendly.
While there, Barbie could hold a live Madagascar hissing cockroach and/or a walking stick and take a selfie. Hmm, maybe the next Barbie the Entomologist playset will include a cockroach?