In sheer numbers, diversity and special honors.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology, home of nearly eight million insect specimens, won a special honor for its display, "Real Insects and Their Mimics." It won the people's vote for the best "Family Friendly" exhibit. The display included look-a-like butterflies, meant to confuse predators, and honey bees and flies (drone flies), meant to confuse editors!
Over at Briggs Hall, home of the administrative office of UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, "Little Swimmers and Fly Tyers" won the people's vote for the best display/activity in the "Hidden Treasures" category. The Fly Fishers of Davis showed visitors how to tie a fly, while over in the aquatic insect display, Professor Sharon Lawler and graduate students showed a wide variety of insects--from boatmen to caddisflies--and fielded questions
Yes, bugs ruled at Briggs and the Bohart.
Then there were the displays of ants and forest insects, the bee observation hive, and insect-collecting equipment. You could get a butterfly painted on your face while you ate a cricket-flour cookie, after you bought a t-shirt emblazoned with "The Beetles."
At the Bohart, you could examine specimens, hold walking sticks and Madagascar hissing cockroach, touch the "teddy bear" (male Valley carpenter bee) and buy assorted gifts at the gift shop.
This was the 102nd annual Picnic Day, offering thousands of visitors informative, educational and entertaining displays.
A century ago, the Department of Entomology did not exist. The first insects, however, existed more than 400 million years ago. Probably more. The world's oldest known insect fossil is 400 million years old, according to findings published Feb. 12, 2004 in the journal Nature.
Countdown 'til UC Davis Picnic Day...
UC Davis will welcome thousands of visitors Saturday, April 16 to its 102nd annual Picnic Day, themed "Cultivating Our Authenticity." You can access the schedule of events here.
It promises to be educational, informative and entertaining.
In the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, graduate students are organizing numerous displays and activities in Briggs Hall on Kleiber Hall Drive. Director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, and her crew are working on the displays in the Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.
Three of the traditional exhibits coordinated by the department are nominees for special awards. They are:
- "Little Swimmers and Fly Tying” (Briggs Hall), nominated in the category, "Hidden Treasures"
- "Medical Entomology” (Briggs Hall), listed in the category, "Academic Exhibits" and
- "Real Insects and Mimics" (Bohart Museum of Entomology), "Family Friendly" Exhibit.
An online voting poll, available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, April 16, will determine the winners. Visitors may vote at https://orgsync.com/51524/forms/194037. Winning exhibits will be featured on social media pages such as the Picnic Day website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat accounts after Picnic Day. They also will be featured next year, in preparation for Picnic Day 2017.
The Briggs Hall open house will be from 9:30 to 4 p.m., and the Bohart Museum open house from 10 to 3 p.m.
Briggs Hall will be the site of a pollination pavilion, maggot art, cockroach races, fly-tying, face-painting, honey tasting, and a bee observation hive, and displays about ants, mosquitoes, aquatic insects and forest insects. The Bug Doctor booth ("The Doctor Is in") will be staffed by faculty and graduate students, while UC Davis forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, aka "The Fly Man of Alcatraz," and entomology graduate Danielle Wishon will staff the Dr. Death table.
Honey tasting? Visitors can taste these varieties: Peppertree, eucalyptus, almond, sage, sweet clover, and pine "honey," according to Extension apiculturist Elina Niño of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
Also at Briggs Hall, the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) will give away lady beetles, aka ladybugs, to kids to take home to their gardens. UC IPM also will provide advice on how to manage home and garden pests with environmentally sound methods.
The Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA) will be selling its popular insect-themed t-shirts.
At the Bohart Museum, the focus will be on "real insects as mimics." You'll see flies that look like bees--and bees that look like flies. In addition, you can hold and photograph the critters in the live "petting zoo," including Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, and rose-haired tarantulas. The gift shop, featuring t-shirts, books, posters, insect collecting equipment, will be open.
Meanwhile, here's a look at some of "The Girls" you'll see: lady beetles (commonly known as ladybugs), Painted Lady butterflies, honey bees, all at Briggs Hall, and a rose-haired tarantula named "Peaches" at the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
Maggot Art. Yes, you read that right. Maggot Art.
It's a traditional and popular part of the Department of Entomology and Nematology's many activities at Picnic Day. This year the UC Davis Picnic Day is Saturday, April 12, and the Briggs Hall events take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Maggot Art is especially for children, but anyone can participate. You grab a special pair of forceps, pick up a maggot, dip it into non-toxic, water-based paint and let it crawl around on white paper. Voila! Maggot Art. Suitable for framing!
Rebecca O'Flaherty, former entomology doctoral candidate at UC Davis, coined and trademarked the term in 2001 while a student at the University of Hawaii. She was organizing a community outreach program and seeking ways to teach youngsters about insects. Not to hate them. Not to fear them. To respect them and learn about them.
Maggot Art was the way. Her way. It worked.
"I love my work and being able to share my love with so many people has truly been a joy," she told us in an interview back in 2007. "I tend to target young elementary students, second and third graders, because I find that at that age, most children are enthusiastic, uninhibited and extremely open to new ideas. They haven't developed aversions to insects, and we're able to instill in them an appreciation for and interest in all organisms, no matter how disgusting those organisms may be perceived to be."
Some adults find maggots revolting, she acknowledged. "A few parents have pulled their children away with a 'Eeew!' and 'Don't touch that!'"
Since 2001, O'Flaherty has taught thousands of students, ranging from kindergarteners to college students to law enforcement professionals. She even showcased her own Maggot Art at a 2007 art show in the Capital Athletic Club, Sacramento. Some art critics compared her work to that of American abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock.
While at UC Davis, O'Flaherty studied with major professor/forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey. Although she no longer participates in Picnic Day's Maggot Art, her art continues.
UC Davis entomology undergraduate and graduate students now guide little hands in creating art that is like no other.
Some youngsters are concerned about the welfare of the maggots (no maggots are harmed in the making of the paintings) and a few ask to take the maggots home.
Just the art work goes home, thank you. No maggots, please.
There's something about maggots that non-forensic entomologists don't like.
"Those are the larvae of a fly," a mother told her inquiring daughter last Saturday at the Maggot Art table at Briggs Hall, UC Davis campus. The occasion: the 97th annual UC Davis Picnic Day.
Maggot Art? It's been part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology's featured Picnic-Day attractions since 2003.
It started with graduate student Rebecca O'Flaherty, who coined the name, "Maggot Art," and established it as an educational curriculum. She's taught youths and adults alike to dip a maggot in non-toxic, water-based paint and let it crawl (or guide its movements) on white paper. Voila! Maggot Art!
“The beauty of the Maggot Art program,” O'Flaherty told us a few years ago, “is its ability to give hands-on, non-threatening experience with an insect that most people fear or loathe.”
So last Saturday, scores of children crowded around the table awaiting their turns. Once finished, they literally danced away with their masterpieces.
Can't you just see the result? A favorite aunt or uncle comes to visit and there's a colorful "painting" on the refrigerator.
That's definitely a conversation piece.
Anyway, one of the Maggot Art artists at UC Davis Picnic Day was entomologist-artist Diane Ullman, associate dean for Undergraduate Academic Programs, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology. Ullman and colleague Donna Billick co-founded and co-direct the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program and on occasion invited O'Flaherty into their classrooms to teach Maggot Art.
Last Saturday, when Ullman volunteered to staff the Maggot Art table, she found a little time to create her own insect art--again.
"It's just like old times," she said.
If you want to create art that's bound to be a conversation piece, you need to head over to Briggs Hall at the
April 18 is the 95th annual UC Davis Picnic Day, a campuswide event that showcases, the organizers say, "the richness and diversity of campus life."
Make that "the richness and diversity of insects," too.
Briggs Hall, home of the Department of Entomology since 1972, is where bugs rule.
Forensic entomologist Rebecca O’Flaherty, a doctoral candidate in entomology, will be there with her free “Maggot Art” event.
She’ll provide the maggots, non-toxic paint, and paper. Your job is to pick up a maggot with specially designed larval forceps, dip it in paint (your choice of colors), place it on white paper, and let the maggot do its thing--which is to crawl across the paper. Voila! Maggot Art.
It’s one-of-a-kind art suitable for framing or posting on the refrigerator. Your Aunt Gertrude will be proud.
Maggot Art is actually the educational teaching curriculum that O'Flaherty coined and trademarked in 2001 while she was studying entomology at the
Since 2001, she’s taught thousands of students the “art of Maggot Art” in the classroom, while also providing information about blow flies. She's a skilled Maggot Art artist herself. In 2007, she coordinated a Maggot Art Show at the Capital Athletic Club, Sacramento, with colleagues and fellow artists Brandi Schmitt and Charlotte Wacker.
Maggot Art has been a tradition at Picnic Day since 2003. Kids usually love it, but that's not always true for adults. The "yecch" factor sometimes kicks in, she admits.
O'Flaherty's major professor, forensic entomologist Bob Kimsey, who chairs the Department of Entomology's Picnic Day celebration, estimates that the "bug events" at Briggs draw 3,000 people.
Maggot Art, Termite Trails, Cockroach Races and Honey Tasting are just a few of the events that will be offered at Briggs Hall from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Bugs rule. They do, indeed.