Two newly moulted insects in the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis, look just like leaves.
But these “leaves” are made for walking.
These are camouflaged insects (Phyllium giganteum), commonly known as "walking leaves." They're green, wide, and flat.
“They’re hard to detect among the leaves,” said senior museum scientist Steve Heydon. “It’s surprising how long it takes visitors to find them.”
The insects, natives of Malaysia, dine on bramble, oak, eucalyptus, raspberry, rose, and red/yellow salmon berry.
They mimic leaves in the wind by swaying as they walk, Heydon said. Females can reach a length of 5 inches.
“We got them as nymphs,” Heydon said. “They grow very slowly, probably the slowest of all the insects we’ve ever had at the museum. It took nine months for them to moult and become adults, and they each did it within a day of each other.”
The insects, splotched with red, look like green autumn leaves turning color. “With insect camouflage, there’s never a perfect leaf,” Heydon said. “You see simulated damage.”
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and UC Davis entomology professor, said she’s always craved walking leaves for the museum. “They are so incredibly bizarre-looking,” she said. “It’s amazing how this insect develops new skin when its abdomen is as flat as paper.”
The Bohart Museum of Entomology, founded in 1946 by the late Richard M. Bohart, former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, is dedicated to teaching, research and service. The insect museum houses more than seven million specimens, the seventh largest insect collection in North America.
The museum also includes live insects such as Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, and black widow spiders.
But for now, the walking leaves are the big attraction.
At the Bohart, you can actually "turn over a new leaf"--and it will be an insect.
"Insects are the most successful animals that have ever existed on Earth and have been around for just over 400 million years," writes George Gavin in Insects, an American Nature Guide published by Smithmark Publishers, N.Y.
"Of the nearly one and a half million described species of all animals, just over 930,000 of them are insects," Gavin points out. "Thousands of new insect species are described every year and recent estimates from work in the world's diminishing rainforests indicate that there are maybe several million undescribed species."
Yes, insects are nearly everywhere--even at California's oldest fair. When the 134th annual Dixon May Fair opens May 7, continuing through May 10, you'll see a honey bee observation hive--with the queen bee, workers and drones--inside the floriculture building. Also in the floriculture building: Madagascar hissing cockroaches, Vietnamese walking sticks and other arthropods.
Honey bee specialists from the UC Davis Department of Entomology and insect experts from the Bohart Museum of Entomology will be there at various times to answer questions.
Elsewhere on the fairgrounds, you'll see insect photography and insect motifs on quilts, aprons, birdbaths, flower pots and other items. Interior Living Showcase superintendent Debee Lamont (who works year-around as gifts and records management specialist in University Relations, UC Davis) says insect images adorn numerous quilts at the fair. Insects include honey bees, butterflies and dragonflies.
Sorry, no quilts with Madagascar hissing cockroaches or Vietnamese walking sticks.
A baby hooded praying mantis is among the new residents of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, 1124 Academc Surge, on the UC Davis campus.
It's a Rhombodera basalis or Giant Malayasian Shield Mantis and is a gift from a teacher in Elk Grove.
"It will grow to be about three inches long," said Brian Turner, the Bohart's outreach coordinator. It prefers warm, wet climates.
Visitors to the Bohart Museum can check out the hooded praying mantis during the campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day, set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 18.
The Bohart Museum, founded in 1946, is dedicated to teaching, research and service. The museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology, houses more than seven million specimens, making it the seventh largest insect collection in North America. The worldwide collection also includes the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity of California’s deserts, mountains, coast and great central valley.
They’re big, bold and beleaguered.
And now, they’re big, bold and finely detailed.
Courtney Lambert, an undergraduate student in entomology at the
Lynn Kimsey, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and director of the
“Courtney is an incredible artist,” said Fran Keller, who designed the shirt, along with other shirts and posters available at the Bohart.
One of the largest beetles in the
Lambert’s illustration shows the male and female on a limb.
Keller remembers collecting the beetles in
Business owners spray them with pesticides at night and hose the dead insects into the sewers, she said. “They are pests for just a brief time.”
“And unfortunately, they are also poached, and illegal collecting has made this and other monsoon emerging beetles, Chrysina sp. for example, rarer every season. It is important for collectors to know the status of an insect before they collect it, and to make sure they have valid collecting permits issued by the state they’re collecting in. Hopefully, we can educate with this beetle T-shirt."
American physician-entomologist George Henry Horn (1840) 1897) first described the species in 1870. It has a blue and gray body with spots on the hardened forewings. It’s also nicknamed Grant’s Hercules Beetle, honoring Ullysses S. Grant (1822-1885), the American Civil War general who went on to become the 18th president of the United States.
Funds generated from these beetle T-shirts will help provide continuing undergraduate support and training at the
The shirts are available in olive and brown with natural ink; black with white ink, and natural color with black ink. A coupon on the Bohart Web site offers 20 percent off with orders over $15 until April 15
Founded in 1946, the
If you meander over to the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis campus, you'll see a very tiny predator that looks for all the world like a green leaf. It's the Gambian spotted-eye flower mantis and it's one of the many live specimens housed there.
It's green with pointed eyes (it appears to have a pointy little head, too) and it grows to one-inch in length. Its scientific name is Pseudoharpax virescens (order Mantodea) and it's found in Gambia, the smallest country (in square miles) on the African continent.
And at the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
Bohart public outreach coordinator Brian Turner says that flower mantises spend their time hiding in flowers, waiting to ambush prey. It dines on insects.
If threatened, the Gambian spotted-eye flower mantis will lift its wings to expose its orange and purple coloring. This, Turner says, "will likely startle potential predators and cause them to lose track of the mantis when it lowers its wings again."
The Bohart Museum of Entomology, founded in 1946, is located in 1124 Academic Surge. It is directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Dedicated to teaching, research and service, the museum houses the seventh largest insect collection in North America. The global collection totals more than seven million specimens. It also houses many live specimens, including Madagascar hissing cockroaches, Vietnamese centipedes, walking sticks, assassin bugs...and....mantids.