There was the bee family: the queen bee, the drone and the worker bee. That would be entomologist Leslie Saul-Gershenz and biologist Norman Gershenz, the husband-wife team behind SaveNature.Org, a non-profit Bay Area-based organization devoted to insects.
Leslie, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, is the associate director of research, Wild Energy Initiative, John Muir Institute of the Environment at UC Davis. The worker bee? That would be their service dog. The "worker" bee, however,spent most of her time sleeping beneath a table while the queen bee and drone mingled in the hive of activity around them.
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey wore his ghillie suit. Bohart associate Emma Cluff came dressed as "The Mad Hatter." Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, disguised herself as a monarch caterpillar.
One of the highlights was a parasitoid pinata crafted by doctoral student Charlotte Herbert Alberts and husband, insect enthusiast George Alberts. They drew inspiration from the party invitation of artist and entomology alumnus Nicole Tam.
Of her art, Tam said: "All good things come in groups of three like the heads of Kerberos. Also, I just really wanted to draw a three-headed wasp! The wasps I used for this art piece were from the genera Polistes, Synoeca, and Dolichovespula."
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, 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. In addition, it maintains a live "petting zoo," featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks or stick insects, tarantulas; and a year-around gift shop stocked with T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
Director of the museum is Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis. The staff includes Steve Heydon, senior museum scientist; Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator; and Jeff Smith, who curates the Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) section.
The museum is open to the public Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m., except on holidays. More information on the Bohart Museum is available on the website at http://bohart.ucdavis.edu or by contacting (530) 752-0493 or email@example.com.
This particular monarch chrysalis was not the immature stage of a monarch butterfly but a piñata--complete with an emerging parasitoid--cleverly crafted by UC Davis doctoral student Charlotte Herbert Alberts and her husband, George, and recent UC Davis graduate Emma Cluff.
The sculpted larva of what monarch enthusiasts call the "dreaded tachinid fly" protruded from the piñata. It was the first to go, victim of a direct hit.
The annual pre-Halloween party presented by the Bohart Museum Society, draws assorted arthropod costumes, from assassin bugs to praying mantids to peacock spiders, but the annual piñata breaking contest, is always "the" smash hit. You can almost feel the whops, wallops and whammies, along with the one-two-three punches (each hitter gets three swings) as the crowd cheers.
Then there's the scramble for the candy.
The Bohart Museum is the home of some 8 million insect specimens, plus a live "petting zoo" (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, tarantulas and praying mantids) and an insect-themed gift shop. It's directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology. Those who join the Bohart Museum Society look forward to their invitation to the annual pre-Halloween party, which this year featured a parasitoid theme. (See Oct. 29 Bug Squad blog).
How much of a smash hit was the piñata? See the images below and the YouTube video.
The Bohart Museum Society hosted the Bohart Museum of Entomology's 24th annual pre-Halloween party on Saturday, Oct. 27 at the University of California, Davis, billing it as “They Come From Within" and promising a “haunting night full of frights and delights."
You can thank the emerald cockroach wasp or jewel wasp (Ampulex compressa), an entomophagous parasite, for that! It is known for its unusual reproductive behavior, in which it stings a cockroach and then uses it as a host for its larvae, eating it alive.
That was the critter depicted on the invitation.
UC Davis entomology undergraduate student and talented artist Karissa Merritt created the much-applauded, wasp-inspired invitation. "For this year's Bohart Halloween party invite, I set out to create an original--fake--movie poster, inspired by old B-movies such as 'Them' and 'Invasion of the Saucer Men,'" she explained. "I really wanted the invitations to grab people's attention with the bright colors, and grotesque horror as a giant jewel wasp--based on Ampulex compressa--emerges from a living man's chest."
It did. It also grabbed the attention of UC Davis entomology doctoral candidate Charlotte Herbert Alberts, who studies Asilidae (Assassin flies) with her major professor, Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology. "I made my costume to honor Karissa's incredible drawing of the invitation," said Charlotte, who anticipates receiving her Ph.D in 2020. Her husband, George, dressed as Dracula. Their Brittany Spaniel, Westley, declined to wear a dinosaur costume and came as himself.
At the entrance, assorted mustaches and masks commanded a table. A sign urged people to "write a name tag, yet disguise yourself if you aren't in costume." (With the addition: "I know it doesn't make sense; just humor us.")
Among those coming as themselves were entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the butterfly and moth collection; his wife, Cathy; and Bohart associate and naturalist-photographer Greg Kareofelas.
Senior museum scientist Steve Heydon wore an orange jumpsuit lettered with "Department of Corrections" while his wife, Anita, came dressed as a police officer, complete with badge and handcuffs.
Forensic entomologist Robert "Bob" Kimsey, husband of Lynn Kimsey, donned his traditional ghillie suit.
Bohart Museum director Lynn Kimsey cut a 72nd anniversary cake, a red-velvet, chocolate-frosted cake decorated with--what else?--bugs! After all, the Bohart Museum houses some 8 million specimens, plus a live "petting zoo" of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, tarantulas and praying mantids, as well an insect-themed gift shop.
Meanwhile evolutionary ecologist Scott Carroll, at 6'11", towered over everyone. "I can pick him out in a crowd," quipped his wife, entomologist Jenella Loye.
(See tomorrow's Bug Squad blog for more Halloween images, including the pinata breaking game. The pinata? A replica of a monarch chrysalis.)
Sure, they're known for donning butterfly, bee, and black widow spider costumes.
But sometimes they opt to characterize a scarecrow, a rag doll, a police officer, a pirate, Bernie Sanders and a hot dog. Or dress in a ghillie suit.
As a carved pumpkin spilled its guts, the costumes at the Bohart Museum of Entomology's Halloween party in the Academic Surge Building on Friday night, Oct. 27 startled, spooked and scared many of the Halloween celebrants.
Bohart Museum research entomologist Tom Zavortink portrayed Bernie Sanders, complete with a dark suit and tie and a name tag that read simply: "Bernie."
Bohart senior museum scientist Steve Heydon and his wife, Anita, chose to be a scarecrow and a black widow spider, respectively.
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology Department faculty, wore a ghillie suit. Last year he carried a duck on his shoulder, an invited guest. This year he came duckless.
Students Parras McGrath posed as a tarantula hawk, Jamie Fong as a hot dog, Keely Davies as a police officer, Gabriela Rivera as a ragdoll, and Diego Rivera as a pirate with a faux parrot perched on his shoulder.
Staffer Tabatha Yang, the Bohart's outreach and public education coordinator, came as a "staff infection" with an appropriate mark on her cheek.
Shark teeth showed up, too. For the occasion, UC Davis entomologist alumnus (and artist) Danielle Wishon of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, detailed her face with gleaming predatory teeth, straight out of Jaws.
Bohart associate Greg Kareofelas, a dragonfly and butterfly expert, came as himself. "What are you supposed to be?" we inquired. "I'm Greg!" he said.
The attendees exchanged greetings, enjoyed food (catered by entomologists Ivana Li and Corwin Parker), dipped marshmallows, fruit and pretzels into a chocolate fountain, and broke a pinata. (See previous Bug Squad). They listened to a trio of musicians performing in front of the gift shop: James Heydon on guitar, Maia Lundy, vocals; and Maia's sister, Jade Lundy, on violin. Later Andre Poon, framed by a harp, entertained on the violin.
That's what entomologists do.
When Lynn Kimsey cut a chocolate anniversary cake, the predators, the prey, the police officer, the scarecrow, the hot dog and Bernie--and all the others--stepped forward.
You can have your cake and eat it, too, no matter if you're prey or predator or something else.
The 21st annual Halloween party at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis, drew scores of entomology enthusiasts dressed as caterpillars, dragonflies, butterflies and assorted other critters--chased by the bug catchers.
The event, open to Bohart Museum Society and special guests, was all that it was quacked up to be, thanks in part to forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey. Kimsey arrived dressed in his ghillie suit, and virology major Andrew Poon arrived with his pet duck, Quack. Kimsey and Quack became instant friends (ah, the warmth of a ghillie suit) and quacked up the crowd.
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum, wore her LED tennis shoes hand-painted by entomologists Charlotte Herbert and Nicole Tam with cuckoo wasps (family Chrysididae), the group that she studies. Her shoes lit up the night like the legendary fireflies do. (See previous Bug Squad blog)
Among the other stars:
- Charlotte Herbert, a doctoral candidate in entomology, came dressed as a venomous slug caterpillar (family Limacodidae), much to the delight of bug catchers Wade Spencer and Brennen Dyer, who arrived nets in hand.
- Tabatha Yang, public education and outreach coordinator, came dressed as a wet blanket and carried a sign that said “Nope.”
- Dragonfly enthusiasts Jeanette Wrysinski and son, Aren Scardaci, and friend Eva Butler of Sacramento arrived in their matching dragonfly t-shirts. (Dragonfly expert and Bohart Museum associate Greg Kareofelas declared the insect a new species.)
- Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology, buzzed in as a yellow-faced bumble bee, complete with a yellow head and face and a yellow abdominal stripe. (The bug catchers gave chase.)
- Graduate student Jessica Gillung padded in as a cat lady, with pinned stuffed animals on her costume. (The bug catchers declared this the wrong species.)
- Fran Keller, assistant professor at Folom Lake College who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, came dressed as a graduate student. (She carried no net and proved no competition for the bug catchers.)
- Entomologist Joel Hernandez and UC Davis Arboretum outreach coordinator Melissa Cruz paired up as a scarecrow and a pumpkin. Hernandez added a mouse to his pocket--scarecrows, you know, attract mice. Another mouse--and yes, a stuffed one, too--graced the cheese table.
- Steve Heydon, senior museum scientist, wore his sailor outfit and carried a mop. When folks inadvertently spilled chocolate from the chocolate fountain or food from the buffet table (prepared by entomologist Ivana Li), he obliged.
- Entomologist Danielle Wishon and her eye-popping, spider-webbed face drew "oohs" and "ahs." (The bug catchers seemed quite interested in the web.)
- Chemical ecologist Steve Seybold, his wife, Julie Tillman, and their daughter, Natalie, came dressed as a Halloween family. Natalie dressed as a black caterpillar. That's the spirit! (Oh, where'd the bug catchers go?)
You could tell it was an entomological party by the games played. For the occasion, Charlotte Herbert and her fiancé, George Alberts, crafted a piñata shaped like a tardigrade, aka water bear, and filled it with candy. Blind-folded participants took turns swatting it. Another popular game: "Pin the Pin on the Beetle." Blind-folded participants attempted to poke a pin in a paper beetle mounted on a wall.
Carved pumpkins with butterfly and spider motifs, all made by the Bohart staff, glowed.
In keeping with the presidential campaign, Donald Trump and Hilllary Clinton appeared to "party hardy" in the form of pumpkins portraying political candidates.
The bug catchers, nets in hand, seemed more interested, however, in the venomous caterpillar.
"The slug caterpillar," said Lynn Kimsey, "is very venomous."