Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) collection, says "I believe we have half a million Lepidoptera in our collection, and it is likely 60 percent moths and 40 percent butterflies."
What can visitors expect to see at the Bohart Museum during the four-hour open house from 9 to 1 p.m. on Biodiversity Museum Day? The Bohart will be one of 13 museums or collections open to the public and the event if free and family friendly.
"They will see thousands of species of butterflies--and maybe moths if we open those aisles as well--that they have never seen before," Smith says. "They can learn about the defensive strategies these insects use for survival, such as camouflage, warning coloration, mimicry of other species. We love to teach about the importance of Lepidoptera in the environment, either to their habitat directly or possibly as an indicator of the health of their habitat. And, of course, they can be amazed at the beauty of these insects."
This is truly a global collection.
"We have specimens from all over the world, from every continent," Smith notes. "We are especially strong, of course, in North American material but also strong in Central and South America, and these areas represent much of our continuing growth. We have a great deal of material from Papua New Guinea, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, and other eastern Asian countries. We have a great amount of material from Africa, particularly Zambia and Democratic Republic of the Congo. We are especially strong with northern Mexico moths, much of which likely represents species still undescribed by taxonomists."
Are endangered or threatened butterflies in the collection? Yes.
"We do have examples of most of the threatened and endangered species of butterflies, and even examples of some of the butterfly species now extinct (due to destruction of habitat by urbanization). Due to wonderful donations over the decades we have examples of very rare species from Asia and Africa, as well as a growing collection of the extraordinary Birdwing Butterflies from the Indonesian-Australian region."
The Bohart's monarch butterfly specimens comprise five drawers and they include specimens from the Pacific Islands, Australia and Eastern Asia, as well as the United States.
"Without a doubt, the biggest 'Wow Factor' comes from the huge and brilliant metallic blue Morpho butterflies from tropical America," Smith points out. "We also have four drawers of the Atlas moths from Asia, the largest insects in the world. We have specimens of the White Witch moth, with the widest wingspan of any Lepidoptera. We have many drawers of Asian swallowtails that are brilliant metallic blue and green, as well as the striking Birdwing Butterflies that are green, blue, gold, and HUGE."
Smith himself has collected many of them. "I have not kept track, but I have been passionate about Lepidoptera since 1967, have made 12 research trips to Latin America, and probably have collected 50,000 to 60,000 specimens myself, all of which reside in the Bohart collection."
Does he have a favorite?
"Oddly, my favorite group of butterflies may be the Arctics (genus Oeneis), which occur throughout the western United States, Canada, and to Alaska. I like them due to their habitat, normally, of high mountain areas, and they remind me of the thrill I feel when hiking in these areas. My favorite moths could be the wasp-mimics in the Arctiid moths, the subfamily Ctenuchinae. Hundreds of different species are found in the Neo-Tropics and their amazing colors and often strong resemblance to wasps intrigues me."
Smith, a resident of Rocklin, received a 2015 “Friend of the College” award from the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences for his volunteer work, including preparing specimens and organizing the collection. At the time he had spread the wings of more than 200,000 butterflies and moths, amounting to 33,000 hours of volunteer service.
Today it's many more. Many, many more.
“Entomology is my passion," he says, "and the Bohart Museum is my cause.”
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and UC Davis professor of entomology, who nominated Smith for the award, praised him for completely reorganizing the butterfly and moth collection. “It's no small feat to rearrange this many specimens, housed in roughly one thousand drawers,” she said. “Many thousands of the specimens needed to be identified, and the taxonomy required extensive updating and reorganization.”
In her nomination letter, she wrote that “You could not ask for a better friend than Jeff Smith. He has brought us international acclaim and saved us $160,000 through donations of specimens and materials, identification skills and his professional woodworking skills. This does not include the thousands of hours he has donated in outreach programs that draw attention to the museum, the college and the university.”
Kimsey, who has directed the museum since 1989, remembers when Smith joined the museum. “When Jeff was working for Univar Environmental Services, a 35-year career until his retirement in 2013, he would spend some of his vacation days at the museum. Over the years Jeff took over more and more of the curation of the butterfly and moth collection. He took home literally thousands of field pinned specimens and spread their wings at home, bringing them back to the museum perfectly mounted."
The Bohart Museum 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. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum.
Special attractions include a “live” petting zoo, featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold the insects and photograph them. The museum's gift shop, open year around, includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
The Bohart Museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free. Open houses, focusing on specific themes, are held on weekends throughout the academic year. More information on the Bohart Museum is available by contacting (530) 752-0493 or Tabatha Yang, education and public outreach coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day
The UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day, always held the Saturday of Presidents' Day weekend, is billed as a “free, educational event for the community where visitors get to meet and talk with UC Davis scientists from undergraduate students to staff to emeritus professors and see amazing objects and organisms from the world around us.” Parking is also free. Maps are available on the Biodiversity Museum Day website at http://biodiversitymuseumday.ucdavis.edu/.
These seven collections will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.:
- Arboretum and Public Garden, Good Life Garden, next to the Robert Mondavi Institute, 392 Old Davis Road, on campus
- Bohart Museum of Entomology, Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane
- California Raptor Center, 340 Equine Lane, off Old Davis Road
- Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, Room 1394, Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane
- Paleontology Collection, Earth and Physical Sciences Building, 434 LaRue Road
- Phaff Yeast Culture Collection, Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Science, 392 Old Davis Road, on campus
- Viticulture and Enology Culture Collection, Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Science, 392 Old Davis Road, on campus
The following will be open from noon to 4 p.m.:
- Anthropology Museum, 328 Young Hall and grounds
- Botanical Conservatory, Greenhouses along Kleiber Hall Drive
- Center for Plant Diversity, Sciences Laboratory Building, off Kleiber Hall Drive
- Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, Bee Biology Road, off Hopkins Road (take West Hutchison Drive to Hopkins)
- Nematode Collection, Sciences Laboratory Building, off Kleiber Hall Drive
- Marine Invertebrate Collection, Sciences Laboratory Building, off Kleiber Hall Drive
An orchid mantis and a ghost mantis fascinated visitors at the recent open house hosted by the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
Officers of the UC Davis Entomology Club displayed mantids from the collection of secretary Lohitashwa "Lohit" Garikipati, who breeds the insects.
Garikipati also showed the European praying mantis, Mantis religiosa, an introduced species, and a native mantis, Stagmomantis limbata.
But it was a female orchid mantis that drew the most attention. The pink and white insect resembles orchid petals.
Helping him show the insects were Ent Club president Chloe Shott and treasurer Crystal Homicz. Membership in the club, which meets on Mondays at 6 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall, is open to all interested persons. Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology serves as the advisor. Club activities include speaker presentations, outings, a float in the UC Davis Picnic Day parade, open house at Briggs Hall during the Picnic Day; and scientific excursions to Alcatraz Island.
All Bohart Museum open houses are family friendly and free and open to the public. The museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.
The next weekend open houses scheduled are:
- Saturday, Nov. 18, "Parasitoid Palooza," from 1 to 4 p.m.
- Sunday, Jan. 21: "Bug-Art @ The Bohart," from 1 to 4 p.m.
- Saturday, Feb. 17: The campuswide "Biodiversity Museum Day" (hours to be announced)
- Saturday, April 21: The all-day campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology, is a world-renowned insect museum that houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It also maintains a live “petting zoo,” featuring walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, praying mantids, and tarantulas. A gift shop, open year around, offers T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
The Bohart Museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
For more information, contact the email@example.com or access the website or Facebook page. For more information on praying mantis, see Mantis Keepers, a Facebook page administered by Andrew Pfeifer of Monroe County, North Carolina.
Did you read the abstract published Jan. 17 in the journal ZooKeys about the newly discovered and named moth, Neopalpa donaldtrumpi?
No? Well, you probably read the news story. It went viral.
Somewhat overlooked was the role that scientists at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis, played. The tiny moth was part of a desert insect collection that the UC Davis researchers loaned to evolutionary biologist and systematist Vazrick Nazari of Canada.
In sifting and sorting through the Bohart specimens, the brightly colored miniscule moth drew Nazari's attention. A new species! The yellow scales on the tiny moth's head reminded him of President-Elect Donald Trump's hairstyle.
Like a moth to a flame, Nazari decided on a name: Neopalpa donaldtrumpi.
Species: N. donaldtrumpi
“The reason for this choice of name is to bring wider public attention to the need to continue protecting fragile habitats in the U.S. that still contain many undescribed species,” Nazari wrote in ZooKeys.
Bohart Museum associate/research entomologist Thomas "Tom" Zavortink and colleagues collected the tiny moth with the orange-yellow and brown wings in the Algodones Dunes, bordering Arizona and the Mexican state of Baja California. Tiny? It has a wingspan of less than one centimeter.
"We surveyed the insects of the Algodones Dunes for more than six years with a contract from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management," Kimsey said. "It was a really fun/interesting project. We collected nearly 2,000 species of insects from about 200 square mile of 'sand.' Six percent were new to science. The moth was collected in a Malaise trap in one of the washes on the east side of the dunes."
As for Zavortink, he's been a Bohart Museum associate since 2001. He's a former professor and chair of the University of Francisco Department of Biology. His career also includes research entomologist with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington, D.C. He holds a doctorate in zoology from UCLA, where he also received his master's degree.
Zavortink is known for his mosquito identification for vector/mosquito control districts, California Department of Public Health, Latin American culicidologists and professional colleagues, and his bee identification for professional colleagues. He completed and published a survey of the bees of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, Imperial County, for the Bureau of Land Management.
One of the bees he's researched is the European wool carder bee (Anthidium manicatum), discovered in New York in 1963 and in California in 2007. (See Bug Squad.)
Naming critters for people--from citizens to celebrities to presidents to other public figures--isn't new. President Barack Obama has nine species named for him (more than any other president). His namesakes include a long-legged, resourceful Northern California spider, Aptostichus barackobamai, and a colorful spangled darner, a perchlike fish, Etheostoma obama.
Having your name associated with a new species is considered an honor, scientists say. It's a permanent legacy, unlike the names of many streets, schools, other buildings, and parks, which can be subject to removal.
But here's a good thing: if you're interested in naming an insect for you or a loved one, the Bohart Museum offers a biolegacy program. For a sponsorship of $2000 (which helps fund the museum's research program), you can select a species for naming, and receive a framed photo and documentation (publication).
The Bohart Museum scientists describe as many as 15 new species annually, and their associates, "many more," Kimsey says. "We could use your help with the selection of new species names in the course of our research."
You might see monarchs, Gulf Fritillaries, Western tiger swallowtails, pipevine swallowtails, and skippers. You'll learn about butterflies and their needs.
It's a UC Davis Arboretum talk and tour and it's free and open to the public.
Entomologist Joel Hernandez will present a talk and tour on “Butterflies Up Close” on Sunday, Sept. 18 at the UC Davis Arboretum. The event, to begin at 10 a.m. on the Wyatt Deck, is billed as an event to “explore the amazing diversity of butterflies and moths both near and far.” All ages are invited.
Hernandez will also display his own butterfly collection.
Hernandez, who received a bachelor of science degree in entomology from UC Davis in 2014, currently works for the Steve Seybold lab as a research/field assistant. He hopes to attend graduate school and receive his doctorate in entomology.
Hernandez worked for the Sharon Lawler lab for four years, both as a student and as a post-graduation junior specialist. A volunteer at the Bohart Museum of Entomology and the UC Davis Arboretum, he recently participated on a Bohart Museum insect collecting trip with entomologist/Bohart associate Fran Keller. “It was an amazing experience,” he said.
Hernandez has collected and curated insects for 19 years. “I have a passion for Lepidoptera and would like to use it as a target group for research in graduate school,” he said. “The species of butterfly that interests me the most is the blue morpho. The family of moths that interests me the most and the one I would like to study is Sphingidae.”
"I've been interested in insects ever since I was small," Hernandez said. "It was their unique life histories and morphologies that really propelled my passion for insects and entomology. What draws me to butterflies is the plethora of different colors and patterns that they display on their wings, as well as their life cycle.”
Hernandez presented a well-attended talk and tour on butterflies and moths at the Arboretum last September. Elaine Fingerett, the Arboretum's academic coordinator, chronicled the event in photos.
For more information, contact the Arboretum at (530) 752-4880 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
When award-winning photographer Teresa Willis of Vacaville encountered a red caterpillar on a dirt road at about 6000 feet in a canyon north of Paradise Valley, Nev., she did what photographers do--she captured an image of it.
And posted it on her Facebook page where some of her friends likened it to the Oscar Mayer weiner.
The caterpillar is indeed red. Bright red. Well, what is it?
Renowned butterfly expert Art Shapiro of UC Davis, who knows about such things, says it is the larvae of an owlet moth (family Noctuidae) "and the species is probably Noctuid."
"It's infested with the parasitic nematode Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, a generalist parasite of insect larvae, which it turns bright red," Shapiro says. "Experiments have shown that this acts as a warning color, deterring visual predators (such as birds) from eating them (and the nematodes in the process)."
Hardly any Lepidoptera escapes identification from Art Shapiro, who maintains the popular website, Art's Butterfly World at http://butterfly.ucdavis.edu/ and is a UC Davis professor of evolution and ecology.
As for Teresa Willis (see more of her work at http://www.redbubble.com/people/teresalynwillis), you can say she got the red out.
With the help of a parasitic nematode, Heterorhabditis bacteriophora.