If you've ever visited Briggs Hall during the annual campuswide Picnic Day at the University of California, Davis, you probably know about Maggot Art, an arts-and-crafts activity that fuses entomology with art. Every year thousands create Maggot Art at tables set up at Briggs.
Now you don't have to wait for the next UC Davis Picnic Day (the 104th annual), set April 21, 2018.
Maggot Art will be a family arts-and-crafts activity at the Bohart Museum of Entomology's special weekend open house from 1 to 5 p.m., Sunday, July 9 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis. It's free and open to the public.
Members of the North American Forensic Entomology Association (NAFEA) will be special guests and presenters at the open house. NAFEA is on campus (July 7-12) for an annual conference and the open house will be part of its outreach activities. The scientists will field questions throughout the event. "We'll have scientists from across the country here at this family friendly event,” said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator.
Here's how Maggot Art works: You dip a maggot into non-toxic, water-based paint and let it crawl--or guide it--on a piece of paper. It's suitable for framing or posting on your refrigerator. One thing's for sure: it's a definite conversation piece!
Forensic entomologist Rebecca O'Flaherty, a former graduate student of Kimsey's, coined the educational teaching curriculum, Maggot Art, back in 2001 at the University of Hawaii. She was rearing blowflies for her forensic research and wanted an activity to draw the interest of elementary school students in her teaching program. She sought to generate interest and respect for an entomological wonder that's more associated with road kills and goose bumps than art thrills.
Her Maggot Art activity quickly drew national interest. If you ever watched the television show, CSI, you saw one of her works, “Ancient Offering,” hanging on the permanent set in Gil Grissom's office. She has also exhibited her work at art shows, including a two-month exhibition at the Capital Athletic Club, Sacramento, in 2007.
“The beauty of the Maggot Art program,” she said, “is its ability to give hands-on, non-threatening experience with an insect that most people fear or loathe.”
And, no maggots are harmed in the making of these paintings. In fact, some children become so fond of the maggots that they ask to take them home.
(Editor's Note: Visitors entering the UC Davis campus on Sunday, July 9 are asked to take the Highway 113 exit to Hutchison Drive, as the Old Davis Road (which leads to the Visitors' Information Center booth) will be closed for construction. A paving project is underway: (https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/paving-project-close-old-davis-road/)/. Lot 46, the parking lot closest to the Bohart Museum, continues to be accessible. Parking is free.)
Members of the North American Forensic Entomology Association (NAFEA) will be special guests and presenters at the open house hosted from 1 to 5 p.m., Sunday, July 9 at the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
The event, free and open to the public, takes place in the Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
NAFEA is meeting for a conference at UC Davis July 7-12 and the Bohart open house will be part of its outreach activities. The scientists will field questions throughout the event.
"We'll have scientists from across the country here at this family-friendly event,” said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator. Family arts and crafts activities are featured at each open house. A popular activity planned for the July 9th open house is maggot art, in which maggots are dipped into non-toxic, water-based paint and placed on a “canvas” (paper) to crawl around and create a painting. The activity, coined by entomologist Rebecca O'Flaherty, a former graduate student at UC Davis, is a traditional part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's Briggs Hall offerings at the campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day.
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology served as president of the organization in 2015. (See news feature about Kimsey, "The Fly Man of Alcatraz.") Current president is Jason Byrd of the Department Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine University of Florida College of Medicine. The goal of NAFEA is to promote the development of forensic entomology throughout North America and to encourage co-operation with other similar international bodies. NAFEA defines its mission as “to provide a cooperative arena for forensic entomologists to interact and collaborate in ways that enhance the science, moral and ethical foundation, and reputation of forensic entomology.”
The fly photo below is of a male flesh fly (Sarcophagidae), "very likely genus Sarcophaga" (http://bugguide.net/node/view/458576/bgimage), according to senior insect biosystematist Martin Hauser of of the Plant Pest Diagnostics Branch, California Department of Food and Agriculture.
The July 9th open house is one of three open houses scheduled this summer. The others are:
Saturday, July 22, Moth Night from 8 to 11 p.m.: Moth Night, held in conjunction with National Moth Week, will enable visitors to explore nighttime nature through a blacklighting setup, enabling the collection of moths and other insects. The event takes place in the courtyard in back of the Bohart Museum. The museum will be open throughout Moth Night.
Sunday, Aug. 27: Bark Beetles and Trees, Forest Health in California, from 1 to 4 p.m.: The event is in collaboration with Steve Seybold, USDA Forest Service entomologist and an associate of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He and his students and staff will be there to show displays and answer questions.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, 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, Saturdays and Sundays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
More information on the Bohart Museum is available by contacting (530) 752-0493 or email email@example.com.
Traffic: Note that Old Davis Road that goes past the Visitors' Information Center will be closed due to construction of a paving project (https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/paving-project-close-old-davis-road/) Visitors should enter the campus via Highway 113 and take the Hutchison exit. The parking lot closest to the Bohart Museum is Lot 46.
Strange thing, nobody ever says "as green as a green bottle fly."
'Cept maybe an entomologist.
- As green as an emerald
- As green as a lizard
- As green as a gourd
- As green as grass
- As green as bottled glass
- As green as it gets
But as "green as a bottle fly" (or blow fly in the family Calliphoridae)?
No. Most people cringe at the very sound. They associate green bottle flies with their larvae, aka maggots, which eat rotting flesh. These insects lay their eggs in cadaver tissue. At crime scenes, forensic entomologists can determine the time of death by examining the developmental stage of the larvae.
And, of course, maggots are used medically in maggot therapy (to consume dead tissue around live tissue).
Then there's Maggot Art, coined by a former UC Davis entomology major, Rebecca O'Flaherty. At the annual UC Davis Picnic Day, children visiting Briggs Hall (home of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology) engage in Maggot Art, picking up a maggot with forceps, dipping it into non-toxic, water-based paint, and then letting it crawl on a white sheet of paper! Voila! Maggot Art, suitable for framing! (See Bug Squad, "Me and My Maggot." Some of the young artists get quite attached to the maggots and ask their parents if they can take them home. Of course, the answer is "Yes!" (Not!) Want to try Maggot Art? Mark your calendar for April 22, 2017 when the 103rd annual UC Davis Picnic Day takes place.
Green bottle flies can also be beautiful. Have you ever seen an emerald green bottle fly sipping nectar from a red flower, such as Lantana? When the light is just right, this little insect can make you say "Wow!"
Plus, it's a pollinator. It gets a little recognition, but not much, during National Pollinator Week.
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.