You can see them at the Bohart Museum of Entomology during the campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day, set Saturday, April 13. The theme is "Will Travel for Bugs: The Bohart Museum of Entomology's Collections From Around the World."
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., a change from last year's hours. The shorter hours will allow the Bohart Museum folks to help with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's displays at Briggs Hall and the “Black Widow-on-Parade” entry in the UC Davis Picnic Day Parade.
"At the Bohart, we are focusing on the various countries from around the world and some of their insect fauna," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. The 12 countries that the Bohart is highlighting are:
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Papua New Guinea
- Republic of South Africa
- United States
“So for anyone who is from there, has lived there, has visited there, or who wants to visit there, please come and take a peak at some unique insects from around the world,” Yang said. “Some people enjoy traveling to explore cuisine and culture, but traveling for the flora and fauna of the world is equally wonderful. Insects are an important part of nature, so be curious, not afraid.”
There's also something special about this year's display at the Bohart. Its exhibit, "Will Travel for Bugs: The Bohart Museum of Entomology's Collections From Around the World," has been nominated for the Planet Earth Award. "Visitors will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite exhibits in five award categories," according to Madhuri Narayan, UC Davis Picnic Day exhibits director. A QR code, linked to the voting survey, will be displayed at the museum. Or folks can vote here from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. April 13. The prize for earning the most votes? "An awesome certificate and bragging rights," Narayan said.
Briggs Hall. At Briggs Hall, home of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, the honey tasting booth has also been nominated for a special award. The Honey tasting is being organized by Extension apiculturistElina Lastro Niño. Briggs Hall will also offer maggot art, cockroach races, a bee observation hive and displays featuring aquatic insects, forensic entomology, and ants, among others, according to co-chairs forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey and doctoral student Brendon Boudinot. The Bug Doctor, the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District, and the Davis Fly Fishers will staff booths. Also planned: insect face painting, t-shirt sales and a bake sale. Both the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association, headed by president Boudinot, and the UC Davis Entomology Club, advised by Kimsey, will participate in the day's events.
Campuswide Picnic Day. The 105th annual UC Davis Picnic Day is free (free parking, free admission). It serves as the university's annual open house for prospective and current students, families, alumni, staff, faculty, and the greater Davis and regional communities. Picnic Day begins with the parade opening ceremony at 9:30 a.m., and the parade begins at 10 a.m. Most events will run from 10 a.m. to 4 or 4 p.m. (See website.)
Popular traditional events:
- The Battle of the Marching Bands
- Doxie Derby Race
- Chemistry Magic Show
- Children's Discovery Fair
- Fashion Show
- Cockroach Races
- Student Organization Fair
- Entertainment Stages
Bohart Museum. The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis. was founded in 1946 by UC Davis entomologist Richard “Doc” Bohart (1913-2007). It is the home of nearly eight million insect specimens, plus a year-around gift shop and a live "petting zoo" that includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects, tarantulas and praying mantids. The gift shop is stocked with books, jewlery, t-shirts, insect-collecting equipment, insect-themed candy, and stuffed animals.
The Bohart Museum is open to the general public Mondays through Thursdays, from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., plus occasional, weekend open houses. Admission is free. Further information is available on the Bohart Museum website.
Yes, I'll have some mustard, please.
Yes, both the pollen and the nectar, thank you.
We watched a honey bee buzz into our little mustard patch, her proboscis (tongue) extended, and pollen weighting her down. If she were at the airport, someone would have volunteered to carry her bags.
But there she was, determined to bring back both pollen and nectar to her colony. It's nature's equivalent of gold. It's spring and time for the colony build-up.
In peak season, the queen bee lays 1500 to 2000 eggs a day. Everyone has a job to do, and if you're a bee scientist or a beekeeper, you'll see them all: nurse maids, nannies, royal attendants, builders, architects, foragers, dancers, honey tenders, pollen packers, propolis or "glue" specialists, air conditioning and heating technicians, guards, and undertakers.
What's thrilling this time of year, though, are the worker bees bringing home the mustard.
Want to learn more about bees? Be sure to stop by Briggs Hall, off Kleiber Hall Drive, on Saturday, April 13 during the campuswide 105th annual UC Davis Picnic Day. You'll see a bee observation hive, as well as smokers, hive tools and veils, all part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology displays. You can talk to the bee scientists. And you can sample many different varietals of honey.
Briggs Hall also will feature cockroach races, maggot art, t-shirt sales, face-painting, aquatic insects, forensic entomology, Integrated Pest Management Program display, fly-tying and much more. It's free and family friendly.
And over at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, more entomological excitements await. It's the home of nearly eight million insect specimens, plus a gift shop and a live "petting zoo" of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects (walking sticks), tarantulas and praying mantids. Stay tuned!
They're featured in a recent Entomology Today blog, published by the Entomological Society of America (and written by yours truly) and headlined "Bugs and Beat."
Well, move over. Think about the three-cornered alfalfa hopper (Spissistilus festinus) and the male insect organ, the aedeagus.
A group of seven graduate students in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology performed such tunes as “E Major Homeboy (Spissistilus festinus),” “Tragedy (of the Clocks),” and “Jackson's Song (Aedeagal Bits),” as well as a cover song, “Island in the Sun” by Weezer. All are members of the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association, headed by Brendon Boudinot, president.
Graduate student Michael Bollinger of the lab of Frank Zalom (a former president of the Entomological Society of America) composed the first three tunes.
The performance capped a day of insect-related activities that included maggot art, cockroach races, nematode identification, scavenger hunts, and honey tasting. Bugs rule!
- Molecular geneticist and drummer Yao “Fruit Fly” Cai of the Joanna Chiu lab dressed in a fruit fly costume (Drosophila melanogaster), which he described as “our favorite model organism in Insecta!”
- Bark beetle specialist and rhythm guitarist Jackson “Darth Beetle” Audley of the Steve Seybold lab portrayed an Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis).
- Honey bee researcher and bass guitarist Wei “Silverfish” Lin of the Brian Johnson lab wore a costume that celebrated his moniker (Lepisma saccharina), a small, wingless insect in the order Zygentoma.
- Ant specialist and keyboard artist Zachary “Leptanilla” Griebenow of the Phil Ward lab dressed as “a generic male leptanilline ant (Formicidae: Leptanillinae).” However, he noted “the yellow color is not anywhere near so vivid in real life.”
- Systematist and tenor saxophonist Jill “Jillus Saximus” Oberski of the Phil Ward lab dressed as a “generalized heteropteran,” which she described as “most likely a member of the family Acanthosomatidae (shield bug) or Pentatomidae (stink bug). My family and friends have called me Jillybug, so I came to be the band's representative of Hemiptera.”
- Molecular geneticist and vocalist Christine “The Clock” Tabuloc of the Joanna Chiu lab wrapped herself in butterfly wings.
- Ant specialist and bass guitarist Brendon “Hype Man-tis” Boudinot of the Phil Ward lab dressed in a green helmet, a blue and gold EGSA bee shirt, and a UC Davis cow costume to showcase his department and campus-wide love of bovines.
Drummer Yao Cai, who grew up in Southeast China and holds an undergraduate degree in plant protection and a master's degree from China Agricultural University, has been playing drums since age 17. “We formed as a short-lived band for a show. After that, I realized that I really wanted to keep playing and improved my drum techniques. Thus, we started another band in college and played for six years in college, as an undergrad and graduate student.
“It is very interesting that I was in a band that was the first band in Department of Entomology in China Agricultural University and now we started the first band in Department of Entomology at UC Davis,” Cai added.
Rhythm guitarist Jackson Audley said he “started learning to play the guitar when I was about 11 or 12-ish. The first band I joined was a Blink-182 cover band, in which I played the bass guitar, and we played together for most of eighth grade. Then in early high school I joined a Smashing Pumpkins/Radiohead cover band as the second guitarist. Shortly after joining that band, we started making predominantly original music. By the end of high school, we had played a few small shows around the Atlanta area and had recorded a few songs. Unfortunately, the band did not survive the transition into university and we broke up.”
Since then he's mostly played “for fun, and I like to jam with folks.”
Jill Oberski, a native of Twin Cities, grew up mostly in Chaska, “a sleepy suburb of Minnesota.” She received her bachelor's degree in Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she double-majored in biology and German studies.
“I started playing the piano in kindergarten and switched to saxophone in fifth grade,” Oberski related. “I played classical and jazz in my school bands from sixth grade through college and pit orchestra, pep band, and marching band in high school as well. I've always been better at classical than rock, jazz, or Latin.”
“I probably reached my highest point in late high school, when I served as co-section leader for the saxes in the Minnesota all-state symphonic band,” Oberski said. “We even got to play a concert in Minneapolis' orchestra hall. These days I'm only involved in the entomology band and some very casual ukulele playing.”
Brendon Boudinot, who received his bachelor's degree in entomology at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, performed on a metallic sky-blue bass and served as emcee. “I just love art,” said Boudinot, president of the UC Davis EGSA. “Music is a family thing for me in a number of different ways. Although I have played instruments alone or in groups for many years, nothing really clicked in me until I heard Michael and Yao play together. They shred.”
Vocalist Christine Anne Tabuloc, who grew up in the Los Angeles area and received her bachelor's degree from UC Davis in biochemistry and molecular biology, says she does not play an instrument. “I'm far less talented than everyone else in the group,” she quipped. “I've been singing for as long as I can remember. I've been writing lyrics since elementary school. However, I never got around to getting music written for them. I was in choir before and have had solos but that's pretty much it.”
Bass guitarist Wei Lin, who grew up in Xiamen, “a beautiful island in southern China,” received his bachelor's and master's degree at China Agricultural University, majoring in plant protection and entomology. “This was my first experience in a band. I just started to learn bass last year when this band was built.”
Following the four-set gig, Boudinot told the appreciative crowd, “That's all we know!”
Pending performances? “The band,” he said, “is on hiatus.”
(Editor's Note: Listen to a clips of their music on YouTube.)
The occasion: The traditional fly-tying demonstrations by the Fly Fishers of Davis in Briggs Hall, University of California, Davis, during the campuswide Picnic Day celebration.
The group promotes the art of fly fishing and engages in community education and conservation. Another aim is to protect the state's natural resources.
Or, as the Fly Fishers point out on their website: "A 501(c)(4) non-profit organization with 100 plus members that is dedicated to teaching people about fly fishing, swapping yarns about fishing, sponsoring fly fishing outings, conservation and generally enjoying the fine art of fly fishing."
The club usually meets at 7:30 p.m. on the last Tuesday of each month at Frances Harper Junior High School, 4000 Covell Blvd. That's subject to change when they hold their dinners, fundraisers, picnics and other functions.
What happens at the meetings? As the Fly Fishers point out:
- A raffle of fly fishing items.
- A guest speaker who usually narrates a PowerPoint presentation covering some aspect of fly fishing.
- Occasional silent auctions and equipment swaps.
- A library of videos that members can sign out for a one month period.
- A table full of fly fishing club newsletters and magazines for browsing.
- Updates on where to fish, club activities, outings and trout conservation projects.
- Lots of BS (Back-Slapping) yarn-spinning, good fellowship (and womanship too).
And you know how some anglers are prone to telling whoppers about the one that got away? A fish so big that it boggles the imagination--and exceeds the length of outstretched arms? Not to worry. The Fly Fishers' rule (tongue in cheek): "Absolutely NO stretching of the truth is tolerated...EVER."
So, on Saturday, April 18, during the 104th annual UC Davis Picnic Day, we watched Fly Fisher member Dave Driscoll of Vacaville, a retired Solano County deputy district attorney, show Steven Mao, 7, of Davis, how to tie a fly.
Little Steven was so absorbed that he never noticed the photographer or heard the shutter lick.
When Driscoll finished the demonstration, he handed the fly--in a safe plastic container--to Steven to take home. That's what the Fly Fishers do. And why the Picnic Day Committee is so grateful for their time, talents, and generosity.
Steven's smile said it all.
And attendees did. They asked questions, expressed concerns, and offered comments.
Members of the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Students' Association, headed by president Brendon Boudinot, fielded scores of questions from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"Bug Doctor" Boudinot, a doctoral candidate who studies ants in the Phil Ward lab and who co-chaired the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's Picnic Day Committee, remembers that a little girl asked him "Do bugs get ear infections?"
That was Lilliana Phillips, 5, of Carmichael, who stood in line with her father, William Phillips, a UC Davis alumnus (bachelor's degree in environmental toxicology and master's degree in pharmacology toxicology.
"Good question," Boudinot told her as the crowd smiled.
"I had to think about that one for a while," Boudinot later related. "My best answer is that perhaps mantises, grasshoppers, and cicadas do, as they all have 'ears' (tympana), albeit in different places on their bodies!"
Other questions zeroed in on evolution, insect control, mosquito hawks and butterflies.
"I had a long conversation with an undergraduate about the evolutionary descent of insects and their arthropod kin," Boudinot said. "We discussed the origin of the Arthropoda, the reason why Paleozoic insects were so large, and a number of other topics."
Another undergraduate, a math and economics major, asked Boudinot about the use of differential calculus in his research.
"A number of people asked about insect control, and some even asked plant control questions," Boudinot said. "One woman and her family asked me about 'mosquito hawks.' I informed her that these large flies are not predatory, and have grub-like larvae which feed on decaying material, among other aspects of their natural history."
Another student quizzed him about his knowledge of the color blue in the insect world. "We talked about structural colors. I was unaware that there is a genus of butterfly, Nessaea (Nymphalidae), which has true blue pigmentation--an extreme rarity in the natural world!" (According to Wikipedia, unlike virtually all other butterflies with blue coloration, the blue colors in this genus are due to pigmentation rather than iridescence--for example, Morpho species.)
One young boy asked if mosquitoes will ever go extinct. "I told him that mosquitoes will certainly not go extinct in our lifetime. However, there are many many species of mosquitoes which do not bite people, and if he wanted to learn more about them, he could ask the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District folks (in the nearby booth).
"The final, long conversation I had was with an engineer who was fascinated by insect anatomy and physiology. The conversation started with the mechanism for insect breathing, led through heart and gut anatomy." Boudinot then headed to Briggs 158 to use the chalkboard to explain how the insect cuticle has a machine function.
The next "Bug Doctor" in the rotation was Zachary Griebenow, a first-year Ph.D. candidate in the Phil Ward lab.
The little girl who asked the "Do bugs have ear infections?" also asked him for his take.
"I said that I doubted it," Griebenow related, "as the auditory organs insects have are chordotonal: essentially, they consist of a scolopidiform sensillum attached to cuticle at both ends. Therefore, as there is no fluid involved, the idea of an infection attacking such a structure seemed unlikely to me."
"Another individual asked me to explain the distinction between arachnids and insects, which I did as one might expect (differences in tagmosis, appendages, etc.)"
Lastly, Griebenow was asked whether insects "answered to the same God as we do." He responded that he did not have the authority or knowledge to answer the question.
UC Davis entomology graduate students, including Boudinot, are accustomed to answering entomological questions. Boudinot served as a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's Linnaean Games Team that won the Entomological Society of America's national championship twice: in 2015 and 2016. The ESA Linnaean Games are a lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competition on entomological facts played between university-sponsored student teams. The teams score points by correctly answering random questions.
Some of the questions the UC Davis team, captained by Ralph Washington Jr., successfully answered in the 2016 competition:
- Question: “You have just moved into an apartment that has been vacant for weeks but whose prior owners had several cats and dogs. A very few days after you move in you are bitten by a huge number of cat fleas that seem to have appeared out of nowhere. What characteristic behavior of cat fleas biology is probably responsible for this?” Answer: “Cat flea pupae eclose in response to the presence of a host.”
- Question: Insects inhabiting a very thin water film such as splash zones marginal to streams are called what?
- Question: The insect order Notoptera unites what two former insect orders?
Answer: Notoptera unites Mantophasmatodea and Grylloblattodea
- Question: What are the two obvious clinical symptoms that someone is suffering from onchocerciasis?
Answer: Blindness and hanging tissue around lymph nodes, often times the scrotum.
- Question: What is the common name for the zygentoman pest that thrives in high humidity and high temperatures and is often found in boiler rooms?
Answer: The firebrat, Thermobia domestica.
- Question: Projection neurons travel across what two major regions of the insect brain?
Answer: The protocerebrum and the deutocerebrum
Click on the YouTube video to see the champion round of the 2016 Linnaean Games.