The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, is open to the public Mondays through Thursdays except on holidays. It will be closed Dec. 21 through Jan. 6.
It's directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis.
Here are some of the ways you can think entomological!
- Donate to the Bohart Museum Society. Thanks to public support last year, "we have created internships for high school students, expanding our K-12 outreach programs, incorporated newly donated collections of beetles and butterflies and have two awesome imaging systems that have made it possible for us to provide Bohart Museum scientists and visiting researchers with high quality images of insects in our collections," related Kimsey. "We have big plans for the coming year and your continue support will make it possible for us to add a second session to our summer camp for junior high students, train undergraduate and graduate students in entomology and educational outreach, continue to improve our website, and educate the public about insects, spiders and their relatives."
Bohart Museum membership categories include individual ($25), student ($15), student families ($25), family ($40), patron ($100) and additional donations. Checks can be made out to the Bohart Museum Society, c/o Bohart Museum of Entomology, Room 1124 Academic Surge Building, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616. There's also a museum BioLegacy sponsorship ($2000 and up) that enables you to name an insect after yourself or a loved one.
Calendars. For donations of $50 or more, the Bohart will provide you with its 2019 calendar illustrated by entomology student/artist Karissa Merritt and featuring her humorous interpretations of actual sentences from term papers in Professor Kimsey's classes. Example, regarding mayflies: "The swarmers are attracted to lights and tend to expose themselves in the evenings.” (See illustration below.) It also acknowledges the birthdates of famous entomologists. The calendar is available separately for $12, plus tax.
- Peruse the Bohart Museum gift shop, which includes insect-themed t-shirts and sweatshirts, graced with everything from monarch butterflies to Hercules beetles to lady beetles (ladybugs) and dragonflies. You'll also find in the gift shop: insect-themed books, jewelry, posters and candy, plus insect-collecting equipment.
Books in the gift shop include The Story of the Dogface Butterfly, a 35-page children's book authored by Fran Keller, former doctoral student at the Bohart Museum, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and now assistant professor at Folsom Lake College. It includes illustrations by former UC Davis student Laine Bauer and photographs by Bohart associate Greg Kareofelas and Keller. The California dogface butterfly is the state insect.
Plush toys in the gift shop include tardigrades (much in demand), bedbugs and flies.
Posters include the California dogface butterfly, the work of Bohart associates Fran Keller and Greg Kareofelas.
Butterfly habitats, zippered and netted, are perfect for rearing monarchs, Gulf Fritillaries and other butterflies.
In addition, the Bohart Museum is a good place to see, photograph and hold many of the occupants in its live "petting zoo," which includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, tarantulas, and praying mantids.
The Bohart Museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. It is closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and on major holidays. Admission is free. For more information, access the website or Facebook page or email email@example.com or telephone (530) 753-0493.
Her research already has.
She just won the prize for best student presentation at the recent 9th International Congress of Dipterology in Windhoek, Namibia.
Gillung delivered her presentation on “Phylogenetic Relationships of Spider Flies (Acroceridae) – Discordance, Uncertainty and the Perils of Phylogenomics.” Acrocerid adults are floral visitors, and some are specialized pollinators, while the larvae are internal parasitoids of spiders.
Approximately 350 delegates attended the conference; the scientists focus on the Diptera order, which includes houseflies, mosquitoes, and gnats. Gillung was among 40 students presenting their research.
Gillung studies with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; mentor Shaun Winterton of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; and collaborator Phil Ward, UC Davis professor of entomology.
UC Davis doctoral students Charlotte Herbert Alberts and Socrates Letana, who both study with Kimsey, also presented their work; Alberts delivered an oral presentation on her research (she studies Asilidae (Assassin flies), and Letana displayed a poster on bot flies.
Presenting the award to Gillung was Professor Thomas Pape of the Natural History Museum of Denmark and chair of the Council for the International Congresses of Dipterology, which organizes the conferences. The next Congress takes place in 2022 in California.
In her abstract, Gillung described spider flies “as a monophyletic group of lower Brachycera currently classified into three subfamilies, 55 genera and ca 530 species.”
“The group has long been considered a rogue taxon and its placement within the Diptera tree of life remains uncertain,” she wrote. “Phylogenetic relationships among lineages of spider flies are by contrast relatively well established, with hypotheses proposed based on molecular data from both Sanger and high-throughput sequencing. Phylogenomic estimation of spider fly relationships yields different topologies, depending on whether data is coded and analyzed as nucleotides or as amino acids. The most significant difference among the two data types is in the monophyly of Panopinae; a morphologically and ecologically recognizable group, that is recovered as monophyletic only in the analyses of nucleotides. This study uses Acroceridae as a system to explore the effects of potential confounding factors in phylogenomic reconstruction. This research takes advantage of modern and powerful statistical approaches, including posterior predictive simulation, to understand the effects of conflict, uncertainty and systematic error in the estimation of evolutionary relationships using the standard phylogenomic toolkit.”
Fast forward to her exit seminar, which she will deliver at 2 p.m., Friday, Dec. 14 in 122 Briggs Hall, located off Kleiber Hall Drive. The title: “Evolution of Fossil and Living Spider Flies (Diptera, Acroceridae): A Tale of Conflict and Uncertainty."
"Parasitoid flies," Gillung wrote in her abstract for her Dec. 14 seminar, "are some of the most remarkable, yet poorly known groups of insects. Represented by over 10,000 species distributed in 21 families, dipteran parasitoids comprise over 100 independent lineages, offering an unparalleled system to understanding the origin, evolution and diversification of the parasitoid life history. My dissertation research unraveled the systematics, evolution and biology of a lineage of dipteran parasitoids specialized in spiders, Acroceridae, commonly known as spider flies. My research resulted in a monograph of fossil spider flies, and a robust hypothesis for the pattern and timing of spider fly evolution based on high throughput sequencing. Through the combination of DNA sequence data obtained via Sanger sequencing with morphological characters, I also estimated their relationships among spider fly genera using an extensive taxon sampling which culminated in a new taxonomic classification for the family.”
Gillung has accepted a postdoctoral position at Cornell University, Ithaca, beginning Jan. 2. She will be working with Bryan Danforth on Apoidea (stinging wasps and bees) phylogenomics, evolution and diversification.
She recently was named the recipient of the prestigious 2018 Student Leadership Award, presented by the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America (PBESA), which represents 11 states, seven U.S. territories, and parts of Canada and Mexico.
A native of Brazil, Jessica holds a bachelor's degree in biology from the Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil and a master's degree in zoology from the University of São Paulo, Brazil. She speaks four languages fluently: Portuguese, Spanish, English and German.
So wrote an undergraduate student in one of Lynn Kimsey's entomology classes at the University of California, Davis.
The student meant "sperm."
But it came out "perm."
Now some of the prized collection has found its way into an innovative and fun calendar published by the Bohart Museum of Entomology and illustrated by talented graphic artist Karissa Merritt, a fourth-year entomology student at UC Davis.
For the bee sentence, Merritt depicted a queen bee in a salon admiring herself after receiving a permanent, the royal treatment. The accommodating drone (note the wrap-around eyes!) approves.
Other prized sentences include:
- “The swarmers are attracted to lights and tend to expose themselves in the evenings.” (see art below)
- "The infected fleas can harbor rats, ground squirrels, rabbits, and occasionally, even house cats.” (see art below)
Merritt, a two-year Bohart associate, illustrated the entire calendar, drawing upon her creativity, humor and imagination. “Karissa is a gifted graphic artist,” Kimsey said.
That she is!
The calendar, published by Tara Baumann & Associates of Vacaville, is a project of the non-profit Bohart Museum Society. The calendar sells for $12 at the Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane. Those who contribute $50 or more to the Bohart Museum Society will receive a calendar with their donation. All proceeds are earmarked for research, education and outreach projects.
“One aspect of teaching this course is the writing requirement," she explained. "Students at UC Davis are required to take a number of units in general education, science and writing. My course fulfills two of those requirements, which means that I have to require—and grade—student term papers as part of their assignments. I can say definitely that student writing abilities have not improved over the years. So, to alleviate the pain of grading these works of art, I started collecting particularly silly or otherwise awesome sentences from their papers.”
Lynn Kimsey, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, joined the faculty in 1989. She specializes in bees, wasps and insect diversity.
Karissa Merritt not only enjoys drawing insects but teaching others how to do so. Last January, the Bohart Museum featured her as an “artist in residence” at its open house on insects and art. She offered tips on how to draw insects and took requests from youths. “It was touching to see how something like mundane doodling could bring smiles to kids' faces,” she said. “In fact, many ended up going home with original art work!"
Merritt says insects have always fascinated her. "I've always loved insects and the natural world but I didn't realize entomology was a viable career choice until one of my friends starting working in the Essig Museum of Entomology at UC Berkeley," she said. She credits her attendance at the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, with sparking “a strong interest in pollinators and a particular interest in bees and how I can contribute to their future."
What especially fascinates her the most about insects? “How alien their biology and morphology as compared to vertebrates,” Merritt said. “But working in the Bohart, I find many specimens that just amaze me with their beauty. Insects are just so diverse and it's amazing what nature produces!"
Merritt's favorite insect order is Hymenoptera, which includes bees, ants and wasps. “But I like all insects,” she acknowledged. She learned beekeeping when she volunteered in the lab of Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis.
Merritt is also an alumnus of “Bug Boot Camp,' a five-week insect taxonomy and field ecology course taught by Phil Ward, UC Davis professor of entomology and held at the Sagehen Creek Field Station, in California's northern Sierra Nevada. That course enabled her to sharpen her taxonomy skills.
The Bohart Museum houses a global collection of nearly eight million insect specimens, and is the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of insect biodiversity. The facility also includes a gift shop and a live "petting zoo" of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, and tarantulas.
The Bohart Museum is open to the public (free admission) from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. More information on the Bohart Museum is available on the website at http://bohart.ucdavis.edu or by contacting (530) 752-0493 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ticks can do that to you.
I never think about ticks during the holiday season, but a news release from the University of Cincinnati about how “Hungry Ticks Work Harder to Find You” piqued my interest--and memories of the day our family inadvertently “collected” a total of 14 ticks.
But first, the news release about this fascinating research...
UC writer Michael Miller described ticks as “hardy little brutes that can go as long as a year without a meal,” and that “the hungrier ticks are, the harder they try to find you or other hosts.”
Biologist Andrew Rosendale, lead author of the study and UC adjunct assistant professor of biology, said that starved ticks are more likely to look for a host and they're more likely to attach to the host longer “which provides a greater opportunity to transmit diseases.”
Ticks, as you know, feed on blood. They feed on blood as larvae, nymphs and adults. Ticks "spend most of their lives on the ground in tall grass, patiently biding their time for a victim and presumably ignoring their rumbling stomachs,” Miller wrote in his news story.
Fact is, ticks are very good at waiting, waiting to ambush you. They can reach near starvation because their metabolism slows. “In the absence of any host cues, they go into a dormant state where they don't move around a lot,” UC biology professor Joshua Benoit related.
Then there's "questing."
Miller explained that “In the wild, adult ticks explore the undergrowth and climb tall grass. They reach out with the claws on their forelegs, a behavior called questing, to snag an animal's fur or your denim jeans. Then they burrow into their hosts with mouthparts shaped like ratchets that keep them in place....In the lab, UC researchers stimulated the ticks' questing behavior by breathing into identical glass cylinders. (Ticks can sense carbon dioxide so they know when a possible meal is close at hand.) Biologists recorded differences in activity between just-fed ticks and starving ones. They found that starved ticks had higher activity levels and increased questing behavior than recently fed ones.”
Miller also pointed out that “after three months without food, a tick's metabolism actually increases significantly--by as much as 100 percent--and remains at this higher rate for weeks in association with its increased activity.”
“Likewise, UC biologists found that genes related to immunity were activated by starvation, which could be another survival mechanism," Miller wrote. "Animals that feed on blood must have a immune system capable of fighting bacteria and other microorganisms. By activating genes associated with immunity, ticks might be preparing for an imminent meal.”
Another discovery: the UC biologists found that genes associated with a starved tick's salivary glands activated those glands. “Saliva is known to help ticks drink more blood more quickly, a useful ability when you're clinging precariously to a moving animal in thick brush," Miller wrote. "The sticky saliva also helps cement the tick to the host."
Added Rosendale: “The more they were starved, the more they were priming themselves for that next blood meal.”
And about our family's “tick-collecting trip?”
It was April 14, and the two of us and two dogs were walking through a tall grassy area in Sonoma, enjoying the poppies, fresh vegetation and the springlike weather. When we returned home, we found a total of 14 ticks: 13 either in or on our hair, skin or clothing, and one attached to our Chihuahua mix.
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis, identified them as Dermacentor occidentalis (Pacific Coast tick). Thankfully, this species does not transmit Lyme disease.
We never thought about wearing a repellent that day, but a spokesperson at the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District's booth at UC Davis Picnic Day last April said she sprays her clothing with "Off" before she dons the clothing and ventures out into tall grass or brushy areas--or where ticks are likely to be.
She handed out brochures, but you can also read more about ticks (and lyme disease) on the Sac-Yolo website at https://www.fightthebite.net/ticks-and-lyme-disease/ or download the brochure at https://www.fightthebite.net/download/brochures/Ticks.pdf
The brochure indicates that "Ticks do not fly, jump, or fall out of trees! They are usually found in grassy areas, in brush, or in a wooded area. They wait on the tips of vegetation for a human or other animal host to pass by. As the host brushes against it, the tick makes contact, looks for a suitable location, and begins the feeding process."
And "contrary to popular belief, ticks DO NOT embed their heads in skin. Ticks are equipped with mouthparts adapted to penetrate and hold fast in the skin of its host. Additionally, they secrete a cement-like material that helps them stay attached to their host."
Yes, they do. One tick embedded itself in my ear.
I think it must have been one of near-starvation ticks with ultra sticky saliva...
However, bed bugs, carpet beetles and pantry pests got into the act and competed mightily for the spotlight.
The occasion: The UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology open house, held Sunday afternoon, Nov. 18. The theme: "Urban Entomology."
The three-hour event starred a cockroach--well, a human dressed as a cockroach.
Karey Windbiel-Rojas of the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM)--she's the associate director for Urban and Community IPM who serves as the area urban IPM advisor for Yolo, Sacramento and Solano counties--donned her cockroach costume and joined Bohart scientists in fielding questions about urban pests.
The pests the UC IPM scientist has been dealing with lately include carpet beetles, bed bugs and pantry pests. She handed out two newly published Quick Tips on carpet beetles and pantry pests, as well as information on other pests. What are some of the other pests? Check out UC IPM's Quick Tips library at http://ipm.ucanr.edu/QT/index.html.
UC IPM offers a wealth of information on its website, including
- home, garden, turf and landscape pests
- agricultural pests
- natural environment pests, and
- exotic and invasive pests
But when a cockroach is scurrying about (that was Karey's Halloween costume, by the way), the mind focuses on the "ins" and "outs" of cockroaches. Mostly the "outs."
As in: Stay. Out. Never. Ever. Come. Back. In.
"There are six species of cockroaches in California that can become pests: German cockroach, brownbanded cockroach, oriental cockroach, smokybrown cockroach, American cockroach, and Turkestan cockroach. A seventh species, the field cockroach, is not really a pest. It is usually found outdoors, but sometimes comes indoors when it is hot or dry and is often mistaken for the German cockroach. Of these seven species, the one that has the greatest potential for becoming persistent and troublesome is the German cockroach, which prefers indoor locations. Oriental and American cockroaches occasionally pose problems in moist, humid areas."--Excerpt from UC IPM Pest Note on Cockroaches.
As the UC IPM website indicates, cockroaches "may become pests in homes, schools, restaurants, hospitals, warehouses, offices, and virtually in any structure that has food preparation or storage areas. They contaminate food and eating utensils, destroy fabric and paper products, and impart stains and unpleasant odors to surfaces they contact."
Cockroaches can definitely give you a difficult time.
And speaking of giving, today (Tuesday) is Giving Tuesday, and UC IPM Director Jim Farrar has committed to eating a pest if at least 20 people make a donation of $10 or more to UC IPM.
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) spokesperson Pamela Kan-Rice, assistant director of News and Information Outreach, informed us: "With your donation and Jim's appetite, there will be one less pest to deal with! Spread the word to colleagues, family and friends to help UC IPM meet this goal. All UC IPM donors will be invited to the special pest eating event which will take place in the afternoon on Wednesday, Nov 28 in the UC ANR building." The dining experience is expected to begin at 4 p.m.
Here's where to donate before midnight tonight: https://donate.ucanr.edu/pages/integrated-pest-management.
We asked Karey if the pest to be consumed could possibly be a cockroach. Or a garden-variety pest, such as a dandelion.
"To my knowledge he will not be eating a cockroach or a dandelion," she commented in an email. "I don't want to give away what he might be eating (so I don't actually know for sure)."
That would be a definite "no" on the roach!
(Update: Director Farrar ate corn smut, grasshoppers and live mealworms.)