If you've ever seen youngsters jumping up and down in pure delight--and pure enthusiasm--you've probably been to an event spotlighting the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology insect specimens.
And now you can help.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology has launched a CrowdFund project to raise $5000 by 11:59 p.m., Oct 31 to purchase traveling display boxes for their specimens, which include bees, butterflies and beetles.
These are portable glass-topped display boxes that travel throughout Northern California to school classrooms, youth group meetings, festivals, events, museums, hospitals--and more--to help people learn about the exciting world of entomology (insect science).
“When COVID halted our in-person outreach programs, we were still able to safely loan these educational materials to teachers,” said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator.
Supporting the Talent. “Now that UC Davis is open again to students we have all these bright, students on campus with fresh and diverse perspectives,” she said. “We want to support their talent, so the funds we are raising will go to students for the creation of new traveling displays. This fleet of new educational drawers will expand and update what we can offer. Some of our current displays were created 15 years ago! One can only imagine all the places these drawers have been and all the people who have been inspired."
The Bohart Museum, a research collection and public museum dedicated to understanding, documenting and communicating terrestrial arthropod diversity, is now celebrating its 75th year. It maintains a robust outreach program that typically connects with more than 10,000 people annually, according to Lynn Kimsey, director of the museum and a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology.
Portable educational boxes are considered a great way to share the museum experience with others. They are housed in the same specimen boxes that the Bohart scientists use for their research collections. UC Davis students, staff, teachers and scout leaders routinely borrow these materials to enrich their programs.
"Our current educational boxes were created 15 to 20 years ago by staff and students at UC Davis," the scientists related on the CrowdFund page. "After years of wear and tear and new developments in biology, we need to update and create a new suite of display boxes. These displays will not only be scientifically accurate, but they will be intriguing to view by all ages. With every $500 in donations, a student will be able to create a fresh new box, complete with an informational sheet and a short video. The goal of this fundraiser is to provide 10 students the opportunity to create 10 portable educational displays that will enhance the outreach mission of the Bohart Museum and the University of California."
Virtual Tour. The public is invited to access the Bohart's Facebook Live virtual tour for Aggie Spirit Week on Wednesday, Oct. 13. The "Bugology" link is https://fb.me/e/XKtXPrsB. Plans are to spotlight Professor Kimsey; senior museum scientist Steve Heydon; Lepidoptera collection curator Jeff Smith; and graduate student Socrates Letana (who researches bot flies), among others.
The Bohart Museum, temporarily closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. It houses nearly eight million insect specimens, collected from around the world. It also houses a live "petting zoo" comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas, as well as an online gift shop stocked with insect-themed jewelry, clothing, books, posters and other items.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis, is helping to spread the biodiversity of insects.
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and a distinguished professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, recently received a request for duplicate specimens of beetles, moths and butterflies for a Biodiversity Science Museum and Research Center to be headquartered at the research institution, Atatürk University, in Erzurum, Turkey.
“We're gifting them 350 large-bodied beetles, moths and butterflies for their display,” Professor Kimsey said. “The specimens are all duplicates of material we collected in Papua New Guinea about a decade ago.”
Levent Gültekin, a professor at Atatürk University, recently emailed Kimsey that he and his colleagues are working to create "a Biodiversity Science Museum and Research Center belonging to Atatürk University. Our concept will be actually a natural history museum. This is rather a new topic here, and it will be the first museum in Eastern Turkey if we can succeed. As a first step, we are working on a permanent exhibition in four settings: Arthropoda (majority insect) diversity, Plant diversity, Vertebrate and Paleodiversity.”
“For insect (and other arthropods), we are planning to hang 100 exhibition boxes (30x40 cm in size) to show great diversity for this group,” Professor Gültekin related, adding that “Our insect collection almost 100 percent comes from Turkey; but we would like to allocate one fourth of boxes for other zoogeographical realms except for Palearctic.”
The Bohart Museum is glad to oblige, Kimsey said.
Atatürk University is a land-grant university established in 1957 in Erzurum, located in the Eastern Anatolia Region. The university consists of 23 faculties, 18 colleges, 8 institutes and 30 research centers.W ikipedia says Atatürk "serves as "a hub of educational and cultural excellence for the Eastern Region." Some 6 million people populate the region.
The Bohart Museum, now celebrating the 75th anniversary of its founding (by UC Davis entomology professor Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007), is home to nearly 8 million insect specimens, collected from around the world. It also houses an insect-themed gift shop, now online; and a live “petting zoo,” comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas.
Located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, the Bohart Museum is currently closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yes? No? Maybe?
The items include…drum roll…chocolate-covered cicadas.
Chocolate, did someone say chocolate? Ooh, chocolate! Let me at ‘em!
During a break, Bohart scientists recently sampled/snacked on the delicacy.
- Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and distinguished professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- Brennen Dyer, UC Davis graduate in entomology and Bohart Museum lab assistant
- Iris Bright, Bohart associate, future professor and a researcher in the nearby lab of Jason Bond, the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- Maxwell Arnold, 4th year UC Davis undergraduate in entomology and a member of the forensic lab of Robert Kimsey, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- Amberly Hackmann, 3rd year UC Davis undergraduate in entomology and a student lab assistant at the Bohart Museum
How did you like the chocolate-covered cicada treats?
Kimsey: "Not much."
Dyer: "They're an interesting snack, for sure. But I'm not a big fan of them, honestly."
Bright: "I like them, maybe not my go-to chocolate treat, but not bad!"
Arnold: "I've eaten worse things. "
Hackmann: "It was a fun and tasty chocolate!"
What did they taste like? Description?
Kimsey: "Tasted like chocolate-covered paper." (The jars had previously been opened)
Dyer: "I mostly tasted the chocolate and flavorings since cicadas have quite hollow bodies, but I would say they have a light nutty flavor. Much more pleasant than crickets, which have a strange aftertaste in my experience."
Bright: "The spices in the chocolate were really nice and then the cicada itself just added a fun crunch but not much flavor, similar to a malt ball!"
Arnold: "Tasted like stale chocolate, the cicada only contributed by getting stuck in my teeth."
Hackmann: (Tasted) "Like chocolate with crunchy, flavorless fibers."
Would you eat them again?
Dyer: "I wouldn't eat them again, to be honest. I believe the wings were still attached, which don't have a nice texture. I'd be happy to try cicadas again but in another form. Perhaps a savory meal instead, like stir fry or fried rice."
Bright: "Definitely! That was actually my third one!"
Arnold: "If they were fresher, why not?"
Hackmann: "Yes, it's a good snack for when I didn't bring enough food to work. "
Have you eaten (or enjoyed) other insects?
Kimsey: "Mealworms are good, crickets not so much."
Dyer: "I've tried a few different insect foods, including gummy worms (the real deal), various mealworm snacks, chapul bars (cricket flour-based energy bars), and flavored crickets. I haven't had the chance to try full-on prepared meals that incorporate insects, though."
Bright: "I've eaten crickets, mealworms, and termites that tasted like cilantro (in Belize)! I've also accidentally eaten a Hemiptera that was hiding on a blackberry, which was not so pleasant."
Arnold: "I enjoy mealworms with butter and salt (tastes just like popcorn)"
Hackmann: "Yes, I've eaten mealworms, ants, and crickets as well."
Opinions differed at the Bohart tasting, but patrons at a chocolate shop in Bethesda, Md., loved them during the Brood X Periodical Circada explosion.
A Reuters news story related that chocolate-covered cicadas were literally flying off the shelves last June at a chocolate shop in Bethesda, Md. Owner Sarah Dwyer of Chouquette Chocolates pointed out a 10-day backlog of orders.
She froze, boiled, cleaned, crisped (in air fryer) and then fried them. She sprinkled some with cinnamon and others with Old Bay Spice, and then dipped them in chocolate.
“I did go to pastry school in Paris to learn my dipping technique," Dwyer told Reuters. "I'm pretty sure no one thought I would be using it on cicadas."
Bohart Open House on Entomophagy in 2019
The Bohart Museum, currently closed to the public due to COVID-19 pandemic precautions, hosted an open house in September of 2019 to give the public a taste of entomophagy. The theme: "Gobble, Gobble, Munch, Munch, Crunch: Entomophagy." Visitors ate crickets, earthworms and mealworms and received a button proclaiming "I Ate a Bug at the Bohart."
A display, titled "Bug Buffet," drew widespread interest: "Have you ever eaten ant pancakes or scorpion scaloppini? Well, eating bugs (entomophagy) is a lot more common than you might think. All round the world, people eat delicious and nutritious insect delicacies."
The dishes mentioned on the display:
- Locust Biscuits, featuring the brown locust, Locustana pardalina
- Mexican Caviar, starring the giant water bug, Abedus herberti
- Termite a la Carte, featuring termites, order Isoptera
- Maguey Worm Tacos, with Maguey worms, family Megathymidae
- Raw Cossid Moths, starring the larvae of the cossid moth, Xyleutes leucomochia
- Fried Pupae, presenting the pupae of the silkworm moth, Bombix mori
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 home to the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. It also maintains a live "petting zoo," comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas; a year-around gift shop (now online), stocked with T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
More information on the Bohart Museum is available on the website at http://bohart.ucdavis.edu./span>
Step right up, folks!
I'm a lady beetle, aka ladybug, and it's lunch time.
Or maybe it's snack time, I don't know. I don't talk when my mouth is full.
What I do know is this: aphids are tasty and they line up to be eaten. Or sometimes it appears that way!
Lady beetles, the good guys and gals in the garden, are natural enemies of aphids and other soft-bodied insects. Scientists say a lady beetle may eat as many as 5000 aphids in its lifetime.
The red coloration serves as a warning that “I don't taste good.” When attacked, they ooze a substance that further emphasizes that.
Even the larvae of these beetles eat aphids. Unfortunately, the alligator-like larvae are mistaken for pests and many an novice gardener has killed them.
"They are ferocious predators of small insects," says Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology. In her information sheet on lady beetles, she mentions that "adults will also feed on pollen and nectar when their prey is scarce."
Factoid: "Lady beetles will occasionally bite humans. However, they apparently bite to collect salt rather than to defend themselves or to behave aggressively."
Kimsey includes five species of lady beetles, with photos, on her information sheet:
- Spotless lady beetle, Cycloneda sanguinea
- Asian lady beetle, Harmonia axyridis
- Seven-spot lady beetle, Coccinella septempunctata
- Two-spot lady beetle, Adalia bipunctata
- Convergent lady beetle, Hippodamia convergens
The five are "mostly distinguished by the extent of white markings on the prothorax and the number of black
spots on the wing covers (elytra)," Kimsey says.
All hail the lady beetles!/span>/span>
Frankly, the garden's not big enough for both of you, and one of you has to go. It's not you. It's the hornworm.
"This one is nobody's friend if you're a gardener and like to grow tomatoes," says entomologist Jeff Smith, curator of the Bohart Museum of Entomology's Lepidoptera collection, in his recently posted video showcasing the hornworm and its adult form, the sphinx moth (Sphingidae family).
Smith is presenting a series of short videos on the "different aspects of the collection of moths and butterflies."
In this video, Smith relates how the hornworm got its name: There's a "horn" at the end of its abdomen that looks like "a little spike." The tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta) and tomato hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata) are quite similar, he points out. Both are pests on tomatoes and are often labeled as "tomato hornworms."
The origin of the name, the sphinx moth? "When the larva or caterpillar is disturbed, it rears up into an Egyptian sphinx-like pose," Smith says.
However, good luck finding hornworms. "They are so well camouflaged, that it takes forever to find them," Smith says. One way to know they're there is "because they make a piece of poop (frass) about as big as a pea," Smith says.
When the caterpillars are attacked, "they spit tomato juice on you, which doesn't taste good."
The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) says this about hornworms: "Hornworms feed on blossoms, leaves, and fruit. At high populations they can extensively defoliate plants and scar the fruit. They are rarely a problem in the warmer interior valleys unless natural enemies are disrupted, in which case, they can do serious damage. They are mostly problems in garden situations."
The Bohart Museum of Entomology also offers online information sheets, the work of Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart and a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology. (The directory of subjects is here.)
"The larval stage (caterpillar) feeds primarily on tomatoes, but it also is known to attack other crop plants in the Solanaceae, including egg plants, peppers, and potatoes," Kimsey noted. "When the caterpillars are numerous, they can do extensive damage in a short time. The caterpillars feed on the upper portions of leaves and new stems, and occasionally, when the caterpillars are numerous, it will feed on the tomato fruit as well. They tend to remain out of direct sunlight, and so are found near the main stem of the plant during the day. They are more easily spotted when they move to the outer portions of the plant at dusk and dawn. Their presence is often first recognized by an excessive amount of frass (droppings) around the base of the plant. The hornworm caterpillar is 3½-4 inches (9-10 cm) long and pale green, with white and black markings." (Read more about the Bohart Museum's information on hornworms here.)
Meanwhile, have you ever been up close and personal to a hornworm?
We don't have any in our garden, so we borrowed a hornworm from a neighbor whose garden thrives with tomatoes and peppers. She plucked it off a pepper plant. "It seems to like the pepper plant better than the tomato," she said.
Perhaps this one will grow to adulthood? Apparently it's a tobacco hornworm as it has a red-tipped horn. "Tomato hornworms have eight V-shaped white markings with no borders; tobacco hornworms have seven white diagonal lines with a black border. Additionally, tobacco hornworms have red horns, while tomato hornworms have dark blue or black horns," according to Wikipedia. The tobacco hornworm turns into a Carolina sphinx moth or, generally, a hawk moth. The tomato hornworm turns into a sphinx moth commonly known as a sphinx, hawk, or “hummingbird” moth.
(Editor's Note: The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis, is the home of nearly eight million insect specimens; a live "petting zoo," comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas; and a gift shop. The Bohart is temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic precautions but the gift shop is online.)