- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
And that's what's planned as the family craft activity when the Bohart Museum of Entomology hosts an open house on fly research from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 12 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, located on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. It's free and family friendly.
Bohart associate and entomology undergraduate student Wade Spencer has ordered the maggots. The tables are set up and ready.
All you do is pick up a maggot, dip it into a non-toxic, water-based paint, and let it crawl--or guide it--on a piece of paper. Voila! Art. Maggot art. And perfect for framing or posting on your refrigerator or bulletin board.
It's a conservation piece.
"Umm, what's that on your refrigerator?"
And so the story begins.
If you've ever been to the annual UC Davis Picnic Day (this year's it's April 13) and wandered over to Briggs Hall, home of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, you'll see Maggot Art in action. t's known as one of the most popular Picnic Day activities.
Several years ago we asked forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty (and a past president of the North American Forensic Entomology Association) for his take on Maggot Art.
One of his former graduate students, Rebecca O'Flaherty, coined the term and the activity back in 2001 when she was studying 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 drew national interest. "The beauty of the Maggot Art program," she told me, "is its ability to give hands-on, non- experiences with an insect that most people fear or loathe."
So what was Professor Kimsey's take on it ?
"This is an extremely interesting and innovative idea that combines vry basic biology with art in a form that people can readily access and understand," he said. "It provides an entrée into the biology and development of insects that people can really appreciate and understand. It was a stroke of genius."
What the Bohart folks do is also a stroke of genius.
- Forensic entomologists Danielle Wishon, graduate of UC Davis, and doctoral student Alex Dedmon of the Robert Kimsey lab
- Fourth-year doctoral student Charlotte Herbert Alberts of the Lynn Kimsey lab, Bohart Museum, who studies assassin flies
- Graduate student Socrates Letana of the Lynn Kimsey lab, Bohart Museum, who studies botflies
- Doctoral student Caroline Wright Larsen of the James R. Carey lab, who studies non-native non-native tephritid flies, including Mediterranean fruit flies
- Graduate students Christine Tabuloc and Yao Cai and undergraduate students Cindy Truong and Christopher Ochoa, all of the Joanna Chiu lab, who research fruit flies
- Nermeen Raffat, a visiting scholar in the Sharon Lawler lab, who studies "the effect of copper sulphate and other toxicants on the development and anti-predatory behavior of the mosquitoes larvae."
Undergraduate student Kathlyne-Inez Soukhaseum of the Frank Zalom lab, who researches the fruit fly, the spotted-wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, was initially scheduled to participate.
Dedmon is the newest addition to the list of those who will be participating at the Bohart open house. Working with major professor Robert Kimsey, he studies forensic entomology--the use of insects as evidence in the court of law. "My work is in insect succession, or the composition and patterns of insects that come to and from a decedent," he related. "I am interested in defining these patterns, as well as the various factors that influence them. Specifically, I seek to make insect succession a more reliable tool in evaluating the postmortem interval of a decedent, that is, the time elapsed since death. Ultimately, the goal of my research is to provide a stronger foundation of evidence for forensic entomologists testifying in court."
Besides checking out the flies--and creating maggot art--this is also a good time for visitors to inquire about graduate school, ask about starting research projects, and to meet people working in forensics, evolution, agriculture, animal behavior, genetics, geography, and home pests, among other topics," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.
Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the Bohart's butterfly and moth section, will be on hand to open the Diptera section and answer questions.
"We've never had a fly specialist here at UC Davis except for mosquitoes," said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology. "We have one of the world's largest mosquito collections. Overall, I'd guess we have 300,000 fly specimens."
The Bohart Museum houses nearly eight million insect specimens, a live "petting zoo" (think Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects, tarantulas and praying mantids) and a year-around gift shop. The 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 at http://bohart.ucdavis.edu/ or contact (530) 753-0493 or email@example.com.
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Sunday afternoon, Jan. 21 promises to be a day of inspiration, creativity and delight when the Bohart Museum of Entomology hosts an open house, "Bug-Art@The Bohart" from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane.
On the other side of campus, the Design Museum exhibition, It's Bugged: Insects' Role in Design will be open from 2 to 4 p.m. in Room 124 of Cruess Hall, off California Avenue.
At the Bohart, UC Davis undergradauate student and artist Karissa Merritt will be on-hand sketching insects for all to see, said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. Other activities/focal points at the open house:
- Art display from the collection of the late Mary Foley Bensen, a former Smithsonian Institution scientific illustrator who lived the last years of her life in Davis, and who worked for entomology faculty
- Art display from Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology, who illustrated under her maiden name Lynn Siri
- Art display by Charlotte Herbert, Ph.D. student; and UC Davis alumnus Ivana Li and Nicole Tam, who hold degrees in entomology from UC Davis
- Exhibit of "insect wedding photography" by Bohart associates Greg Kareofelas and Kathy Keatley Garvey
Open house attendees are invited to wear insect-themed attire, including dresses, ties, and jewelry. A contest will take place at 3 p.m. for the best insect-themed outfit, and for the best insect-themed tattoo (tattoo must be in a family friendly location).
Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the butterfly and moth collection at the Bohart and is newly returned from a collecting trip to Belize, will be on hand to show the Bohart collection.
At the Design Museum, among the work that visitors can view are the beetle gallery sculptures and hornet nest paper art of Ann Savageau, professor emeritus of the Department of Design; bee, butterfly and beetle specimens from the Bohart Museum; and images by UC Davis alumnus and noted insect photographer Alex Wild, curator of entomology at the University of Texas, Austin. Wild received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 2005, studying with major professor Phil Ward.
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. Special attractions include a “live” petting zoo, featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, praying mantids and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold some of the arthropods 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 holds special open houses throughout the academic year. Its 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 emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or Tabatha Yang at email@example.com.