The open house showcased moths, in celebration of National Moth Week, and spotlighted flies, in keeping with the 10th International Dipterology Congress, held July 16-21 in Reno. Bohart officials dedicated the open house to the late Jerry Powell, international moth authority and a former director of the Essig Museum of Entomology, UC Berkeley, who died July 8 at age 90.
A blacklighting display, near the entrance to the Bohart Museum, drew night-flying insects to a white sheet, illuminated by an ultraviolet light.
"There were not many moths," said "Moth Man" John de Benedictus, a research entomologist associate with the Bohart Museum and a former graduate student of Powell's. "Only about 5 or six in all. All but two were the so-called Dusky Raisin Moth, Ephestiodes gilvescentella,which comes as no surprise as it is the most common moth in my yard and probably throughout Davis. Its caterpillar feeds on a wide variety of plants, including dried fruit and nuts, but it is not a major pest. There were two granite moths, probably Digrammia californiaria, and/or Digrammia muscariata. The younger kids entertained themselves by pointing out or trying to catch the other insects that flew in, mainly gnats and other small flies; a few beetles, including lady bugs; some aquatic bugs; and a couple of lacewings and earwigs. An older boy collected some ants that marched to the sheet."
Entomologist Jeff Smith, curator of the Bohart Museum's Lepidoptera collection, and Bohart associate and naturalist Greg Kareoelas, showed visitors many of the moth specimens, including death's-head hawkmoths, featured in the 1991 movie, Silence of the Lambs. In the movie, serial killer, Buffalo Bill (played by Ted Levine), stuffs death's-head hawkmoths inside his victims' throats. FBI trainee Clarice Starling (played by Jodie Foster) seeks the advice of the cannibalistic psychiatrist, Hannibal Lecter (played by Anthony Hopkins), to solve the mystery. The moths appearing in the movie are Acherontia stropos. The moth markings resemble a human skull.
The Bohart Museum, directed by UC Davis distinguished professor Lynn Kimsey, houses a global collection of eight million insect specimens, including some 500,000 moths or butterflies (60 percent moths and 40 percent butterflies). The museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. During the summer, the Bohart Museum is open to the public on Tuesdays from 2 to 5 p.m. For more information, contact the Bohart Museum at email@example.com or (530) 752-0493.
(More images from the Bohart Museum open house, "A Night at the Museum," will appear this week on Bug Squad)
The event, "A Night at the Museum," is free and family friendly. It takes place in several places: (1) inside the insect museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus; (2) in the hallway of the Academic Surge Building; (3) directly outside the building for the blacklighting display; and (4) in the nearby Wildlife Classroom (Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology) for a insect drawing demonstration.
The focus is on moths as this is National Moth Week. Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the Lepidopterist collection, will be in "the moth aisle" with Bohart associate and naturalist Greg Kareofelas to show specimens and answer questions.
At the Bohart table, inside the museum, fly experts from around the world--including dipterists at the California Department of Food and Agriculture--will answer your questions and show specimens. They were in Reno to participate in the 10th International Dipterology Congress, held July 16-21.
The hallway will be a plethora of exhibits and activities.
- There will be a memorial to the late international moth authority, Jerry Powell, former director of the Essig Museum of Entomology, UC Berkeley, who died July 8 at age 90. "Jerry's rearing program was the most extensive in the history of the study of New World Microlepidoptera," according to an Essig post. "For over 50 years he and his students processed more than 15,000 collections of larval or live adult Lepidoptera. Resulting data encompass more than 1,000 species of moths, through rearing either field-collected larvae or those emerging from eggs deposited by females in confinement. This total includes more than 60% of an estimated 1,500 species of Microlepidoptera occurring in California."
- Visitors can hold the tenants of the live insect petting zoo, including Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks and take selfies.
- Science educator and entomologist Nazzy Pakpour, who holds a bachelor's degree in entomology from UC Davis, and a doctorate in microbiology, virology, and parasitology from the University of Pennsylvania and did postdoctoral research at UC Davis, will be showcasing her new children's book, "Please Don't Bite Me! Insects That Buzz, Bite and Sting. The book is illustrated by Owen Davy. "All proceeds of book sales will go to the Bohart Museum, thanks to Nazzy's generosity," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. (See Pakpour's biography on One Aggie Network). Pakpour was a member of a collaborative team who worked on a malaria-proof mosquito that made Time Magazine's "50 Best Inventions of 2010." See Bug Squad post: "Malaria-Proof Mosquito Takes the Spotlight."
- Microscopes also will be set up in the hallway for visitors to view insect specimens.
Wildlife Classroom: Multiple insect drawing demonstrations, "How to Draw Bugs," will be given Professor Miguel Angel Miranda of the University of the Balearic Islands (UBI), Spain, who just returned from the International Dipterology Congress. He is a zoologist, entomologist and noted insect illustrator.
Opogona omoscopa (Opogona crown borer)
Achyra rantalis (garden webworm)
Ephestiodes gilvescentella (dusky raisin moth)
Spodoptera exigua (beet armyworm)
Spodoptera praefica (western yellow-striped armyworm)
Also outdoors, sidewalk chalking will take place. Free hot chocolate and cookies will be served.
The museum, directed by UC Davis distinguished professor Lynn Kimsey, houses a global collection of eight million insects; an insect petting zoo; and a year-around insect-themed gift shop.
Curious visitors crowded around the flightless beetle, taking multiple cell phone images as Kohler fielded multiple questions.
"I found it in the Sierra Foothills, by Murphys," said Kohler, a UC Davis alumna and prospective graduate student. Murphys, located in Calaveras County, sits in the central Sierra Nevada foothills between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park.
It lies flat and low to the ground and is built like a little armored tank. It can withstand crushing forces--not just your foot, a pinch, or a battering ram, but a 3400-pound car. UC Riverside researcher Jesus Rivera, now of UC Irvine, performed compression tests in 2015: a Toyota Camry drove over the beetle twice and it survived.
"A 200-pound man would have to endure the crushing weight of 7.8 million pounds to equal this feat," according to a UCI news release, published Oct. 21, 2020.
Rivera's research, "Toughening Mechanisms of the Elytra of the Diabolical Ironclad Beetle," published in the Oct. 21 edition of Nature, drew widespread coverage, ranging from the New York Times and Science to the Smithsonian magazine.
The beetle's tough structure, notably the densely layered and interlocking wing covers, or elytra, seem out of this world.
"...The beetle's exoskeleton uses internal layers, tight joints and overall near-indestructible shape to give it both toughness and flexibility under pressure," wrote correspondent Theresa Machemer in the Oct. 22 edition of the Smithsonian magazine.
Katherine Wu of the New York Times related that the researchers "assessed the tensile strength and composition of the beetle's exterior with a suite of ultrasensitive instruments. The ironclad's exoskeleton, they found, was packed with proteins that seemed to enhance its durability. It was also cleverly structured: Evolved from a pair of now-defunct forewings, the exoskeleton stretched across the insect's back and hooked into a separate structure sheathing the insect's belly, encasing the beetle in a shell with an airy buffer underneath."
Wu compared the arrangement "to an industrial-strength egg, with the yolk sloshing gently against a cushion of whites."
Said Kohler of the Bohart Museum display: "Surprisingly, none of the visitors really knew about them; they were interested to learn that they were so tough externally and that they ate mushrooms--they are fungiphores. The children had the best time using the magnifying glasses to look at them along with being able to touch, and hold them!"
The amazing world of insects...
The Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, houses a global collection of eight million insect specimens, including a million beetles. Directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, the museum also houses a live "petting zoo" (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects, tarantulas and more) and a year-around gift shop. The Bohart is open to the public from 8 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 5 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays.
That was the theme of the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 6, and dragonflies do just that--they rule.
They don't just rule in the water as larvae and in the air as adults.
They ruled at the Bohart Museum open house as visitors examined the displayed specimens; admired the images in the displayed books and the slide presentations; and chatted with the dragonfly experts.
A sign, "Meet the Dragonfly Experts," greeted the more than 220 guests:
- Rosser Garrison, retired from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (Pest Diagnostics Branch of Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services)
- Christopher Beatty, a visiting scholar in the Program for Conservation Genomics at Stanford University
- Bohart associate Greg Kareofelas
- UC Davis doctoral student Christofer Brothers of the laboratory of Professor and Chancellor's Fellow Stacey Combes, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, College of Biological Sciences.
- Andy Rehn, stream ecologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and a UC Davis doctoral alumnus
Garrison, widely recognized as one of the current leading experts of the taxonomy of New World Odonata, delivered an hour-long presentation and answered questions. He and his wife, Natalia von Ellenrieder, a senior insect biosystematist with CDFA, have worked intensively with the Odonata fauna of the Neotropical region. He has written more than 100 publications pertaining to Odonata, including three books: Dragonfly Genera of the New World: An Illustrated and Annotated Key to the Anisoptera (2006), Damselfly Genera of the New World: An Illustrated and Annotated Key to the Zygoptera (2010) and, as co-author, Dragonflies of the Yuangas: A Field Guide to the Species from Argentina (2007).
Garrison told the crowd that "There are over 6300 species of dragonflies throughout the world. They are excellent fliers; they hunt by sight and seize their prey (other insects) on the wing. Their size ranges between 2 and 15 centimeters."
Other facts discussed about dragonflies included:
- The larvae are aquatic and they can be carnivores.
- The fossil record is rich.
- Dragonfly relatives existed before the onset of the dinosaurs---Triassic Period, 250 to 200 million years ago
- They have a primitive flight mechanism compared to other insects, bees, butterflies, beetles and flies.
- Dragonflies mostly mate on the wing.
- They are not poisonous and they do not sew up people's ears (“devil's darning needles”). However, one group of large dragonflies are called—appropriately—"Darners."
- Larvae have a prehensile foldable lower lip unique in insects; it is used for capturing prey like mosquito larvae or even small fish.
Garrison's publications include descriptions of more than 75 new species and six new genera of Odonata. In the Americas, he has done entomological field work in the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Guyana, French Guiana, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Chile. He has also collected dragonflies in Australia, Papua New Guinea, China, Thailand, Namibia and Iran. One genus and 10 species of Odonates are named after him.
Christopher Beatty has been working "for a few years on petaltail dragonflies, with much of the work focused on the Black Petaltail (Tanypteryx hageni) in California and Oregon." Beatty was recently selected to present the prestigious Entomological Society of America's Founders' Memorial Lecture at the 2022 Joint Annual Meeting of the Entomological Societies of America, Canada, and British Columbia. He'll speak at the awards breakfast on Nov. 15 on "The Passionate Observer: The Life and Times of Jean-Henri Fabre." Fabre (1823-1915) was a French naturalist, entomologist, educator, and author.
Beatty said he has focused much of his entomological career studying the behavior and ecology of dragonflies and damselflies, having served in research and teaching positions at the University of Vigo (Spain), Santa Clara University, Cornell University, the University of Kiel (Germany), and Stanford University. He has authored or co-authored more than 25 peer-reviewed articles since 2003, and he is co-editor of the newly published Dragonflies & Damselflies: Model Organisms for Ecological and Evolutionary Research, 2nd Edition (Oxford University Press).
Andy Rehn is a stream ecologist studying benthic macroinvertebrates as part of bioassessments of bodies of water to ensure they are healthy and clean for drinking and recreation and can support diverse, native wildlife. He received his doctorate, studying dragonflies, at UC Davis in 2000.
Cristofer Brothers is a fourth-year animal behavior doctoral student. He is researching how dragonflies, in both their nymph and adult stages, use their legs to capture prey. In particular, he studies the behavior of the flameskimmer, Libellula saturata. Brothers delivered a guest presentation on dragonfly predation behavior at the 2022 UC Davis Bio Boot Camp.
Greg Kareofelas credits Andy Rehn with inspiring him to study dragonflies. "That was when Andy was a doctoral student at UC Davis." Kareofelas, a longtime Bohart associate, naturalist and insect photographer, assists at Bohart events and presents informational talks at the Bohart Museum lab meetings, among other venues. He most recently gave a presentation on dragonflies at the Nov. 4th lab meeting. His work includes providing images for the poster, "Dragonflies of California," available in the Bohart Museum gift shop. Entomologist Fran Keller, a professor at Folsom Lake College and a UC Davis doctoral alumnus, designed the poster.
The Bohart Museum, founded in 1946, is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. Directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, it is the global home of eight million insect specimens, as well as the live "petting zoo" and an insect-themed gift shop stocked with t-shirts, hoodies, books, posters, jewelry, collecting equipment and more. Named for UC Davis professor and noted entomologist Richard Bohart, it is open to the public from 8 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 5 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays.
Better yet, let's make Sunday, Nov. 6 "The DragonFLY Day."
That's when the Bohart Museum of Entomology is hosting an open house--themed "Dragonflies Rule!"--from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, UC Davis.
It's free and family friendly. Among the dragonfly experts lending their expertise will be Rosser Garrison, formerly of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; Christopher Beatty, a visiting scholar in the Program for Conservation Genomics at Stanford University; Bohart associate Greg Kareofelas; UC Davis doctoral student Christofer Brothers; and UC Davis alumnus Andy Rehn, ecologist at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, among others.
The males are a firecracker red and delightful to observe. Sometimes they "permit" you to approach so close that you can see what's on the menu: a honey bee, sweat bee, syrphid fly or other prey.
Cristofer Brothers, a fourth-year animal behavior doctoral student at UC Davis, took this image (above) of a stunningly beautiful flameskimmer. "I'm most interested in how dragonflies use their legs while they capture prey in both of their nymph and adult stages," he said. "My PhD is focusing on the behavior of Libellula saturata, the flame skimmer, and on various other species for phylogenetic comparisons of their behavior and morphology."
"I've been fascinated by dragonflies since I was a kid, and would always try to save adults that fell into the pool," he said. "As a teenager, I was a lifeguard and always loved it when dragonflies would perch on my rescue tube, and always wanted to learn more about them. Now, I have the privilege to spend all day reading about, thinking about, and looking at them, so I'm really living the dream!"
Brothers delivered a guest presentation on dragonfly predation behavior at the 2022 UC Davis Bio Boot Camp. His talk took place along the banks of Putah Creek where the group met to learn about and search for dragonflies.
Also during the Bohart Museum open house, a family arts-and-crafts activity is planned: visitors can color pages from Kathy Claypole Biggs' dragonfly coloring book. Guests can view the Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) collection, curated by entomologist Jeff Smith; and "pet" and take selfies of some of the live animals in the petting zoo, which includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas.
The Bohart Museum, founded in 1946, is directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology. It is the global home of eight million insect specimens, as well as the live "petting zoo" and an insect-themed gift shop stocked with t-shirts, hoodies, books, posters, jewelry, collecting equipment and more.
Named for UC Davis professor and noted entomologist Richard Bohart, the Bohart Museum is open to the public from 8 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 5 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays. More information is available on the website at https://bohart.ucdavis.edu or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.