When the 105th annual UC Davis Picnic Day takes place Saturday, April 13, thousands of visitors will explore the campus. It promises to be informative, educational and entertaining.
But over at Briggs Hall, home of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nermatology, “special guests” will include bugs.
There will not only be cockroach races, maggot art, and displays of bees, ants, aquatic insects—and more!—but huge images of vectors, the incredible macro photography of medical entomologist/geneticist Geoffrey Attardo, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Virtual Reality Bugs
Attardo will be demonstrating “Virtual Reality Bugs” where youths and adults can watch 40-foot tall, three-dimensional insects and spiders. And in his medical entomology display, he will be exhibiting metal prints of vectors, including a tsetse fly, kissing bug, deer tick, mosquito, stable fly, cat flea and bed bug.
You wouldn't want to encounter a bed bug in your bed, or a flea or tick on your dog, or a mosquito on your arm. You may not even know what they look like up close. But with these images, you can see what's bugging you or your pets.
And with the Virtual Reality Bugs, participants can select what they want to see--or what's towering over them. The list includes a black widow spider, ant, beetle, grasshopper, damsel fly, cicada, cockroach, and a tsetse fly. Each person will be limited to about 30 seconds to accommodate the crowd.
The Briggs Hall activities run from 9 a.m. to about 4:30, while activities at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, will be offered from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
TheBohart Museum will focus on the theme, "Will Travel for Bugs: TheBohart Museum of Entomology's Collections from Around the World." It's nominated for a people's choice award, as is the honey tasting exhibit at Briggs Hall. Participants will sample meadowfoam, sage, cotton and buckwheat. QR codes will be at each site. (See news story about the activities at both sites.)
But back to the vectors. Did you know that the Bohart Museum provides information or fact sheets on its website at http://bohart.ucdavis.edu/insect-info-sheets.html?
You can learn about some of the vectors that will dwarf you when you visit Briggs Hall.
For example, ticks!
"Ticks are blood-feeding external parasites of mammals, birds, and reptiles throughout the world," writes Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and UC Davis professor of entomology. "They are not insects rather they are arachnids, the same group that includes spiders and scorpions. There are two different groups of ticks, the hard ticks (Ixodidae) and soft ticks (Argasidae). Both are important vectors of pathogens to humans and animals throughout the world. Some diseases of current interest in the United States caused by tick-borne pathogens include Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and tick-borne Relapsing Fever (soft ticks)
"Many ticks seek hosts by 'questing.' Questing ticks crawl up the stems of grass or perch on the edges of leaves in a typical posture with the front legs extended. Certain chemicals, such as CO2, as well as heat and movement cause questing behavior. Ticks climb onto a potential host that brushes against their extended front legs. Once on a host hard ticks may feed for several days to several weeks.
"Fleas are bloodsucking parasites of humans, livestock and pets," Kimsey writes. "Only adult fleas feed on blood, which they obtain with their piercing/sucking mouthparts. Adult fleas blood feed on birds and mammals.Adult fleas are laterally flattened, wingless insects. They have a small eye spot on the side of the head, and a row of stout spines along the side of the head and the back of the thorax. Adult fleas travel rapidly by jumping, using their legs and a spring-like mechanism in the body. They are capable of spectacular leaps, covering distances up to one hundred times their body length
"The most common flea found on household pets, such as cats and dogs, is the cat flea, Xenopsylla cheopis."
Read the Bohart fact sheets and then check out Attardo's images.
If you'd rather wear your bug on your shirt, the Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA) can oblige. They have scores of insect-themed t-shirts, ranging from beetles and honey bees to wanna bees. The newest t-shirts in the line-up include two designed by talented doctoral student/ant specialist Jill Oberski of the Phil Ward lab. One is a take-off of American Gothic, the 1930 painting by Grant Wood, except with entomologists holding a net in front of Briggs Hall, UC Davis campus, instead of the farmers holding a pitchfork in front of their farmhouse. The other Oberski t-shirt celebrates the 45th anniversary of UC Davis Picnic Day cockroach races. Roaches rock! Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, co-chair of the department's displays at Picnic Day, rears cockroaches in his lab, but on Picnic Day, they're ready to race! Doctoral candidate Brendon Boudinot, EGSA president and co-chair of the department's displays, says the roaches will race on a new racetrack.
Doctoral student/nematologist Corwin Parker of the lab of Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, also came up with a clever idea for a t-shirt. You know how cicadas can be REALLY loud? He drew one plugged into an amp. Now, that's REALLY loud! You can buy EGSA t-shirts at Briggs Hall on Picnic Day or order them online at https://mkt.com/UCDavisEntGrad/ after Picnic Day.
When you attend the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house on Sunday, Jan. 21, featuring insect art, you will find art so intricate and so breathtaking that you may change your career path!
The family friendly event, free and open to the public, takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building.
Two of the talented artists showing their work will be Charlotte Herbert, who is seeking her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, and Ivana Li, a UC Davis biology lab manager who received her bachelor's degree in entomology from UC Davis in 2013.
Herbert studies Asilidae (assassin fly) evolution with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology. "I hope to someday make my own scientific illustrations for taxonomic revisions," Herbert says. "My dream is to be a curator of an entomology museum." Herbert started drawing and painting in 2015 and "have loved it ever since." She now helps teach Entomology 001, and entomology and art fusion class.
Li, a past president of the UC Davis Entomology Club and a recipient of the UC Davis Department of Entomology's 2012 Outstanding Undergraduate Award, recalls that her fascination with insects began in early childhood but she didn't know the meaning of “entomologist” until her second-grade encounter with Chester. Chester is the main character of George Selden's Newbery-award winning book, A Cricket in Times Square.
"I was pretty thrilled that to find out that there was actually a job in which you get to study insects," Li recalled. "That was the best. It still is.”
The open house, "Bug-Art@The Bohart," will feature a number of artists. UC Davis undergraduate student and artist Karissa Merritt will be on-hand sketching insects for all to see, said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. You'll see:
- Art 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 from Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology, who illustrated under her maiden name Lynn Siri
- Art by Charlotte Herbert, Ph.D. student; and UC Davis alumni 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.
In connection with Bohart open house, campus visitors can tour the Design Museum exhibit, It's Bugged: Insects' Role in Design, in 124 Cruess Hall from 2 to 4 p.m. The exhibit, which runs through April 22, includes art from faculty and students affiliated with the UC Davis Department of Design, and specimens from the Bohart Museum, as well as 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.
If you or someone in a household near you can draw a bug, then you need to head over to the Bohart Museum of Entomology on the UC Davis campus on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 15.
The Bohart Museum is hosting an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 1124 Academic Surge on Crocker Lane. It's free and open to the public.
The theme: "Insects in Art."
The person (all ages invited) who submits the most creative bug drawing between 1 and 3:30 p.m. will win a t-shirt at around 4 p.m.
Here's what you do: draw a bug that will fit into a button about 2-1/4 wide. The Bohart Museum folks will insert it into their button-maker machine. If your bug art is selected as the most creative, you take the button home--and your prize, an insect-related t-shirt.
The open house will feature the illustrations of Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart and professor of entomology at UC Davis; the late Mary Foley Benson of Davis; and Ivana Li, an undergraduate entomology student and president of the UC Davis Entomology Club.
Visitors also will be able to see the original plates for the children’s book, “The Story of the Dogface Butterfly,” written by Fran Keller, doctoral candidate in entomology, and Laine Bauer, who received her degree in art in June from UC Davis. Greg Kareofelas of Davis, a Bohart volunteer, contributed photos.
Expanding on the open house theme, Heydon said that “Insects and Art” began as early as the caveman days. Cave drawings found in Spain depict honey gatherers from more than 10,000 years ago.
“Insects in art are found in scientific illustrations and are represented on fabric, paintings, toys, jewelry and other media,” Heydon said.
The Bohart Museum houses a global collection of nearly eight million insect specimens and is the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum in 1946.
In addition to the insect specimens, the Bohart houses a “live petting zoo” of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas; and a gift shop filled with t-shirts, sweatshirts, jewelry, posters, insect nets, and insect-themed candy.
Bohart officials schedule weekend open houses throughout the academic year so that families and others who cannot attend on the weekdays can do so on the weekends. The Bohart’s regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The insect museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
The remaining weekend open houses:
Sunday, Jan. 13, 1 to 4 p.m.
Theme: "Extreme Insects"
Saturday, Feb. 2, 1 to 4 p.m.
Theme: "Biodiversity Museum Day"
Sunday, March 24, 1 to 4 p.m.
Theme: "Aquatic Insects"
Saturday, April 20: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Theme: UC Davis Picnic Day
Saturday, May 11, 1 to 4 p.m.
Theme: "Moth-er's Day"
Sunday, June 9, 1 to 4 p.m.
Theme: "How to Find Insects"
If you like Pokémon, you know the insect connection.
Satoshi Tajiri of Japan, who developed Pokémon, collected insects in his childhood and initially toyed with the idea of becoming an entomologist.
He never forgot his love of insects and showcased them in Nintendo's Pokémon, now the world's second most successful video game-based media franchise, eclipsed only by Nintendo's Mario.
Enter three young entomologists at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis. What they did is amazing.
They published a humorous take on the evolutionary development and history of the 646 fictional species depicted in the Pokémon media over the last 16 years.
“We made a very real phylogeny of the very fake Pokémon creatures,” commented lead author Matan Shelomi, the UC Davis entomology graduate student who conceived the idea.
The article, “A Phylogeny and Evolutionary History of the Pokémon,” appeared in the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), a tongue-in-cheek journal meant “to make people laugh and then think,” according to the editors. In keeping with the “laugh-and-then-think” concept, the journal also awards the infamous IG Nobel Prizes.
Shelomi, a graduate of Harvard where the IG Nobel Prizes are awarded, said he based his idea “in part on other AIR papers like the phylogeny of Chia Pets and the taxonomic description of Barney the Dinosaur.”
Until now, however, no one has traced the evolutionary history of the 646 fictional species, let alone develop a 16-generation phylogenetic or evolutionary tree.
The Pokémon project is the work of Shelomi; Andrew Richards, a junior specialist at the Bohart Museum; and Ivana Li, an entomology student/artist who works part-time at the Bohart.
Oh, wait! There's a fourth author, too--Yukinari Okido, whom Pokémon fans may recognize as the Japanese name of one of the fictional Pokémon professors from the game/TV show, Professor Oak.
How did it all come about? “I had a lull in my dissertation research and decided to spend the weekends and downtime making this phylogeny,” said Shelomi, who is studying for his doctorate in entomology with Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis. “It took at least a month to actually collect all the data, which I did manually by scrolling through Pokémon websites.”
What about reader reaction? “The paper is slowly making the rounds,” Shelomi said. “We've had quite a few people disagree with the tree, as some of the conclusions violate Pokémon canon, and we do have the usual phylogenetic problems of long-branch attraction, etc. The disconnect between the tree and Pokémon mating groups is a problem, but I argue that the Biological Species Concept should not be assumed for Pokémon and I stand by my tree.”
“So far, one scientist--a linguist in Japan--has asked for a copy of the dataset to use in a class on phylogram building," Shelomi said, "and he apparently came up with a different tree.”
“It would be nice to see a wide set of articles responding to this one,” Shelomi said. “I think it would be quite easy to fill a journal of Pokémon science, although much harder to justify creating one.”
Want to see the phylogeny? Click on the link or see it at the Bohart Museum, 1124 Academic Surge, Crocker Lane, UC Davis.
So, they’ve designed a humorous t-shirt inscribed with “Know Your Sticks,” featuring drawings of four sticks: a stick person, a real stick or twig, a Vietnamese walking stick and an Australian spiny stick (family Phasmatidae).
“One of the most popular insects in the Bohart Museum’s live ‘petting zoo’ is the walking stick,” said Fran Keller, who originated the idea of a stick t-shirt, in between studying for her doctoral degree in entomology. “So we thought we’d clarify the sticks.”
Keller designed the shirt, and undergraduate student Ivana Li, president of the UC Davis Entomology Club, drew the illustrations.
The stick person, named Talea persona (Latin for "stick person"), is the kind you might see on a rear windshield, Keller said. The real stick (Twigus stickus) is one you might see in the woods. And the Vietnamese (Medauroidea extradentata) and Australian sticks (Extatosoma tiaratum)? You can see them—and hold them--in the Bohart Museum.
The t-shirts, available in all sizes and many colors, range from $15 (for kids) to $18 (adults) to $20 (adults’ v-neck). They are available online or in the gift shop at the museum, Room 1124 of Academic Surge, located near the corner of La Rue Road and Crocker Lane (formerly California Avenue). Proceeds benefit the museum's educational programs.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses a global collection of more than seven million insect specimens and is the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum in 1946.
The Bohart’s regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. It is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
The Bohart Museum's “petting zoo” includes such permanent residents as Madagascar hissing cockroaches and a rose-haired tarantula, in addition to the walking sticks.
Keller suggests that for a novelty photo, stick a walking stick on your "Know Your Sticks" t-shirt, and have a friend photograph the “sticktoitiveness.”
And that’s not something to shake a stick at.