You're in luck.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus, will host four public events from May 28 through July 16. All are free and open to the public. Parking is also free.
Saturday, May 28, 1 to 4 p,m.
Open house, "Bugs in Ag: What Is Eating Our Crops and What Is Eating Them?"
Cooperative Extension specialist and agricultural entomologist Ian Grettenberger of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty will explore the relationships between insects and agriculture. His areas of expertise include field crops; vegetable crops; insects, mites and other arthropods affecting plants; biological control of pests affecting plants; and beneficial insects. Grettenberger, who joined the UC Davis faculty in January 2019, targets a wide variety of pests, including western spotted and striped cucumber, beetles, armyworms, bagrada bugs, alfalfa weevils, aphids, and thrips.
Saturday June 25, 1 to 4 p.m.
Open house, "Eight-Legged Encounters"
This event is all about arachnids featuring scientists from across the country. It is in collaboration with the American Arachnological Society's 2022 meeting, scheduled June 26-30 on the UC Davis campus. The annual meeting will be hosted by two UC Davis arachnologists: Jason Bond, the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and associate dean, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and Joel Ledford, assistant professor of teaching, Department of Plant Biology, College of Biological Sciences.
Public event to be held in California Hall for arachnid novices and experts alike. This is in collaboration with the American Arachnological Society's meeting at UC Davis.
Saturday, July 16, 1 to 4 p.m.
"Celebrating 50 Years of the Dogface Butterfly:California's State Insect"
Scientists and the public will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the California State Legislature' designation of the dogface butterfly as the state insect.
Folsom Lake College professor and Bohart scientist Fran Keller, and Bohart associate Greg Karofelas, a volunteer docent for the Placer Land Trust's dogface butterfly tours, will on hand to discuss the butterfly. The California dogface butterfly, Zerene eurydice, is found only in California. It thrives in the 40-acre Shutamul Bear River Preserve near Auburn, Placer County. The preserve, part of the Placer Land Trust, is closed to the public except for specially arranged tours.
Keller is the author of 35-page children's book, The Story of the Dogface Butterfly, with photos by Keller and Kareofelas, and illustrations by former UC Davis student Laine Bauer. Kareofelas' images include the life cycle of the dogface butterfly that he reared. Keller holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, where she studied with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart and UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology.
Kareofelas and Keller also teamed to create a dogface butterfly poster of the male and female. Both the book and the poster are available online from the the Bohart Museum of Entomology gift shop.
California legislators adopted the dogface butterfly as the official state insect on July 28, 1972. But as early as 1929, entomologists had already singled it out as their choice for state insect. Their suggestion appears in the California Blue Book, published by the State Legislature in 1929. (Read more on how the butterfly became the state insect under the Ronald Reagan administration.)
The dogface butterfly is so named because the wings of the male appear to be a silhouette of a poodle. It is also known as "the flying pansy."
Bohart Museum. The Bohart Museum is the home of a worldwide collection of eight million insect specimens, plus a gift shop and a live "petting zoo," comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas.
Bohart Museum Contact information:
If you dislike spiders, you might want to check out the political scene (probably not!), the almond pollination season (yes, it's coming), or ask Siri "When does spring begin? (Answer: March 20)
Wait, are you still there? Whew! Then you'll want to know about the upcoming gathering of arachnologists--those who engage in the scientific study of arachnids, including spiders, scorpions and tarantulas.
News flash: The University of California, Davis, will be the site of the 2022 American Arachnological Society (AAS) convention. It's set from Sunday, June 26 through Thursday, June 30.
It will be hosted by two UC Davis arachnologists: Jason Bond, the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and associate dean, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; and Joel Ledford, assistant professor of teaching, Department of Plant Biology, College of Biological Sciences.
Formal meeting registration will begin Sunday afternoon, June 26, followed by an evening reception. A local daylong field trip is planned for Thursday, June 30. (Pre-register for the meeting at https://ces.ucdavis.edu/AASM)
"We typically expect somewhere around 125-150," Bond says.
The event is sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation. In collaboration with the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology and the University of Nebraska, “we will also host a pre-meeting, outreach event, ‘Eight-Legged Encounters' for the Davis community and campus,” Bond said. It's tentatively planned for Saturday, June 25. Those interested in attending should contact Bond at email@example.com.
The purpose of the American Arachnological Society, founded in 1972, is “to further the study of arachnids, foster closer cooperation and understanding between amateur and professional arachnologists, and to publish the Journal of Arachnology," according to its website.
Factoid from AAS: "Spiders (order Araneae) are air-breathing arthropods that have eight legs and chelicerae with fangs able to inject venom. They are the largest order of arachnids and rank seventh in total species diversity among all orders of organisms. Spiders are found worldwide on every continent except for Antarctica, and have become established in nearly every habitat with the exceptions of air and sea colonization. As of March 2021, at least 49,200 spider species, and 129 families have been recorded by taxonomists. However, there has been dissension within the scientific community as to how all these families should be classified, as evidenced by the over 20 different classifications that have been proposed since 1900."
Question: "Is it true that the black widow spider always eats her mate?"
Answer: "Nope. Black widow females are no more likely than any other female spider to eat their mates. If the female is ready to mate and if the male sings the right sweet silk song to her, then she will allow him to approach and to mate. If the female is not particularly hungry, she will likely allow the male to leave unscathed after copulation. However, the female black widow, as is common in spiders, is larger than the male. Thus, if she is hungry, she may feed on the male but this is true of many species of spiders."
Meanwhile, if you want to learn the basics about common spiders found in California, the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program website offers information on black widow spiders, jumping spiders, common house spiders, and tarantulas, among others (including the hobo spider, which is not found in California). A table, illustrated with photos, lists the common spider families in North America, including:
- Agelenidae, funnel weavers or grass spiders
- Araneidae, orb weavers or garden spiders
- Clubionidae (including Corinnidae), sac spiders or twoclawed hunting spiders
- Linyphiidae (=Microphantidae), dwarf spiders
- Lycosidae, wolf spiders
- Oxyopidae, lynx spiders
- Salticidae, jumping spiders
- Theridiidae, cobweb, cobweb weaver, or combfooted spiders
- Thomisidae, crab spiders or flower spiders
If you're like me, you've probably seen--and admired--scores of spiders in your garden. Want to know who's coming to dinner? Here are images of some of my favorites:
UC Davis professor Jason Bond is seeking a species name for a new genus of trapdoor spiders he discovered on a sandy beach at Moss Landing State Park, Monterey County.
Bond proposes to name the genus, Cryptocteniza, part of which means “hidden or secret.” And the species name?
That's where you come in.
If your suggestion wins the competition, you will hold the bragging rights and be acknowledged in his upcoming manuscript on the new genus.
Bond, a noted spider authority and the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is accepting suggestions until 5 p.m., June 1 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It will stay that name forever,” said Bond, who related that spiders are often named for their physical characteristics, location or behavior--or for celebrities. He has named many a spider, singling out characters from Star Wars, as well as Depression era photographer Dorothea Lange, talk-show host Stephen Colbert, singer-songwriter Neil Young, and actress Angelina Jolie.
Bond and manuscript co-author Joel Ledford, assistant professor of teaching, UC Davis Department of Plant Biology, will select the winner. Ledford, whose research interests include spider systematics and biology education, interviewed Bond May 18 for his Tree of Life-UC Davis YouTube channel. It is online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV_eTablJMk.
“We don't want a public vote on the spider name,” in deference to the British polar research vessel that garnered a top public vote of “Boaty McBoatface” a few years ago, quipped Bond.
Trapdoor spiders are so named because they construct their burrows with a corklike or wafer trap door made of soil, vegetation and silk.
Bond discovered the female spider in 1997 on the sandy beach, and figured at the time it might be a new genus. But despite repeated trips to the site, he could not find a male for 22 years. The male proved elusive until pitfall trap sampling in the fall of 2019.
“I have only one male specimen,” Bond told Ledford. He said he will be “relieved” when it is described and finds a home in the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis.
“This genus meets the criteria of an endangered living fossil,” Bond said, “and is consequently of grave conservation concern.”
Bond believes the genus is found only in that area, but thinks it may be closely related to a genus found in New Mexico and Arizona. “It is quite plausible that this genus was once likely far more widespread across California and the American Southwest, with potentially greater past species diversity throughout its larger hypothetical ancestral range,” he said.
Of the genus name, Cryptocteniza, Bond says that the adjective “hidden or secret” is prefixed to Cteniza, the Greek feminine noun “comb.” The latter refers to the comb-like rastellum (row of stiff spines on the chelicera) common in taxa and formerly assigned to the spider family Ctenizidae (e.g., Eucteniza). The prefix refers to both the diminutive form of the rastellum and the seemingly “hidden in plain sight” nature of the genus, he says.
Bond credited Vera Opatova, a postdoctoral fellow in his lab, with helping to formulate the genus name.
It is rare to find a genus in the field, the professor said. The usual place is in museum collections.
The trapdoor spider family Euctenizidae is comprised of some 76 described species in seven genera widely distributed throughout the United States, although a few species are known from Mexico.
(Please send name suggestions to email@example.com)