Just check out the Bohart Museum of Entomology's newly published calendar.
"Mr. January" is a locust sitting quite comfortably in a chair--a swivel chair at that--and eagerly accessing a dating site. "You've got a match!" the screen informs him.
Yippee! You can almost hear him yelling "Yippee."
The caption reads: "Normally, locusts are introverted creatures; they do not socialize unless it is for reproduction."
The rest of the story: Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and longtime professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, collects unusual answers on the student tests she administers. You can imagine how many sentences comprise her collection: she joined the faculty back in 1989!
The "dating locust" is one of 12 from the Lynn Kimsey Prized Collection that made it into the Bohart's first-ever calendar. UC Davis entomology major Karissa Merritt, a talented artist and scientist known for her creativity and sense of humor, interpreted and illustrated all the sentences.
The calendar, a project of the non-profit Bohart Museum Society, sells for $12, plus tax, at the Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane. (More information is available on the website or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 753-0493.) It's also available in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology administration office in 367 Briggs Hall.
Those who contribute $50 or more to the Bohart Museum Society will receive a calendar with their donation. All proceeds are earmarked for research, education and outreach projects.
Merritt says insects fascinate her. She's amazed at how "alien their biology and morphology are as compared to vertebrates." She's also drawn to their beauty and diversity.
Professor Kimsey, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, directs the world-renowned Bohart Museum, home of eight million specimens, a year-around gift shop and a live "petting zoo" which includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. She specializes in bees, wasps and insect diversity.
And collecting sentences--many apparently from sleep- or caffeine-deprived students.
"Normally, locusts are introverted creatures; they do not socialize unless it is for reproduction."
So wrote an undergraduate student in one of Lynn Kimsey's entomology classes at the University of California, Davis.
The student meant "sperm."
But it came out "perm."
Now some of the prized collection has found its way into an innovative and fun calendar published by the Bohart Museum of Entomology and illustrated by talented graphic artist Karissa Merritt, a fourth-year entomology student at UC Davis.
For the bee sentence, Merritt depicted a queen bee in a salon admiring herself after receiving a permanent, the royal treatment. The accommodating drone (note the wrap-around eyes!) approves.
Other prized sentences include:
- “The swarmers are attracted to lights and tend to expose themselves in the evenings.” (see art below)
- "The infected fleas can harbor rats, ground squirrels, rabbits, and occasionally, even house cats.” (see art below)
Merritt, a two-year Bohart associate, illustrated the entire calendar, drawing upon her creativity, humor and imagination. “Karissa is a gifted graphic artist,” Kimsey said.
That she is!
The calendar, published by Tara Baumann & Associates of Vacaville, is a project of the non-profit Bohart Museum Society. The calendar sells for $12 at the Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane. Those who contribute $50 or more to the Bohart Museum Society will receive a calendar with their donation. All proceeds are earmarked for research, education and outreach projects.
“One aspect of teaching this course is the writing requirement," she explained. "Students at UC Davis are required to take a number of units in general education, science and writing. My course fulfills two of those requirements, which means that I have to require—and grade—student term papers as part of their assignments. I can say definitely that student writing abilities have not improved over the years. So, to alleviate the pain of grading these works of art, I started collecting particularly silly or otherwise awesome sentences from their papers.”
Lynn Kimsey, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, joined the faculty in 1989. She specializes in bees, wasps and insect diversity.
Karissa Merritt not only enjoys drawing insects but teaching others how to do so. Last January, the Bohart Museum featured her as an “artist in residence” at its open house on insects and art. She offered tips on how to draw insects and took requests from youths. “It was touching to see how something like mundane doodling could bring smiles to kids' faces,” she said. “In fact, many ended up going home with original art work!"
Merritt says insects have always fascinated her. "I've always loved insects and the natural world but I didn't realize entomology was a viable career choice until one of my friends starting working in the Essig Museum of Entomology at UC Berkeley," she said. She credits her attendance at the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, with sparking “a strong interest in pollinators and a particular interest in bees and how I can contribute to their future."
What especially fascinates her the most about insects? “How alien their biology and morphology as compared to vertebrates,” Merritt said. “But working in the Bohart, I find many specimens that just amaze me with their beauty. Insects are just so diverse and it's amazing what nature produces!"
Merritt's favorite insect order is Hymenoptera, which includes bees, ants and wasps. “But I like all insects,” she acknowledged. She learned beekeeping when she volunteered in the lab of Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis.
Merritt is also an alumnus of “Bug Boot Camp,' a five-week insect taxonomy and field ecology course taught by Phil Ward, UC Davis professor of entomology and held at the Sagehen Creek Field Station, in California's northern Sierra Nevada. That course enabled her to sharpen her taxonomy skills.
The Bohart Museum houses a global collection of nearly eight million insect specimens, and is the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of insect biodiversity. The facility also includes a gift shop and a live "petting zoo" of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, and tarantulas.
The Bohart Museum is open to the public (free admission) from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. More information on the Bohart Museum is available on the website at http://bohart.ucdavis.edu or by contacting (530) 752-0493 or emailing email@example.com.
The Bohart Museum Society hosted the Bohart Museum of Entomology's 24th annual pre-Halloween party on Saturday, Oct. 27 at the University of California, Davis, billing it as “They Come From Within" and promising a “haunting night full of frights and delights."
You can thank the emerald cockroach wasp or jewel wasp (Ampulex compressa), an entomophagous parasite, for that! It is known for its unusual reproductive behavior, in which it stings a cockroach and then uses it as a host for its larvae, eating it alive.
That was the critter depicted on the invitation.
UC Davis entomology undergraduate student and talented artist Karissa Merritt created the much-applauded, wasp-inspired invitation. "For this year's Bohart Halloween party invite, I set out to create an original--fake--movie poster, inspired by old B-movies such as 'Them' and 'Invasion of the Saucer Men,'" she explained. "I really wanted the invitations to grab people's attention with the bright colors, and grotesque horror as a giant jewel wasp--based on Ampulex compressa--emerges from a living man's chest."
It did. It also grabbed the attention of UC Davis entomology doctoral candidate Charlotte Herbert Alberts, who studies Asilidae (Assassin flies) with her major professor, Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology. "I made my costume to honor Karissa's incredible drawing of the invitation," said Charlotte, who anticipates receiving her Ph.D in 2020. Her husband, George, dressed as Dracula. Their Brittany Spaniel, Westley, declined to wear a dinosaur costume and came as himself.
At the entrance, assorted mustaches and masks commanded a table. A sign urged people to "write a name tag, yet disguise yourself if you aren't in costume." (With the addition: "I know it doesn't make sense; just humor us.")
Among those coming as themselves were entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the butterfly and moth collection; his wife, Cathy; and Bohart associate and naturalist-photographer Greg Kareofelas.
Senior museum scientist Steve Heydon wore an orange jumpsuit lettered with "Department of Corrections" while his wife, Anita, came dressed as a police officer, complete with badge and handcuffs.
Forensic entomologist Robert "Bob" Kimsey, husband of Lynn Kimsey, donned his traditional ghillie suit.
Bohart Museum director Lynn Kimsey cut a 72nd anniversary cake, a red-velvet, chocolate-frosted cake decorated with--what else?--bugs! After all, the Bohart Museum houses some 8 million specimens, plus a live "petting zoo" of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, tarantulas and praying mantids, as well an insect-themed gift shop.
Meanwhile evolutionary ecologist Scott Carroll, at 6'11", towered over everyone. "I can pick him out in a crowd," quipped his wife, entomologist Jenella Loye.
(See tomorrow's Bug Squad blog for more Halloween images, including the pinata breaking game. The pinata? A replica of a monarch chrysalis.)
Entomologist-artist Karissa Merritt kept busy at the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house on “Insects and Art” last Sunday, Jan. 21 as she demonstrated how to draw insects.
“I took requests from kids that came by and asked what their favorite insect was," said Merritt, a third-year UC Davis entomology student and transfer from the College of the Canyons, Santa Clarita. “It was touching to see how something like mundane doodling could bring smiles to kids' faces. In fact, many ended up going home with original art work!”
Using green and black markers, James Harris, 13, of Winters colored Merritt's drawing of a praying mantis as his father, Rick Harris, watched. No stranger to the campus, Rick Harris received his master's degree in systematic entomology from UC Davis, studying with major professor Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology. One of Rick's classmates was Lynn Kimsey, now director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology.
Insect enthusiasts Addie Angle, 13, and her brother, Dalton, 6, who are enrolled in entomology projects in the Misty Mountain 4-H Club, Nevada City, admired the many art displays, which included arthropod illustrations by Lynn Siri Kimsey, Charlotte Herbert, Ivani Li and the late Mary Foley Benson. They also colored dragonflies from Dragonflies of North America: A Color and Learn Book with Activities, the work of dragonfly expert/author Kathy Claypole Biggs and illustrator Tim Manolis.
"What fascinates me the most about insects is how alien their biology and morphology as compared to vertebrates,” said Merritt, who works at the Bohart Museum and gained beekeeping experience while volunteering at the Elina Niño honey bee lab at the Harry H.Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
Another highlight of her insect experiences: last year she attended the ENTOMOLOGY 109: Insect Taxonomy and Field Ecology, aka "Bug Boot Camp," an intensive five-week field course based at the Sagehen Creek Field Station, in California's northern Sierra Nevada. It's taught by noted ant specialist Phil Ward, UC Davis professor of entomology. "I enjoyed collecting insects and identifying them," she said. "My favorite part of the course was being out in nature and exploring the Sierras while catching really cool insects! It was a bit challenging for me, because although I took ENT 100 with Lynn Kimsey the previous fall, my identification skills weren't that great. Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and I always recommend it to people who are interested in entomology!”
Career plans? “I'd like to work with farmers, altering agricultural landscapes for the benefit of pollinators, such as both, native and honey bees,” Merritt said. “I would also like to apply such methods in more urban landscapes, thereby restoring a bit of the ecology lost to urbanization and reuniting communities with nature.”
Yes, she has a favorite order of insects--Hymenoptera. "But working in the Bohart, I find many specimens that just amaze me with their beauty. Insects are just so diverse and it's amazing what nature produces!”
One of her other favorite insects is the Chinese moon moth or Chinese luna moth (Actias dubernardi). A colorful tattoo of the moth on her left forearm won her the tattoo contest at the Bohart Museum open house. She shared prizes (T-shirts or Bohart cups from the Bohart Museum gift shop) with the other winners. biology teacher Jean Replicon of Mission College, Santa Clara, best attired adult, and five-year-old Jasper Ott of Davis, best attired youth. Replicon wore a dress with a lady beetle motif, and Jasper wore a T-shirt with an ant motif.
The Bohart Museum's next open house will take place during the seventh annual UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day, a free, public event on Saturday, Feb. 17 showcasing 13 collections or museums on the UC Davis campus.
The family friendly event, free and open to the public, will take place in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
Folks are encouraged to bring in pests they find in the home, including cockroaches, carpet beetles, termites, flies/fruit flies, cellar spiders, earwigs, house centipedes and pantry pests. Entomologists will identify the pests and explain more about them.
All pests are "fair game" except for parasites. Those come later: on Jan. 22, the Bohart Museum is planning an open house themed “Parasite Palooza: Botflies, Fleas and Mites, Oh My!”
At the Nov. 19th open house, the Bohart will showcase live insects, including Indian meal moths, clothes moths, and earwigs, as well as specimens.
For the arts and crafts activity, UC Davis senior entomology major Karissa Merritt has drawn a sawtoothed grain beetle and cigarette beetle and other pests, for children to color and/or adorn with grains of rice and other materials.
The open house will feature a number of stuffed animals in its gift shop, including lice, ants, tardigrades, bed bugs and mosquitoes. A zippered monarch butterfly, illustrating caterpillar, chrysalis and adult stages, is another new addition. Also new: handmade insect collection boxes by Bohart Museum associate and entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the butterfly and moth collection.
One of the most unique gifts: With a donation to the Bohart BioLegacy Program, donors can name a newly discovered and described insect after a loved one.
The gift shop, open year around, is filled with T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy. Among the books:
- California Bees and Blooms and Bumble Bees of North America, both co-authored by Robbin Thorp, UC Davis distinguished emeritus professor of entomology and a Bohart assocaiate
- Story of the Dogface Butterfly by Bohart associates: entomologist Fran Keller, naturalist and photographer Greg Kareofelas and artist Laine Bauer. The dogface butterfly is the state insect.
The Bohart Museum,directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology, is a world-renowned insect museum that houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It also maintains a live “petting zoo,” featuring walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches and tarantulas. The museum's 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.