The Bohart Museum will live-stream the free open house on Facebook. Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the 500,000 Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) collection, will show specimens and answer questions.
"We started holding a moth-themed open house near Mother's Day in May, because people who are enthusiasts for moths are called moth-ers,” said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum. “We then switched our programming to align with National Moth Week. This year's Moth Week is July 18-26. The annual event is celebrated throughout the world with private and public events.
Bohart Museum officials are preparing videos on black-lighting and how to spread and pin moths.
During the Facebook Live program, viewers can type in their questions on moths.
Smith is expected to answer questions such as:
- What is the largest moth?
- How do butterflies and moths differ?
- What is so unique about moths?
- Why should we be concerned with moth diversity?
LynnKimsey, director oftheBohart Museum and UC Davis professor of entomology, nominated Smith for the award. “You could not ask for a better friend than Jeff Smith,” she said, noting that he has “brought us international acclaim and saved us $160,000 through donations of specimens and materials, identification skills and his professional woodworking skills. This does not include the thousands of hours he has donated in outreach programs that draw attention to the museum, the college and the university.”
Kimsey, who has directed the museum since 1989, remembers when Smith joined the museum. “When Jeff was working for Univar Environmental Services, a 35-year career until his retirement in 2013, he would spend some of his vacation days at the museum. Over the years Jeff took over more and more of the curation of the butterfly and moth collection. He took home literally thousands of field pinned specimens and spread their wings at home, bringing them back to the museum perfectly mounted. To date he has spread the wings on more than 200,000 butterflies and moths. This translates into something like 33,000 hours of work!” The numbers have since increased.
“About a decade ago, Jeff began helping us by assembling specimen drawers from kits that we purchased,” Kimsey related. “This substantially lowered our curatorial costs, from $50/drawer to $16/drawer. We use several hundred drawers a year to accommodate donated specimens, research vouchers and specimens resulting from research grants and inventories. More recently, he's been accumulating scrap lumber and making the drawers from scratch at no cost to us. Overall, he has made more than 2000 drawers. Additionally, he makes smaller specimen boxes with the leftover scrap wood, which are used by students taking various field courses in the department. We simply could not curate the collection without his contributions.”
Kimsey praised Smith for completely reorganizing the butterfly and moth collection. “It's no small feat to rearrange this many specimens, housed in roughly one thousand drawers,” she said. “Many thousands of the specimens needed to be identified, and the taxonomy required extensive updating and reorganization.”
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus, 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. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum.
The Bohart Museum is the home of a “live” petting zoo featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas, and a gift shop stocked with T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
Oh, the questions that Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, fielded at the Bohart's first-ever virtual symposium, held Friday morning, May 22.
For nearly an hour (11 to 11:45), Kimsey answered questions about the Asian giant hornet (aka "the murder hornet," so labeled by the news media); earwigs, native bees, midges, cockroaches, butterflies, yellow jackets and mosquitoes, and others.
Kimsey, a UC Davis professor of entomology and a two-time president of the International Society of Hymenopterists, related how a single colony of Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia) was detected and destroyed on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and a single hornet was found dead in Blaine, Wash. They are the first and only Asian giant hornets detected in North America. There is no invasion.
Unfortunately, she said, other insects are being mistaken for the giant hornets, including the Jerusalem cricket, known as "the potato bug." Even "dog vomit" is being mistaken for giant hornets, she said, pointing out that a Washington state colleague shared with her a photo of dog vomit. Someone figured a dog had swallowed an Asian giant hornet and "that's why it threw up," Kimsey told her virtual audience.
In Asia, "people live with them and they don't find them particularly troubling" any more than we do our yellow jackets, she said.
"In Asia, people eat these things, which shows you how terrified they are of them," quipped Kimsey, mentioning that her former graduate student, Matan Shelomi, now an assistant professor of entomology at the National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan, has dined on the cooked larval and pupae dishes at Taiwanese restaurants.
The UC Davis professor said that the Japanese honey bees are larger than our European bees and form a ball to "cook" an Asian hornet. "They (honey bees) pick up the smell (of a hornet targeting their colony), cover it, and shiver their flight muscles to generate heat. They can raise it (the temperature) to well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which cooks the hornet."
Kimsey showed hornet and bee specimens from the Bohart collection. The hornet is about an inch and a half long, and "rarely gets up to 2 inches," despite what the media is saying, she said. "An inch and a half is still a big animal."
Unlike the honey bee workers, a hornet can sting multiple times. "Because it's such a large animal, it has more venom (than a honey bee)," she said, quipping "You could think about how nice they taste."
Kimsey said she's been stung by hornets and honey bees, and the sting of a honey bee hurts much more.
When she finished her presentation on "murder hornets," UC Davis spider specialist Jason Bond jokingly asked: “is there such a thing as a murder spider?” (A future Bohart Museum virtual house is scheduled to cover spiders. Bond, a noted spider authority and the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, recently discovered a new genus of spiders in Monterey County and is seeking public input on the species name. Suggestions are to be emailed to him at email@example.com by 5 p.m, June 1. See more here.)
Someone also asked Kimsey: "Are there murder mosquitoes?"
Other highlights of the virtual open house:
- On the website, you can access a drawing of an Asian giant hornet and download and color it. It is the work of UC Davis undergraduate student Meghan Crebbins-Oats. In addition, there's a drawing of a western yellowjacket to download and color; it is by artist Melinda Zavala.
- Also on the website, you can access a Swedish cinnamon roll recipe, posted there in connection with the Bohart's celebration of the birthday anniversary (May 23) of Swedish-born Linnaeus, "the father of modern taxonomy." UC Davis doctoral student Charlotte Herbert Alberts, of Swedish heritage, selected the recipe.
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, UC Davis campus, is the home of some 8 million insect specimens. It also includes a live "petting zoo" (including Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas) and a gift shop. In keeping with the mandated coronavirus pandemic precautions, the Bohart is closed until further notice.
Access the Facebook Live recorded video here.
If Lynn Kimsey, who directs the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis, had her say, the Asian giant hornets would NOT be nicknamed “the murder hornets.”
Kimsey, professor of entomology with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and a past president (twice) of the International Society of Hymenopterists, will headline the Bohart Museum's virtual open house (Facebook Live) from 11 a.m. to 11:45 on Friday, May 22. It's the first-ever virtual open house; you can access it and ask questions on the Bohart Facebook page.
The theme is bees and wasps, so Professor Kimsey expects a number of questions about those obscure Asian giant hornets detected last fall in Canada and Washington state, the first confirmed sightings in North America. (One colony was detected and destroyed on Vancouver Island in September, and a single dead adult was found in Blaine, Wash. in December.
However, a news frenzy ("murder hornets are invading North America!") and considerable panic ensued.
So we asked Kimsey (she's granted six news media interviews on murder hornets to date), “What would you call them?”
“I'd just call them giant hornets,” she said matter-of-factly.
And then, in typical Kimsey humor, she deadpanned: “Or big, angry, orange-headed hornets!”
Meanwhile, the Bohart folks' unannounced test drive on Facebook Live earlier this week drew some unexpected participants and a few questions, such as:
- Do mantids often prey on hummingbirds?
- Why are some beetles metallic in color?
- What California beetle is attracted to fresh paint?
"On the website we will have a coloring sheet of the Asian giant hornet drawn by our scientific illustration intern Meghan Crebbins-Oats, an undergrad at UC Davis.”
The Bohart also will celebrate Linnaeus' birthday anniversary. Linnaeus (1707-1778), a Swedish taxonomist and physician known as "the father of modern taxonomy," was born May 23.
UC Davis doctoral student and Bohart associate Charlotte Herbert Alberts, who maintains strong ties to Sweden and taxonomy, thought that a traditional Swedish Fika with Kanelbullar to discuss taxonomy and Linnaeus would be "perfect."
"Hopefully people will be inspired to make some cinnamon buns, color, and think about names for Jason's new spider." (UC Davis professor Jason Bond discovered a new genus in Monterey County and is seeking a species name. (See Bug Squad blog about the spider and where to submit names.)
"The kanelbullars are not overly sweet and the dough is infused with cardamon," said Yang, who baked them for her family this week. They were a big hit.
Meanwhile, Kimsey is ready for lots of questions Friday morning on Facebook Live.
Don't be too surprised if she's asked about that "big, angry, orange-headed hornet."
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and UC Davis professor of entomology, will answer questions from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., on Friday, May 22 at the Bohart's first-ever virtual open house on FacebookLive. To watch or participate, access the Bohart Museum Facebook site. It will be recorded for those unable to watch it at that time.
Kimsey, an authority on wasps and bees, is a two-time past president of the International Society of Hymenopterists. The director of the Bohart Museum and executive director of the Bohart Museum Society since 1990, she has also served as interim chair and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, now the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
She recently won the C. W. Woodworth Award, the highest honor given by the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America. (See news story.)
“We thought people would be interested in talking to a wasp/bee expert given all the news about wasps and with spring coming and more people tuning into nature and their back yards due to sheltering in place,” said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. “We anticipate ‘murder hornet' questions.
“We host open houses to connect people directly to scientists,” Yang said. “Since the museum is closed at this time and social distancing is required, we are setting this up so people can connect with Lynn. We hope to do this regularly with other scientists, but this will be our first.”
North America's first known colony of the Asian giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia, was detected (and destroyed) in September 2019 on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. A single V. mandarinia was found dead in Blaine, Wash., in December 2019.
Three entomologists, including Kimsey just published research on this and the 21 other known species of hornets in the genus Vespa, in the journal Insect Systematics and Diversity.
The article, “The Diversity of Hornets in the Genus Vespa (Hymenoptera: Vespidae; Vespinae); Their Importance and Interceptions in the United States,” is the work of lead author Allan Smith-Pardo, U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS); and co-authors James Carpenter of the American Museum of Natural History's Division of Invertebrate Zoology, and Lynn Kimsey.
The Bohart Museum is also celebrating the birthday anniversary (May 23) of Carl Linnaeus, the father of taxonomy. Linnaeus (1707-1778), was a Swedish botanist zoologist and physician who formalized the modern system of naming organisms. “It's a good time to celebrate biodiversity, scientific discovery, and museum collections,” Yang said.
In addition, talented Bohart student associates have crafted downloadable coloring pages for the family craft activity.
The Bohart also has pre-recorded tours linked to its website http://bohart.ucdavis.edu/
And timely, too!
While many folks are panicking about the first detected (and destroyed) colony of Asian giant hornets, aka “murder hornets,” in North America, three entomologists have just published research on this and the 21 other known species of hornets in the genus Vespa, in the journal Insect Systematics and Diversity.
The article, “The Diversity of Hornets in the Genus Vespa (Hymenoptera: Vespidae; Vespinae); Their Importance and Interceptions in the United States,” is the work of three entomologists: lead author Allan Smith-Pardo, U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS); and co-authors James Carpenter of the American Museum of Natural History's Division of Invertebrate Zoology, and Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis.
North America's first known colony of the Asian giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia, was detected (and, yes, destroyed) in September 2019 on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. A single V. mandarinia was found dead in Blaine, Wash., in December 2019.
“Hornet species identification can be sometimes difficult because of the amount of intraspecific color and size variation,” the authors wrote in their abstract. “This has resulted in many species-level synonyms, scattered literature, and taxonomic keys only useful for local populations. We present a key to the world species, information on each species, as well as those intercepted at United States ports of entry during the last decade.”
Vespa species are “primarily predators of other insects, and some species are known to attack and feed on honey bees (Apis mellifera), which makes them a serious threat to apiculture,” the authors wrote in their abstract.
In the USDA-funded research, the trio combed through scientific literature and museum collections to separate the species. They list their sources and offer insights on the distribution of each hornet, and a discussion.
The Asian giant hornet's distribution is India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Malaya, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, eastern Russia, Korea, Japan (including Ryukyus), the authors wrote.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology, home of a global collection of nearly eight million insect specimens, houses 20 specimens of V. mandarinia. The largest one, a queen, measures about an inch and a half long, Kimsey said.
“Insects introduced in the United States often come in cargo boxes from Asia to U.S. ports, establish colonies, and expand their range,” she said.
The only known European hornet to colonize the United States is Vespa crabro, introduced on the East Coast in the 1800s. “It is now fully established in the southeastern U.S,” Kimsey said. “A decade or more ago, there was a colony of another species, Vespa asiatica, reported near the Port of Long Beach but nothing ever came of that.”
What's next for the research team? "We will be continuing to create online identification tools and a detailed website," Kimsey said.
"From 2010 to 2018, there have been close to 50 interceptions of Vespa (hornets) and Vespula (yellow jackets (Vespula) at U.S. ports of entry. Little less than half of those interceptions were hornets. The Vespa species intercepted include V. bellicosa, V. crabro, V. orientalis, V. mandarinia, and V. tropica. One of the interceptions of significance was an entire nest of V. mandarinia containing live brood and pupae that was sent via express courier from Asia. All species of Vespa, except V. crabro, which is already introduced into the eastern United States, are considered of quarantine importance by the USDA-APHIS."
A website, Invasive Hornets, part of a cooperation between the USDA, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) and the University of Georgia, is taking shape. According to the journal article: "This website contains more than 1,000 stacked, high-quality images of all the species and most of the races of the genus Vespa. It is important to have the resources for the identification and prevention of introduction of non-native species and to understand the potential effects of invasive hornets in our ecosystems. Hornets are dangerous for the beekeeping industry because they can alter pollination in agriculture and disrupt the beekeeping industry, as well as create public health and safety problem."
The authors credited senior museum scientists Christine Lebeau of the American Museum of Natural History and Steve Heydon of the Bohart Museum of Entomology “for helping to process the loan of Vespa material.” Mary Burns of the National Identification Services (NIS) of the USDA-APHIS- Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) provided information about the number of interceptions of Vespa at U.S. ports of entry.
In an article posted in Entomology Today, science writer-educator Leslie Mertz wrote that the team is "building a publicly available, online adjunct to the newly published key that uses menus of distinguishing characteristics, as well as illustrations and photographs. They hope to have the online key up and running in 2021.”