And that one, they agreed, they should have known. Oops!
Here's what happened: The "Bug Bowl" team, aka the Linnaean Games team from the University of California, Davis, won the national championship at the 2015 Entomological Society of America's annual meeting, and was invited to appear Friday, Jan. 22, on the TV show, Good Day Sacramento.
The background: The UC Davis graduate students--captain Ralph Washington Jr., and members Brendon Boudinot, Ziad Khouri and Jessica Gillung--defeated the University of Florida 130 to 70 last November to win its first-ever national championship in the 32-year history of the ESA's Linnaean Team Games. See YouTube video at https://youtu.be/_hA05K0NET4.
Professor Larry Godfrey and Extension apiculturist Elina Niño, Extension apiculturist, served as the team's advisors. The team members are candidates for a Ph.D. in entomology. Washington studies with Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and professor Brian Johnson; Boudinot with professor Phil Ward; and Khouri and Gillung with professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
So fast forward to Friday, Jan. 22. The team (minus Khouri, who was unable to attend), answered surprise questions posed by Good Day Sacramento co-anchor Marianne McClary in a fast-paced, fun-filled, witty encounter.
The first question, however, stumped them: "What year was the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis established?" They knew who founded the museum and about his work.
That was noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007), former professor of entomology at UC Davis. He founded the museum, now located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, in...drum rolll...1946.
The team answered 1949. Close, but just a few years off.
"Lynn Kimsey is going to be really angry at me," Washington deadpanned.
"She's going to kill us," Gillung said. Both of them have spent many hours volunteering at the Bohart Museum's open houses, introducing visitors to the specimens and the live petting zoo.
The UC Davis team, however, went on to successfully answer the remaining four questions, questions that would have puzzled many an entomologist (see their online answers on the video):
- "The active ingredient of the most commercial termite trapping system is novalumeron. What is its mode of action?"
- "In some insects, the tarsal claws are bifid. What does that mean?"
- "Fly fishermen follow the emergence of adults of various aquatic insects. What do typical fly fishermen call these emergence events and why is this entomologically wrong?"
- "There are more than 2600 species of termites worldwide. Which continent houses the most species?"
Richard M.Bohart, also known as "Doc," completed a 32-year career at UC Davis. "He was the reason many students chose entomology as a major," wrote professor Lynn Kimsey, former student Norman Smith and professor Robert K. Washino in their memoriam on the UC Senate page. "He had a passion for entomology, which began when he was very young and continued well beyond retirement... Doc's passion was collecting, identifying, and classifying Strepsiptera mosquitoes and wasps. During his career, he identified more than one million specimens, many of which are housed in the R. M. Bohart Museum of Entomology, a teaching, research, and public service facility that he founded on campus in 1946."
"His teaching and collecting activities resulted in the development of one of the finest collections of stinging wasps in the world in the Bohart Museum of Entomology," wrote Kimsey, Smith and Washino. "A great deal of this material was obtained through his collecting and that of his students. During his tenure, the museum collection grew from 500 specimens to 7 million, a span of some 60 years. Chancellor James Meyer dedicated the entomology museum in his name in 1983. The R. M. Bohart Museum moved into a new building in 1994 and was dedicated by Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef."
As an aside, Doc Bohart was not only a talented entomologist but an athlete. He played football at UC Berkeley and "even in his 60s he could still throw a football across a football field," Kimsey said. She was his last graduate student before he retired.
Access ESA's YouTube video featuring the championship game between UC Davis and the University of Florida.
Well, if you're the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis, you do it with a family craft activity--inflating a balloon inside a balloon to get a "parasitoid" balloon.
Graduate student Charlotte Herbert, who studies with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis, staffed the "balloon station" at the Bohart Museum's "Parasitoid Palooza II" open house.
Adi Fry, 7, and her brother, Ethan Fry, 5, of Davis, were among those who learned about parasitoids as they inflated the double balloons.
"An insect parasitoid is a species whose immatures live off of an insect host, often eating it from the inside out," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. "It is part of their life cycle and the host generally dies. This sounds like a weird way to make a living, but there are more species of parasitoids than there are insects with any other kind of life history.” An example is a conopid fly that lays its eggs inside a bumble bee.
On the other hand, an insect parasite is a species that feeds on living animal tissue as external or internal parasites of any stage of another organism, according to Kimsey. This is part of their life cycle and the host typically does not die. An example is a flea feeding on a dog.
Rosemary Malfi, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Neal Williams, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, discussed conopid flies, also called thick-headed flies, which lay their eggs in some bees, wasps and ants. Malfi did extensive work on the interaction between conopid flies and bumblebee hosts. Some 800 known species of conopids are found throughout the world.
Bohart senior museum scientist Steve Heydon discussed jewel wasps, Pteromalidae, a worldwide family of wasps with some 3,450 described species. Many are biological control agents.
The next open house at the Bohart Museum will be part of the fifth annual Biodiversity Museum Day, a campuswide open house scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13. The "Super Sciene Day" will showcase 11 specialized research and teaching collections. It is free and open to the public.
New to the Biodiversity Day are the Nematode Collection, Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, California Raptor Center, Phaff Yeast Culture Collection and the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden. They will join the Center for Plant Diversity, Botanical Conservatory, Paleontology Collections, Anthropology Collection, Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, and the Bohart Museum of Entomology for a day of science exploration.
The Bohart Museum, named for noted entomologist Richard Bohart, houses nearly eight million insect specimens, along with a live "petting zoo" (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and a rose-haired tarantula named "Peaches") and a year-around gift shop. It is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane. The Bohart hosts open houses on specific weekends throughout the academic year, but it is also open to the public from 9 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 5 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays.
So when the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house, themed "Keep Calm and Insect On," took place last Saturday, an Australian walking stick, Extatosoma tiaratum, got into the act. It promptly walked from the hand of entomology graduate student Charlotte Herbert to her head and pretended to be a barrette. A Phasmid barrette.
This one was a sultry brown female adult stick insect with a decidedly spiked "hairdo." Spiked? The females are covered with thornlike spikes, used for defense as well as camouflage.
According to Wikipedia, "Both sexes, when threatened, stand on the front and middle legs, pointing their abdomen up or to the side in a sort of 'scorpion' pose. They fold back their legs to defend themselves if anything comes in contact with their abdomen. Adults can release a defensive odor that humans might not find offensive as it "is rather reminiscent of peanut butter, vinegar or toffee."
Many of the visitors at Saturday's open house at first overlooked the stick insect barrette. After all, it was camouflaged. But they quickly grasped Charlotte Herbert's enthusiasm for insects as she shared information and encouraged them to ask questions and hold the insects. In between, she led a workshop on how to make buzz kazoos.
"I have known since I was five years old that I wanted to be an entomologist," Herbert said. "Growing up on a farm in New Hampshire allowed me to fall in love with the natural world and the critters that exist in it. To this day, I love nature and especially insects. There is something extraordinarily beautiful about their small size and complexity."
"Four years ago I started to follow my passion of entomology beyond the hobbyists perspective and into research during my undergraduate at St. Lawrence University, Canton, N.Y. Even though my undergraduate school did not offer a degree in entomology, my advisor Dr. Karl McKnight took me under his wing and allowed me to conduct independent entomological research. It was there that I fell in love with the fly (Diptera) family Asilidae, also known as assassin flies or robber flies. There are over 7,500 species of assassin flies found worldwide. They are incredibly diverse, venomous, and aggressive aerial predators"
For the past two years Herbert worked with assassin flies at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. This fall she became a Ph.D student in Lynn Kimsey's lab and a volunteer at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. Kimsey directs the Bohart Museum and is a professor of entomology in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
"I am so happy to be at UC Davis!" Herbert said. "I am following my lifelong passion of entomology, surrounded with other like-minded individuals, and get the pleasure of working at the Bohart, where I can teach people to set aside their fears of insects and instead glimpse into their incredibly complex and beautiful world."
There definitely was no fear when visitors got acquainted with the walking stick in her hair and the one in her hand.
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, is home to nearly eight million specimens, as well a "live" petting zoo, with critters like Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and a rose-haired tarantula named "Peaches." It also operates a gift shop filled with T-shirts, insect collecting equipment, posters, books, insect-themed candy and jewelry.
Throughout the academic year, the Bohart hosts an open house on specified weekends. The remaining open houses:
- Sunday, Jan. 10 from 1 to 4 p.m.: Parasitoid Palooza II
- Saturday, Feb. 13: Biodiversity Museum Day
- Saturday, April 16, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: UC Davis Picnic Day
- Saturday, July 31, 8 to 11 p.m.: “Celebrate Moths”
What's that hopping on our patio?
At first we thought it was a grasshopper. Not!
It was a katydid, sometimes called a "long-horned grasshopper," from the family Tettigoniidae (as identified by Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and UC Davis professor of entomology, and native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis).
"Katydids have long, threadlike antennae," said Kimsey. "Grasshopper antennae are rarely much longer than the head."
Said Thorp: "Note the long slender antennae (as long as or longer than the body); the very long slender jumping hind legs; and the scimitar-like ovipositor at the end of the abdomen."
Scientists tell us that the number of described species in the family Tettigoniidae exceeds 6400. Most katydids are green. They're often perfectly camouflaged in bushes and trees.
A katydid. The name is derived from the "song" it sings by rubbing its wings together. "Katy did." "Katy didn't."
This katydid, a female, responded to our footsteps. (Their "ears" or hearing organs are on their front feet.)
It hopped away, but not before we captured its image.