The audience, ranging from toddlers to teens to senior citizens, are inside the the Vacaville Public Library. Some sit on the carpet and others occupy the chairs circling the room.
Some are insect enthusiasts. Some are not. All come to listen to what Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, has to say about the critters that outnumber us on our planet.
Yang displays insect specimens and poses questions as the enthusiasm builds.
One youngster, about 5, announces he has insects in his bathroom. “I don't know what they are but I think we're infested,” he declares.
Other youngsters mention that they like ladybugs (lady beetles) butterflies, and dragonflies.
The excitement continues to build, especially when Yang announces they can hold the stick insects (“walking sticks”) and Madagascar hissing cockroaches ("hissers") from the Bohart's petting zoo. “You can hold them and show them to your neighbor,” she says. “But don't force the insects on them. Make sure it's okay with them. Always ask first.”
The stick insects that resemble green beans prove especially popular. “They are Great Thin Stick Insects (Ramulus nenatodes),” Yang said.
Following the program, Grace, 13, sprawls on the carpet, a Great Thin Stick Insect on her face. Eli, 5, joins her with the same species. It's pure delight. Future entomologists? Maybe.
“The Bohart is essentially a library of insects and so setting up a mini-Bohart at a library actually makes sense,” Yang commented. “These library events are special because they are all about the community. My favorite part is after I have explained the pinned specimens and shown people how to play with the live insects, the families, community members, librarians and I spend the rest of the time casually passing around the insects and swapping stories. I love seeing a diversity of people who don't know each other sharing and having a wonderful time together. We all learn from each other because everyone has some experience with insects. “
"The rest of the week (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday), the Bohart is dedicated to university business, visiting researchers, pre-arranged programs and work that takes us away from the museum,” Yang said.
The Bohart Museum, directed by UC Davis distinguished professor Lynn Kimsey, hosts open houses on specific weekends throughout the academic year. The last open house of the academic year is “A Night at the Museum,” (traditionally known as "Moth Night). It will take place from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, July 22 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus, and also outdoors. Scientists plan to set up an ultraviolet (UV) or blacklighting display to collect moths and other night-flying insects. A special treat: hot chocolate and cookies will be served. Admission and parking are free.
"A Night at the Museum" will be dedicated to the late Jerry Powell, an international authority on moths, who died July 8 at his home in Berkeley at age 90. A longtime director of the Essig Museum of Entomology, UC Berkeley, he collaborated with the Bohart Museum for decades. (See news story)
Other sounds will include the "sound of silence" at still-life displays, but not really, as questions and answers will flow, says Biodiversity Museum chair,Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator at the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
Billed as a Super Science Day--a day in which visitors can chat with scientists and see their work--the event is free and family friendly.
The insects are housed in the Bohart Museum of Entomology's petting zoo; the raptors at the California Raptor Center; and the yeast in the Phaff Yeast Collection, which will be shown in the Robert Mondavi Institute Brewery and Food Processing facility.
The Biodiversity Museum Day will showcase 11 museums or collections:
- Anthropology Museum, 328 Young Hall and grounds, noon to 4 p.m.
- Arboretum and Public Garden, Habitat Gardens in the Environmental GATEway, adjacent to the Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Bohart Museum of Entomology, Room 1124 and main hall of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.
- Botanical Conservatory, the greenhouses along Kleiber Hall Drive, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- California Raptor Center, 1340 Equine Lane, off Old Davis Road, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Center for Plant Diversity, Sciences Laboratory Building/Esau Science Hall, off Kleiber Hall Drive, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Nematode Collection, Sciences Laboratory Building/Esau Science Hall, off Kleiber Hall Drive, 9 am. to 3 p.m..
- Marine Invertebrate Collection, Sciences Laboratory Building/Esau Science Hall, off Kleiber Hall Drive, 9 am. to 3 p.m.
- Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, Room 1394, Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Paleontology Collection, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 1309 Earth and Physical Sciences Building, 434 LaRue Road, 12 noon to 4 p.m.
- Phaff Yeast Culture Collection, Robert Mondavi Institute Brewery and Food Processing facility, Old Davis Road, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (See news story)
Maps are available online and also will be handed out at the Biodiversity Museum Day. Yang said visitors can purchase food at the assorted food trucks. Parking, she added, is also free. Those who wish to donate can do so by accessing this page.
Or "B" is for Biodiversity Museum Day.
You, no doubt, saw the stick insects, Madagascar hissing cockroaches and millipedes. And you may have handled them. Scores of children--and many adults--asked to touch or hold them.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, shared a booth at the Conference Center with the laboratory of Jason Bond, who is 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. Arthropods from the Bond lab also included a scorpion and a trapdoor spider. The Bohart displayed a number of specimens, including the state insect, the California dogface butterfly, and the Asian giant hornet (nicknamed "murder hornet" by the news media.)
Some 1300 visitors checked out the displays, staffed by scientists from 11 museums or collections on campus:
- Arboretum and Public Garden
- UC Davis Bee Haven
- Bohart Museum of Entomology
- Botanical Conservatory
- California Raptor Center
- Center for Plant Diversity
- Department of Anthropology Museum
- Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology
- Nematode Collection
- Paleontology Collection
- Phaff Yeast Culture Collection
This was the first year the free, science-based event has been held exposition-style in one facility. A special feature: side trips to several of the museums or collections.
Senior museum scientist Steve Heydon periodically escorted tours from the Conference Center to the Bohart Museum located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building. Currently closed to the public due to COVID-19 pandemic precautions, the Bohart houses a global collection of eight million insect specimens, plus a live "petting zoo" (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas) and an insect-themed gift shop (now online).
(Editor's Note: More coverage pending)
Well, the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis has done it one better.
No free kittens--not in an insect museum! Free cockroaches!
A sign in the museum, which houses a global collection of nearly eight million insect specimens--plus a live "petting zoo" that includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas-- indicates "Unsupervised children will be given an espresso, cake and 5 pet cockroaches."
Bohart associate Emma Cluff, who created the sign, definitely possesses a delightful sense of humor.
What's in the museum?
Bees, wasps and ants (order Hymenoptera) comprise 30 percent of the collection; beetles (order Coleoptera), 20 percent; moths and butterflies (order Lepidoptera), 18 percent; true bugs (order Hemiptera), 15 percent; and flies (order Diptera), 12 percent, according to Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis.
Founded in 1946 by Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) and located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Drive, UC Davis campus, the museum is the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America; and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of insect biodiversity. The museum's gift shop is stocked with T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
The Bohart Museum is open to the public from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays. More information is available on the website or by contacting (530) 752-0493 or by emailing email@example.com. Tabatha Yang serves as the education and outreach coordinator.
The fair opened Friday, July 13 and continues through Sunday, July 29.
You'll see beneficial insects, such as honey bees and lady beetles (aka lady bugs) and pests that ravage our crops.
"Danger lurks in a backyard garden," a sign informs visitors. "Aphids, cutworms, mealybugs and other pests are preying on your vegetables and flowers. Who's a gardener to turn to for help? Bring in the reinforcements and enlist the aid of Beneficial Bugs that will crusade against the Invasive Species and help keep your pest outbreaks under control. Native plants naturally attract these Beneficial Bugs, equipping your garden with its own pest managers. Low costs and low water--It's a win/win!"
Madagascar hissing cockroaches from the Bohart draw "oohs" and "yecchs." Visitors learn that "these cockroaches inhabit Madagascar, a large island off southeastern Africa. They speed up plant decomposition in their native environment, providing an important ecological service. When provoked, Madagascar hissing cockroaches hiss through their spiracles, the tiny tubes through which insects breathe. Spiracles are visible on adults as tiny black dots on the edges of their bodies."
Another sign meant to engage visitors reads: "If you were a bug, which would you be?" You'll see images of everything from a butterfly to a dragonfly, from a honey bee and lady bug, and from an assassin bug to a praying mantis, not to mention a grasshopper, cockroach, ant, and spider.
- One teenage girl poked her head through the Bug Barn door, glanced at the displays, and dashed off, proclaiming "Bugs give me the creeps!"
- A middle-aged woman declared to all present: "I hate, hate bugs!"
- A preschooler pointed to the butterflies. "Pretty, Mommy, pretty!"
- A toddler left the Bug Barn waving at the honey bees. "Bye, bye, bees!" he said.
The good, the bad and the bugly.
Want to see more insects? The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis, is hosting two summer weekend programs, one in August and one in September. hey're free, family friendly and open to the public:
- "Fire and Ice: Extreme California Insects" from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 19
- "Crafty Insects" from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 22.
"For the Aug. 19 open house, we will be exploring extreme insects from the deserts and the mountains of California," said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator. "For Sept. 22 we will be having a two-way museum. We will be displaying crafty--think cunning--insects and we are going to ask people to bring insect crafts that they have made, so all those felted, knitted, carved, and sculpted crafts are welcome. Any and all hand-made, flea-shaped tea cozies are welcomed!"
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses some eight million insect specimens, plus a live "petting zoo" (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, tarantulas and praying mantids) and a year-around gift shop.