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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Entomologists from the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis, will showcase insects, both specimens and live critters, in the Floriculture Building at the 143rd annual Dixon May Fair on Friday, May 11 and Saturday, May 12.
Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the butterfly and moth section at the Bohart Museum, will be greeting fairgoers from 2 to 8 p.m., Friday, and displaying collections of bees and butterflies and other specimens, as well as a host of residents from the museum's live "petting zoo."
In addition, Smith plans to bring 10 display drawers that will make you exclaim "Oh, wow!"
And then there are the hissers.
"We had hissing roaches (Madagascar hissing cockroaches) and walking sticks at the Sierra College Science Day on Sunday and, of course, they are a huge hit with kids," Smith said.
Tarantulas also might make a presence.
"We have five tarantulas at the Bohart," said director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis. They are Coco McFluffin, Peaches, Princes Herbert, Elsa the Fiesty and ChaCha."
Friday is Kids' Day at the fair when children 12 and under receive free admission all day.
Saturday, May 12
Then on Saturday, May 12, Bohart Museum associate and entomology graduate student Charlotte Herbert (of Princess Herbert fame!) will head the insect museum's tabling activity in the Floriculture Building from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. She will be joined by Bohart associate and UC Davis student Emma Cluff, and insect enthusiast George Alberts, Herbert's fiance.
The four-day Dixon May Fair opens Thursday, May 10 at 4 p.m. and concludes at 10 p.m. on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 13. Theme of this year's fair is "Home Grown Fun." Also known as the 36th District Agricultural Association Fair, it's located at 655 S. First St.. Hours are from 4 to 10 p.m. on Thursday; noon to 11 p.m. on Friday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, and from noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday.
The fair is the oldest district fair and fairgrounds in California, according to chief administrative officer Patricia Conklin. It is linked closely with the communities of Dixon, Vacaville, Fairfield, Rio Vista, Elmira, Woodland and Davis.
The Bohart Museum 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, tarantulas and praying mantids. A gift shop, open year around, offers T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy. The Bohart 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 email@example.com. The website is http://bohart.ucdavis.edu/
Who wouldn't, when you get an opportunity to pet a rose-haired tarantula named Snuggles, guide walking sticks "strolling" on your arm, or cradle a Madagascar hissing cockroach? Or marvel at the display of Platypsyllus castoris, an ectoparasite of beavers?
That's what awaited the 2000 visitors at the Bohart Museum of Entomology during the 104th annual UC Davis Picnic Day last Saturday, April 18.
Although the theme of the campuswide Picnic Day spanned "Where the Sun Shines," Bohart Museum officials focused on "Where the Sun Doesn't Shine." They highlighted nocturnal insects, cave-dwelling insects, and parasites, including a beetle, Platypsyllus castoris, found on the south end of a beaver.
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart and professor of entomology at UC Davis, kept busy answering questions about the beaver display--a pelt, and a graphic of the beetle.
As Bohart Museum associate and undergraduate entomology student Wade Spencer said: "These beetles look like they are to fleas what halibut are to other fishes. Instead of the lateral compression fleas exhibit, Platyspyllus castoris are dorso-ventrally flattened, which only adds to their alien appearance. Their unique feeding and lodging preferences have given us so many good laughs, we wanted to make them the star of this year's picnic day event at the Bohart."
Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the butterfly and moth collection at the Bohart, kept busy encouraging visitors to get acquainted with Snuggles. They held him, petted him and photographed him. Little Teddy Owens, 2 of Davis, held by his mother, Dina, high-fived Snuggles.
Another display featured scorpions: graduate student Charlotte Herbert shone a black light on them to illustrate how they glow in the dark. All scorpions fluoresce in ultraviolet light.
Visitors also learned about bees in a display featuring sweat bees, leaf-cutting bees, mason bees, bumble bees, honey bees, sunflower bees, and carpenter bees, as well as Andrena and Melissodes anthophora.
The Bohart Museum houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It is the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Special attractions include a “live” petting zoo, featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, praying mantids and tarantulas. The museum's gift shop, open year around, offers T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
The Bohart Museum is open to the public from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. It 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 emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or Tabatha Yang at email@example.com.
If you had asked that question at the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house at the seventh annual Biodiversity Museum Day last Saturday at the University of California, Davis, the Yellow Shirts would have been proud.
The Yellow Shirts were the volunteers--the insect enthusiasts who share their time, dedication and expertise.
Check out the photos and you can see and feel--and almost hear--the excitement.
- UC Davis student Danny Nguyen coaxing a walking stick to climb his arm.
- UC Davis student Diego Rivera showing Madagascar hissing cockroaches.
- UC Davis doctoral candidate Jessica Gillung encouraging questions from an inquisitive group of youngsters and adults.
- UC Davis entomology graduate Joel Hernandez displaying a walking stick or stick insect.
- UC Davis entomology student Lohit Garikipati showing his orchid praying mantis and others from his collection.
- Bohart Museum associate Noah Crockette, Sacramento City College student, discussing his collection trip to Belize, led by faculty members Fran Keller of Folsom Lake College and Dave Wyatt of Sacramento City College.
- Entomologist Jeff Smith showing the butterfly/moth collection that he curates at the Bohart.
- Professor Dave Wyatt of Sacramento City College discussing the insects he collected in Belize.
The day was still new when someone penned "holding insects" to answer the bulletin-board question, "What do you like best about the exhibits?" Many more comments followed.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, is home to some 8 million insect specimens, plus a live "petting zoo" and a gift shop. It's located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.
If you missed Biodiversity Museum Day, the next major event is the campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day on Saturday, April 21 when the Bohart Museum and other entities will greet thousands of visitors. And it's free.
Meanwhile, the insect museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Admission is free. For more information, contact the firstname.lastname@example.org or access the website or Facebook page.