That sign greets visitors to the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis, and that's exactly what Noah Crockette, 18, an intern there since age 11 and the winner of an international beetle research award as a teenager, plans to do.
This week he's already gone far--a distance of more than 2700 miles--from Davis to Ithaca, N.Y., where he is majoring in entomology at Cornell University.
Fondly known as “The Beetle Boy,” Noah won the 2015 Coleopterists' Society Award (senior division) for his project, “Survey of the Dung Beetles of Stann Creek, Belize.”
He volunteers at the Bohart Museum, home of nearly eight million insect specimens, and a live petting zoo of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. He has helped out with open houses, outreach programs and collecting trips.
“Yes, Noah has been volunteering here for quite a few years,” said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis. “We've seen him go from a middle school kid to a very mature 18-year-old. He's a great kid, always ready with a big smile, great attitude and really hard working. Smart, too. He should do very well at Cornell. We already miss him.”
Two Cornell University alumni--Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator, and UC Davis doctoral candidate student Emily Bick of the Christian Nansen lab, serenaded him with the Cornell fight song. Yang's degree is in general biology, and Bick's degree in entomology. After they sang the fight song, they told him how cold the winters are!
His major advisor is drosophila (fruit flies) expert Patrick O'Grady, who taught at UC Berkeley for 12 years before joining the Cornell faculty last year. His ecology professor is UC Davis alumnus Anurag Agrawal, an ecologist who received his doctorate in 1999, studying with Richard Karban.
His acceptance into Cornell, one of the top-ranked entomology programs in the country, came in 2017. Noah graduated in 2017 from The Met Sacramento High School, and Cornell offered him a one-year student transfer contract for the fall of 2018.
“I have always been interested in bugs but my interest in entomology started in sixth grade,” Noah said. “I mostly became interested in insects through my internship at the Bohart and participating in the undergraduate UC Davis Entomology Club (open to all interested persons). Before then I had only known that I was interested in zoology and started going to the Ent Club after learning about it from talking to (UC Davis forensic entomologist and club advisor) Robert “Bob” Kimsey at UC Davis Picnic Day. After attending the club for awhile, Danielle Wishon (club president and entomology major) and Bob got me connected with the Bohart to start the internship from which my interest grew.”
Career plans? Noah is keeping his options open as to specialty, but he wants to work in research. Beetles fascinate him, especially scarab beetles. “I have a tendency towards scarab beetles,” he said. “I particularly like the tribe Cyclocephalini, the masked chafer beetles. I really like that they are a Dynastines like the Hercules beetles but lack any sort of horns or other glitzy features. Even though they are small and brown, I love the subtle beauty of the markings which remind me of the Rorschach ink tests.
”I also really love venom so I have also thought about going into venom research but would like to grow more familiar with it before considering it more.”
As a Bohart Museum intern and associate, Noah collected insects twice in Belize on Bohart-affiliated collecting trips “where I was able to get field work experience in entomology as well as herpetology and ornithology.” Fran Keller, assistant professor, Folsom Lake College, and David Wyatt, an entomology professor at Sacramento City College, led the collecting trips. Keller, who served as his mentor, received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, studying with Lynn Kimsey.
“My last trip to Belize," Noah said, "was when I completed my Coleopterists' Society project in which I designed and constructed 12 baited pitfall traps which I used to survey the dung beetle species on the property as well as determine their preferred bait, between human feces, pig feces, chicken manure, rotten chicken, and rotten fruit."
In his freshman year, Noah taught an entomology class to elementary students, and as a senior project, organized a museum day at Shriners Hospital for Children.
Outside of entomological pursuits, he enjoys hiking, kayaking and birdwatching. “I really love the outdoors,” he said. “Last year after my trip to Belize I was also given the opportunity through my school to go on a month-long backpacking and kayaking trip through the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Alaska. I also played rugby for C.K. McClatchy High School during my senior year which was a fun experience and I now plan on continuing with the sport. At home I like to keep reptiles and invertebrates--mostly tarantulas--as pets and enjoy collecting zoology related books and objects.”
During the going-away party, a photo of Noah Crockette flashed on the wall-mounted computer screen. It pictured him at about age 14, enthusiastically working with insects.
Doing what he loves.
Not overlooked was the quote from noted scientist E. O. Wilson “Go as far as you can [young scientists]. The world needs you badly."
What a night--both inside and outside the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis on Saturday, July 21.
While moths and other insects fluttered to the blacklighting display, visitors flocked inside the museum to see the specimens, and engage one-on-one with scientists.
The UC Davis event was the first in a series of summer weekend programs. In fact, "Moth Night" is the only Bohart Museum public event held at night; it takes place annually in conjunction with National Moth Week, a celebration of the beauty, life cycles and habitats of moths. (See yesterday's Bug Squad blog on blacklighting and the moth families recorded by "Moth Man" John DeBenedictis.)
Inside the Bohart Museum last Saturday, retired entomologist Norm Smith, who received his doctorate at UC Davis studying with major professor Richard Bohart (for whom the museum is named) fielded questions about moths and field collecting, as did senior museum scientist Steve Heydon, and Bohart Museum associates Jeff Smith (who curates the butterfly and moth section) of Rocklin; Greg Kareofelas of Davis, naturalist and insect photographer; entomologist Fran Keller, assistant professor at Folsom Lake College (she holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis) and entomologist and college student Noah Crockette of Sacramento.
Among the specimen attractions was the white witch moth (Thysania agrippina), which at 11 inches, holds the record for largest wingspan in insects. The caterpillar of this moth can reach 7 inches long. The species is found in Mexico and Central and South America.
Moths are among the most diverse and successful organisms on earth. Scientists estimate there are 150,000 to more than 500,000 moth species. Most are nocturnal.
Visitors enjoyed cookies and hot chocolate. Common Grounds, a Davis coffee shop, provided the large containers of hot water, said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. The family craft activity involved decorating wax candles with moth and butterfly replicas.
Meanwhile, Bohart officials are gearing up for the two remaining summer programs, which are free, open to the public, and family friendly:
- "Fire and Ice: Extreme California Insects," set from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 19.
- "Crafty Insects," set from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 22.
The Bohart Museum is located in held Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane. Directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, the museum 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. In addition to the petting zoo, the museum features a year-around gift shop, which is stocked with 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. It is closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
"Bugs from Belize in the Bohart."
It doesn't get any more bugly than that.
That would be the exhibit at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. It's part of the seventh annual Biodiversity Museum Day, an all-day event set from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17 and showcasing 13 museums or collections. And yes, it's all free and open to the public.
- The following will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology; Bohart Museum of Entomology, Raptor Center, Paleontology Collection, Arboretum and Public Garden; Phaff Yeast Culture Collection; and the Viticulture and Enology Culture Collection.
- The following will be open from noon to 4 p.m.: Nematode Collection, Botanical Conservatory, Center for Plant Diversity Herbarium, Anthroplogy Museum, Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, and the Design Museum
But back to the bugs from Belize in the Bohart.
Bohart associates Fran Keller and Dave Wyatt led an expedition there in January--one of many collection trips they've organized--and they'll be at the Bohart from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to display the specimens and answer your questions. Among those participating on the collection trip were Jeff Smith, who curates the butterfly-moth collection at the Bohart; Darian Dungey, a 2017 UC Davis graduate in entomology; and Noah Crockette of Davis, a Sacramento City College student studying entomology.
Wyatt is a biology professor at Sacramento City College, where he teaches courses in the feild ecology programs. "I am a wildlife biologist with research interests in mammalogy and entomology and I specialize in working with ringtails (a relative of raccoons, coatis, and kinkajous) and bats," he says. "One of my favorite places to travel to is Belize in Central America - I have been fortunate to be able to go to Belize numerous times during the last decade."
They estimated they brought back 100,000 specimens from their first Bohart Bioblitz Collecting Trip in June 2016. They co-taught a course at Sonoma State for the first two weeks in June and the collecting trip followed.
"Our very first collecting trip to start the National Collection was in June 2014," Keller related. "We then went in June 2015, June 2016, August 2017 and January 2018. The June 2016 and August 2017 were official Bohart Bioblitz Collecting trips (no course attached) with entomologists and insect-loving students helping collect insects for the Belize National Insect Collection, which is currently housed at the Bohart Museum."
The Bohart Museum is the home of eight million insect specimens, collected globally. On Saturday, you'll see scores of specimens, plus the live "petting zoo" of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, rose-haired tarantulas, and praying mantises. UC Davis entomology student Lohit Garikipati will display his praying mantises, which include an orchid mantis and an Australian rainforest mantis.
Be sure to check out all the collections and exhibits during Biodiversity Museum Day. The only dilemna is: "What should we see first?" You can download a map on the Biodiversity Museum Day website. All the collections are within walking distance except for the Raptor Center on Old Davis Road and the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a bee garden, on Bee Biology Road.
It's all about exploring the diversity of life--from hawks to honey bees, and from dinosaur bones to butterflies. And bugs from Belize at the Bohart.
On a chance encounter, Quincy Hansen of Arvada, Colo., and Noah Crockette of Sacramento, both recipients of the global Coleopterists Society's Youth Incentive Awards, recently met for the first time. Beetle mania reigned. Reigned supreme.
Quincy, 15, won the 2016 Coleopterists Society Award, junior category, and Noah, 18, won the 2015 Coleopterists Society Award, senior category. The society launched the awards program in 1989 “to recognize young people (grades 7-12) studying beetles.”
Quincy was at UC Davis to try out for a spot on the U.S. Under 16 National Football Team roster. “If I make the team, I'll be playing football internationally for the United States,” he related. “While I was at UC Davis, I wasn't going to miss the chance to check out the entomology department and the Bohart Museum, so I stopped by.”
Said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator: “He knew all about Noah, so there was a little hero worship.”
Quincy, a 10th grader this fall at Faith Christian Academy High School, Arvada, submitted his successful grant proposal on “Survey of Coccinellidae of Adams County Colorado: Species Population Density, Seasonality, Weather Effects, Etc., Especially in Agricultural Areas.” He said his grant involves “seeing how they change throughout the summer in the presence of different variables.”
Noah's grant proposal was titled “Survey of the Dung Beetles of Stann Creek, Belize.”
Both Quincy and Noah have been interested in insects as long as they can remember.
Said Noah: “I have always been interested in bugs but my interest in entomology started in sixth grade. “I mostly became interested in insects through my internship at the Bohart and participating in the undergraduate UC Davis Entomology Club (open to all interested persons). Before then I had only known that I was interested in zoology and started going to the Ent Club after learning about it from talking to (UC Davis forensic entomologist and club advisor) Robert “Bob” Kimsey at UC Davis Picnic Day. After attending the club for awhile, Danielle Wishon (club president and entomology major) and Bob got me connected with the Bohart to start the internship from which my interest grew.”
Noah, a 2017 graduate of The Met Sacramento High School, plans to enroll in Cornell in the fall of 2018. “They gave me a one-year transfer contract so I am now spending a year at community college until I can go to Cornell in the fall of 2018,” he said. “I'm not sure exactly what I want to do career wise yet. I know for sure I want to major in entomology at Cornell. After that, I think that I would like to continue on with entomology and work in research. I also really love venom so I have also thought about going into venom research but would like to grow more familiar with it before considering it more.”
What are some of the things they've done, in and out of entomology?
Noah served as an intern for the past seven years at the Bohart Museum. He's collected insects twice in Belize on Bohart-affiliated collecting trips “where I was able to get field work experience in entomology as well as herpetology and ornithology.” The trips were led by Fran Keller, assistant professor, Folsom Lake College, and David Wyatt, an entomology professor at Sacramento City College. Keller, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis mentored Noah and showed him the ropes--along with the bugs, bats, butterflies, birds and frogs.
“My last trip to Belize was when I completed my Coleopterists Society project in which I designed and constructed 12 baited pitfall traps which I used to survey the dung beetle species on the property as well as determine their preferred bait, between human feces, pig feces, chicken manure, rotten chicken, and rotten fruit,” Noah said.
Noah's other endeavors: “I've also gotten the chance to teach an entomology class to elementary students during my freshman year and organize a museum day at Shriners Hospital for Cildren for my senior project.”
Outside of entomology, Noah's interests include hiking, kayaking and birdwatching. “I really love the outdoors,” he said. “Last year after my trip to Belize I was also given the opportunity through my school to go on a month-long backpacking and kayaking trip through the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Alaska. I also played rugby for C.K. McClatchy High School during my senior year which was a fun experience and I now plan on continuing with the sport. At home I like to keep reptiles and invertebrates--mostly tarantulas--as pets and enjoy collecting zoology related books and objects.”
Do they have a favorite insect?
“That's a hard one,” said Quincy. “I have several that I might consider my favorite, but at the moment I'm going to say that Asbolus verrucosus - the blue death-feigning beetle, is my favorite insect.”
And Noah? “I have a tendency towards scarab beetles. I particularly like the tribe Cyclocephalini, the masked chafer beetles. “I really like that they are a Dynastines like the Hercules beetles but lack any sort of horns or other glitzy features. Even though they are small and brown, I love the subtle beauty of the markings which remind me of the Rorschach ink tests.
Lynn Kimsey, director of the museum and UC Davis professor of entomology, plans to include "The Beetle Boys' encounter at the Bohart" in her news newsletter. Coincidentally, her major professor, the late Richard M. Bohart, for whom the Bohart Museum is named, also played football--on the UC Berkeley team.
Commenting on the meeting at the Bohart: “Noah was kind enough to show me through the massive beetle collection UC Davis possesses,” Quincy said. “I feel like we bonded pretty well over a shared interest in insects, and I think we both had a good time sharing information and checking out the specimens. When we'd had our fill looking through everything from Lycids to Lucanids we moved our attention to non-beetle insects. We had a pretty good time, and Noah was, of course, very knowledgeable and kind.”
Noah delighted in meeting a fellow beetle enthusiast. “At first it was surprising to me that he knew who I am and that he was familiar with my scarab work in Belize. As I talked to Quincy more, I became very impressed with his knowledge and passion for entomology. I helped him look through the collection, and I could see how much he loves the science from the evident fact that he has studied and practiced entomology driven purely by his own interest.”
“He was very familiar with many of the groups I showed him even though he had not necessarily seen them before which further proved his continuous study of the field. Back when I applied to the Coleopterist Society Youth Incentive Award, I wondered what other high schoolers would have the interest or familiarity with the society to apply for the award," Noah said. "Meeting Quincy, I finally got to see who else would apply to the grant. I am glad to see that there are other young students who choose to immerse themselves in the field of insect research that I have learned to love so much. I am sure he will do great on his project and succeed in his future goals in the field.”
Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, said the Coleopterists Society's awards should encourage other youth to apply. Recipients hail from all over the world, from California to Kenya. The organization pledges to provide up to $600 each year.
The objectives of the Youth Incentive Award, as listed on the society's website, are to:
- provide encouragement and assistance to young beetle enthusiasts (grades 7-12).
- promote the study of beetles, the most diverse group of insects, as a rewarding lifelong avocation or career.
- provide opportunities for young people to develop important life skills such as leadership, cooperation, communication, planning and conducting a scientific study, grant writing and managing funds.
- provide some financial support to enrich activities or projects.
The 3000 third graders who attended the annual Youth Ag Day on Tuesday, March 14 on the Solano County Fairgrounds, Vallejo, learned their ABC's--of bugs--at the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology's booth.
- A is for “awesome”
- B is for “bugs”
- C is for “cool”
Tabatha Yang, education and public outreach coordinator at the Bohart Museum and volunteers Alex Nguyen, Noah Crockette and Parras McGrath, kept busy from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. as youngsters admired the specimens, ranging from butterflies to beetles; held Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks; and took more photos than you can shake a stick at.
Squeals of delight punctuated Exposition Hall. This was Bug World Unfolded!
With hands thrust up—“I wanna hold one!”—and heads, shoulders, hands and cameras crushed together, they took turns holding the insects. The consensus: “Hey, I found these really cool bugs that I've never seen before and I got to hold them and photograph them.”
Yang answered hundreds of questions as did the three Bohart volunteers: Nguyen, who holds a bachelor of science degree in entomology from UC Davis, and high school students Noah Crockette and Parras McGrath.
Crockette, who won the 2015 senior award from the Coleopterists Society, participated in the 10-day Bohart Bioblitz last summer in Belize.
At the Bohart booth, the third graders giggled as the walking sticks “tickled” them on their arms. In another corner, the Madagascar hissing cockroaches offered their obligatory hisses.
The annual Youth Ag Day is a collaborative effort of the Solano County Fair and agricultural related businesses, organizations, farmers, ranchers and other individuals to encourage Solano County third graders to experience agriculture first-hand, according to the fair officials. The third graders learn about cows, chickens, llamas, goats, honey bees, pollinators, and fruits and vegetables. The free event is designed to give the youngsters the opportunity to learn about food and fiber production from new perspectives, with a particular emphasis on the agricultural wealth of Solano County.
The Bohart Museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, UC Davis campus. Directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, it houses nearly 8 million insect specimens from all over the world. It also includes a live petting zoo, showcasing Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and taranatulas, and a gift shop, featuring 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.
One of the major attractions are the Bohart Museum open houses, held on many weekends of the academic year. All are free and open to the public.
The next open house is from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 19. The theme: “Eggs to Wings: Backyard Butterfly Gardening.”
More information on the Bohart Museum is available by contacting (530) 752-0493 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is http://bohart.ucdavis.edu/