Did you see "Dr. Bob" in Briggs Hall during the UC Davis Picnic Day last Saturday?
Forensic entomologist Robert "Bob" Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology held forth in 122 Briggs, explaining forensic entomology to curious visitors and not-so-curious visitors. He and his graduate student/forensic entomologist Alex Dedmon fielded scores of questions.
Meanwhile, in the courtyard across the hall, all ages engaged in maggot art. They dipped a maggot in non-toxic, water-based paint, and let it crawl around on a piece of white paper. Voila! Suitable for framing!
Kimsey, master advisor in the Animal Biology program and an adjunct professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, was recently named the faculty recipient of the 2019 Walker Advising Awards, sponsored by the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Elvira Galvin Hack, staff advisor in the Animal Biology program, won the staff advisor award. They will be honored at a May 2 ceremony, along with peer advisor Mirella Lopez of Animal Science, announced Susan Ebeler, associate dean for Undergraduate Academic Programs, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CA&ES). The annual awards honor excellence and innovation in academic advising.
Kimsey received both his bachelor's degree and doctorate in entomology from UC Davis. His wife, Lynn Kimsey, a UC Davis professor of entomology, directs the Bohart Museum of Entomology on campus.
Bugs will rule at the 99th annual UC Davis Picnic Day this Saturday, April 20.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology is planning lots of "bug" activities as part of the campuswide celebration.
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, coordinator of the department’s Picnic Day activities, says there will be cockroach races, termite trails, ant colonies, Maggot Art, face-painting, fly-tying, honey tasting, T-shirt sales, and much, much more at Briggs Hall.
Briggs is located off Kleiber Hall drive, near the campus police and fire stations, while the Bohart Museum is in Room 1124 Academic Surge on Crocker Lane.
The Bohart Museum, home of nearly eight million insect specimens, will feature wasp nests in its new display case. Displayed will be nests once occupied by European paper wasps, yellow jackets, carpenter bees and bumble bees. The Bohart also will include a live “petting zoo” where visitors can hold Madagascar hissing cockroaches, a rose-haired tarantula, and walking sticks. Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, directs the Bohart Museum.
At Briggs, you can also expect to see forensic, medical, aquatic, apiculture, and forest entomology displays, as well as a honey of a honey tasting. In the courtyard, Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen will share six varieties of honey: manzanita, lima bean, pomegranate, almond blossom, orange blossom, and Northern desert shrub Nevada), a reddish honey. In Room 122, staff research associate/beekeeper Billy Synk of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility will provide a bee observation hive.
One of the most popular activities at Briggs is Maggot Art, a term trademarked by forensic entomologist Rebecca O’Flaherty, a former doctoral candidate in entomology at UC Davis. This involves dipping a maggot in non-toxic, water-based paint. “Artists” pick up a maggot with special forceps, dip it in the paint and then let it crawl on white paper. O’Flaherty launched Maggot Art in 2001 at the University of Hawaii as a community outreach project when she was teaching entomology to youths.
The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) will set up its traditional display in front of Briggs Hall where visitors can learn about managing pests in their homes and garden. In addition, UC IPM will give away live lady beetles (aka ladybugs) to children.
Plans at Briggs Hall also call for a “Bug Doctor” to answer insect-related questions. The doctor is in! Last year’s “Bug Doctors” included Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
So, bugs will rule!
Everybody loves a bumble bee.
Especially the yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii.
And especially a queen.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, and first-year entomology graduate student Emily Bzydk collected a few native bees to show visitors at the Bohart Museum of Entomology during UC Davis Picnic Day last Saturday.
One of the bumble bees: a regal queen.
When Picnic Day ended, they kindly let me take her home to our tower of jewels (Echium wildprettii), a biennial plant that looks somewhat like a red-jeweled Christmas tree. "Tower of jewels" is indeed a fitting name. It towers (nine-feet high) and it sparkles like rubies.
We placed the lethargic queen on a blossom and fed her honey for quick energy. She quickly sipped about an eighth of a teaspoon, buzzed me twice (Hey, I'm your friend!), returned for more honey, and then took flight.
The queen circled the plant twice and was gone.
From the Bohart Museum display to a showy tower of jewels--all in one day.
An egg case (here's one at right) hatched on Emily Bzdyk's desk this week.
"I came to work and there were about 200 of them on my desk," said Bzdyk, a first-year graduate student in entomology who studies with Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor and vice chair of the Department of Entomology.
Bzdyk found a home for some of them, and others will be exhibited at Picnic Day. The museum houses not only seven million insect specimens, but live ones as well (think Madagascar hissing cockroaches, Vietnamese walking sticks, spiders, tarantulas and the like).
Mantids, from the order Mantodea, are carnivorous. No vegetarian diet for them. They hide in the vegetation and snare insects such as flies, mosquitoes, butterflies, grasshoppers, blow flies, wasps, houseflies, moths, cockroaches and spiders.
When 200 or so emerge from an egg case at the same time and there's no food to eat, they eat one another.
Goodbye, brother. Goodbye, sister.
As adults, even the mating game can turn deadly. After they mate, the female sees her lover as protein--protein to develop her eggs.
"Praying mantises lurk among vegetation, where they are well camouflaged, and seize insects when they come near," say Charley Eiseman and Noah Charney in their newly published book, "Tracks and Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates: A Guide to North American Species" (Stackpole Books).
"When they catch a butterfly or grasshopper they consume everything except the wings," they write.
The mantids "sometimes prey on small frogs and lizards, and one was observed clutching a short-tail shrew."
If you look on You Tube, you'll see them attacking even larger prey, such hummingbirds.
And eating them.