When the Bohart Museum of Entomology hosts an open house on "Household Vampires" from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 23, activities will take place both inside and outside.
Inside? The presenters will talk about mosquitoes, bed bugs, fleas and ticks in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. They will show live insects and specimens and field questions.
Outside? The latest news is the family arts and crafts activity.
Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, announced the the arts and crafts activity "will highlight two collecting techniques."
- Clear Packing Tape Art. "Clear packing tape is a good way to collect small, hard-to-see insects," Yang said. "Glitter will mimic small insects like fleas or bed bugs. Putting the tape on white paper makes it easy to look at them under a microscope and for this craft it will make a pretty card."
- Making insect collecting or "kill" jars. Participants are asked to bring a recycled jar. "This should be a clean and dried glass jar with a wide, metal top--think jam, pickle, peanut butter jars. Four to 16-ounce jars work well. We will have some on hand as well, but recycling is good! We will fill the bottom with plaster of paris and let it dry and teach people how to use it properly, using something like nail polisher remover containing ethyl acetate as the killing agent. A UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology video explains the procedure: https://youtu.be/s8yCzFGzbn8?si=71sNmA5l8NyP1zj0
Inside, the presenters will include:
- Lynn and Bob Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty. Lynn, a hymenopterist, is a UC Davis distinguished professor who teaches general entomology and the biodiversity of California insects and serves as the director of the Bohart Museum, and Bob is a forensic entomologist, specializing in public health entomology; arthropods of medical importance; zoonotic disease; biology and ecology of tick-borne pathogens; tick feeding behavior and biochemistry.
- Carla-Cristina "CC" Melo Edwards, a first-year doctoral student in the laboratory of medical entomologist-geneticist Geoffrey Attardo, associate professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. She will share her expertise on mosquitoes and show specimens.
- Moriah Garrison, senior entomologist and research coordinator with Carroll-Loye Biological Research (CLBR). She is scheduled to show live ticks and mosquitoes and field questions.
- Educators from the Sacramento-Yo;o Mosquito and Vector Control District. They will discuss mosquitoes and their program
- Nazzy Pakpour (Novozymes scientist and author of Please Don't Bite Me)
- Jeff Smith, curator of the Bohart Museum's Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) collection. He will display butterfly specimens collected globally. Also on the "Lep crew" are Bohart volunteers Greg Kareofelas and Brittany Kohler.
Professor Attardo, who maintains a lab website on Vector Biology and Reproductive Biology at http://attardo-lab.com, and chairs the Designated Emphasis in the Biology of Vector-Borne Diseases, will display some of his mosquito images, including a blood-fed Aedes aegypti, and a female and male Culex tarsalis. Alex Wild, a UC Davis doctoral alumnus and curator of entomology, University of Texas, Austin, will display an image of mosquito larvae that currently hangs in Briggs Hall, home of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Wild's insect images can be viewed on his website, https://www.alexanderwild.com.
The Bohart Museum houses a global collection of eight million insect specimens; a live petting zoo (including Madagascar hissing cockroaches and stick insects); and an insect-themed gift shop stocked with books, posters, T-shirts, hooded sweatshirts and jewelry.
Bohart Museum to Spotlight Household Vampires (UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, Sept. 14, 2023)
At a recent Bohart Museum of Entomology open house, she read passages from her newly published children's book, Please Don't Bite Me: Insects that Buzz, Bite and Sting, and then encouraged questions.
Each time a youngster raised a hand, she'd say "Yes, my friend!"
She answered each question thoughtfully, expertly, and kindly.
Pakpour, who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, is no stranger to UC Davis. She received her bachelor of science degree in entomology from UC Davis in 1999; her doctorate in microbiology, virology and parasitology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008; and served as a postdoctoral scholar at UC Davis for seven years, leaving campus in August 2015. Her work "focused on determining the effects of ingested human blood factors on the mosquito immune response to malaria."
Passionate about teaching science, Pakpour accepted a faculty position in 2015 at California State University, East Bay, teaching for nearly seven years before moving to the biotech sector. She is a senior scientist at Novozymes, Davis (since January 2022).
A resident of Woodland, Pakpour describes herself as "the mother of two witty and wonderful kids," and as someone who "loves bugs of all varieties, whether they are six-legged or microscopic."
Factoid: She once spent a summer feeding tarantulas at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.
"An insect," Pakpour defines in her book, "is an animal that has six legs, two eyes, two antenna, and three body parts. A special group of scientists called entomologists have been studying insects for hundreds of years an they have learned all kinds of amazing things."
Pakour goes on to say that "our bodies offer a delicious and unique menu of food for a vast variety of insects. These insects drink our blood, live in our homes, and even in our hair! They impact every aspect of our lives, from the clothes we wear, the pets we keep, to the homes we live in, and the way we store our food. Like tiny aliens living among us, each insect has its own unique body, home, and lifestyle."
Mosquitoes. "If mosquitoes don't have protein, they can't make eggs, which is why only female mosquitoes feed on blood...Mosquitoes lay their eggs in almost anything that holds water. Once she finds a suitable spot, she will land on the surface and lay around 100 eggs. So they don't sink and drown, the eggs stick together and float like a tiny raft."
Lice. Lice, which are only 0.10 inches long, can move 9 inches in about a minute. "That is about the equivalent of a person who is 5 feet tall moving 450 feet in one minute."
Wasps. Wasps are social insects. "I don't mean social as in they love to throw parties and hang out with their friends. When scientists say an insect is social, it means they live in a group made up of their relatives." She clarifies that only a few specific species are considered pests to humans and "even then it's only when they happen to build their nests near us."
Cockroaches. "Cockroaches give their eggs a little bit of extra protection, wrapping them up like a lovely box of chocolates in a package called an ootheca."
Fleas."Given a choice at the blood buffet, a flea will always choose a cat or a dog over a human."
Bedbugs. "Bedbugs have big appetites and they like to take their time sucking up your blood...The Romans believed eating crushed up bedbugs could cure poisonous snake bites."
Pakpour points out that these insects are annoying but emphasizes that the majority of the 10 quintillion insects in the world "have important and unique roles to play in nature that have nothing to do with humans....Without insects, our entire ecosystem would collapse."
Please Don't Bite Me could easily be called Please Read Me. It's a fascinating book, especially for young entomologists-to-be or children and teens curious about what's living in their world--or what's pestering them. It's an easy read with interesting scientific information spread throughout the book. The illustrations are BBC: big, bold and colorful.
Great book, Nazzy Pakpour!/span>/span>
Indeed. Those attending the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house on Saturday, Feb. 2, will see them--and see them feeding.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology is one of six museums or educational centers on the UC Davis campus holding an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. This is the second annual campuswide Biodiversity Museum Day, aka "Super Science Saturday," as it's the day before the Super Bowl. The other five are the Botanical Conservatory, Center for Plant Diversity, the Geology Museum, the Anthropology Museum, and the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology. Maps will be available at each site. The event is free and open to the public.
Now, back to the bed bugs.
Danielle Wishon, an undergraduate student majoring in entomology, will be feeding her bed bug colony at 2 p.m. at the Bohart Museum, which is located in 1124 Academic Surge on Crocker Lane. Wishon is rearing a colony, now approaching 100 bed bugs, in a research lab in Briggs Hall.
"Aside from the fact that I find them visually adorable, I am interested in the current public panic over their current increase in population around the United States," said Wishon, who took control of the colony in October 2012. "The idea that several little animals will crawl up to you while you sleep and feed on your blood really disturbs most people, despite the fact that they do not transmit any disease."
Wishon, who studies with forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey and works in the Bohart Museum with director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, loves entomology. She's is a past president of the UC Davis Entomology Club and recipient of the department’s 2011 Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award.
"I think the general public would be very interested to see them feeding," Wishon said. "There is a lot of misinformation on the Internet about them, so it would also be a good opportunity for Q and A."
And speaking of Q and A, be sure to access the Entomological Society of America's bed bug resource page. You'll find information on "the menace in the mattress" (Cimex lectularlu) from all over the country, including right here at UC Davis. The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program's Pest Note says:
"A single feeding may take up to 10 minutes, and feels like a pin prick, but because feeding usually occurs at night when people are asleep they are not aware they have been bitten until afterwards. However, saliva injected during the feeding can later produce large swellings on the skin that itch and may become irritated and infected when scratched. Swelling may not develop until a day or more after feeding, and some people do not show symptoms. Bed bugs currently are not considered to be disease carriers."
There's an "alarming resurgence in the population of bedbugs" in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The exact cause is not known, but the CDC says it could be linked to "increased resistance of bed bugs to available pesticides, greater international and domestic travel, lack of knowledge regarding control of bed bugs due to their prolonged absence, and the continuing decline or elimination of effective vector/pest control programs at state and local public health agencies."
The Los Angeles Times warned in a Dec. 4 headline: L. A.'s Slow Trickle of Bedbugs May Turn Into a Flood.
That's a big "bah-humbug" for the holidays.
Senior museum scientist Steve Heydon of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis, was quoted as saying: