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.
She just wasn't that hungry.
To take it from the top:
The family craft activity at the Bohart's recent open house featured maggot art, in which youths dip a maggot into non-toxic, water-based paint and let it crawl--or guide it--on a piece of paper. Voila! Maggot art! A Picasso or Van Gogh suitable for framing? Well, not quite, but it's quite the conversation piece.
All was fine and good until an orchid praying mantis, a resident of the Bohart's live petting zoo, declined to eat all the leftovers. When she deposited her egg case or ootheca, and she expired, part of her dinner remained.
The result: maggots do what maggots do. They emerged as blow flies.
For a week, visitors ambled by and peered into the orchid-adorned habitat, expecting to see something special.
"What's that?" they asked.
Some escapees flew into the office of research entomologist Tom Zavortink.
"Why," he asked, "is there a blow fly flying around my office?"
"The praying mantis didn't eat all her dinner."
The blow flies are gone now, but you, too, can do maggot art. Mark your calendar for Saturday, April 13 when UC Davis hosts its 105th Annual Picnic Day. The annual maggot art activity, hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the Entomology Graduate Student Association, takes place in Briggs Hall, off Kleiber Hall Drive. Picnic Day organizers invite visitors to "experience the richness of diversity and achievement at UC Davis and the surrounding community in the areas of research, teaching, service and campus life."
That includes maggot art.
And speaking of maggot art, it was former UC Davis graduate student and forensic entomologist Rebecca O'Flaherty who coined the term back in 2001 when she was studying at the University of Hawaii. She was rearing blow flies for her forensic research and wanted an activity to draw the interest of elementary school students in her teaching program. She sought to generate interest and respect for an entomological wonder that's more associated with road kills and goose bumps than art thrills.
Her Maggot Art activity drew national interest. "The beauty of the Maggot Art program," O'Flaherty told me, "is its ability to give hands-on, non- experiences with an insect that most people fear or loathe."
Her UC Davis major professor, forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, later called it “an extremely interesting and innovative idea that combines very basic biology with art in a form that people can readily access and understand. It provides an entrée into the biology and development of insects that people can really appreciate and understand. It was a stroke of genius."
And when a praying mantis doesn't eat all of her dinner....
If you've ever visited Briggs Hall during the annual campuswide Picnic Day at the University of California, Davis, you probably know about Maggot Art, an arts-and-crafts activity that fuses entomology with art. Every year thousands create Maggot Art at tables set up at Briggs.
Now you don't have to wait for the next UC Davis Picnic Day (the 104th annual), set April 21, 2018.
Maggot Art will be a family arts-and-crafts activity at the Bohart Museum of Entomology's special weekend open house from 1 to 5 p.m., Sunday, July 9 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis. It's free and open to the public.
Members of the North American Forensic Entomology Association (NAFEA) will be special guests and presenters at the open house. NAFEA is on campus (July 7-12) for an annual conference and the open house will be part of its outreach activities. The scientists will field questions throughout the event. "We'll have scientists from across the country here at this family friendly event,” said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator.
Here's how Maggot Art works: You dip a maggot into non-toxic, water-based paint and let it crawl--or guide it--on a piece of paper. It's suitable for framing or posting on your refrigerator. One thing's for sure: it's a definite conversation piece!
Forensic entomologist Rebecca O'Flaherty, a former graduate student of Kimsey's, coined the educational teaching curriculum, Maggot Art, back in 2001 at the University of Hawaii. She was rearing blowflies for her forensic research and wanted an activity to draw the interest of elementary school students in her teaching program. She sought to generate interest and respect for an entomological wonder that's more associated with road kills and goose bumps than art thrills.
Her Maggot Art activity quickly drew national interest. If you ever watched the television show, CSI, you saw one of her works, “Ancient Offering,” hanging on the permanent set in Gil Grissom's office. She has also exhibited her work at art shows, including a two-month exhibition at the Capital Athletic Club, Sacramento, in 2007.
“The beauty of the Maggot Art program,” she said, “is its ability to give hands-on, non-threatening experience with an insect that most people fear or loathe.”
And, no maggots are harmed in the making of these paintings. In fact, some children become so fond of the maggots that they ask to take them home.
(Editor's Note: Visitors entering the UC Davis campus on Sunday, July 9 are asked to take the Highway 113 exit to Hutchison Drive, as the Old Davis Road (which leads to the Visitors' Information Center booth) will be closed for construction. A paving project is underway: (https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/paving-project-close-old-davis-road/)/. Lot 46, the parking lot closest to the Bohart Museum, continues to be accessible. Parking is free.)
Members of the North American Forensic Entomology Association (NAFEA) will be special guests and presenters at the open house hosted from 1 to 5 p.m., Sunday, July 9 at the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
The event, free and open to the public, takes place in the Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
NAFEA is meeting for a conference at UC Davis July 7-12 and the Bohart open house will be part of its outreach activities. The scientists will field questions throughout the event.
"We'll have scientists from across the country here at this family-friendly event,” said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator. Family arts and crafts activities are featured at each open house. A popular activity planned for the July 9th open house is maggot art, in which maggots are dipped into non-toxic, water-based paint and placed on a “canvas” (paper) to crawl around and create a painting. The activity, coined by entomologist Rebecca O'Flaherty, a former graduate student at UC Davis, is a traditional part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's Briggs Hall offerings at the campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day.
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology served as president of the organization in 2015. (See news feature about Kimsey, "The Fly Man of Alcatraz.") Current president is Jason Byrd of the Department Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine University of Florida College of Medicine. The goal of NAFEA is to promote the development of forensic entomology throughout North America and to encourage co-operation with other similar international bodies. NAFEA defines its mission as “to provide a cooperative arena for forensic entomologists to interact and collaborate in ways that enhance the science, moral and ethical foundation, and reputation of forensic entomology.”
The fly photo below is of a male flesh fly (Sarcophagidae), "very likely genus Sarcophaga" (http://bugguide.net/node/view/458576/bgimage), according to senior insect biosystematist Martin Hauser of of the Plant Pest Diagnostics Branch, California Department of Food and Agriculture.
The July 9th open house is one of three open houses scheduled this summer. The others are:
Saturday, July 22, Moth Night from 8 to 11 p.m.: Moth Night, held in conjunction with National Moth Week, will enable visitors to explore nighttime nature through a blacklighting setup, enabling the collection of moths and other insects. The event takes place in the courtyard in back of the Bohart Museum. The museum will be open throughout Moth Night.
Sunday, Aug. 27: Bark Beetles and Trees, Forest Health in California, from 1 to 4 p.m.: The event is in collaboration with Steve Seybold, USDA Forest Service entomologist and an associate of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He and his students and staff will be there to show displays and answer questions.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, 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. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum.
Special attractions include a “live” petting zoo, featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold the insects and photograph them.
The museum's gift shop, open year around, includes 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traffic: Note that Old Davis Road that goes past the Visitors' Information Center will be closed due to construction of a paving project (https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/paving-project-close-old-davis-road/) Visitors should enter the campus via Highway 113 and take the Hutchison exit. The parking lot closest to the Bohart Museum is Lot 46.