Or at least, it's a conversation piece!
Maggot Art is a big draw!
Scores of youngsters and adults--most with great glee but some with a little trepidation--participated in the Department of Entomology and Nematology's annual Maggot Art event, this time switched from the Briggs Hall courtyard to the Green Hall courtyard.
Hudson Carr, 4, of Los Angeles--with Mom Angie Velazquez assisting, and Dad Justin Carr taking photographs-- eagerly picked up a maggot with forceps, dipped it into green water-based, non-toxic paint and watched it crawl around on his white paper. Then he picked up another, dipped it into yellow paint, and guided it on the paper. A few more colors and a few more maggots...and...Voila! Maggot Art!
His mother, a UC Davis alumnus (she majored in psychology and sociology and participated in the California Aggie Marching Band-uh!, now known as the UC Davis Marching Band), says Hudson has always like bugs. His smile confirmed it. Then the family was off to the Bohart Museum of Entomology to see more insects.
Meanwhile, entomology graduate student Elizabeth Slagboon of the Ian Grettenberg lab, and undergraduate student Summer Calvache, an animal biology major, offered assistance and encouragement to the Maggot Art artists.
Maggot Art has been a traditional part of the UC Davis Picnic Day since the early 2000s.
Rebecca O'Flaherty, a former graduate student of forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, coined the educational teaching curriculum, "Maggot Art," back in 2001 when she was studying 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. She also wanted to generate interest and respect for forensic entomology.
Her Maggot Art quickly drew national interest. The CSI television show featured one of her works, “Ancient Offering,” which hung on the permanent set in Gil Grissom's office. O'Flaherty also exhibited her work at art shows, including a two-month exhibition at the Capital Athletic Club, Sacramento, in 2007.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art or Guggenheim Museum may not be ready to showcase the UC Davis Maggot Art, but the artists--and the maggots--are the stars of social media, family videos and refrigerator art.
Briggs Hall, home of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will turn into a bugfest during the 105th annual UC Davis Picnic Day on Saturday, April 13.
Think cockroach races, maggot art, and bee and ant displays, to name a few.
The Briggs Hall activities will take place from 9 a.m. to around 4:30 p.m., announced co-chairs Robert Kimsey, forensic entomologist, and Brendon Boudinot, president of the Entomology Graduate Student Association and a doctoral student in Professor Phil Ward's ant lab. Picnic Day is free and family friendly.
For the cockroach races, participants can pick their favorite "roach athlete" and cheer it to victory. These are husky American roaches.
For maggot art, participants will dip a maggot into water-based, non-toxic paint and position it on paper and let it crawl. Voila! Maggot art, suitable for framing.
Bees? There will be a bee observation hive from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. And there's the ever-popular honey tasting, at which visitors can sample varietals of honey. The honey tasting event has been nominated for a people's choice UC Davis Picnic Award.
Ants? Graduate students from Professor Phil Ward's lab will talk to visitors about the amazing world of ants. (Ants enjoy picnics, too!)
Among the other scheduled events at Briggs Hall:
- Bug Doctor: The Doctor Is In: Graduate students will identify insects and arachnids and answer questions
- Virtual Reality Bugs: Medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo will set up a virtual reality system to enable people to view three dimensional models of insects. In VR, the models can be made to look life size, 40 feet tall or anywhere in between, he says. Here's the link that to view them in your web browser: https://skfb.ly/6xVru
- IPM Booth: UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program professionals will discuss and answer questions about insect pests, beneficial insects and pest control. They will display their publications and live insects. In keeping with tradition, they will give away free lady beetles (lady bugs), to be released in gardens to devour aphids and other soft-bodied insects.
- Mosquito Abatement: Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District professionals will staff a booth
- Dr. Death: Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey will staff his traditional Dr. Death booth, inviting the visitors to ask questions and look through microscopes.
- Davis Fly Fishers: The anglers will demonstrate fly-tying techniques in Briggs 158
- Aquatic Insects: Professor Sharon Lawler's lab will display a number of aquatic insects.
- Scavenger Hunt: Participants will search for and identify insects.
- Insect Face Painting: Entomology Club members will face-paint bees, butterflies, lady beetles and other insects
- T-Shirt Sales: Visitors can take their pick or picks among insect-themed t-shirts (popular t-shirts include beetles and honey bees) Selection and prices are online at https://mkt.com/UCDavisEntGrad/
- Bake Sale: The Entomology Club will offer insect-themed baked goods.
Bohart Museum of Entomology. Meanwhile, over at the Bohart Museum of Entomology (Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane), activities will abound from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The theme is "Will Travel for Bugs: The Bohart Museum of Entomology's Collections From Around the World." Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, said that "At the Bohart, we are focusing on the various countries from around the world and some of their insect fauna." The 12 countries that the Bohart is highlighting are Australia, Belize, Democratic Republic of Congo, Korea, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Republic of South Africa, Turkey and the United States. The museum houses nearly eight million insect specimens, a gift shop and a live "petting zoo." Visitors will be invited to "vote for the Bohart" for a people's choice award. (See more on yesterday's Bug Squad for highlights.)
A QR code, linked to the voting survey, will be displayed at Briggs Hall and the Bohart Museum. Or folks can vote here from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. April 13.
Theme of the UC Davis Picnic Day celebration is "Adventure Awaits."
Insects (compliments of the UC Davis Department of Entommology and Nematology), await, too.
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....
And that's what's planned as the family craft activity when the Bohart Museum of Entomology hosts an open house on fly research from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 12 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, located on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. It's free and family friendly.
Bohart associate and entomology undergraduate student Wade Spencer has ordered the maggots. The tables are set up and ready.
All you do is pick up a maggot, dip it into a non-toxic, water-based paint, and let it crawl--or guide it--on a piece of paper. Voila! Art. Maggot art. And perfect for framing or posting on your refrigerator or bulletin board.
It's a conservation piece.
"Umm, what's that on your refrigerator?"
And so the story begins.
If you've ever been to the annual UC Davis Picnic Day (this year's it's April 13) and wandered over to Briggs Hall, home of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, you'll see Maggot Art in action. t's known as one of the most popular Picnic Day activities.
Several years ago we asked forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty (and a past president of the North American Forensic Entomology Association) for his take on Maggot Art.
One of his former graduate students, Rebecca O'Flaherty, coined the term and the activity back in 2001 when she was studying 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 drew national interest. "The beauty of the Maggot Art program," she told me, "is its ability to give hands-on, non- experiences with an insect that most people fear or loathe."
So what was Professor Kimsey's take on it ?
"This is an extremely interesting and innovative idea that combines vry basic biology with art in a form that people can readily access and understand," he said. "It provides an entrée into the biology and development of insects that people can really appreciate and understand. It was a stroke of genius."
What the Bohart folks do is also a stroke of genius.
- Forensic entomologists Danielle Wishon, graduate of UC Davis, and doctoral student Alex Dedmon of the Robert Kimsey lab
- Fourth-year doctoral student Charlotte Herbert Alberts of the Lynn Kimsey lab, Bohart Museum, who studies assassin flies
- Graduate student Socrates Letana of the Lynn Kimsey lab, Bohart Museum, who studies botflies
- Doctoral student Caroline Wright Larsen of the James R. Carey lab, who studies non-native non-native tephritid flies, including Mediterranean fruit flies
- Graduate students Christine Tabuloc and Yao Cai and undergraduate students Cindy Truong and Christopher Ochoa, all of the Joanna Chiu lab, who research fruit flies
- Nermeen Raffat, a visiting scholar in the Sharon Lawler lab, who studies "the effect of copper sulphate and other toxicants on the development and anti-predatory behavior of the mosquitoes larvae."
Undergraduate student Kathlyne-Inez Soukhaseum of the Frank Zalom lab, who researches the fruit fly, the spotted-wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, was initially scheduled to participate.
Dedmon is the newest addition to the list of those who will be participating at the Bohart open house. Working with major professor Robert Kimsey, he studies forensic entomology--the use of insects as evidence in the court of law. "My work is in insect succession, or the composition and patterns of insects that come to and from a decedent," he related. "I am interested in defining these patterns, as well as the various factors that influence them. Specifically, I seek to make insect succession a more reliable tool in evaluating the postmortem interval of a decedent, that is, the time elapsed since death. Ultimately, the goal of my research is to provide a stronger foundation of evidence for forensic entomologists testifying in court."
Besides checking out the flies--and creating maggot art--this is also a good time for visitors to inquire about graduate school, ask about starting research projects, and to meet people working in forensics, evolution, agriculture, animal behavior, genetics, geography, and home pests, among other topics," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.
Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the Bohart's butterfly and moth section, will be on hand to open the Diptera section and answer questions.
"We've never had a fly specialist here at UC Davis except for mosquitoes," said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology. "We have one of the world's largest mosquito collections. Overall, I'd guess we have 300,000 fly specimens."
The Bohart Museum houses nearly eight million insect specimens, a live "petting zoo" (think Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects, tarantulas and praying mantids) and a year-around gift shop. The museum is open to the general public Mondays through Thursdays, from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., plus occasional, weekend open houses. Admission is free. Further information is available on the Bohart Museum website at http://bohart.ucdavis.edu/ or contact (530) 753-0493 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
And when the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology hosts a honey tasting on Saturday, April 21 as part of the UC Davis 104th annual UC Davis Picnic Day, it promises to be "berry, berry good."
"Berry good" as in honey made from berries.
Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño and staff will offer "a taste of honey"--of such honey varietals as blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, and snowberry--plus almond and buckwheat--from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Briggs Hall.
When you think about it, Picnic Day is rather like "Bug Appreciation Day" (starring honey bees, too!), courtesy of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. In fact, Picnic Day officials have nominated "Entomology at UC Davis" (122 Briggs) for a special campus award under the category "At One With Nature." The honey tasting booth in the Briggs Hall atrium is a nominee for a special award in the category, "Hunger Fix." (Access this link to vote from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. for your favorite exhibits on Picnic Day). The winners will be publicized on the Picnic Day website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat accounts after Picnic Day.
Here's where the "go-bugs" action is:
- At Briggs Hall, located off Kleiber Hall Drive, hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m.
- At the Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, hours are from 10 to 3 p.m.
And here's where more honey is:
- UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, Robert Mondavi Institute, Old Davis Road. Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center, says honey will be available for tasting on Picnic Day and for sale all year around.
Coordinating the events at Briggs Hall are forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey and doctoral candidate Brendon Boudinot of the Phil Ward lab and the Entomology Graduate Students' Association. Heading the activities at the Bohart Museum are director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, and Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.
For a full schedule of insect-themed activities, see the news story on the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology website. You'll find dozens of activities, including maggot art, cockroach races, fly-tying, and scavenger hunts, to name a few.
And honey tasting. Show me the honey!