The UC Davis event took place from 8 to 11 p.m. Saturday, July 21 in celebration of National Moth Week, July 21-29, which celebrated the beauty, life cycles and habitats of moths.
Entomologists use the blacklight to collect or view night-flying insects attracted to ultraviolet light. The Bohart associates set up two displays near the Bohart, but the one set up along a UC Davis Arboretum path drew the most moths--and the most spectators.
Blacklighting is basically comprised of a hanging white sheet, illuminated by ultraviolet (UV) light and powered by a generator.
More than 140 spectators attended Moth Night, held both inside the museum (located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane) and outside on the campus grounds.
The scarab beetles or what some folks often call by the common name "June bugs" (referring to certain species of scarabs) showed up first, followed by assorted moths.
Beetle expert Fran Keller, assistant professor at Folsom Lake College who received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, identified it as a Polyphylla sp. or lined June beetle. "I think it was a female because the antennae were reduced."
Bohart associate and "Moth Man" John De Benedictis listed the species sighted at Moth Night by family. Among them:
NOCTUIDAE: Spodoptera exigua (Beet Armyworm Moth), Proxenus sp. (probably P. mindara)
GEOMETRIDAE: Prochoerodes truxaliata
PYRALIDAE: Ehestiodes gilvescentella
TORTRICIDAE: Cydia latiferreana (Filbertworm Moth), Grapholita prunivora (Lesser Appleworm Moth)
GELECHIIDAE: Leucogniella sp. (probably L. distincta)
TINEDAE: Oinophila v-flava
ACROLOPHIDAE: Amydria sp. (cannot tell genus or species without dissecting. Likely Pseudopsalta confusella.)
De Benedictis said a young girl collected the Prochoerodes truxaliata, a moth that feeds on coyote bush as a caterpillar.
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. It maintains a live "petting zoo," featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, tarantulas, and praying mantids. 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. It 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 on the website or by contacting (530) 752-0493 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Editor's Note: Stay tuned for photos of the inside activities on Moth Night.)
Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the butterfly and moth collection at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis, is in butterfly heaven.
And even more so now--he just returned from a collecting trip to Belize with his colleagues and brought back some 700 to 800 Lepidoptera specimens.
Smith will be among those presenting at the Bohart Museum's open house on "Bug-Art@The Bohart" from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 21. The event, free and open to the public, will include art displays, sketching demonstrations; coloring of dragonfly images, and other insect-art interests, including an insect tattoo contest and an insect-themed attire contest.
How large is the Bohart's Lepidoptera collection? It has now reached about half a million, estimates Smith, a longtime volunteer honored with a UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' "Friend of the College" award. "I believe I spread over 4,000 specimens from an August 2017 trip to Belize, and brought back maybe 700-800 more from this recent Belize trip, so the numbers continue to grow."
Specifically, what's on tap for the Bohart open house? UC Davis entomology major and artist Karissa Merritt will demonstrate how to sketch insects.
Other art featured will be that of the late Mary Foley Bensen, a former Smithsonian Institution scientific illustrator who moved to Davis and worked for UC Davis entomology faculty; Lynn Siri Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology; and Charlotte Herbert, Ph.D. student; and UC Davis entomology alumni/artists Ivana Li and Nicole Tam. An exhibit of "insect wedding photography" images by Bohart associates Greg Kareofelas and Kathy Keatley Garvey is also planned.
Visitors will be invited to sketch insects. If you're not artistically inclined, you can color the images of dragonflies from a coloring book by dragonfly expert/author Kathy Claypole Biggs and illustrator Tim Manolis.
The open house will definitely be interactive! Attendees are invited to wear insect-themed attire and jewelry. A contest will take place at 3 p.m. for the best insect-themed outfit, and for the best insect-themed tattoo (tattoo must be in a family friendly site).
Also on Jan. 21, insect/art enthusiasts are invited to view the unique exhibition, It's Bugged: Insects' Role in Design from 2 to 4 p.m. in Room 124 of Cruess Hall. The exhibit, which continues through April 22 (the event is free and open on weekdays from noon to 4 p.m. and on Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m.) features the work of faculty and graduate students from the Department of Design; specimens from the Bohart Museum; and insect photography by UC Davis alumnus Alex Wild, curator of entomology, University of Texas, Austin.
World-renowned for its global collection of nearly eight million specimens, the Bohart Museum also maintains a live “petting zoo,” featuring walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, praying mantids, and tarantulas. A gift shop, open year around, offers T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy. The Bohart'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. For more information, contact the email@example.com or access the website or Facebook page.
It's especially an honor when a duo--a husband-and-wife nature conservation team--is singled out for that recognition.
Leslie Saul-Gershenz (she holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis) and husband, Norm Gershenz, co-founders of the Bay Area-based SaveNature.Org, have namesakes:
Ethmia lesliesaulae and Ethmia normgershenzi are newly discovered species of moths in the rain forests of Costa Rica.
The moths belong to the family Depressariidae and now they're part of the Gershenz family, too!
Both new species and 20 others in the genus are described in the Zookeys paper, A Synopsis of the Genus Ethmia Hübner in Costa Rica: Biology, Distribution, and Description of 22 New Species (Lepidoptera, Gelechioidea, Depressariidae, Ethmiinae), with Eephasis on the 42 Species known from Área de Conservación Guanacaste by E. Phillips-Rodríguez, J.A. Powell, W. Hallwachs and D. H. Janzen. The larvae feed on plants in the genus Drymonia (Gesneriaceae).
- Ethmia lesliesaulae has been recorded from both sides of the Cordillera Volcánica de Guanacaste at altitudes ranging from 300 to 645 meters.
- Ethmia normgershenzi has been recorded from the east side of the Cordillera Volcánica de Guanacaste from 400 to 660 meters.
Norm and Leslie co-founded SaveNature.Org, an international conservation program, a 501(c)( 3), to "protect terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems worldwide and to inspire stewardship in the public through hands-on education programs." Norm serves as the chief executive officer and director of the Insect Discovery Lab (IDL). SaveNature.Org conducts nearly 800 hands-on conservation education programs in schools throughout the Greater Bay Area, and reaches more than 38,500 children annually with its IDL.
They make the news. Their work has been highlighted in National Geographic, Time magazine, and ABC's World News Tonight. Robert Pringle's recent article, Upgrading Protected Areas to Conserve Wild Biodiversity, in the journal Nature, details the organization's collaborative work to increase the size of protected areas.
The organization has added 74,000 acres of wildlife habitat to large-scale National Parks around the world and protected marine habitat and watersheds in the Latin America, Asia and the Caribbean. To date, SaveNature.Org has raised more than $4.7 million to help preserve thousands of acres of rain forest, coral reef and desert habitat around the world. Their catchy theme: "Saving Nature Is Habitat Forming."
Norm was affiliated with the San Francisco Zoo for more than 18 years as an educator, member of the animal care staff, fundraiser, and researcher. Norm has quite the biography: he has tracked black rhinos in Zimbabwe, chased orangutans in Borneo, and stalked the elusive platypus in Australia. He has handled boas and bobcats, pandas and elephants, snow leopards and koalas, hippos and hornbills. He has worked as a field biologist and naturalist in Borneo, Malaysia, India, Nepal, Costa Rica and Namibia.
Basically, the larvae of the parasitic blister beetle produce a chemical signal or allomone, similar to that of a female bee's pheromone to lure males to the larval aggregation. The larvae attach to the male bee on contact and then transfer to the female during mating. The end result: the larvae wind up in the nest of a female bee, where they eat the nest provisions and likely the host egg.
"Our research has added to the understanding of the communication signals of bees in the genus Habropoda," she related. "We now know that they use long-chain hydrocarbons for the female sex attractant and vary the position of the double bounds in different components and vary proportions of these components to avoid cross attraction among closely related species. Parasites co-opt this communication channel to deceive male bees in the Meloe-Habropoda system."
Leslie is also a 2004 graduate of The Bee Course, an intensive 10-day workshop sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History at the Southwestern Research Station, Portal, Ariz. One of The Bee Course instructors is Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis.
Leslie's presented her research at the Entomological Society of America meeting in November in Denver, Colo. Her next research presentation will be the California Native Plant Society Conservation conference, scheduled Feb. 1-3, 2018 in Los Angeles.
Overall, moths boast incredible diversity, according to Jerry Powell, emeritus professor at UC Berkeley and co-author Paul Opier, in their masterwork, "Moths of Western North America" (University of California Press). They describe and illustrate some 2500 species in their book. The region is comprised of some 8,000 named species of moths. Most attract attention only when their larvae create economic damage, such as eating holes in woolens, infesting stored foods, boring into apples, damaging crops and garden plants, or defoliating forests.
Meanwhile, Ethmia lesliesaulae and Ethmia normgershenzi are right at home in the rain forests of Costa Rica, and their namesakes are right at home in their Bay Area-based conservation group.
And meanwhile, if you want an insect named for you or a loved one, here's one way: Contact the Bohart Museum of Entomology's biolegacy program. Insects that need naming include a stiletto fly from Australia and Thailand, said director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis.
(Editor's Note: Insect images from Wikipedia, courtesy of E. Phillips-Rodríguez, J. A. Powell, W. Hallwachs and D. H. Janzen)
When there's a Bohart Museum of Entomology open house, visitors come to listen, learn and explore.
Such was the case during the Parasitoid Palooza open house last Saturday, Nov. 18 when area residents, including parents and their children, and grandparents and their grandchildren, visited the museum. They came from as near as Davis and as far as Redwood City, Sonoma, Marin, and San Jose.
They came with questions; they left with answers and a deeper appreciation of insects.
There is much to see and do. The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on the UC Davis campus, is the home of nearly eight million insect specimens including about 320,000 in the Lepitoptera (butterflies and moths) collection, curated by entomologist Jeff Smith.
Those figures, however, are much like a moving target, "as we keep adding collections," commented Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and UC Davis professor of entomology.
"Yes, we are constantly adding material," Smith said, and "we may received very large donated collections in the next few years." Smith is almost finished spreading some 4000 specimens from an August Belize expedition."
The Bohart Museum is also the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity.
Special attractions include a “live” petting zoo, featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, praying mantids and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold some of 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 hosts special open houses throughout the academic year. Its regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and from 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.
Upcoming open houses (all free and open to the public):
- Bug-Art@The Bohart on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018 from 1 to 4 p.m.
- Biodiversity Museum Day on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, a daylong event featuring 12 UC Davis campus museums and collections, including the Bohart Museum. This will be the eighth annual. See Bug Squad blog regarding the 2017 Biodiversity Museum Day, coordinated by Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator.
- UC Davis Picnic Day on Saturday, April 21, 2018 a daylong event
In tomorrow's Bug Squad blog: a close-up look at the family craft activities and human-insect interaction in the petting zoo at the Nov. 18 open house.
Visitors at the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology open house on Sunday, Sept. 24 learned how to pin and spread butterflies and moths from entomologist Jeff Smith, curator of the museum's Lepitoptera collection.
The three-hour open house, held from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane, drew more than 100 visitors.
Smith curates the 400,000-specimen (and growing) collection. The entomologist has spread the wings of more than 200,000 butterflies and moths, or about 7000 a year, since 1988. “I do most of the work at my home (Rocklin), where I spread and identify specimens and add them to the museum collection,” he said.
An associate of the Bohart Museum and a member of the Bohart Museum Society and the Lepidopterists' Society, he was named a recipient of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' "Friend of the College" award in 2015.
Smith covered several topics: labeling, relaxing dry specimens and spreading.
- Place the label next to the specimen as soon as it is spread
- Use Calibri (body) font size 3.5 to minimize paper
- Use good paper, acid free, a bright white premium
To relax dry specimens, he recommends:
- Use large plastic tub, such as Rubbermaid, Tupperware
- Place 3/4 inch of coarse kitty litter in bottom, sloppy wet with water
- Use a round piece of polyethylene foam on top of the kitty litter to place specimens on
- To prevent mold, use a few crystals of chloro-cresol on poly foam (available from BioQuip Products)
- Specimens are usually relaxed within two to three days.
On spreading, he offered these tips:
- Have a variety of spreading boards with various gaps for different body sizes
- Use wax paper on top
- Use long (1.5 inches) big-headed pins
- Obtain insect pins--most often size #2 (#3 for large bodies, #0 for very small moths) from BioQuip Products or from the Bohart Museum store
- Place specimens on pin about 5/16" from the head (width of the top of the forceps) and make sure this is perpendicular both side to side, and front to back
- Pull forewing up so the bottom edge of the wing, just past horizontal
- Pull up hindwings appropriately
- Place big-headed pins AROUND the edge of the wing through the wax paper
- Support the body of a fresh specimen with 2 pins
- Move the antennae so they are parallel with the leading edge of the forewing
- Some kinds of Lepidoptera (skippers and sphinx moths in particular) may require a #3 insect pin through the wing at a major vein near the top of the wing to prevent the wing from slipping later
- If possible, leave specimens on the spreading board for up to three to weeks to ensure that they are completely dry
It's not easy to pin a butterfly. Just ask research entomologist Tom Zavortink, a Bohart Museum associate who told us: "Personally, I am astounded by the thousands upon thousands of butterflies and moths that Jeff has prepared for display or scientific study. This is no small task because butterfly and moth specimens are usually brought from the field in envelopes or boxes with their wings folded over their backs or around their bodies, and preparing them for display or scientific study involves relaxing them in a humid chamber so their wings and legs can be manipulated, carefully spreading open the wings, positioning them on a flat surface, and securing them in that position until the specimen dries again. This is an onerous task that many entomologists, myself included, shun because we don't have the time, manual dexterity, or patience it takes to prepare quality specimens."
Smith holds two bachelor's degrees from San Jose State University: one in biology and one in environmental health, both with concentrations in entomology. In between degrees, he served four years in the Air Force as a ground crew chief on B-52s and KC-135s. The Air Force awarded him the master crew chief certificate. He saw duty in Thailand and Guam.
Smith also engages in woodworking, a craft he learned from his father. He has made thousands of drawers for the Bohart Museum and “about half are from scratch,” he said. They include 150 drawers from recycled redwood decking and fencing. He makes and donates spreading boards for open houses and for UC Davis Entomology Club clinics.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology, is a world-renowned insect museum that houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It also maintains a live “petting zoo,” featuring walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, praying mantids, and tarantulas. A gift shop, open year around, offers 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.