If you've ever watched a mating pair of mantids and seen the male lose his head, or seen other insect mating rituals, then you ought to read entomologist Emily Bick's review of the play, An Entomologist's Love Story, which showing at the San Francisco Playhouse through June 23.
And see the play.
Emily Bick, a doctoral candidate in the Christian Nansen lab, University of California, Davis, recently attended a world premiere showing and penned a review published by the Entomological Society of America (ESA) in its Entomology Today.
Her review is drawing high praise. San Francisco Playhouse tweeted: “Quite possibly the coolest review we've ever received.”
Bick, who holds a bachelor of science degree from Cornell University and a master's degree from UC Davis, is a board-certified entomologist and a member of the 2016 UC Davis Linnaean Games Team that won the ESA national championship for expertise in answering questions about insects and entomologists. Bick also will compete in the 2018 national championships, scheduled in November in Vancouver, B.C., as a member of the UC Berkeley-UC Davis Linnaean Games Team.
In her review, Bick wrote that the play “shows that life imitates art and art imitates life, with insect mating rituals serving as a proxy for human dating behavior.”
“The well-known antagonistic insect mating behavior of bed bugs' traumatic insemination, praying mantids' sexual cannibalism, and honey bees' mating plugs are all accurately described and then used to represent adversarial (human) dating behavior. Fireflies' bioluminescence, meanwhile, is cast in a romantic light.”
“The play brims with entomological humor, from anthropomorphizing bed bugs to a running joke that sometimes volunteers actually make life harder for researchers,” Bick noted. “While the public will be entertained by the gross descriptions of entomological behavior (pun intended), only we insect scientists will know that the “Lou” the protagonists keep referring to is actually Dr. Louis Sorkin of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (and that, yes, he does keep a bed bug colony there). Or, for those of us who have been lucky enough to take a tour, you know the Museum's offices really are that difficult to get to.”
The production team consulted with entomologists at the American Museum of Natural History and the California Academy of Sciences.
“Overall, An Entomologist's Love Story,” Bick wrote, “juxtaposes a range of complex human dating behaviors with a humorous yet biologically accurate description of example insect species' mating behavior. From an entomologist's perspective, I highly recommend seeing An Entomologist's Love Story if you are or will be in the San Francisco area before June 23.”
Bick, who is delighted that Entomology Today published her piece, says she can now list “published theater critic” to her resume.
(Editor's Note: Bick will compete in the Linnaean Games National Championships with the UC Berkeley-UC Team team at the Entomological Society of America's annual meeting, set Nov. 11-14 in Vancouver, B.C. The UC Berkeley-UC Davis team is captained by Ralph Washington Jr., a graduate student at UC Berkeley and a former graduate student at UC Davis. Other members are Brendon Boudinot, Zachary Griebenow and Jill Oberski, all of the Phil Ward lab. The UC Berkeley-UC Davis team won the Linnaean Games hosted in mid-June by the Pacific Branch, ESA. For a look at the kinds of questions asked, watch the 2016 National Linnaean Games Championship Round (won by UC Davis), posted on YouTube.)
Well, not quite, but you can buy a shirt off their rack!
The Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis, has discounted all of its bug-themed t-shirts in its year-around gift shop.
"All t-shirts are on sale for $10 each," said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis. "We're clearing our stock this month."
You'll find t-shirts featuring monarch butterflies, California dogface butterflies, dragonflies, lady beetles (aka lady bugs), rhinocerous beetles and stick insects (walking sticks), to name a few. The sizes range from infants to youth to adults. The dogface butterfly, Zerene eurydice, is the California state insect.
"They're all $10," Kimsey said. The Bohart Museum accepts credit cards. The sale ends in May.
And speaking of the dogface butterfly, you can also purchase a poster and a book in the gift shop. Bohart associates Greg Kareofelas and Fran Keller and former UC Davis student Laine Bauer, teamed to publish a 35-page children's book, The Story of the Dogface Butterfly. The trio visited the Auburn site for their research, and Kareofelas also reared and photographed a dogface butterfly at his home in Davis. The author, Fran Keller, an entomologist who received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, studying with major professor Kimsey, is now an assistant professor at Folsom Lake College. Both Kareofelas provided photos for the book, and Bauer, the drawings, including depictions of the life cycle of the butterfly reared by Kareofelas.
The dogface butterfly poster is the work of Kareofelas and Keller.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane. A world-renowned insect museum, it houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It also maintains a live “petting zoo,” featuring walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, 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.
Take a look at the group photo below. Can you spot the praying mantis? Can you see a silkworm moth caterpillar? They're there. And also in a larger format.
Well, UC Davis officials and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology did!
All systems are "go" for the 104th annual UC Davis Picnic Day, an all-day event on Saturday, April 21 when scores of visitors, aka picnickers, will stroll the campus. It promises to be both educational and entertaining.
The UC Davis Picnic Day Committee offered a pre-view Thursday noon at the Quad.
Bohart Museum of Entomology representatives--Wade Spencer, Lohit Garikipati, and Diego Rivera, all UC Davis students and Bohart associates--kept busy answers questions about scorpions, stick insects and praying mantids.
Spencer displayed his desert hairy scorpion named Celeste. Okay, surprise, surprise! Celeste turned out to be a male, but his name remains Celeste.
Lohit Garikipati, an entomology student who rears praying mantids, came with his buddy, a Malaysian shield mantis. "What's that?" visitors asked, looking at the shield.
For a hour, the trio entertained the guests. Some expressed awe at Spencer casually holding a scorpion. "I've been handling scorpions since I was three," he said. "I've never been stung."
Rivera showed an Australian leaf walking stick insect that resembled a leaf. The crowd took turns holding and photographing it.
Now it's showtime!
On Saturday, April 21, during the campuswide Picnic Day, you can engage with insects at both Briggs Hall, which houses the Department of Entomology and Nematology administration and most of the faculty, and the Bohart Museum of Entomology, home of eight million insect specimens.
At Briggs Hall, located off Kleiber Hall Drive, activities will take place 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, the open house is from 10 to 3 p.m.
Here's what's on tap at Briggs, either in front or inside the building:
- Entomology at UC Davis: Enter Briggs Hall and find a wide variety of entomology-themed displays, from classics, including insect forestry to recent additions, such as “Virtual Reality Bugs."
- Honey Tasting Booth: Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño and her staff will operate the honey tasting booth, focusing on berry honeys. They will offer these honey varietals: blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, snowberry, almond and buckwheat.
- Maggot Art: Visitors will create maggot art by dipping a maggot into a water-based, non-toxic paint and position it on paper and let it crawl. Voila! Maggot art, suitable for framing
- Cockroach Races: Crowds can pick their favorite "roach athlete" and cheer it to victory
- 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
- Bug Doctor: The Doctor Is In: Graduate students will identify insects and arachnids and answer questions
- 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
- Scavenger Hunt: Participants will search for and identify insects in a display of 10 drawers in Briggs 122.
- 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.
- Strike Up the Band: Music composed by Michael Lewis Bollinger (Frank Zalom lab); cover songs possible. The band, dressed in insect costumes, will include Jackson Audley of the Steve Seybold lab, rhythm guitar; Yao Cai of the Joanna Chiu lab, drums; Christine Tabuloc of the Chiu lab, vocals; Zachary Griebenow of the Phil Ward lab, keyboard; Wei Lin of the Brian Johnson lab, bass; Jill Oberski of the Phil Ward lab, tenor saxophone; and Brendon Boudinot of the Phil Ward lab, bassist.
"The band will be setting up and warming up at 4," said Boudinot. "We'll start our set at 4:30, and wrap up at 5 or so. We are working on tightening up the set list--for now we have four songs. Expect some guitar and drum solos at the least!"
At the Bohart Museum, open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the theme is "Where the Sun Doesn't Shine," a play on this year's Picnic Day theme of "Where the Sun Shines."
"We'll be highlighting nocturnal insects, cave dwelling insects, and yes, beaver butt beetles or Platypsyllus castoris, an ectoparasite on beavers, near their glands, wounds, and skin," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. " We will be holding insects as well."
The Bohart Museum will also showcase its live "petting zoo," comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks or stick insects, tarantulas and mantids. The museum also offers a year-around gift shop with T-shirts, jewelry, posters, books, insect nets and the like.
"Entomology at UC Davis" (122 Briggs) has been nominated for a special campus award under the category "At One With Nature." The Honey Tasting booth at Briggs has been nominated for a similar award under the category, “Hunger Fix.” Winners of the categories are determined by an Internet vote. (Access the link here 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.
What's a picnic without bugs?
Not UC Davis animal biology major Crystal Homicz, treasurer of the UC Davis Entomology Club.
"Cupcake" is the name of her six-month-old praying mantis that she exhibited at the Bohart Museum of Entomology last Saturday during the seventh annual Biodiversity Museum Day.
The adult mantis is a Rhombodera megaera, native to southern China and Thailand, Homicz told the crowd.
The species is one of the largest mantises in the world; it can reach 4 to 5 inches in length. However, Cupcake is not that large.
Homicz, a student researcher in Steve Seybold's forest entomology lab, also has the male of this species and hopes to mate it this week. "I've been feeding her lots of flies so I hope the male doesn't lose his head," she said, referring to sexual cannibalism that can occur.
A females can lay about three oothecae (egg cases) in her lifetime. Between 150 to 250 nymphs can hatch from an "ooth."
The Biodiversity Museum Day, featuring 13 collections or museums on campus, drew thousands of visitors exploring the diversity of life, said chair Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum of Entomology. Seven were open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology; Bohart Museum of Entomology, Raptor Center, Paleontology Collection, Arboretum and Public Garden; Phaff Yeast Culture Collection; and the Viticulture and Enology Culture Collection. Six were from noon to 4 p.m.: Nematode Collection, Botanical Conservatory, Center for Plant Diversity Herbarium, Anthropology Museum, Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven and the Design Museum.
Plans are already underway for the eighth annual Biodiversity Museum Day. The next major campus event is the 104th annual UC Davis Picnic Day, set April 21.
Have you ever said "Hi" to a watermelon?
No? Well, you can "meet and greet" a watermelon at the Bohart Museum of Entomology during the seventh annual campuswide Biodiversity Museum Day on Saturday, Feb. 17 at the University of California, Davis.
But you can't thump it.
It's a praying mantis nicknamed "Watermelon," so named because of its red and green coloration.
The adult female Australian rainforest mantis, Hierodula majuscola, is part of the collection of UC Davis entomology student/Bohart Museum associate Lohit Garikipati.
Garikipati will be showing Watermelon and numerous others from his collection--including an orchid mantis named Marsha--from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.
"Watermelon is actually on the smaller size of her species--wild individuals are more around the 4-5 inch mark, whereas watermelon just passes 3 inches," says Garikipati, who serves as secretary of the UC Davis Entomology Club and is an active member of the Facebook page, Mantis Keepers. "They are incredibly aggressive, both males and females, and females will even regularly eat Extatosoma tiaratum (Australian leaf insects) when they come across them."
The Australian rainforest mantises are not only known for their large size and aggressive nature, but "they are very pretty, with black and red on their inner forearms--which they flash in defense when they are threatened, Garikipati points out. "So far Watermelon has laid two egg cases, "but this species can lay around four, with each ootheca hatching 150 plus nymphs."
Garikipati presented a detailed seminar on mantises last Friday to fellow scientists at the Bohart Museum during their regular lab meeting.
Also at the Bohart Museum on Feb. 17, you can see the butterfly and moth collection, curated by entomologist Jeff Smith; and newly collected specimens from a January field trip to Belize headed by Bohart associate and entomologist Fran Keller, assistant professor at Folsom Lake College; wildlife biologist Dave Wyatt, professor at Sacramento City College; and others on the field trip. No stranger to the Bohart, Keller received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, studying with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart.
The Bohart Museum is just one of 13 museums or collections to be showcased during the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day. The event is free and open to the public.
The following will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.:
- Arboretum and Public Garden, Good Life Garden, next to the Robert Mondavi Wine and Food Science Institute, 392 Old Davis Road, on campus
- Bohart Museum of Entomology, Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane
- California Raptor Center, 340 Equine Lane, off Old Davis Road
- Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, Room 1394, Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane
- Paleontology Collection, Earth and Physical Sciences Building, 434 LaRue Road
- Phaff Yeast Culture Collection, Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Science, 392 Old Davis Road, on campus
- Viticulture and Enology Culture Collection, Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Science, 392 Old Davis Road, on campus
The following will be open from noon to 4 p.m.:
- Anthropology Museum, 328 Young Hall and grounds
- Design Museum, 124 Cruess Hall, off California Avenue
- Botanical Conservatory, Greenhouses along Kleiber Hall Drive
- Center for Plant Diversity, Sciences Laboratory Building, off Kleiber Hall Drive
- Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, Bee Biology Road, off Hopkins Road (take West Hutchison Drive to Hopkins)
- Nematode Collection, Sciences Laboratory Building, off Kleiber Hall Drive
All participating museums and collections have active education and outreach programs, said Biodiversity Museum Day committee chair Tabatha Yang, the Bohart's education and outreach coordinator. The collections are not always accessible to the public. Maps, signs and guides will be available at all the collections, online, and on social media, including Facebook and Twitter, @BioDivDay./span>