- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
As director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology (which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year), Kimsey identifies about 2000 insect specimens a year for colleagues, students, the museum and other museums. The Bohart curates some 30,000 new specimens to the museum annually.
A UC Davis alumnus (bachelor's degree and doctorate), Kimsey joined the entomology faculty in 1989. Since 1990, she has administered the Bohart Museum, which now houses some eight million insect specimens and is the seventh largest university insect museum in North America.
Her areas of expertise? Insect biodiversity, systematics and biogeography of parasitic wasps, urban entomology, civil forensic entomology, and arthropod-related industrial hygiene. She has served in numerous leadership roles at the international, national and local level, including two terms as president of the International Hymenopterists, board member of the Natural Science Collections Alliance, and interim chair and vice chair (twice) of the UC Davis Department of Entomology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology).
Last year her peers selected her for the 2020 C. W. Woodworth Award, the highest honor given by the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America.
Take her page on Urban Myths on the Bohart Museum website where she dispels bizarre myths with a succinct dose of humor.
Such as the urban myth, "Female mantids always eat males they mate with." Her response: "Only if the male isn't fast enough!"
Urban myth: "Camel spiders scream like babies, inject toxins and prey on GI's in Iraq."
Kimsey reality: "Not true at any level."
Urban myth: "Twenty-five percent of the protein in our diet is from swallowing spiders that crawl in our mouth at night."
Kimsey reality: "This never happens."
Urban myth: "Love bugs that plague the southeastern U.S. are the result of government experiments."
Kimsey reality: "No, Mother Nature came up with those beauties."
Urban myth: "Ultrasonic devices help keep pests out of your kitchen."
Kimsey reality: "False, few insects can hear, certainly not cockroaches."
Urban myth: "Earwigs will crawl in your ear and lay eggs in your brain."
Kimsey reality: "They sometimes do crawl in ears by accident, but do not lay eggs."
Urban myth: "Bedbugs bore, burrow, dig and fly."
Kimsey reality: "No, they can only walk or scurry."
Urban myth: "Butterflies and moths can't fly if you rub the scales off their wings."
Kimsey reality: "Not true, they can fly."
The Bohart director also fields questions about spiders, including the urban myth that brown recluse spiders are "common in California." No, she says, "they are not found anywhere near California."
No doubt that Kimsey, known as "The Wasp Woman" for her expertise in Hymenoptera, soon will be targeting myths about those Asian giant hornets, aka "murder hornets," that are supposedly mass-targeting 328 million people in the United States.