Ever tasted a cricket? A mealworm? An earthworm?
You can if you attend the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house themed "Gobble, Gobble, Munch, Munch, Crunch: Entomophagy,” to be held from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.
Open to the public, it's free and family friendly, said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis.
“The theme is entomophagy and we have some samples from various companies coming our way,” said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. Companies providing samples include Hotlix, Exo and Chirps Chips.
Said Kimsey: "Many insects are quite edible and if you try them you might find that crickets are the new shrimp. Personally, I like flavored mealworms."
"Just think of insects as terrestrial shrimp or crab," said senior museum scientist Steve Heydon.
The event will include learning about entomophagy, sampling insect-based foods, button-making (“I ate a bug at the Bohart”), viewing the collection, and handling insects from the petting zoo, which includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas. Yang and Bohart associate Emma Cluff recently completed an online training for food handling, as required by UC Davis.
In preparation for the event, Bohart Museum volunteer Iris Bright, a second-year biology major at Sacramento City College, sampled crickets, mealworms and earthworms last week.
Bright liked them all. “They're good,” she said, as she tasted red, green and blue earthworms. She described them as having "a sweet and sour taste." The mealworms? “Somewhat cheesy.”
“The crickets are crunchy," she said, adding "I've had them before.”
Eighty percent of the world population, including those living in Central and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, consume insects as a high protein source. Some 1700 species of insects are edible.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has registered some 1,900 edible insect species and estimates that there were, in 2005, some two billion insect consumers worldwide. FAO suggests eating insects as a possible solution to environmental degradation caused by livestock production. Insects and arachnids eaten globally include crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers, ants, various beetle grubs (such as mealworms, the larvae of the darkling beetle, various species of caterpillars (such as bamboo worms, Mopani worms, silkworms and waxworms), scorpions and tarantulas, according to Wikipedia.
Spencer Michels in a PBS News Hour report in May 2017, commented: “But the big advantage of eating insects is that they are generally healthier than meat. A six-ounce serving of crickets has 60 percent less saturated fat and twice as much vitamin B-12 than the same amount of ground beef. ..Bugs also don't spread disease to humans the way cows — think mad cow disease– or pigs can.”
“I do realize that insects do have a bad rap,” California Academy of Sciences entomologist Brian Fisher recently said. “Most people see insects are pests or as dangerous. But it's just the opposite. Insects are less dangerous and less of a problem for humans in terms of disease."
“We do have concerns about disease jumping from animals like pigs and cows to humans,” Fisher said. “But there are no worries about a disease jumping from an insect to humans. The more evolutionary distant we are from our food source, the less danger there is. … There is almost zero chance that any disease that affects an insect could actually impact a human after it's cooked.”
Celebrity bug chef David George Gordon, author of the “Eat-a-Bug” cookbook, extolled the virtues of the “bugs as food” movement when he addressed a UC Davis audience in 2014 at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. Insects are an environmentally friendly source of protein, he said, and bug farming reduces greenhouse gas emissions and is exponentially more water-efficient than farming for beef, chicken, or pigs.
The Bohart Museum 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 or stick insects, 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 museum is open to the public Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m., except on holidays. More information on the Bohart Museum is available on the website at http://bohart.ucdavis.edu or by contacting (530) 752-0493 or firstname.lastname@example.org. (See list of open houses for the 2019-2020 academic year.)
Those are a few of the activities or calendar items newly announced by the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
Moth Night. The Bohart will celebrate National Moth Night: Exploring Night Time Nature on Saturday, Aug. 3, instead of in July. The event, free and family friendly, will take place from 8 to 11 p.m. Visitors can view the Bohart's world-class collection of moths, make a craft, and search for moths outside with experts. Scientists will set up a blacklight to draw night-flying insects. The set-up includes a white sheet that's illuminated by a generator-powered ultraviolet (UV) light.
Last year Bohart associate and "Moth Man" John De Benedictis listed the species, by family, sighted at Moth Night. Among them
- NOCTUIDAE: Spodoptera exigua (Beet Armyworm Moth), Proxenus sp. (probably P. mindara)
- GEOMETRIDAE: Prochoerodestruxaliata
- PYRALIDAE: Ehestiodesgilvescentella
- 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.)
Lepidopterists' Society Meeting. The Bohart Museum will be closed to the public July 8-12 to accommodate the 68th annual meeting of the Lepidopterists' Society. The Bohart Museum, to host the conference, maintains the seventh largest insect collection in North America with more than eight million specimens. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey.
New Summer Hours. The Bohart Museum will be closed in the mornings to walk-in visitors due to scheduled tours and outreach events, announced Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. The insect museum will be open to visitors from 1 to 5 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays "and we are offering a scavenger hunt."
Wednesday Walk-Ins. "On Wednesdays, starting July 3 at 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., we will have casual 30-minute tours for walk-in visitors," Yang said. "No reservations are required. All of these events are free to the public, but donations are suggested."
Directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology, the insect museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane. The Bohart also houses a gift shop and a live "petting zoo," comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas.
It's all about spiders and other arachnids.
The event, free and family friendly, takes place primarily in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.
Arachnid expert Jason Bond, who is the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will present a 10-minute slide show at 1 p.m. in the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology classroom, located on the first floor of the Academic Surge Building, next to the Bohart Museum.
Following his presentation, activity stations will be open in the Bohart Museum where visitors can “Assemble an Arachnid,” “Create a Chelicerate,” “Cribellate vs. Ecribellate Silk,” “Catch a Moth,” “Eat Like a Spider,” and learn about "Spider Senses" and “Trapdoor Specifics.”
Visitors will see live specimens and specimens in alcohol. They'll learn the differences between woolly silk and sticky silk. They'll see the Bohart arachnids--tarantulas--and hold some of the non-arachnids, including walking sticks and Madagascar hissing cockroaches.
“Spiders are an incredibly diverse group with more than 50,000 species described with probably another 200,000 remaining to yet be discovered,” says Bond, who joined the department last July from Auburn University, Alabama. “They are quite ancient, with fossils dating back well over 300 million year and are known to be exclusively predatory. In fact, based on a study published last year, spiders are estimated to consume somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 million tons of insect biomass.”
“To capture insects, and other prey item--sometimes even vertebrates--most spiders employ silk and venom to snare and subdue their victims,” the arachnologist says. “Spider silk is an amazingly strong, proteinaceous material that is produced in many different forms; venoms are likewise complex, diverse proteins. All of this to say – what's not to like – spiders are a tremendously ecological important predatory group, that has persisted on the planet for 100s of millions of years and employ a remarkable suite of silks and venoms to make a living.”
Highly respected for his expertise on spiders, Bond served as the plenary keynote speaker at the 2016 International Arachnological Congress, and also keynoted the 2012 European Arachnological Congress.
Born in Johnson City, Tenn., Bond is a U.S. Army veteran who served for a number of years as a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crew chief. He received his bachelor's degree in biological sciences, cum laude, in 1993 from Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, and his master's degree in biology in 1995 from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg. He earned his doctorate in evolutionary systematics and genetics in 1999 from Virginia Tech.
All three degrees focused on arachnids. His undergraduate thesis involved silk spigots; his master's degree, systematics of the spider genera Mallos and Mexitlia; and his doctoral dissertation covered “Systematics and Evolution of the Californian Trapdoor Spider Genus Aptostichus Simon (Araneae: Mygalomorphae: Cyrtaucheniidae).”
What drew him to arachnology? As an undergraduate researcher at Western Carolina University, Bond worked with noted arachnologists Jackie Palmer and Fred Coyle. “My first research project was related to functional morphology (evolution of the spinning apparatus in more primitive spiders) but quickly shifted to systematics and taxonomy.”
Bond joined the UC Davis faculty after a seven-year academic career at Auburn University, Ala. He served as professor of biology and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences from January 2016 to July 2018, and as curator of arachnids and myriapods (centipedes, millipedes, and related animals) at the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, from August 2011 to July 2018.
It was at Auburn University where Bond and his colleagues discovered a new species of trapdoor spider that drew international attention and a news story in the Huffington Post. They named it Myrmekiaphilia tigris, or the Auburn Tiger Trapdoor Spider, in honor of the university's costumed tiger mascot, Aubie. The discovery was exciting but not “surprising,” Bond told the Huffington Post, pointing out that it took taxonomists about 250 years to describe about 1.8 million plants and animals, and that this scratches the surface of what scientists estimate to be between five and 30 million overall species on earth.
"Urban Entomology" will set the theme for the next open house at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus, The event is set for 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 18. It's free and family friendly.
"The focus is urban entomology," said director Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology. "We'll have out examples of all the wonderful household pests/friends and garden pests, along with the kinds of things they inspect restaurants for."
Scores of displays, and a family arts and crafts activity are planned. The UC Statewide IPM Program (UC IPM) will participate in the open house.
The Bohart Museum, home of nearly eight million insect specimens, is the seventh largest insect collection in North America and houses the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of insect biodiversity.
In addition, the Bohart features a live "petting zoo," comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, tarantulas and praying mantids; and a year-around gift shop, which is stocked with T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
Public weekend hours for the academic year 2018-2019 are:
- Sunday, Nov. 18, from 1 to 4 p.m.: "Bring It Home: Urban Entomology"
- Saturday, Jan. 12, from 1 to 4 p.m.: "Time's Fun When You're Studying Flies"
- Saturday, Feb. 16, times vary: (campuswide) Biodiversity Museum Day
- Saturday, March 9, 1 to 4 p.m., "Eight-Legged Wonders"
- Saturday, April 14, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., (campuswide) UC Davis Picnic Day
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 at http://bohart.
The garden, planted in the fall of 2009, is located on Bee Biology Road, next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, west of the central campus. Director of the haven is Extension apiculturist Elina L. Niño.
"In addition to our popular catch-and-release bee activity, we'll be holding a plant and solitary bee house sale," said academic program manager Christine Casey. (See the plant list.)
"There will also be an exhibit of bee photographs by our volunteer photographer Allan Jones," Casey announced. Jones, a Davis resident, frequently photographs bees in the haven and in the UC Davis Arboretum.
Visitors can also see recommendations about what to plant for bees this fall, including information from the ongoing research trials.
The garden was founded and "came to life" during the term of interim department chair, Professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, who coordinated the entire project. A Sausalito team--landscape architects Donald Sibbett and Ann F. Baker, interpretative planner Jessica Brainard and exhibit designer Chika Kurotaki--designed the garden as the winners of the international competition.
A six-foot long mosaic and ceramic sculpture of a worker bee, the work of self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick, anchors the garden. The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, founded and directed by the duo of entomologist/artist Diane Ullman, professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, and Billick, coordinated the art in the garden through their classes.
The garden is open to the public--no admission--from dawn to dusk.