You can learn about those topics—and much more—at the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology when it hosts an open house themed “Time Flies When You Are Studying Insects: Cutting Edge Student Research,” on Saturday, Jan. 18.
The event, free and family friendly, will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
“We will have a diversity of topics,” said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum. “I just love how this university excels at interdisciplinary research. We may be the Entomology and Nematology Department but we are connected to so many fields of research. “Our grads are our future's hope and here they are inspiring others."
Doctoral students who will showcase their research are:
- Entomologist Yao Cai of the Joanna Chiu lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology,
- Entomologist Charlotte Herbert Alberts, who studies assassin flies with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology
- Entomologist-ant specialist Zachary Griebenow of the Phil Ward lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- Forest entomologist Crystal Homicz who studies with Joanna Chiu and research forest entomologist Chris Fettig, Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Davis. (She formerly studied with the late Steve Seybold of USDA Forest Service and the Department of Entomology and Nematology.)
- Forensic entomologist Alexander Dedmon, who studies with Robert Kimsey, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- Ecologist Ann Holmes, affiliated with the Graduate Group in Ecology, Department of Animal Science, and the Genomic Variation Laboratory, studies with major professors Andrea Schreier and Mandi Finger.
Yao Cai, a fourth-year doctoral student, studies circadian clock in insects. “Using Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) and Danaus plexippus (monarch butterfly), as models, we seek to understand how these insects receive environmental time cues and tell time, how they organize their daily rhythms in physiology and behavior, such as feeding, sleep and migration (in monarch butterfly),” Cai said.
“Since clock design is conserved from fly to human, understanding how fly clock works can be translated into knowledge and treatment for people who undergo clock disruption in their daily lives, such as jet lag, shift work,” Cai said.
Visitors will learn how fruit flies and monarch butterflies tell time, why the clock is important to them, and the tools scientists use to study circadian clock.
Zachary Griebenow, a third-year doctoral student, will be showcasing or discussing specimens of the ant subfamily Leptanillinae, most of them male.
“I will be showing specimens of the Leptanillinae under the microscope, emphasizing the great morphological diversity observed in males and talking about my systematic revision of the subfamily," he said. "In particular, I want to explain how the study of an extremely obscure group of ants can help us understand the process of evolution that has given rise to all organisms."
“Did you know that between 1987 and 2017 bark beetles were responsible for more tree death than wildfire?” asks Crystal Homicz, a first-year doctoral student. “Bark beetles are an incredibly important feature of forests, especially as disturbance agents. My research focuses on how bark beetles and fire interact, given that these are the two most important disturbance agents of the Sierra Nevada. At my table, I will discuss how the interaction between bark beetles and fire, why bark beetles and fire are important feature of our forest ecosystem, and I will discuss more generally the importance of bark beetles in many forest systems throughout North America.
“I will have several wood samples, insect specimens and photographs to display what bark beetle damage looks like, and the landscape level effects bark beetles have. I will also have samples of wood damage caused by other wood boring beetles and insects. My table will focus widely on the subject of forest entomology and extend beyond beetle-fire interactions.”
Visitors, she said, can expect to leave with a clear understanding of what bark beetles are and what they do, as well as a deeper understanding of the importance of disturbance ecology in our temperate forests.
Charlotte Alberts, a fifth-year doctoral candidate, will display assassin flies and their relatives, as well as examples of prey they eat and/or mimic. Visitors can expect to learn about basic assassin fly ecology and evolution.
Alberts studies the evolution of assassin flies (Diptera: Asilidae) and their relatives. “Assassin flies are voracious predators on other insects and are able to overcome prey much larger than themselves,” she said. “Both adult and larval assassin flies are venomous. Their venom consists of neurotoxins that paralyze their prey, and digestive enzymes that allow assassin flies to consume their prey in a liquid form. These flies are incredibly diverse, ranging in size from 5-60mm, and can be found all over the world! With over 7,500 species, Asilidae is the third most specious family of flies. Despite assassin flies being very common, most people do not even know of their existence. This may be due to their impressive ability to mimic other insects, mainly wasps, and bees.”
For her thesis, she is trying to resolve the phylogenetic relationships of Asiloidea (Asilidae and their relatives) using Ultra Conserved Elements (UCEs), and morphology. "I am also interested in evolutionary trends of prey specificity within Asilidae, which may be one of the major driving forces leading to this family's diversity."
Ecologist Ann Holmes is a fourth-year doctoral student. Her research interests include conservation genetics, environmental DNA, molecular ecology,aquatic food webs, marine ecology and bats. "I will be talking about my research project that looks at insects eaten by bats in the Yolo Bypass. The insects eat crops such as rice, so bats provide a valuable service to farmers. Hungry bats can eat as much as their own body weight in insects each night."
"Visitors can expect to learn how DNA is used to detect insects in bat guano (poop)."
"Insects in bat poop are hard to identify because they have been digested, but I can use DNA to determine which insects are there," she said. "We care about which insects bats eat because bats are natural pest controllers. With plenty of bats we can use less pesticide on farms and less mosquito repellent on ourselves."
Forensic entomologist Alex Dedmon, a sixth-year doctoral student, will display tools and text and explain what forensic entomology is all about. "My research focuses on insect succession. In forensic entomology, succession uses the patterns of insects that come and go from a body. These patterns help us estimate how long a person has been dead. Visitors can expect to learn about the many different ways insects can be used as evidence, and what that evidence tells us."
Dedmon recently won first place in a contest at the Entomological Society of America meeting in St. Louis. As he explained in a Facebook post: "Trécé, Inc. is a company that creates olfactory baits and traps for insects. They had a contest at their booth looking for ideas to expand their research and product line. Most of this sort of thing is generally used for surveillance of insect pests, which I don't do much work in. Still, I figured I had nothing to lose by at least trying. So, I pointed out that forensic entomologists often have to sample blowfly populations from the region in order to establish species presence for future casework"
"To sample those flies, we usually use a carrion source like a dead pig. Unfortunately, carrion tends to be surprisingly expensive. Also, we have to usually place it in a remote location (the general public doesn't care much for seeing rotting pigs)."
"However, we know that blowflies mainly orient themselves off of smell. In other words, they are attracted by the aromatic compounds emitted as part of the decomposition process. It's these compounds that make the pigs "stink." Many of them have been identified, and have wonderfully illustrative names like 'cadaverine.' So, if those compounds were applied to a sticky trap, you'd (hypothetically) have a cheaper, less unsightly method for sampling blowflies."
"Not bad for improvising an idea on the spot," he quipped.
Other Activities at the Open House
The family craft activity will be painting rocks, which can be taken home or hidden around campus. "Hopefully some kind words on rocks found by random strangers can also make for a kinder better future,” Yang said.
In addition to meeting and chatting with the researchers, visitors can see insect specimens (including butterflies and moths), meet the critters in the live “petting zoo” (including Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas) and browse the gift shop, containing books, insect-themed t-shirts and sweatshirts, jewelry, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
The Bohart Museum, founded by noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007), 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 insect biodiversity.
The insect 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 email@example.com.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology is showcasing the innovative research of UC Davis evolutionary ecologist Leslie Saul-Gershenz, who studies how blister beetle nest parasites mimic the sex pheromone of digger bees.
Bohart associate Emma Cluff created the wall display, “Digger Bees and Their Nest Parasites,” which examines the life cycle, research process, results, research challenges and implications.
The display runs through May 16. The Bohart Museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. It is open to the public, Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., except on holidays.
Gershenz, associate director of research, Wild Energy Initiative, at the John Muir Institute of the Environment, UC Davis, researches the chemical ecology and parasite-host interactions of these solitary native bees and their nest parasites across the western U. S., including the coastal sand dunes of Oregon and the Mojave Desert in south-central California.
Gershenz, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, did much of her work at the Mojave National Preserve, where she tracked the solitary bee Habropoda pallida and its nest parasite, a blister beetle, Meloe franciscanus.
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.
Saul-Gershenz' experiments found the allomones “released by each population of M. franciscanus triungulin (larvae) mimic the pheromones released by a specific species of Habropoda bees native to their local habitat,” Cluff wrote in the display. “Leslie found that these differences had a genetic basis. She also found that local bee species were more attracted to the allomones released by their local triungulin population.”
“The M. franciscanus triungulin hatching is synchronized with the emergence of adult female Habropoda bees,” the display reads. “The triungulins aggregate on plant stems and release an allomone blend which attracts male bees. The aggregation of triungulins hop on to male bees who have chosen to investigate the allomone. Once the male bees find a real female bee, they mate in a ‘mating ball' at which time the triungulins transfer to the female. All this effort is so that the triungulins can get a free ride to the nest that the female bee lays her eggs in. Once inside the nest burrow, the triungulins will feed on the net provisions and likely the egg itself and will remain there until they emerge as adults the following winter.”
Results? “Leslie's experiments found that the allomones released by each population of M. franciscanus triungulin mimic the pheromones released by a the specific species of Habropoda bees native to their local habitat,” Cluff wrote. “Leslie found that these differences had a genetic basis. She also found that local bee species were more attracted to the allomones released by their local triungulin population.”
The research contributes to the understanding of the communication signals of bees in the genus Habropoda. Saul-Gershenz is currently finishing two research papers: the basic biology of digger bee Habropoda pallida, and the biology of the silver digger bee Habropoda miserabilis.
She and her husband, Norman, are the co-founders of the Bay Area-based SaveNature.Org. The international conservation consortium works with partners to protect ecosystems around the world.
All proceeds benefit the Bohart Museum's educational and public service mission. The museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
One of the popular items is a plush stuffed toy animal, the water bear or tardigrade. The stuffed animals come in three several sizes, from teddy-bear to keychain-size, said Bohart director Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology.
And in the near future, Kimsey hopes to install a water bear sculpture at the entrance to the museum. In fact, the Bohart Museum Society has set up a Go Fund Me account to help fund the project: see https://www.gofundme.com/f/waterbear-sculpture.
Why tardigrades? UC Davis boasts one of the world's largest tardigrade collections. "The water bear has to be one of the most peculiar and indestructible groups of animals known," Kimsey wrote in a recent newsletter. "The microscopic and nearly indestructible tardigrade can survive being heated to 304 degrees Fahrenheit or being chilled for days at -328 F. And, even if it's frozen for 30 years, it can still reproduce." (See video on EurekAlert.)
New items also include green metallic beetle earrings that UC Davis-trained entomologist Fran Keller, an associate professor at Folsom Lake College, brought back from the recent Entomological Society of America meeting in St. Louis, Mo. Handmade pens by entomologist Jeff Smith, curator of the Lepidoptera section, are another popular item.
The Bohart Museum, founded by noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007), 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 insect biodiversity. In addition to the gift shop, the Bohart maintains a live "petting zoo," featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks or stick insects and tarantulas.
The insect museum is open to the public Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m., except on holidays. Visiting hours will end at 5 p.m., Dec. 16 and will resume at 9 a.m. on Jan. 6. The Bohart will be closed to the public from Dec. 17 to Jan. 5. 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./span>
The UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology will host an open house on “Arthropod Husbandry: Raising Insects for Research and Fun” from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane. The open house is free and family friendly.
"We will have a number of people who are expert at raising insects, both for research and for fun," said Tabatha Yang, Bohart Museum education and outreach coordinator. UC Davis student Andrew Goffinet, a former Bio Boot Camper, will be on hand to talk about rearing butterflies and moths. UC Davis entomology alumnus Lohit Garikipati will discuss praying mantids.
Another UC Davis entomology alumnus Nicole Tam will discuss rearing insects for research in the Geoffrey Attardo lab. Graduate student and Bohart associate Zaid Khouri will tell visitors how to rear tarantulas and millipedes for fun.
"We also will be discussing Madagascar hissing cockroaches as good options for 'starter pets' for kids, and some of the problems with stick insects (walking sticks)," she said. Visitors are invited to hold the hissers and stick insects and photograph them.
At 3 p.m., silkworm moth expert İsmail Şeker, a Turkish medical doctor who wrote a book about silkworm moths and the cottage silk industry in his home town, will show his newly produced video about the silkworm moth life cycle. Seker, also a talented videographer and a photographer, will answer questions following his 13-minute video presentation.
"This will be a fun open house for anyone considering a pet with an exoskeleton," Yang said."It will be good for educators to learn about classroom 'pets,' including those that do work with silk moths for life cycle lesson plans."
"Also, to kick off the holiday season we will have the unique wire jewelry by former entomology major Ann Kao, so people should be prepared to shop for some unique insect-inspired jewelry."
A family craft activity is also planned.
This is the last open house of the year. The next one will be on Jan. 18 when UC Davis graduate students from many different fields, "will be talking/displaying about their cutting edge research with insects," Yang said.
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.
Director of the museum is Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis. The staff includes Steve Heydon, senior museum scientist; Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator; and Jeff Smith, who curates the Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) section.
More information on the Bohart Museum is available on the website at http://bohart.ucdavis.edu or by contacting (530) 752-0493 or email@example.com.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology is hosting its annual "Parasitoid Palooza" from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Oct.19.
The event, free and family friendly, takes place in Room 1125 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
"An insect parasitoid is a species whose immatures live off of an insect host, often eating it from the inside out," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator of the Bohart Museum. "It is part of their life cycle and the host generally dies."
Senior museum scientist Steve Heydon, who researches Pteromalids or jewel wasps, will present his work and answer questions. Graduate student Socrates Letana will also field parasite questions from the crowd.
There are some 3,450 described species of Pteromalids, found throughout the world and in virtually all habitats. Many are important as biological control agents.
Also planned at the open house:
- A family craft activity, to be announced
- Sampling of Chirp Chips, from the Bohart Museum's recent entomophagy open house
- Display of orange and black Harlequin beetles (just in time for Halloween) from Jasmin Ramirez Bonilla of the Ian Grettenberger lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- Display of pumpkin-eating pests--cucumber beetles--which can be a pest on squashes, cucumbers and other members of the cucurbits family.
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.
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 holds special open houses throughout the academic year. Its 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.
More information on the Bohart Museum is available by contacting (530) 752-0493 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or Tabatha Yang at email@example.com.