- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
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.
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
The Bohart Museum of Entomology's last open house of the 2013-14 academic year will explore the theme, "Arachnids: Awesome or Awful?" on Saturday, July 26 from 1 to 4 p.m. The Bohart Museum is located in Room 1124 of Academic Surge on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
Many locally found spiders, include the black widow, jumping spider and cellar spiders--alive and specimens--will be exhibited.
A special attraction is Rosie, a 24-year-old tarantula reared by entomologist/Bohart volunteer Jeff Smith of Sacramento. Visitors are invited to hold it and photograph it.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, will be present to talk about insects. He is the co-author of Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide, which is available in the Bohart gift shop. Thorp will be available to sign the books.
Children and/or family activities are also planned, said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator at the Bohart.
The museum's gift shop, open throughout the year (credit-card purchases are accepted), includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum.
Bohart officials schedule weekend open houses throughout the academic year. The museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The insect museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
More information is available from Tabatha Yang at email@example.com or by telephoning (530) 752-0493.