The event is free and family friendly. It is the Bohart's first special event of the fall season.
Visitors will learn about the smallest fairy wasps to the "murder hornets"; what role wasps play in plant galls and figs; and how to distinguish a parasitoid from a parasite. Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, will discuss the Asian giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia, dubbed by the news media as “the murder hornet." The Entomological Society of America recently established as its official common name, “northern giant hornet.”
A single colony of the Asian giant hornet was found and destroyed Sept. 18, 2019 in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, Canada, and a single dead hornet was found Dec. 8, 2019 in nearby Blaine, Wash. Since then, it also has been sighted-- and destroyed--in both Canada and Washington state.
Kimsey, an authority on the giant hornet and a two-term past president of the International Society of Hymenopterist, says the insects probably "hitched a ride" in a cargo box shipped from Asia to a North American seaport. The insect is considered the world's largest species of hornet and can reach up to 2 inches in length. A few hornets can destroy a bee colony, decapitating the honey bees, in a matter of hours.
Kimsey and two other wasp experts published “The Diversity of Hornets in the Genus Vespa (Hymenoptera: Vespidae; Vespinae); Their Importance and Interceptions in the United States,” in the journal Insect Systematics and Diversity in May of 2020. (See https://bit.ly/3BVZ34Y)
Lead author Allan Smith-Pardo, U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and co-authors James Carpenter of the American Museum of Natural History's Division of Invertebrate Zoology, and Kimsey covered 22 species of hornets, including V. mandarinia.
Fairy wasps, which belong to the family of chalcidoid wasps, are tiny insects that include the world's smallest known insect, with a body length of 0.139mm, and the smallest known flying insect, only 0.15mm. All known fairy wasps are parasitoids of the eggs of other insects.
A family arts-and-crafts activity is also planned at the open house.
The Bohart Museum is the home of a global collection of eight million insect specimens. It also houses a live “petting zoo,” comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas; and a gift shop with insect-themed items. More information is available on the website at https://bohart.ucdavis.edu or by contacting email@example.com.
After a two-year hiatus due toCOVID, it's back by popular demand, said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum.
It's free, family friendly and open to the public. Inside, visitors will see the Bohart's special moth collection, and outside, visitors will see moths and other insects land on the hanging white sheet of the blacklighting display, comprised of an ultraviolet (UV) light, and a generator.
The Bohart collection includes the Atlas moth, Attacus atlas, the world's largest moth with the greatest wing area of 10 to 12 inches. The Atlas is found in the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia.
Another large moth on display will be the "bat moth" or "black witch" (Ascalapha odorata), found in Central America, South America, Bahamas and parts of the southwestern United States. In Mexican and Caribbean folklore, it is considered a harbinger of death. The insect played a role in the movie, "Silence of the Lambs" but the name was changed to "Death's-head Hawkmoth."
Folks are invited to bring photos or moth specimens from their house, yard or neighborhood that they would like help in identifying, Yang said.
There will also be a craft activity, cookies, and "hot cocoa for anyone who needs help staying up past their bedtime," Yang quipped.
Back in 2019, before the COVID pandemic, the blacklighting display drew at least 11 different species from five moth families: Tineidae, Tortricidae, Pyralidae, Geometridae, and Noctuidae, according to Bohart associate and "Moth Man" John De Benedictis.
The families represented:
Opogona omoscopa (Opogona crown borer)
Achyra rantalis (garden webworm)
Ephestiodes gilvescentella (dusky raisin moth)
Spodoptera exigua (beet armyworm)
Spodoptera praefica (western yellow-striped armyworm)
Moth Night (NMW) "celebrates the beauty, life cycles, and habitats of moths, according to the national website. “Moth-ers of all ages and abilities are encouraged to learn about, observe, and document moths in their backyards, parks, and neighborhoods."
NMW, also celebrated worldwide, is traditionally held a week in July. "NMW offers everyone, everywhere a unique opportunity to become a citizen scientist and contribute scientific data about moths," the website relates. "Through partnerships with major online biological data depositories, NMW participants can help map moth distribution and provide needed information on other life history aspects around the globe."
NMW scientists point out:
- Moths are among the most diverse and successful organisms on earth.
- Estimates show that moth species number anywhere from 150,000 to more than 500,000.
- Their colors and patterns are either dazzling or so cryptic that they define camouflage. Shapes and sizes span the gamut from as small as a pinhead to as large as an adult's hand.
- Most moths are nocturnal, and need to be sought at night to be seen--others fly like butterflies during the day.
- Finding moths can be as simple as leaving a porch light on and checking it after dark. Serious moth aficionados use special lights and baits to attract them.
The free, family event takes place in the Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. The event will focus on the biology and history of the butterfly. A family arts and crafts activity is also planned.
Found only in California, the rarely seen butterfly is also known as (1) "the flying pansy," referring to the male's spectacular black and yellow coloring, and (2) as a "dog head" butterfly (the markings on the male resemble a silhouette of a dog's head). The female is mostly solid yellow.
The butterfly's major breeding ground is in Auburn at a preserve maintained by the Placer Land Trust (PLT). The butterfly is there because its larval host plant--false indigo (Amorpha californica)--grows well there. "The dogface butterfly has a range from San Diego County to Sonoma County and is usually found in mountain and foothill locations," according to an article on the PLT website. (Watch a virtual tour at https://youtu.be/kJUk1AKGtKs)
Meanwhile, the folks at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, including director Lynn Kimsey, museum scientist Fran Keller and Bohart associate Greg Kareofelas (he shares his expertise as a docent leading tours and delivering presentations for the Pacific Land Trust), hope to connect with the fourth grade students of Betty Harding and Shirley Klein in the Dailey Elementary School, Fresno, who advocated it as the state insect. The teachers and students enlisted the help of State Assemblyman Kenneth L. Maddy, who authored AB 1834. "His bill was read for the first time on March 15, 1972 and referred to the Assembly Committee on Government Organization, according to a state website.
"On May 25, 1972, with a committee vote of 6-2, Mr. Maddy failed to garner the needed eight votes to recommend the legislation to a floor vote. It wasn't clear why two members voted against the bill, but a bill to designate an official state fossil also gone down to defeat earlier in the day. The Fresno Bee wrote, 'Dog-Faced Butterfly Has Wings Clipped.'
"Assemblyman Maddy vowed to fight on and promised a better result when the full committee was present in the next week.
"Good to his word, Mr. Maddy moved the bill out of committee and to approval by the full Assembly on June 19. 1972.
"A month later, on July 20, the Senate voted 29-0 to approve AB 1834.
"On July 28, 1972, Governor Ronald Reagan signed Assembly Bill No. 1834 designating the California dog-face butterfly the official State Insect of California." (Read more on how the butterfly became the state insect under the Ronald Reagan administration.)
In 2013, Fran Keller, a UC Davis doctoral alumnus and now a professor at Folsom Lake College, published a 35-page children's book, The Story of the Dogface Butterfly that includes includes photos by Kareofelas and Keller and illustrations by then UC Davis student Laine Bauer. They earlier created a poster. Both the book and the poster are are available for sale in the Bohart Museum gift shop.
The book tells the untold story of the California dogface butterfly, and how schoolchildren became involved in convincing the State Legislature to select the dogface butterfly as the state insect. As part of their research, Keller, Kareofelas and Bauer visited the Placer Land Trust habitat of the butterfly. Kareofelas reared the insect from egg to adult, photographing all stages. At the open house, Keller will do a book reading for youths and their parents at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Kareofelas has assisted with news documentaries on the butterfly:
- Rob on the Road, KVIE, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)
- Capital Public Radio, National Public Radio (NPR)
The history of how the butterfly became the state insect actually begins in the 1920s with the Lorquin Entomological Society of Los Angeles. In an October 1929 article in The Pan-Pacific Entomologist, a publication of the Pacific Coast Entomological Society, J. D. Dunder of Pasadena credits the Lorquin Entomological Society with seeking "to establish a state insect for California." Out of three choices, the group voted on the California dogface butterfly.
Dunder wrote that the butterfly is "strictly a native California butterfly" and that "thousands of specimens are used each year in entomological art work for trays, bookends, plaques, etc., so the species is already fairly well known to the pubic."
Today its image graces a first-class U.S. stamp and our California driver licenses. It's also depicted on the California State Fair monorail. The Lone Buffalo Vineyards and Winery, Auburn, memorialized it on labels of specially bottled wine, with proceeds helping conservation efforts of the Placer Land Trust to protect the butterfly.
Take a look at the amazing images that Greg Kareofelas captured of the life cycle of the California dogface butterfly.
One of the activities at the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house, "Eight-Legged Encounters," set from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 25, will be a "Name-That-Spider-Species" contest, open to students 18 and under. The focus: a male trapdoor spider, a new species from the genus Promyrmekiaphila.
The event will be co-hosted by the Bohart Museum and the American Arachnological Society (AAS).
The open house will kick off the annual meeting of AAS, which meets June 26-30 on the UC Davis campus, said arachnologist Jason Bond, associate dean, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Professor Bond is chairing the AAS conference with Lisa Chamberland, postdoctoral research associate of the Bond lab, and Joel Ledford, assistant professor of teaching, Department of Plant Biology, College of Biological Sciences.
Chamberland, who holds a doctorate from the University of Vermont where she studied the historical biogeography of net-casting spiders (Deinopis) and spiny-backed orb-weavers (Gasteracantha) in the Caribbean, is coordinating the spider-species naming project with doctoral student Emma Jochim of the Bond lab and incoming doctoral student Iris Bright, who starts this fall.
"The genus Promyrmekiaphila is a group of trapdoor spiders that construct silk-lined burrows with wafer-like trapdoor lids, usually decorated with plant material or substrate," Jochim explained. "It's found generally in the Southern Bay Area. As of now there are only two species in the genus, so this new species will be the third!"
The student who wins the contest will have the honor of naming the new species, and an acknowledgment will appear in a forthcoming scientific paper, said Bond.
At the open house, some 20 exhibits and activities--educational and entertaining--will be set up in the hallway of the Academic Surge Building. “There will be everything--spider specimens, live arachnids, activities, artwork, etc., at the open house," said Bond, adding that a powerhouse of the nation's arachnologists will participate.
AAS member Eileen Hebets, professor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, is co-hosting the open house as part of a U.S. National Science Foundation grant, “Eight-Legged Encounters” that she developed as an outreach project to connect arachnologists with communities, especially youth. She seeks to educate the public “about the wonders of biology and the possibility of scientific discovery using a charismatic and engaging group of animals--arachnids. Arachnids (spiders and their relatives) are ubiquitous, thriving in most habitable environments on our planet (including underwater),” as mentioned on her website, https://hebetslab.unl.edu/
Professor Bond offers five good reasons to like spiders:
- Spiders consume 400-800 million tons of prey, mostly insects, each year. Humans consume somewhere around 400 million tons of meat and fish each year.
- Spider silk is one of the strongest naturally occurring materials. Spider silk is stronger than steel, stronger and more stretchy than Kevlar; a pencil thick strand of spider silk could be used to stop a Boeing 747 in flight.
- Some spiders are incredibly fast--able to run up to 70 body lengths per second (10X faster than Usain Bolt).
- Although nearly all 47,000-plus spider species have venom used to kill their insect prey, very few actually have venom that is harmful to humans.
- Some spiders are really good parents--wolf spider moms carry their young on their backs until they are ready to strike out on their own; female trapdoor spiders keep their broods safe inside their burrows often longer than one year, and some female jumping spiders even nurse their spiderlings with a protein rich substance comparable to milk.
Hebets says that as a scientist, a mother and an educator, she often sees "the disconnect between youth and the world around them; between problem solving skills, observation skills, critical thinking, natural curiosity and the more traditional formal teaching programs experienced by many students. Youth are innately curious and tremendously creative and my aim is to leverage these traits for their own educational advancements in a fun and engaging manner.” To date, Hebets and her collaborators have developed more than 25 modular activity stations “encompassing arts and crafts, experiments, games, and other hands-on activities." They include classification and taxonomy, spiders and silk, path of predators, and hands-on science.
The Bohart Museum, directed by UC Davis distinguished professor Lynn Kimsey, houses a worldwide collection of eight million insect specimens; a live "petting zoo" (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas) and an insect-themed gift shop.
In addition to the open house, AAS has scheduled a series of arachnid lectures, free and open to the public, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 28, in the newly constructed 600-seat lecture hall, California Hall.
The event, titled “Bugs in Ag: What Is Eating Our Crops and What Is Eating Them?” will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane. It is free and open to the public.
The open house will focus on the expertise of Cooperative Extension specialist Ian Grettenberger of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who researches pests of rice and alfalfa, among other crops. He and postdoctoral fellow Buddhi Achhami of the Grettenberger lab will be displaying tadpole shrimp (crustaceans), alfalfa weevils, aphids and other pests, and will field questions.
Grettenberger will display newly hatched tadpole shrimp. Guests will be able to view the pests under a microscope. He also plans to show small rice plants, which “look like grass in water.”
The family art activity will be to make tadpole shrimp hats or puppets and provide "googly eyes" to imitate the compound eyes and and the naupliar ocellus, according to Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum education and outreach coordinator. Tadpole shrimp, from genus of Triops, belong to the order Notostraca (tadpole shrimp). The name Triops originates from two Greek words meaning "three" and "eye.”
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, houses a global collection of eight million insect specimens; a live "petting zoo" comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks (stick insects) and tarantulas; and a year-around gift shop (also online) stocked with insect-themed gifts, such as t-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, posters, jewelry, books, puppets, candy and collecting equipment.
The Bohart Museum has been closed to the public for the last two years due to COVID-19 pandemic precautions. The Bohart observed UC Davis Picnic Day by setting up displays in the hallway of the Academic Surge Building. This spring the museum is open to the public, but groups must make reservations and everyone must follow the UC Davis visitor guidelines: https://campusready.ucdavis.edu/visitors?. The museum's "visiting us" page includes more information.