- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
The Bohart Museum of Entomology will host its annual Moth Night--free and family friendly--from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3. The event takes place the week following National Moth Week, July 20-28.
Blacklighting will take place just outside the museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane. For blacklighting, the Bohart scientists use a hanging white sheet that's illuminated by ultraviolet (UV) light and powered by a generator. Throughout the evening, visitors can see what insects are attracted to the white sheets.Several scientists will be on hand to discuss moths and answer questions. They include senior museum scientist SteveHeydon of theBohart Museum; Jeff Smith, curator of the the moth and butterfly specimens; andBohart associates "Moth Man" John DeBenedictis and GregKareofelas. The best time to see the moths in the light traps is later in the evening, closer to 9:30 or 10, according to LynnKimsey, director of the museum, andTabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. Indoor activities--checking out the displays and participating in the craft activity--are planned prior to theblacklighting.
Bohart associate Emma Cluff curated a hallway display featuring silkworm moths and silk that links entomology and culture. The silkworm moths are from the Bohart museum collection, and the silk cloth has been donated by silkworm moth authority Richard Peigler, a biology professor at the University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas. "He sent us a collection of more than 10 pieces of cloth and several pieces of jewelry that utilize cocoons," Cluff said. "He has sent similar collections of cloth to other research institutions."
"These textiles represent work that has been done for centuries, and in some cases millennia, throughout Asia," Cluff said. "The relationship between these artists and the insects that provide their materials is beautiful and elaborate and we wanted to bring it to light."
The free family craft activity will involve creating silk moth cocoon necklaces. "Kids will be able to color and string white cocoons and make necklaces or bracelets with them," Cluff said.
Free refreshments--hot chocolate and cookies-- will be served.
Last year more than 140 spectators attended Moth Night. The first insects to show up were the scarab beetles or "June bugs" (referring to certain species of scarabs). Beetle expert Fran Keller, assistant professor at Folsom Lake College who received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, identified the first scarab beetle to arrive as a Polyphylla sp. or lined June beetle.
Bohart associate and "Moth Man" John De Benedictis listed the species sighted at Moth Night by family. Among them:
- NOCTUIDAE: Spodoptera exigua (Beet Armyworm Moth), Proxenus sp. (probably P. mindara)
- GEOMETRIDAE: Prochoerodes truxaliata
- PYRALIDAE: Ehestiodes gilvescentella
- 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.)
DeBenedictis said a young girl collected the Prochoerodes truxaliata, a moth that feeds on coyote bush as a caterpillar.Some facts about moths, from the National Moth Week website:
- Moths are among the most diverse and successful organisms on earth.
- Scientists estimate there are 150,000 to more than 500,000 moth species.
- 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--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 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, 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 Bohart Museum's regular hours have changed for the summer season. As of July 3, the Bohart is hosting 30-minute tours starting at 2:30 and 3:30 pm. No reservations are required and all ages are welcome. Admission is free, but donations are always welcomed. The Bohart is open to walk-in visitors Monday through Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m. It is closed from 9 a.m. to noon to walk-in visits (the insect museum conducts many tours and outreach programs during those times).More information on the Bohart Museum is available on the website or by contacting (530) 752-0493 or email email@example.com.