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Posts Tagged: Lynn Kimsey

Myths and Gifts

Author Fran Keller with her dogface butterfly book. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Myths and gifts...

When the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology hosts its open house from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 23, the theme will be "Insect Myths." (Okay, and spider myths, too!)

You'll learn about honey bee, ladybug, butterfly and spider myths at this family-oriented event, which is free and open to the public.

The insect museum  located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, is not only the home of nearly 8 million insect specimens, but it operates a live "pettting zoo" (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas) and a year-around gift shop filled with T-shirts, jewelry, posters, books, bug-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy, including chocolate-dipped scorpions, crunchy crickets, and protein-rich lollipops. 

Insect jewelry is popular at the Bohart Museum. Proceeds are earmarked for educational efforts. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Two of the latest books available in the gift shop are Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide (Princeton University Press) and California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists (Heyday), co-authored by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis. Thorp is an associate at the Bohart Museum and maintains an office in the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.  

Another popular book, published in 2013, is a 35-page children's book, The Story of the Dogface Butterfly, authored by entomologist Fran Keller, who this year received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis. She is a researcher, college instructor, mentor, artist, photographer, and author.

The book, geared for  kindergarten through sixth-grade classrooms, and also a favorite of  adults, tells the untold story of the California dogface butterfly (Zerene eurydice), and how a classroom successfully mounted a campaign to name it the California state insect. Illustrations by artist Laine Bauer, a UC Davis graduate, and photographs by naturalist Greg Kareofelas, a Bohart Museum volunteer, depict the life cycle of this butterfly and show the host plant, false indigo (Amorpha californica). Net proceeds from the sale of this book are earmarked for the education, outreach and research programs at the Bohart Museum.

Gift shop items are available both in the store (Monday through Thursday) and online, http://www.bohartmuseum.com/.

Among the favorites gifts at the Bohart Museum:

  • T-shirts depicting images of dragonflies, butterflies,  beetles and moths
  • Bohart Museum coffee mug
  • Insect collecting net
  • Posters of butterflies of Central Californian, Dragonflies of California, and the California Dogface butterfly
  • Butterfly habitat
  • Jewelry depicting bees, butterflies, dragonflies and ladybugs (many of the boxes are engraved with the Bohart logo and treasured)
  • Science kits
  • Insect and spider books
  • Insect magnets

The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, is open to the public  from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. It is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free. More information is available by contacting the Bohart Museum at (530) 752-0493 or Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator at tabyang@ucdavis.edu.

Robbin Thorp with two of the books he co-authored. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Robbin Thorp with two of the books he co-authored. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Robbin Thorp with two of the books he co-authored. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, November 21, 2014 at 5:40 PM

Bohart Museum Open House: Insect Myths!

Worker bee. Many myths persist. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
How many insect myths do you know?

Worker bees are males, right? 

Butterflies and moths can't fly if you rub the scales off their wings, right?

Earwigs crawl into your ears and then into your brain, right?  

Wrong. They're all widely known but falsely held beliefs.

What better place to learn about insect myths than the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology, home of nearly eight million insect specimens? An open house is scheduled  from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 23, in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building, Crocker Lane.

The Bohart folks will dispel scores of myths, including these:

  • Brown recluse spiders are found in California 
  • Daddy long-leg spiders are very venomous, but their mouths are too small to bite us.
  • We swallow/eat a significant amount of spiders/insects in our sleep. 

The open house is free and open to the public, and family friendly.

Directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, the insect museum 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 and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold the insects and photograph them. In addition, face painting will be among the family-oriented activities. Think bugs!

Visitors can also browse the gift shop, which includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy. (Gifts can also be purchased online.)

The Bohart Museum's popular open houses are in addition to its regular weekday hours, from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. It is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free.

Here's a list of open houses through Saturday, July 18: 

  • Saturday, Dec. 20: “Insects and Art,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, Jan. 11: “Parasitoid Palooza,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, Feb. 8: “Biodiversity Museum Day,” noon to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 14: “Pollination Nation,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 18: UC Davis Picnic Day, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 17: “Name That Bug! How About Bob?” 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 18: “Moth Night,” 8 to 11 p.m.

More information is available by contacting (530) 752-0493 or Tabatha Yang, education and public outreach coordinator at tabyang@ucdavis.edu

Gulf Fritillary butterfly on Cosmos. One myth is that if you rub the scales off their wings (who would want to?), they can't fly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Gulf Fritillary butterfly on Cosmos. One myth is that if you rub the scales off their wings (who would want to?), they can't fly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Gulf Fritillary butterfly on Cosmos. One myth is that if you rub the scales off their wings (who would want to?), they can't fly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Cellar spider wrapping a honey bee. How many myths do you know about spiders? (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Cellar spider wrapping a honey bee. How many myths do you know about spiders? (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Cellar spider wrapping a honey bee. How many myths do you know about spiders? (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 6:06 PM

Male Wool Carder Bees: In-Your-Face Behavior

She described it to a "T."

That would be "T" for territorial.

Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis, spotlighted the European wool carder bee in her current edition of the Bohart Museum Society newsletter.

The males are aggressive. Their territorial behavior is "in your face." They will chase away bees, butterflies and even small birds, like hummingbirds. "They will also check out humans, flying up to them and hovering," Kimsey says.

But it's not something we should be worried about. The wool carder bee is a pollinator.

"We tend to think of all exotic species of insects as being pests," Kimsey wrote. "By and large, that's true but there are exceptions. The wool carder bee, Anthidium manicatum, may be one of these exceptions."

She describes it as a species of European leafcutter bee "that has successfully colonized North America. However, North America isn't the only place these bees have invaded. They are now found in north Africa, South America, Asia, the Canary Islands and even in New Zealand. World domination is ahead."

The wool carder bee (so named because the female scrapes or cards leaf fuzz for her nest) was accidentally introduced into the U.S. from Europe in the early 1960s and was first discovered in New York State. It spread quickly across the continent. Scientists found it in Davis, Calif., in 2007.

They're about the size of a honey bee, Kimsey says "but they are brightly marked with yellow on a black background with a bright yellow face. Only honey bees in Disney movies are black and yellow. Males are considerably larger than females, and have a spine on either side of the last two abdominal segments and three spines on the last segment."

Those spines have been mistaken for stingers, but only females have stingers.

We've seen the males protect patches of lamb's ear, catmint, foxgloves, oregano, cosmos, African blue basil, and Mexican sunflower (Tithonia) in our yard. They mean bees-ness. We've seen honey bees working frantically, trying to forage as quickly as possible without getting targeted. We've also seen some of them crippled on the ground.

The female wool carder bees build their nests, Kimsey says, in rotting wood or preexisting tunnels, such as beetle burrows.

Kimsey mentioned that the Bohart Museum scientist Tom Zavortink experienced female carder bees "carding" wool from his socks! 

The Bohart Museum Society newsletter is mailed to its members. The society is a campus and community support organization, and like the Bohart Museum, is dedicated to teaching, research and public service. For more information on the society, including how to join, see this page.

Male wool carder bee heads for the photographer. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Male wool carder bee heads for the photographer. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Male wool carder bee heads for the photographer. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Wool carder bee zeroing in on catmint. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Wool carder bee zeroing in on catmint. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Wool carder bee zeroing in on catmint. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A male wool carder bee attacking a honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A male wool carder bee attacking a honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A male wool carder bee attacking a honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, October 10, 2014 at 6:04 PM

How to Pin a Butterfly

Fingers and pins. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
How do you pin and spread a butterfly?

Entomologist Jeff Smith, an associate at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis,  showed everyone from pre-schoolers to adults how to do just that at the Bohart's recent open house.

It was all hands-on.

Smith provided the dried insects and spreading boards. Each participant took home a pinned butterfly on a spreading board for later removal and display. Smith also contributed the labels. 

Cassidy Hansen of Rio Vista, a 2012 graduate of Rio Vista High School, was among the participants. She said she may decide to major in entomology. 

Smith asked a group of participants why the proboscis (tongue) of a white-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata), commonly known as the hummingbird moth, is so long. Some looked puzzled. "To reach the nectar of tubed  flowers," he answered. Smith then pulled out the proboscis to show them the length. 

The participants also admired the research collection, held exotic insects and arthropods, viewed a bee observation hive, and collected insects on the lawn behind the building.

This was the first in a series of open houses planned during the academic year.All open houses are free and open to the public.  

The schedule:

  •   Sunday, Nov. 23: “Insect Myths,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  •   Saturday, Dec. 20: “Insects and Art,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  •   Sunday, Jan. 11: “Parasitoid Palooza,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  •   Sunday, Feb. 8: “Biodiversity Museum Day,” noon to 4 p.m.
  •   Saturday, March 14: “Pollination Nation,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  •   Saturday, April 18: UC Davis Picnic Day, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  •   Sunday, May 17: “Name That Bug! How About Bob?” 1 to 4 p.m.
  •   Saturday, July 18: “Moth Night,” 8 to 11 p.m.

 The Bohart Museum is located in Room 1124 of Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, off LaRue Road. Directed by  Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, the Bohart Museum houses nearly eight million insect specimens, a live “petting zoo” and a gift shop. 

More information on the open houses are available from Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, at (530) 752-0493 or tabyang@ucdavis.edu.

Want to learn how make an insect collection? An award-winning collection of short videos on "How to Make an Insect Collection" is posted on the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology website and on YouTube. These student-produced videos, directed by Professor James Carey, are short and concise. The project won an award from the Entomological Society of America. It is considered the best of its kind on the web.

Entomologist Jeff Smith shows Cassidy Hansen fof Rio Vista how to pin a butterly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Entomologist Jeff Smith shows Cassidy Hansen fof Rio Vista how to pin a butterly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomologist Jeff Smith shows Cassidy Hansen fof Rio Vista how to pin a butterly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Cassidy Hansen works on a butterfly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Cassidy Hansen works on a butterfly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Cassidy Hansen works on a butterfly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Close-up of the project. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of the project. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Close-up of the project. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A white-lined sphinx moth, Hyles lineata. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A white-lined sphinx moth, Hyles lineata. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A white-lined sphinx moth, Hyles lineata. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The white-lined sphinx moth has a long proboscis (tongue). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The white-lined sphinx moth has a long proboscis (tongue). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The white-lined sphinx moth has a long proboscis (tongue). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, October 3, 2014 at 5:55 PM

Hide the Cactus!

Hide the cactus! There's a Mexican cactus fly in our midst.

A large black fly hovers over a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia) in our bee garden and then drops down to sip some nectar. At first glance it looks like a carpenter bee but this one hovers like a syrphid fly, aka flower fly or hover fly.

"Hover fly," I say.

Entomologists Martin Hauser, Lynn Kimsey and Robbin Thorp quickly identified the critter.

Hauser, senior insect biosystematist with the Plant Pest Diagnostics Branch of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, says it's in the genus Copestylum (with over 350 species in the new world) and figured it to be the species,  mexicanum, commonly known as the Mexican cactus fly.

Said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis: "Nice, this is actually a kind of syrphid flower fly, better known as a cactus fly. The larvae breed in rotting cactus tissue."

Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology, also figured it to be a Mexican cactus fly, Copestylum mexicanum.  "It's commonly known as a cactus fly (Syrphidae, Tribe Volucellini).  "It used to be in the genus Volucella, But now it's in the genus Copestylum."

This fly is not small. It's about 3/4 of an inch long. It lays its eggs in rotting plant material "and they really like rotting cacti," Hauser commented. "As far as I know, they only go into dying cacti and do not attack healthy cacti…. But there is actually not much known about their biology."

The resident cacti expert at our house is worried, showing his best prickly pear expression. He quickly canvasses the yard. Whew! No rotting cacti. All thriving and in good health.

So far, so good...

Black hover fly, aka Mexican cactus fly, sipping nectar from a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Black hover fly, aka Mexican cactus fly, sipping nectar from a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Black hover fly, aka Mexican cactus fly, sipping nectar from a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Side view of the black syrphid fly, a Mexican cactus flower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Side view of the black syrphid fly, a Mexican cactus flower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Side view of the black syrphid fly, a Mexican cactus flower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey

Mexican cactus fly ready to take off. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Mexican cactus fly ready to take off. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Mexican cactus fly ready to take off. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 5:29 PM

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