It's Butterfly Heaven at the Bohart Museum

Butterfly heaven!

Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the butterfly and moth collection at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis, is in butterfly heaven.

And even more so now--he just returned from a collecting trip to Belize with his colleagues and brought back some 700 to 800 Lepidoptera specimens.

Smith will be among those presenting at the Bohart Museum's open house on "Bug-Art@The Bohart" from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 21. The event, free and open to the public, will include art displays,  sketching demonstrations;  coloring of dragonfly images, and other insect-art interests, including an insect tattoo contest and an insect-themed attire contest.

How large is the Bohart's Lepidoptera collection? It has now reached about half a million, estimates Smith, a longtime volunteer honored with a UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' "Friend of the College" award. "I believe I spread over 4,000 specimens from an August 2017 trip to Belize, and brought back maybe 700-800 more from this recent Belize trip, so the numbers continue to grow."

Specifically, what's on tap for the Bohart open house? UC Davis entomology major and artist Karissa Merritt will demonstrate how to sketch insects. 

Other art featured will be that of the late Mary Foley Bensen, a former Smithsonian Institution scientific illustrator who moved to Davis and worked for UC Davis entomology faculty; Lynn Siri Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology; and Charlotte Herbert, Ph.D. student; and UC Davis entomology alumni/artists Ivana Li and Nicole Tam. An exhibit of "insect wedding photography" images by Bohart associates Greg Kareofelas and Kathy Keatley Garvey is also planned.

Visitors will be invited to sketch insects. If you're not artistically inclined, you can color the images of dragonflies from a coloring book by dragonfly expert/author Kathy Claypole Biggs and illustrator Tim Manolis.

The open house will definitely be interactive! Attendees are invited to wear insect-themed attire and jewelry. A contest will take place at 3 p.m. for the best insect-themed outfit, and for the best insect-themed tattoo (tattoo must be in a family friendly site).

Also on Jan. 21, insect/art enthusiasts are invited to view the unique exhibition, It's Bugged: Insects' Role in Design from 2 to 4 p.m. in Room 124 of Cruess Hall. The exhibit, which continues through April 22 (the event is free and open on weekdays from noon to 4 p.m. and on Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m.) features the work of faculty and graduate students from the Department of Design; specimens from the Bohart Museum; and insect photography by UC Davis alumnus Alex Wild, curator of entomology, University of Texas, Austin.

World-renowned for its global collection of nearly eight million specimens, the Bohart Museum also maintains a live “petting zoo,” featuring walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, praying mantids, and tarantulas. A gift shop, open year around, offers T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy. The Bohart's 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. For more information, contact the or access the website or Facebook page.