What's a Picnic Without Bugs?

What's a picnic without bugs?

Well, it wouldn't be a picnic at all!

The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology (ENT) is planning scores of displays and activities at Briggs Hall for the 110th annual campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day, to take place Saturday, April 20. 

Think ants, bees, beetles, butterflies, flies, cockroaches, maggots, mosquitoes, nematodes, spiders and scorpions.

And more.

This year, all of the entomology exhibits, including those at the Bohart Museum of Entomology,  will be at Briggs Hall.  (The Bohart Museum headquarters in the Academic Surge Building will be closed on Picnic Day.)

Hours? From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Bohart Museum's pop-up tent in front of Briggs, featuring insect specimens and an insect petting zoo, will be open from noon to 4 p.m. 

The entomology displays traditionally draw some 3000 attendees, said the ENT co-chairs, doctoral student Grace Horne of the Emily Meineke lab, and faculty member and forensic entomologist Robert "Bob" Kimsey. It's all free and family friendly.

Among the crowd pleasers are the cockroach races, maggot art, stick insects, and the Bug Doctor booth. The doctor is always in!

New to the line-up is the “I IUV Bugs,"  an exhibit about plant-insect interactions under ultraviolet light. The "glowing bugs exhibit" is the brainchild of Horne and primarily designed by the Meineke lab, "especially (doctoral student) Marielle Hansel Friedman," Horne said.  "We will have plants from the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery and local/pet-trade arthropods which glow under ultraviolet light. With this exhibit, we seek to highlight the interplay between light, color, and species interactions." 

Doctoral student Veronica Casey of the Shahid Siddique lab designed the new nematode exhibit. Carla-Cristina "CC" Melo Edwards of the Geoffrey Attardo lab is coordinating the new medical entomology display. "The bumble bee observation hive is unfortunately not ready for the spotlight this year," Horne said.

The list of events and activities in and around Briggs Hall will include:

Bug Doctor
Briggs Hall Entryway
Graduate students will answer questions about insects. What's that bug? Attendees are encouraged to bring an insect or photo for identification.

Cockroach Races
Front of Briggs Hall 
American cockroaches, Periplaneta americana, from Bob Kimsey's forensic lab, race on a specially made track, while roach fans cheer for their favorites. (Sometimes the athletes are named for faculty, friends or bystanders.)

Medical Entomology
122 Briggs Hall
Carla-Cristina "CC" Melo Edwards of the Geoffrey Attardo lab is coordinating the medical entomology display. Her research focuses on investigating the physiological mechanisms underlying pyrethroid resistance in Aedes aegypti (the yellow fever mosquito). 

Diversity of Arachnids
122 Briggs Hall
Doctoral student Emma Jochim of the Jason Bond lab is coordinating an exhibit she created last year to display the diversity of arachnids, such as vinegaroons, whip spiders, tarantulas, and scorpions. "We'll have live animals and fact sheets that will give a general overview of their diversity, behavior, and habitat," Jochim said. "I'll also bring some curated specimens to show what goes into creating a scientific collection and talk about why collections are important for understanding biodiversity. "

Maggot Art
Briggs Courtyard 
Artists--children and adults alike--create maggot art by dipping a live maggot into water-based, non-toxic paint. It's suitable for framing (or at least a spot on the refrigerator door). This event will close at 3 p.m. this year (last year it was at 5 p.m.)

Dr. Death
122 Briggs Hall
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey will display and discuss his work in his "Dr. Death" booth. Last year Kimsey pin-mounted and identified flies from various cases and research efforts, and displayed studies on the sequence of development of individual maggots, calling attention to the development and sequence of communities of insect maggots.  "By these means, approximations about how long a person has been dead can be made," he told the crowd.

Entomology at UC Davis
122 Briggs Hall
Displays of insects, including bees, ants and more. Graduate students, faculty and emeriti will staff the tables. 

Bohart Museum of Entomology
Front of Briggs Hall
A pop-up tent, staffed by the Bohart Museum, will include stick insects (walking sticks) and Madagascar hissing cockroaches. "We are excited to be part of the bigger department's offerings," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.  Give-aways are also planned.

Briggs Hall courtyard
Fly Fishers of Davis will show attendees how to tie a fly. The recipients take home the flies. 

Insect-Themed T-Shirt Sales
Briggs Hall entryway
Members of the Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA), led by president Mia Lippey, will be selling their popular insect-themed t-shirts, including The Beetles.  The T-shirt, EGSA's all-time best seller, is a take-off of the cover of The Beetles' Abbey Road alum. However, instead of the Beatles crossing the road in a single file, four beetles (family names Phengogidae, Curculionidae, Cerambycidae and Scarabaeidae) do so.  

Mosquito Control Booth
Entrance to Briggs (below front steps)
Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District will be providing information on mosquitoes, answering questions, and handing out give-a-ways, including mosquito repellent. 

UC  Statewide Integrated Pest Management (UC IPM) 
Briggs Hall Courtyard
“We plan to have many of our usual materials on display and will be giving out the live lady beetles (aka ladybugs) again,” said urban and community IPM educator Lauren Fordyce. “We purchase them from a local garden center. In addition to that, we plan to have a prize wheel that adults and kids can spin, answer a question, and win a prize if they answer correctly. We may also have temporary insect tattoos to give away.”

Ranked Third in the Country. The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology is ranked third among  “The Best Entomology Colleges in the United States for 2024" by universities.com.  The department includes 24 active and 19 retired faculty;  28 graduate students (five in the master's degree program and 23 in the doctoral degree program); 47 undergraduate entomology majors (based on the Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services (OASIS)  Student Reports); and a staff comprised of 27 academics (non-faculty), 24 career, and 56 student assistants. Professor and chair of the department is molecular geneticist and physiologist Joanna Chiu.