Bring on the Bed Bugs at the Bohart
Bed bugs, lice, ticks, mites, fleas and mosquitoes.
If you want to see and/or learn more about them, attend the Bohart Museum of Entomology's "Snuggle Bugs" open house from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 12 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
It's free and open to the public, and families especially are encouraged to attend, says Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.
A highlight will be a display of bed bugs reared by Danielle Wishon, a 2013 UC Davis entomology graduate and an affiliate of the Bohart Museum. Wishon. She plans to feed them (her blood) around 2 p.m.
Wishon began rearing her first research colony of bed bugs in October 2012. She's since added a second colony. She's deliberately keeping the colonies small. Total count: around 100.
Wishon, a lab assistant at the California Department of Food and Agriculture since late last summer, said she became interested in bed bugs while studying with UC Davis forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey. Also spurring her interest: the questions asked at the Bohart. "Visitors were bringing in various insects and asking if they were bed bugs," she said. Among the insects: carpet beetles, dog ticks, swallow bugs and bat bugs.
Wishon aims to dispel the myths about bed bugs. There's a lot of misinformation on the Internet, she says. Unlike many insects, "they don't spread diseases."
Wishon maintains her colonies in Briggs Hall, home of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Any escapees? No. She's especially observant with the first instars, which are about one millimeter long.
Wishon is a past president of the UC Davis Entomology Club and recipient of the department’s 2011 Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis and housing nearly eight million specimens, is the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum in 1946.
Special attractions at the Bohart include a live "petting zoo," with critters such as Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, millipedes, tarantulas and praying mantids. Visitors can also shop at the year-around gift shop (or online) for t-shirts, jewelry, insect nets, posters and books, including the newly published children’s book, “The Story of the Dogface Butterfly,” written by UC Davis doctoral candidate Fran Keller and illustrated (watercolor and ink) by Laine Bauer, a 2012 graduate of UC Davis. The 35-page book also includes photos by naturalist Greg Kareofelas of Davis, a volunteer at the Bohart.
Sunday' open house is just one of the many scheduled weekend open houses held throughout the academic year. Regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The insect museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free. More information, including information on group tours, is available from Tabatha Yang at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bed bug. (Photo by Piotr Naskrecki, courtesty of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)