Posts Tagged: Robert Kimsey
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology is known as "The Fly Man of Alcatraz."
When he's not teaching classes, advising students and graduate students, or heading out on homicide cases, you can usually find him on "The Rock"--researching flies.
Kimsey will discuss "The Flies of Alcatraz" tomorrow (Thursday, May 5) at a meeting of the Northern California Entomology Society, to be held at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. His talk starts at 1:15.
Kimsey has walked where Al “Scarface” Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Robert “The Birdman of Alcatraz” Stroud and Arthur “Doc” Barker walked. He sleeps where "The Bird Man of Alcatraz" sleeps when his research involves overnight trips.
“One day when I was working on research until 4:30 a.m., I laid down in the cell, extremely tired,” Kimsey said. “I looked through the steel bars and saw the lights of San Francisco. I thought about how I’d feel if I had to spend a large chunk of my life in this cell. I’d certainly be very angry with myself.”
Kimsey became involved in the fly project in July 2007 when he received a call about the annoying flies from entomologist Bruce Badzik, integrated pest management coordinator with the National Park Service, Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Complaints rose to a feverish pitch in late August, September and October. The flies seemed to land on people as if they were rotten meat. Kimsey witnessed the incessant “shoo-fly” behavior on the docks and encountered it on a personal basis.
Kimsey identified the troubling fly as a “kelp fly” (Fucillia thinobia) or “cormorant fly” in the family Anthomyiidae. “But it’s not a kelp fly as such,” said Kimsey, who plans to publish his research in an entomological journal. “It has nothing to do with kelp. It lives in purge-soaked soil under dead cormorants found in rookeries all around the island. It does not exist in any other place.”
Since then, he and Badzik have identified 17 species of flies. They are the first to research the flies of Alcatraz.
Kimsey has also become friends with many of the National Park Service employees, the former inmates and the former guards.
“Federal prisoners were sent to Alcatraz not necessarily because of the nature of their crime but of their deportment or behavior toward others in jails elsewhere,” Kimsey said. “If they fought constantly, tried to kill the guards, or tried to escape, Alcatraz was the place to send them. They were not necessarily the worst of the worst, but the most difficult.”
UC Davis forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey on "The Rock." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Kelp flies or cormorant flies (Fucillia thinobia) on Alcatraz. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Cormorant off waters of Alcatraz. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
There's an "alarming resurgence in the population of bedbugs" in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The exact cause is not known, but the CDC says it could be linked to "increased resistance of bed bugs to available pesticides, greater international and domestic travel, lack of knowledge regarding control of bed bugs due to their prolonged absence, and the continuing decline or elimination of effective vector/pest control programs at state and local public health agencies."
The Los Angeles Times warned in a Dec. 4 headline: L. A.'s Slow Trickle of Bedbugs May Turn Into a Flood.
That's a big "bah-humbug" for the holidays.
Senior museum scientist Steve Heydon of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis, was quoted as saying:
Ghouls just like to have fun at Halloween.
So do entomologists.
When the Bohart Museum of Entomology. located at 1124 Academic Surge, University of California, Davis, holds its annual Halloween Open House, guests are in for a real treat.
A few tricks, too--in the form of tricky costumes.
This year forensic entomologist Bob Kimsey, dressed in a ghillie suit, the kind of camouflage clothing turkey hunters wear. Note: No turkeys were harmed in the wearing of the suit.
Bohart Museum director Lynn Kimsey, who as the former chair of the Department of Entomology, helped coordinate the honey bee program and activities during her tenure, dressed as...you guessed it...a queen bee.
Year around, the Bohart is home to seven million insect specimens, and a few live ones--or what Kimsey calls "the petting zoo." The zoo includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches, Vietnamese walking sticks and assorted other critters.
If the "petting zoo" critters could talk, they'd still be talking about the director disguised as a queen bee, a graduate student posing as an exterminator and a forensic entomologist dressed in a ghillie suit.
Meanwhile, the Bohart Museum is gearing up for two open house days: Sunday, Nov. 14 from 1 to 4 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 11 from 1 to 4 p.m. Those are in addition to the regular weekday hours.
Don't expect any queen bees, exterminators or ghillie suits there, though.
Bob Kimsey, Where Are You?
President Obama caught a little flak when he smacked a fly during a recent press interview in the White House.
During the interview, a pesky fly buzzed around his head and then landed on his hand. Big mistake. The commander-in-chief nailed him.
The bug stopped there. "I got the sucker," he said.
That prompted the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to protest the fly "execution."
And now YouTube, Facebook, My Space, the bloggers and the tweeters are all getting into the act.
The President killed a fly.
So have I.
To be honest, I'm not one to participate in a catch-and-release program.
However, I do photograph them occasionally. See, there's this forensic entomologist at UC Davis named Robert Kimsey who shows fly images in his PowerPoints.
Last weekend I photographed a blow fly that landed on my pink-petaled cosmos. Did it for Bob. Honest.
Surely it's true that "You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar" but frankly, I wouldn't waste the honey. Or the vinegar. Or the time. And why would I want to catch flies anyway? The fly is not my favorite pollinator. It's a notorious disease transmitter.
Still, it can be pretty in pink.
Got the sucker.
Blow Fly on Cosmos
The Shadow Knows
UC Davis forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey loves flies.
So, every chance I get, I shoot an image for him.
Many of the images wind up in his classroom PowerPoint presentations.
"Keep 'em coming," he says.
So, I shoot flies. Yes, indeed. I shoot flies. No, I am not a candidate for a 12-step program. Well, not yet.
Truth is, we think of flies as noxious. We don't think of flies as having parts like a head, abdomen and thorax--or compound eyes, arista, antenna, prescutum, scutum, scutellum, balancer and mesothorax.
They do, though.
Alive or dead.
And some are even pretty--especially when they're touching down on delicate pink blossoms.
Pretty in Pink?