Backyard Orchard News
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.
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 email@example.com.
Robbin Thorp with two of the books he co-authored. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Applications are now being accepted for scholarships to attend California Naturalist training in the San Joaquin Valley and central Sierra region in 2015.
To become a certified California Naturalist, trainees take part in 40 hours of classroom and field courses and complete a capstone project. More than 700 California Naturalists have been certified by UC Cooperative Extension since the program's inception in 2010. The 2015 training sessions will be offered with the Sierra Foothill Conservancy, the UC Merced Vernal Pools and Grasslands Preserve and the UC Merced Sierra Nevada Institute.
Partial scholarships will be awarded in two categories: Student Scholars Award and Service Award. The Student Scholars Awards are open to graduating high school seniors and currently enrolled college students. The Service Awards are open to people engaged in work (volunteer or paid) that directly impacts under-served communities.
The scholarships are intended to engage participants who will apply their experience by taking action in their own communities. To be eligible for a scholarship, aspiring naturalists are invited to fill out the online application at http://ucanr.edu/CalNatScholarship. Application review will begin in December 2014 and continue until all the scholarships have been awarded. Read more.
California Naturalist training in an outdoor classroom.
Bats are pollinators? Definitely. According to the USDA Forest Service, more than 300 species of fruit depend on bats for pollination. The crops include mangos, bananas and guavas, grown in tropical and desert climates. While bees take the daytime pollinator shift, bats take the nighttime shift.
Entomologists and agriculturists think about bats a lot, too, because bats eat insects that ravage our crops.
Someone who really knows and appreciates bats is Yolo County Farm Advisor Rachael Freeman Long. "I've had a long time interest in ecosystem services of bats because they feed on insects and can help with pest control in agricultural crops," Long said. "For example, we just determined that in walnuts, each bat provides about $6 in pest control services for codling moth control, a major pest in this crop (Long RF et al. 2014. What's a bat worth to a walnut orchard? BATS Magazine [Bat Conservation International] Spring 2014)."
A person of many interests and talents, Long has also written a children's book that features bats.
In honor of bats, The Avid Reader, 617 2nd St., Davis, between E and F St., is planning a special program from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 22. Long will be there for the book signing, and talk about her book, and Corky Quirk of Nor Cal Bats will be there with her live bats and talk about their importance in the world. The organization is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of bats throughout Northern California.
"My interest in writing this trilogy is science literacy for kids to teach them about the natural history of bats and the incredible importance of bats in our world for pollination and pest control benefits," Long said. "Bats are major pollinators of many plants; without bats we wouldn't have tequila as they are the main pollinators of the agave plant from which tequila is made!"
"In my stories, we learn all kinds of wonderful tidbits about bats, including echolocation, migration, that they feed on insects and that 'blind as a bat' is a total myth. I'll have to talk about their shiny poop in my third book with all the insect exoskeleton parts that bats can't digest and the fancy name of guano!"
Long recalls telling these stories to her son, when he was little, "on our long drives into town from our ranch."
"He loved them so much that one day I finally decided to write them down to share with other children--and adults too!!"
Sadly, bats often get a bad rap. When a person is mentally unstable, he's "batty" or has "bats in the belfry." Visual issues? "Blind as a bat." And who hasn't heard the expression, "like a bat out of hell?" (usually referring to a speeding car heading toward you at breakneck speed).
In Long's book, a little boy named Jack falls into a cave and loses his memory. We won't tell you what happens next but that the book is engaging and entertaining.
Just like bats.
Rachael Long beneath the Yolo Causeway with a bat detector. Notice the bats in the photo. (Photo courtesy of the California Farm Bureau Federation)
Earlier this year she came out with an app, "Wild Bee Gardens," the first-known conservation app for North American native bees. That app was exclusively for an iPad, but she promised an app for an iphone later.
Later is "now."
It's out. "Wild Bee Gardens" is an educational tool "showing the dazzling diversity of North America's native bees." The app pairs native bees with many of the flowers they frequent.
Ets-Hokin, a UC Berkeley zoology graduate, wants us all to work together to protect North America's premier pollinators. She seeks to inspire an appreciation for the importance and diversity of our native bees, and anticipates that people will create a habitat for native bees in their own gardens. The habitats are not fancy; in fact, native bee habitats are "a bit on the wild side," she says.
The work is impressive. It opens up the world of native bees and their floral resources through her text and some 300 photographs of native bees, primarily the work of entomologist/insect photographer Rollin Coville of the Bay Area.
Topics covered include:
- The role of native bees in our natural ecosystems
- The ecology and life cycles of native bees
- How to create a successful bee garden
- How to identify the native bee visitors that will appear in these gardens
The app covers 26 genera and links the bees to their favorite plants. Consultants included three scientists: native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis and UC Berkeley faculty members Gordon Frankie and Clare Kremen. They are acknowledged for their contributions of scientific knowledge and research. Arlo and Rebecca Armstrong of the Bay Area designed the app.
Just as we need food and shelter, so do bees. Native bees forage for pollen and nectar for their offspring. The bee scientists suggest you leave areas of undisturbed, bare ground for ground-nesting bees, and provide "bee condos" (wood blocks drilled with the proper-size holes) for leafcutting bees and mason bees.
While many folks will be out buying computers, laptops, tablets, designer clothes, houseware and the like during the holiday season, Ets-Hokin hopes they will take time to think about the native bees and provide for them.
Meanwhile, Celeste Ets-Hokin continues to spread public awareness about the plight of bees, writing about them, speaking about them, photographing them, and now she has an app for that: "Wild Bee Gardens."
"Wild Bee Gardens" is the first known conservation app for North American native bees.
A sunflower bee foraging on an echinacea flower. (Photo by Celeste Ets-Hokin)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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)