Bugs Galore at Dixon May Fair

May 8, 2014

There are bugs galore at the Dixon May Fair, which opened today (Thursday, May 8) and continues through Sunday, May 11.

The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology is showcasing insects in the Floriculture Building, where displays include a bee observation hive from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, butterfly and other specimens from the Bohart Museum of Entomology, and arts and crafts from the Honey and Pollination Center.

In Today's Youth Building, six-year-old Mieko Heiser of Dixon is displaying "My Bug Exhibit," telling fairgoers how to catch, identity and pin insects. Her pinned insects include a honey bee, lacewing, field cricket and ladybug larvae. And, oh, yes, a spider (not an insect, but an arthropod).

"It's an amazing exhibit," said Sharon Payne, building superintendent and president of the Solano County 4-H Council. It won a best-of-show award, spotlighting the fair's theme, "Best of Show."

Here's what's "buggy" in the Floriculture Building, headed by florist Kathy Hicks:

  • Entomologist Jeff Smith of the Bohart Museum will let fairgoers pet and hold a 22-year-old rose-haired tarantula from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., both Saturday and Sunday, May 10-11. He also plans to bring along Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks. Those are a few of the live critters, permanent residents, in the Bohart Museum's "petting zoo." The UC Davis-based museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology, is home to nearly eight million insect specimens.
  • Billy Synk, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, is scheduled to answer questions about bees from 11 to 4 p.m., Friday, May 9. 
  • Cameron Jasper, bee scientist with the Brian Johnson lab at UC Davis, plans to share bee information with fairgoers from 4 to 6 on Friday, May 9.
  • Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center, headquartered in the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, will show youngsters how to make bee/flower puppets  from 1 to 5 p.m., Saturday, May 10.
  • You can also expect to see native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, there, too, schedule permitting.

And in case you didn't make it over to Briggs Hall for the campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day, many of the insect science posters are being displayed in the Floriculture Building. You can learn how to identify dragonflies and butterflies of California, what makes an insect an insect, and read interesting facts about cockroaches and mosquitoes.

Meanwhile, over on the UC Davis campus, a special event will take place on Friday, May 9 in the department's bee garden, the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus. The occasion:  National Public Gardens Day. The open house will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and includes a guided tour from 6 to 6:30. Haven manager Christine Casey says "We'll also be giving away sunflower plants along with information about how to monitor them for bee activity."

The half-acre bee garden is open daily from dawn to dusk. Expect to see lots of bees and other pollinators, plus the amazing work of the UC Davis Art/Science Program.