Just Buggin' Ya! The Good, The Bad and the Bugly

Apr 14, 2015

In Journalism 101, students learn that news stories need the Four Ws--who, what, when, where and why" and the H--"how come."

But when it comes to UC Davis Picnic Day 101, the "101" doesn't mean inexperience. This is the 101st annual celebration, which means UC Davis has been doing this for a century.

It's an event billed as entertaining, educational and informative--and it is. Plus, it's just plain fun!

Longtime friends and family get to hug ya. Entomologists get to bug ya. Visitors will see plenty of insects and other arthropods from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at two sites: Briggs Hall on Kleiber Hall Drive and the Bohart Museum of Entomology on Crocker Lane.

Theme of the campuswide picnic is “The Heart of Our Community,” but over at the Bohart Museum, the theme is “The Good, the Bad and the Bugly.” The museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, will feature pollinators. The museum houses nearly 8 million specimens. It also houses a live “petting zoo,” comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and a rose-haired tarantula named Peaches, a crowd favorite.

At Briggs Hall, a new event is the Pollinator Pavilion, where visitors can see and learn about bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Pollination ecologist/graduate student Margaret “Rei” Scampavia is coordinating the project. “We're going to have painted lady butterflies, monarchs, male blue orchard bees, and a live bumblebee colony,” she said. Other events at the Pollinator Pavilion will include puppet shows, a chance to practice pollinator observations, museum specimens, and information on how individuals can help support healthy pollinator populations.

Favorite displays or activities returning to Briggs are the “Bug Doctor” booth, where an entomologist "is in" and will answer questions about insects; American cockroach races, where visitors can cheer their favorite cockroach to victory; maggot art, where participants can dip a maggot into non-toxic, water-based paint and let it crawl on white paper.

Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey will portray “Dr. Death,” showing methods used in forensic entomology in 122 Briggs. The Phil Ward lab will assemble a display on the incredible diversity of ants. The Sharon Lawler lab will display aquatic insects and answer any questions about them.

Visitors can sample six different varietals of honey at a honey tasting table in the Briggs courtyard. The flavors are coffee blossom, meadowfoam blossom, buckwheat, creamed clover, cotton and chestnut,  said Elina Niño, Extension apiculturist. A bee observation hive will be set up in across from the courtyard, where Niño and staff research associate Billy Synk will answer questions about bees.

Also at Briggs: graduate student Stacy Hishinuma and forest entomologist Steve Seybold, a chemical ecologist with the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Davis, and an affiliate of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will display forest insects. Medical entomology graduate students will set up displays about diseases vectored by mosquitoes and other insects.  The Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District will provide an educational exhibit about mosquito abatement. Exhibits also will include such topics as fly fishing/fly-tying.

The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) will be giving away lady beetles, aka ladybugs, in front of Briggs Hall. They will answer questions about insects and display many of their books.

The Graduate Student Entomology Association (GMSA) and the Entomology Club will be out in force, coordinating and staffing the many insect activities. If you like bugs, you can buy an entomology t-shirt or have a bug painted on your face. The Bohart Museum also will be selling t-shirts and other items in its gift shop, which is open year-around.

If you're going to the parade, which starts at 9:30 a.m., be sure to check out the Entomology Club's float. It will not be an "itsy bitsy spider." It will be one ritsy gigantic spider!   Following the parade, the float will be showcased in front of Briggs Hall.

What a day it promises to be...the good, the bad, and the bugly...