Celebrate Moths at the Bohart Museum on Saturday Night, July 30

Jul 15, 2016

Ready...set...go! It's almost time to celebrate moths!

How much do you know about moths? Do you know the difference between a moth and a butterfly? Have you ever seen some of the world's largest moths, such as the Atlas moth? Have you ever collected noctuid moths on your front porch light?

In keeping with "International Moth Week, Exploring Nighttime Nature (July 23-31)," the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis, will celebrate moths at its evening open house from 8 to 11 p.m., Saturday, July 30.  The theme, appropriately enough, is "Celebrate Moths!"

And that's exactly what will happen! It promises to be informative, educational and fun!

Activities, free and open to the public, will take place inside the museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, and outside the building, where black lighting will be set up to observe and collect moths and other insects.

Entomology graduate student Jessica Gillung will participate, "so there will be an entomologist fluent in Spanish and Portuguese on site," said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach  coordinator. In addition to her fluency in English,  Spanish and Portuguese, the multilingual Gillung speaks a little German.

A fourth-year graduate student, Gillung studies with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and UC Davis professor of entomology. Gillung is a member of the reigning championship Linnaean Games team, the UC Davis graduate student team that won the national championship last fall at the Entomological Society of America meeting in Minneapolis. The Linnaean Games is a college-bowl type competition in which student teams answer questions about insects and entomologists. The 2015 questions included "What is the smallest insect that is not a parasite or parasitoid?” (Answer at the end of this blog.)

At Moth Night, visitors are invited to view the Bohart Museum's vast collection of worldwide moth specimens and participate in family friendly craft activities featuring a moth motif. Scientists will explain how to differentiate a moth from a butterfly. Free hot chocolate will be served.

Moths continue to attract the attention of the entomological world and other curious persons. Scientists estimate that there may be more than 500,000 moth species in the world. They range in size from a pinhead to as large as an adult's hand. Most moths are nocturnal, but some fly during the day, as butterflies do. Finding moths can be as “be as simple as leaving a porch light on and checking it after dark,” according to International Moth Week officials.  “Serious moth aficionados use special lights and baits to attract them.”

The Bohart Museum is a world-renowned insect museum that houses a global collection of nearly 8 million specimens. It also maintains a live “petting zoo,” featuring walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches and tarantulas. A gift shop, open year around, includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.

The Bohart Museum is open to the public from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and on major holidays. Admission is free.  More information on the Bohart Museum is available by contacting (530) 752-0493 or bmuseum@ucdavis.edu.

(Note: Answer to the Linnaean Games question: "What is the smallest insect that is not a parasite or parasitoid?" If you guessed, "Beetles in the family Ptiliidae," you're right!)