The Making of a Monarch

Nov 28, 2016

If you're addicted to monarchs--and lament that they're overwintering in coastal California and in central Mexico and nowhere near you--no worries.

The Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis, has butterflies in its gift shop that will never leave you, never migrate and never die.

Think stuffed animal/puppet in a zippered pouch that resembles a chrysalis. Unzip one section and out pops the familiar black, yellow and white caterpillar. Unzip another section and out pops the iconic monarch butterfly.

Monarchs are just part of the animal menagerie in the Bohart Museum gift shop. Besides the monarchs, you'll see stuffed animals resembling bed bugs, lice, tardigrades and mosquitoes. You'll find t-shirts, sweatshirts, books, posters, jewelry, insect collecting equipment and insect-themed candy, all ready for gift-giving. Proceeds benefit the Bohart's many educational and public outreach activities.

Monarch-themed t-shirts ("Got milkweed" in reference to the host plant) are also popular, as are zippered mesh habitats, perfect for rearing and releasing butterflies.

And now, mark you calendar! In keeping with the widespread interest in monarchs and other butterflies, the Bohart Museum is hosting a special open house, "Eggs to Wings: Backyard Butterfly Gardening," on Sunday, March 19. The event, free and open to the public, takes place from 1 to 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, other open houses, all scheduled from 1 to 4 p.m., will share the spotlight:

Sunday, Jan. 22: 1 to 4 p.m.: “Parasite Palooza: Botflies, Fleas and Mites, Oh, My”

Saturday, Feb. 18: (varying times throughout campus): Biodiversity Museum Day, an opportunity to explore 11 UC Davis collections

And toward the end of the academic year is the campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day, an annual open house set Saturday, April 22. The Bohart Museum will greet thousands of visitors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Get ready for the caterpillar.
Get ready for the caterpillar.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane. It's a world-renowned insect museum that houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It also maintains a live “petting zoo,” featuring walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches and tarantulas.

The insect museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The gift shop is open year around. 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 The website is