Meet and Greet 'Watermelon' at the Bohart Museum of Entomology

Have you ever said "Hi" to a watermelon?

No? Well, you can "meet and greet" a watermelon at the Bohart Museum of Entomology during the seventh annual campuswide Biodiversity Museum Day on Saturday, Feb. 17 at the University of California, Davis.

But you can't thump it.

It's a praying mantis nicknamed "Watermelon," so named because of its red and green coloration.

The adult female Australian rainforest mantis, Hierodula majuscola, is part of the collection of  UC Davis entomology student/Bohart Museum associate Lohit Garikipati.

Garikipati will be showing Watermelon and numerous others from his collection--including an orchid mantis named Marsha--from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.

"Watermelon  is actually on the smaller size of her species--wild individuals are more around the 4-5 inch mark, whereas watermelon just passes 3 inches," says Garikipati, who serves as secretary of the UC Davis Entomology Club and is an active member of the Facebook page, Mantis Keepers. "They are incredibly aggressive, both males and females, and females will even regularly eat Extatosoma tiaratum (Australian leaf insects) when they come across them."

The Australian rainforest mantises are not only known for their large size and aggressive nature, but "they are very pretty, with black and red on their inner forearms--which they flash in defense when they are threatened,  Garikipati points out. "So far Watermelon has laid two egg cases, "but this species can lay around four, with each ootheca hatching 150 plus nymphs."

Garikipati presented a detailed seminar on mantises last Friday to fellow scientists at the Bohart Museum during their regular lab meeting.

Also at the Bohart Museum on Feb. 17, you can see the butterfly and moth collection, curated by entomologist Jeff Smith; and newly collected specimens from a January field trip to Belize headed by Bohart associate and entomologist Fran Keller, assistant professor at Folsom Lake College; wildlife biologist Dave Wyatt, professor at Sacramento City College;  and others on the field trip. No stranger to the Bohart, Keller received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, studying with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart.

The Bohart Museum is just one of 13 museums or collections to be showcased during the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day. The event is free and open to the public.

The following will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.:

 The following will be open from noon to 4 p.m.:

All participating museums and collections have active education and outreach programs, said Biodiversity Museum Day committee chair Tabatha Yang, the Bohart's education and outreach coordinator. The collections are not always accessible to the public. Maps, signs and guides will be available at all the collections, online, and on social media, including Facebook and Twitter, @BioDivDay.