Who Invited Bugs to the UC Davis Picnic Day?

Apr 20, 2018

Who invited bugs to the UC Davis Picnic Day?

Well, UC Davis officials and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology did!


All systems are "go" for the 104th annual UC Davis Picnic Day, an all-day event on Saturday, April 21 when scores of visitors, aka picnickers, will stroll the campus. It promises to be both educational and entertaining.

The UC Davis Picnic Day Committee offered a pre-view Thursday noon at the Quad.

Bohart Museum of Entomology representatives--Wade Spencer, Lohit Garikipati, and Diego Rivera, all UC Davis students and Bohart associates--kept busy answers questions about scorpions, stick insects and praying mantids.

Spencer displayed his desert hairy scorpion named Celeste. Okay, surprise, surprise! Celeste turned out to be a male, but his name remains Celeste.

Lohit Garikipati, an entomology student who rears praying mantids, came with his buddy, a Malaysian shield mantis. "What's that?" visitors asked, looking at the shield.

For a hour, the trio entertained the guests. Some expressed awe at Spencer casually holding a scorpion. "I've been handling scorpions since I was three," he said. "I've never been stung."

Rivera showed an Australian leaf walking stick insect that resembled a leaf. The crowd took turns holding and  photographing it.

Now it's showtime!

On Saturday, April 21, during the campuswide Picnic Day, you can engage with insects at both Briggs Hall, which houses the Department of Entomology and Nematology administration and most of the faculty, and the Bohart Museum of Entomology, home of eight million insect specimens.

At Briggs Hall, located off Kleiber Hall Drive, activities will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m. At the Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, the open house is from 10 to 3 p.m.

Here's what's on tap at Briggs, either in front or inside the building:

  • Entomology at UC Davis: Enter Briggs Hall and find a wide variety of entomology-themed displays, from classics, including insect forestry to recent additions, such as “Virtual Reality Bugs."
  • Honey Tasting Booth: Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño and her staff will operate the honey tasting booth, focusing on berry honeys. They will offer these honey varietals: blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, snowberry, almond and buckwheat.
  • Maggot Art: Visitors will create maggot art by dipping a maggot into a water-based, non-toxic paint and position it on paper and let it crawl. Voila! Maggot art, suitable for framing
  • Cockroach Races: Crowds can pick their favorite "roach athlete" and cheer it to victory
  • Virtual Reality Bugs: Medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo will set up a virtual reality system to enable people to view three dimensional models of insects. In VR, the models can be made to look life size, 40 feet tall or anywhere in between, he says. Here's the link that to view them in your web browser: https://skfb.ly/6xVru
  • Bug Doctor: The Doctor Is In: Graduate students will identify insects and arachnids and answer questions
  • IPM Booth:  UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program professionals will discuss and answer questions about insect pests, beneficial insects and pest control. They will display their publications and live insects. In keeping with tradition, they will give away free lady beetles (lady bugs), to be released in gardens to devour aphids and other soft-bodied insects.
  • Mosquito Abatement:  Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District professionals will staff a booth
  • Dr. Death: Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey will staff his traditional Dr. Death booth, inviting the visitors to ask questions and look through microscopes.
  • Davis Fly Fishers: The anglers will demonstrate fly-tying techniques in Briggs 158
  • Scavenger Hunt: Participants will search for and identify insects in a display of 10 drawers in Briggs 122. 
  • Insect Face Painting: Entomology Club members will face-paint bees, butterflies, lady beetles and other insects
  • T-Shirt Sales: Visitors can take their pick or picks among insect-themed t-shirts (popular t-shirts include beetles and honey bees) Selection and prices are online at https://mkt.com/UCDavisEntGrad/ 
  • Bake Sale: The Entomology Club will offer insect-themed baked goods.
  • Strike Up the Band: Music composed by Michael Lewis Bollinger (Frank Zalom lab); cover songs possible. The band, dressed in insect costumes, will include Jackson Audley of the Steve Seybold lab, rhythm guitar; Yao Cai of the Joanna Chiu lab, drums; Christine Tabuloc of the Chiu lab, vocals; Zachary Griebenow of the Phil Ward lab, keyboard; Wei Lin of the Brian Johnson lab, bass; Jill Oberski of the Phil Ward lab, tenor saxophone; and Brendon Boudinot of the Phil Ward lab, bassist.

"The band will be setting up and warming up at 4," said Boudinot. "We'll start our set at 4:30, and wrap up at 5 or so. We are working on tightening up the set list--for now we have four songs. Expect some guitar and drum solos at the least!"

Bohart Museum

At the Bohart Museum, open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the theme is "Where the Sun Doesn't Shine," a play on this year's Picnic Day theme of "Where the Sun Shines."

"We'll be highlighting nocturnal insects, cave dwelling insects, and yes, beaver butt beetles or Platypsyllus castoris, an ectoparasite on beavers, near their glands, wounds, and skin," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. " We will be holding insects as well."

The Bohart Museum will also showcase its live "petting zoo," comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks or stick insects, tarantulas and mantids. The museum also offers a year-around gift shop with T-shirts, jewelry, posters, books, insect nets and the like.

 "Entomology at UC Davis" (122 Briggs) has been nominated for a special campus award under the category "At One With Nature." The Honey Tasting booth at Briggs has been nominated for a similar award under the category, “Hunger Fix.”  Winners of the categories are determined by an Internet vote. (Access the link here to vote from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. for your favorite exhibits on Picnic Day). The winners will be publicized on the Picnic Day websiteFacebookTwitterInstagram, and Snapchat accounts after Picnic Day.

What's a picnic without bugs?

By Kathy Keatley Garvey
Author - Communications specialist

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