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Posts Tagged: Lynn Kimsey

A moth's night out: Celebrate moths at Bohart Museum

Moths are attracted to porch lights, like a moth to a flame. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you're the kind of person who deliberately allows cobwebs or spider webs to grace your porch light, you may be the curious type - or have a little bit of entomologist in you.

Like a moth to a flame?

Yes, and you can learn more about moths at the Bohart Museum of Entomology's "Celebrate Moths!" open house on Saturday night, July 30 from 8 to 11.

The Bohart Museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane at UC Davis.

The event is in keeping with "International Moth Week: Exploring Nighttime Nature,"  July 23-31, a citizen science project celebrating moths and biodiversity.

It promises to be  informative, educational and engaging, according to Bohart Museum director Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology and the recipient of the UC Davis Academic Senate's 2016 Distinguished Public Service Award.

Free, open to the public and family friendly, the three-hour open house will include:

  • outdoor collecting
  • viewing of the Bohart's vast collection of worldwide moth specimens
  • information on how to differentiate a moth from a butterfly
  • family arts-and-crafts activities
  • free hot chocolate

Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's public education and outreach coordinator, said that after the sun sets, a black light demonstration will take place just outside Academic Surge. You can observe and collect moths and other insects from a white sheet, much as you may do around your porch lights.

Moths are considered among the most diverse and successful organisms on earth. They 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.

“Their colors and patterns are either dazzling or so cryptic that they define camouflage,” according to International Moth Week spokespersons. “Shapes and sizes span the gamut from as small as a pinhead to as large as an adult's hand.”

Most moths are nocturnal, but some fly during the day, as butterflies do.

Among the thousands of moth specimens at the Bohart is the Atlas moth, Attacus atlas. One of the world's largest moths, it's found in the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia, and commonly found across the Malay archipelago. And it's huge! A record specimen from Java measured 10.3 inches.  Atlas moths may have been named after the Titan of Greek mythology, or their map-like wing patterns. It apparently inspired the movie, Mothra.

Scientists participating in the Bohart Museum's Moth Night will include UC Davis entomology graduate student Jessica Gillung, who speaks fluent Spanish and Portuguese, in addition to English. A fourth-year graduate student, she is a member of the UC Davis Linnaean Games team that won the Entomological Society of America's national championship last year. The Linnaean Games are a college-bowl type game in which competing university teams answer trivia questions about insects and entomologists.

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's regular hours are 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.

UC Davis entomology graduate student Jessica Gillung holds a tray of Atlas moths at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
UC Davis entomology graduate student Jessica Gillung holds a tray of Atlas moths at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

UC Davis entomology graduate student Jessica Gillung holds a tray of Atlas moths at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Tuesday, July 19, 2016 at 1:20 PM

These bees 'cut it'

We're in the midst of a housing crisis, so why not build a 30-unit, high-rise condo in your yard?

No, not for people--for native bees.

We just installed a bee condo for leafcutting bees (Megachile spp.), on a five-foot high pole overlooking catmint, lavender and salvia.  The "housing development" is actually a wooden board drilled with small holes to accommodate our tiny tenants. Comfy and convenient. Rooms with a view. No housing permits or EIR required. Rent-free, mortgage-free.

Leafcutting bees, aka leafcutter bees, are about the size of a honey bee but darker, with the characteristic light-banded abdomens. They are important pollinators.

Why are they called leafcutter bees? Because the females cut leaf fragments to construct their nests to raise their brood. In nature, they build their nests in soft, rotted wood or in the pithy stems of such plants as roses, raspberries, sumac and elderberry. 

Unlike honey bees, which are social, the leafcutting bee is a solitary nesting bee.  She provisions her leaf-lined nest with nectar and pollen, lays an egg, and seals the cell before leaving.

Commercially made bee condos are available at beekeeping supply stores or on the Internet. You can make or buy a board with different sized-holes so other native bees, such as blue orchard bees, aka mason bees, receive a "home, sweet home," too, and deliver pollinator services.

And enable you to tell your family and friends that you're a "bee landlord" or beekeeper.

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation offers tips on building bee condos on its website and in its publications, including Farming for Bees: Guidelines for Providing Native Bee Habitat on Farms.

If you don't want bee boards housing your tenants, you can provide straws or hollow bamboo stems.

At the UC Davis Department of Entomology, doctoral candidate Emily Bzdyk is doing research on leafcutter bees. "Basically I'm doing a revision of the subgenus Litomegachile, part of the large genus Megachile, which includes leafcutter and resin bees," she said. "They are native to North America. My goals are to find out how many and what the species are in Litomegachile, and find out as much as I can about their biology, or how they make a living."

"I also want to identify clearly what the boundaries between the species are, or how to tell them apart from one another," said Bzdyk, whose major professor is Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology. "Litomegachile are very common and hard-to-identify to species, and I feel they deserve attention."

Bzdyk noted that some Megachile are used in commercial alfalfa production. The alfalfa leafcutter bee, native to Europe, is used for commercial pollination of alfalfa, she said. "The Litomegachile is probably very closely related."  

The alfalfa growers erect giant bee condos in their fields to draw bees to their plants.

With home gardeners, the effect is the same.

If you build them, they will come.

Leafcutting bees, aka leafcutter bees (genus Megachile) head toward a bee condo built for these and other pollinators. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Leafcutting bees, aka leafcutter bees (genus Megachile) head toward a bee condo built for these and other pollinators. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Leafcutting bees, aka leafcutter bees (genus Megachile) head toward a bee condo built for these and other pollinators. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Home sweet home: Oblivious to ants, a leafcutter bee heads for home. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Home sweet home: Oblivious to ants, a leafcutter bee heads for home. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Home sweet home: Oblivious to ants, a leafcutter bee heads for home. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Male leafcutter bee (genus Megachile) sips nectar from a rock purslane. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Male leafcutter bee (genus Megachile) sips nectar from a rock purslane. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Male leafcutter bee (genus Megachile) sips nectar from a rock purslane. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 9:41 AM
 
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