DAVIS–A picnic without bugs just isn’t a picnic. Ask any entomologist.
When the 101st annual Picnic Day at the University of California, Davis takes place campuswide on Saturday, April 18, visitors will see plenty of insects and other arthropods from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at two sites: Briggs Hall on Kleiber Hall Drive and the Bohart Museum of Entomology on Crocker Lane.
Ants? Yes. Bees? Sure. Other pollinators? Definitely. The focus is on pollinators.
Theme of the campuswide picnic is “The Heart of Our Community,” but over at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, the theme is “The Good, the Bad and the Bugly.” The museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, will feature pollinators. The museum houses nearly 8 million specimens. It also houses a live “petting zoo,” comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and a rose-haired tarantula named Peaches, a crowd favorite.
At Briggs Hall, a new event is the Pollinator Pavilion, where visitors can see and learn about bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Pollination ecologist/graduate student Margaret “Rei” Scampavia is coordinating the project. “We’re going to have painted lady butterflies, monarchs, male blue orchard bees, and a live bumblebee colony,” she said. Other events at the Pollinator Pavilion will include puppet shows, a chance to practice pollinator observations, museum specimens, and information on how individuals can help support healthy pollinator populations (The Pollinator Pavilion replaces the termite trails activity)
Favorite displays or activities returning are the “Bug Doctor” booth, where an entomologist “is in” and will answer questions about insects; American cockroach races, where visitors can cheer their favorite cockroach to victory; maggot art, where participants can dip a maggot into non-toxic water-based paint and let it crawl (or guide it), on a white piece of paper.
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey will portray “Dr. Death,” showing methods used in forensic entomology. The Phil Ward lab will assemble a display on the incredible diversity of ants. The Sharon Lawler lab will display aquatic insects and answer any questions about them.
Visitors can sample six different varietals of honey at a honey tasting table set up in the Briggs courtyard. The flavors are coffee blossom, meadowfoam blossom, buckwheat, creamed clover, cotton and chestnut said. Elina Niño, Extension apiculturist. A bee observation hive will be set up in across from the courtyard, where Niño and staff research associate Billy Synk will answer questions about bees.
Graduate student Stacy Hishinuma and forest entomologist Steve Seybold, a chemical ecologist with the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Davis, and an affiliate of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will display forest insects.
Medical entomology graduate students will set up displays about diseases vectored by mosquitoes and other insects. The Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District will provide an educational exhibit about mosquito abatement. Exhibits also will include such topics as fly fishing/fly-tying.
The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) will be giving away lady beetles, aka ladybugs, with the hope that the beneficial insects will land in someone’s yard to gobble aphids and other soft-bodied insects. UC IPM also will display pest management control books.
Entomology Club members will offer face-painting. Another popular activity is posing as a bug or flower in a wood cutout.