Bugs from Belize in the Bohart

Talk about alliteration.

"Bugs from Belize in the Bohart."

It doesn't get any more bugly than that.

That would be the exhibit at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. It's part of the seventh annual Biodiversity Museum Day, an all-day event set from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17 and showcasing 13 museums or collections. And yes, it's all free and open to the public.

  • The following will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology; Bohart Museum of Entomology, Raptor Center, Paleontology Collection, Arboretum and Public Garden; Phaff Yeast Culture Collection; and the Viticulture and Enology Culture Collection.
  • The following will be open from noon to 4 p.m.: Nematode Collection, Botanical Conservatory, Center for Plant Diversity Herbarium, Anthroplogy Museum, Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, and the Design Museum

But back to the bugs from Belize in the Bohart.

Bohart associates Fran Keller and Dave Wyatt led an expedition there in January--one of many collection trips they've organized--and they'll be at the Bohart from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to display the specimens and answer your questions. Among those participating on the collection trip were Jeff Smith, who curates the butterfly-moth collection at the Bohart; Darian Dungey, a 2017 UC Davis graduate in entomology; and Noah Crockette of Davis, a Sacramento City College student studying entomology.

Wyatt is a biology professor at Sacramento City College, where he teaches courses in the feild ecology programs. "I am a wildlife biologist with research interests in mammalogy and entomology and I specialize in working with ringtails (a relative of raccoons, coatis, and kinkajous) and bats," he says. "One of my favorite places to travel to is Belize in Central America - I have been fortunate to be able to go to Belize numerous times during the last decade."

Keller is an entomologist who teaches biology classes at Folsom Lake College. She holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, where she studied with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum. As a child, Fran was fascinated with insects and spent hours collecting them and observing them. Fascinated? She still is!

They estimated they brought back 100,000 specimens from their first Bohart Bioblitz Collecting Trip in June 2016. They co-taught a course at Sonoma State for the first two weeks in June and the collecting trip followed.

"Our very first collecting trip to start the National Collection was in June 2014," Keller related. "We then went in June 2015, June 2016, August 2017 and January 2018. The June 2016 and August 2017 were official Bohart Bioblitz Collecting trips (no course attached) with entomologists and insect-loving students helping collect insects for the Belize National Insect Collection, which is currently housed at the Bohart Museum."

The Bohart Museum is the home of eight million insect specimens, collected globally.  On Saturday, you'll see scores of specimens, plus the live "petting zoo" of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, rose-haired tarantulas, and praying mantises. UC Davis entomology student Lohit Garikipati will display his praying mantises, which include an orchid mantis and an Australian rainforest mantis. 

Be sure to check out all the collections and exhibits during Biodiversity Museum Day. The only dilemna is: "What should we see first?" You can download a map on the Biodiversity Museum Day website. All the collections are within walking distance except for the Raptor Center on Old Davis Road and the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a bee garden, on Bee Biology Road.

It's all about exploring the diversity of life--from hawks to honey bees, and from dinosaur bones to butterflies. And bugs from Belize at the Bohart.