The Roaches Are Ready to Roll! So Is the Virtual UC Davis Picnic Day

The roaches are ready to roll! And so is the virtual UC Davis Picnic Day.

The popular cockroach races, hosted by the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA), will take place during the 107th annual UC Davis Picnic Day on Saturday, April 17, but you'll see them only on your computer screen--not in person.

That's because the 2021 Picnic Day is going virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic precautions.

EGSA Picnic Day coordinator Erin "Taylor" Kelly, a graduate student in the laboratory of medical entomologist-geneticist Geoffrey Attardo lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, says the American cockroaches are housed in the basement of Briggs Hall and ready to go.

No personal trainers for them. "They will be pushed down the track by small pumps of air," she says.

Enthusiasts can cheer for their favorite racers and order stickers and roach race t-shirts from the EGSA website, which helps fund EGSA activities.

Where can you access the EGSA events on Saturday? On the UC Davis Picnic Day website at

Here are the EGSA's 14 stations on tap. The links will all appear on the UC Davis Picnic Day website on or before April 17.

Bug Doctor Booth 
This is a live Zoom session from 12 noon to 3 p.m., with questions and answers. Folks can ask questions about insects and spiders. 

EGSA T-Shirt Sales
Pre-recorded video
The video will showcase EGSA T-shirts and inspirations. Order items here.

Cockroach Racing
Livestream on Zoom, 11 a.m. to 12 noon
Viewers can join a Zoom room and watch the American cockroaches race to victory.
Agricultural Entomology at UC Davis
Live Zoom session with questions and answers, from 10 to 11 a.m. with Cooperative Extension specialist Ian Grettenberger, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. A downloadable worksheet will be available.

This banner adorns Briggs Hall during the UC Davis Picnic Day celebration. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This banner adorns Briggs Hall during the UC Davis Picnic Day celebration. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Can Plants Communicate?

Apre-recorded video by Professor Richard Karban, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, an expert on plant communication. The video is at
What Are Nematodes?
A pre-recorded video on "The Wonderful World of Nematodes" by nematologist Steve Nadler, professor and chair, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Ants of Davis
Apre-recorded video by ant lab of Professor Phil Ward, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.  Graduate students in the Ward lab will talk about their ant research. A downloadable coloring sheet will be available.
Entomology at UC Davis
This will include links to all of the department-based KQED videos and a downloadable cooring sheet.
Lil' Swimmers
Professor Sharon Lawler, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will offer a pre-recorded video, adapted from her live lil' swimmers exhibit. She will display water striders, dragonflies and damselflies and discuss their biology.
Can Bumble Bees Take the Heat?
A downloadable PDF from the lab of Professor Neal Williams, pollination ecologist, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. This involves whether bumble bees can take the heat: "Will the increase in extreme heat in California affect these cool-weather loving pollinators and their ability to persist?" This UC Davis research group is trying to figure this out. Folks can help them conduct this work by submitting observations of bumble bee nests in the Davis/Sacramento area so that monitoring efforts can begin gathering critical data.
Landscaping with Native Plants to Support Local Pollinators
This is a live Zoom session from 1 to 2 p.m. with question and answers, featuring community ecologist RachelVannette, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Learn about using landscaping with native plants to support local pollinators.
Fly Fishers of Davis
A pre-recorded video. Learn about the Davis Fly Fishers Club.
UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program
A downloadable worksheet will be offered.
Fight the Bite 
This will be pre-recorded/reposted video from the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito Control District. Folks can learn about local vector control.
Bohart Museum of Entomology Talks
The Bohart Museum of Entomology, home of nearly eight million insect specimens,  is planning activities as well. Among them: Bohart associate and natural historian Greg Kareofelas will present a pre-recorded video on Gulf Fritillary butterflies and entomologist Jeff Smith,  the Bohart's volunteer curator of the Lepidoptera collection, will deliver a live Zoom talk from 1 to 2 p.m. on butterfly and moth mimicry. 

"For my presentation on mimicry within Lepidoptera, it will briefly mention camouflage and spend most of the time on mimicry for defense--mimics of toxic or distasteful species, mimicry using odors or sounds, mimics of snakes or spiders, and mimics of non-food materials such as bird feces," Smith said. 

The Bohart Museum, temporarily closed, is directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology.