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Posts Tagged: Tabatha Yang

How to Pin a Butterfly

Fingers and pins. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
How do you pin and spread a butterfly?

Entomologist Jeff Smith, an associate at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis,  showed everyone from pre-schoolers to adults how to do just that at the Bohart's recent open house.

It was all hands-on.

Smith provided the dried insects and spreading boards. Each participant took home a pinned butterfly on a spreading board for later removal and display. Smith also contributed the labels. 

Cassidy Hansen of Rio Vista, a 2012 graduate of Rio Vista High School, was among the participants. She said she may decide to major in entomology. 

Smith asked a group of participants why the proboscis (tongue) of a white-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata), commonly known as the hummingbird moth, is so long. Some looked puzzled. "To reach the nectar of tubed  flowers," he answered. Smith then pulled out the proboscis to show them the length. 

The participants also admired the research collection, held exotic insects and arthropods, viewed a bee observation hive, and collected insects on the lawn behind the building.

This was the first in a series of open houses planned during the academic year.All open houses are free and open to the public.  

The schedule:

  •   Sunday, Nov. 23: “Insect Myths,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  •   Saturday, Dec. 20: “Insects and Art,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  •   Sunday, Jan. 11: “Parasitoid Palooza,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  •   Sunday, Feb. 8: “Biodiversity Museum Day,” noon to 4 p.m.
  •   Saturday, March 14: “Pollination Nation,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  •   Saturday, April 18: UC Davis Picnic Day, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  •   Sunday, May 17: “Name That Bug! How About Bob?” 1 to 4 p.m.
  •   Saturday, July 18: “Moth Night,” 8 to 11 p.m.

 The Bohart Museum is located in Room 1124 of Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, off LaRue Road. Directed by  Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, the Bohart Museum houses nearly eight million insect specimens, a live “petting zoo” and a gift shop. 

More information on the open houses are available from Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, at (530) 752-0493 or tabyang@ucdavis.edu.

Want to learn how make an insect collection? An award-winning collection of short videos on "How to Make an Insect Collection" is posted on the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology website and on YouTube. These student-produced videos, directed by Professor James Carey, are short and concise. The project won an award from the Entomological Society of America. It is considered the best of its kind on the web.

Entomologist Jeff Smith shows Cassidy Hansen fof Rio Vista how to pin a butterly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Entomologist Jeff Smith shows Cassidy Hansen fof Rio Vista how to pin a butterly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomologist Jeff Smith shows Cassidy Hansen fof Rio Vista how to pin a butterly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Cassidy Hansen works on a butterfly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Cassidy Hansen works on a butterfly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Cassidy Hansen works on a butterfly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Close-up of the project. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of the project. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Close-up of the project. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A white-lined sphinx moth, Hyles lineata. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A white-lined sphinx moth, Hyles lineata. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A white-lined sphinx moth, Hyles lineata. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The white-lined sphinx moth has a long proboscis (tongue). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The white-lined sphinx moth has a long proboscis (tongue). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The white-lined sphinx moth has a long proboscis (tongue). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, October 3, 2014 at 5:55 PM

Bumble Bees and Spiders Don't Mix?

Bumble bees and spiders don't mix, you say?

Well, they will at the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, July 26. The family-centered event, free and open to the public, takes place in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.

Actually the theme is about spiders: "Arachnids: Awesome or Awful?" There you'll see black widow spiders, jumping spiders, cellar spiders and the like. But you don't have to "like" them as you do posts on Facebook!

You can also learn about bumble bees. Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, will be one of the tour guides.  Thorp co-authored the newly published Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide, which is available in the Bohart gift shop. He can autograph your book and answer questions about how to attract bees to your garden.

Thorp was recently interviewed by Tom Oder of the Mother Nature Network on how to garden for bumble bees. So was Steve Buchmann, an adjunct professor in entomology and ecology at the University of Arizona.

Thorp told Mother Nature Network that some bumble bees are in very serious decline, and others are doing quite well.

So, how do you attract them to your garden? Buchmann was quoted as saying: “Gardening for bumblebees is similar to gardening for other bees and pollinators."  To entice bumblebees to visit your garden, “plant mints, Salvia, Monarda, plants in the sunflower family and clovers."

Read Oder's article for more information.

And keep your eyes open for the soon-to-be-published California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists, co-authored by entomologist Gordon Frankie of UC Berkeley, Thorp, and two others with UC Berkeley connections: photographer/entomologist Rollin Coville and floral curator Barbara Ertter.

As for Saturday, July 26 there won't be a vote on whether you like bumble bees or spiders better, nor will you be asked to sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" or "Baby Bumble Bee." It promises, though, to be fun and educational. Plus, you can enjoy the live  "petting zoo," featuring 24-year-old Rosie the tarantula, assorted walking sticks, and the colorful Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Yes, they hiss.

The gift shop is also popular. You can browse through the books, jewelry, t-shirts, sweatshirts, insect-themed candy, butterfly houses, and insect-collecting kits.

The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses nearly eight million insect specimens and is the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum.

 

The museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. It's closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free. For more information, email education and outreach coordinator Tabatha Yang at tabyang@ucdavis.edu or telephone her at (530) 752-0493.

A camouflaged jumping spider eyes a honey bee on Japanese anemone. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A camouflaged jumping spider eyes a honey bee on Japanese anemone. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A camouflaged jumping spider eyes a honey bee on Japanese anemone. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Robbin Thorp points at a yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenski. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Robbin Thorp points at a yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenski. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Robbin Thorp points at a yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenski. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, July 25, 2014 at 9:12 PM

Spiders and Spiders, Oh, My!

Black widow spider protecting its eggs. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Odds are that Justin Timberlake won't be there.

Neither will J. K. Rowling, author of the wildly popular Harry Potter series of books.

They hate spiders. In fact, by all accounts, they have arachnophobia, an intense fear of spiders that affects some 3.5 to 6.1 percent of the U.S. population.

No wonder the Bohart Museum of Entomology has themed its open house on Saturday, July 26: "Arachnids: Awesome or Awful?"

The event, free and open to the public, takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of Academic Surge on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.

Many locally found spiders, including the black widow, jumping spider and cellar spiders--alive and specimens--will be exhibited. Want to know what the spider is that's dangling from your zinnias or crouched on a sedum or hiding in your woodpile? The Bohart Museum officials will tell you all about them.

Spiders are found throughout the world, except in Antarctica (where Timberlake and Rowling have probably pondered as suitable living quarters.)

A special attraction at the Bohart Museum will be Rosie, a 24-year-old tarantula reared by entomologist/Bohart volunteer Jeff Smith of Sacramento. Visitors are invited to hold it and photograph it.

Crab spider nailing a fly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, will be present to talk about insects. He is the co-author of Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide, which is available in the Bohart gift shop. Thorp will be available to sign the books. 

Children and/or family activities are also planned, said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator at the Bohart. 

Yang said some folks are "creeped out" by spiders while others are eager to see them. The open house will be an informational activity about them, but other insects will be there as well. In addition to its nearly eight million insects founds throughout the world, the Bohart houses live Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks, which visitors enjoy holding and photographing. A new addition is a Peruvian walking stick with red wings, yellow eyes and a velvety body.  

This week is also National Moth Week.

The museum's gift shop, open throughout the year (credit-card purchases are accepted), includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.

The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum.

Bohart officials schedule weekend open houses throughout the academic year. The museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The insect museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free. More information is available from Tabatha Yang at tabyang@ucdavis.edu or by telephoning (530) 752-0493.

A jumping spider ready to jump. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A jumping spider ready to jump. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A jumping spider ready to jump. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The eyes have it. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The eyes have it. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The eyes have it. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 at 10:22 PM

Like a Moth to a Flame

Moths.

Mother's Day.

The two go together like a moth to a flame, so why not have "Moth-er's Day?"

And that's exactly what the Bohart Museum of Entomology is doing from 1 to 4 p.m.,Sunday, May 4 in Room 1124 of Academic Surge,  Crocker Lane, UC Davis. The open house is free and open to the public.

The Atlas moth (Attacus atlas), the world's largest moth with the greatest wing area of 10 to 12 inches, will be among the insect specimens displayed. The Atlas is found in the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia--and in the Bohart Museum!

 Visitors will see the incredible diversity of moths, and learn the differences between moths and butterflies. "There is far greater diversity among moths than butterflies," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.

Both moths and butterflies are in the order Lepitoptera, which refers to the scales on their wings.

Another large moth on display will be the "bat moth" or "black witch" (Ascalapha odorata), found in Central America, South America, Bahamas and parts of the southwestern United States. In Mexican and Caribbean folklore, it is considered a harbinger of death. The insect played a role in the movie, "Silence of the Lambs" but the name was changed to "Death's-head Hawkmoth."

The white-lined Sphinx moth (Hyles lineata) is another critter you'll see. It flies both at night and during the day and has a wing span length between 2.7 and 3.9 inches. Some folks know it by its nickname, "the hummingbird moth." A member of the Sphingidae family, the white-lined sphinx moth is found throughout most of the United States, plus Mexico, Central America and Canada.

What other kinds of moths will you see on Moth-'ers Day?

  • The White Witch (Thysania agrippina), which holds the record for the largest wingspan in an insect (one Brazilian specimen has a wingspan of almost 12 inches). Note that the Atlas has the greater wing area.
  • Tomato Hornworm (Manduca quinquemacaulata), what you don't want to see in your garden.
  • Sunset Moth (Urania leilus), a colorful day-flying moth often mistaken for a butterfly
  • Cosmosoma spp., a genus of clear-winged moths
  • Automeris spp., a genus of moths with distinctly large owl-eyes on the hindwings
  • Sesiidae, a family of moths mimicking wasps
  • Bee-Hawk Moths (Hemaris spp.), a genus of sphinx moths mimicking bumble bees, and sometimes mistaken for hummingbirds
  • Moon Moths (Argema spp.), found in Africa and Asia
  • Tiger Moths (family Arctiidae), amazing butterfly mimics
  • Indian Meal Moths (Plodia interpunctella), also called pantry moths (the caterpillars are grain pests)

The Moth-er's Day event is also a good time to explore the Bohart Museum gift shop for Mother's Day gifts, including jewelry (necklaces, pins and earrings), books  and other items suitable for entomology fans. 

Visitors can hold live insects such as Madagascar hissing cockroaches, Vietnamese walking sticks, walking leaves and a rose-haired tarantula. 

 The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, was founded in 1946 by the late Richard M. Bohart. Dedicated to teaching, research and service, the museum houses nearly eight million insect specimens collected globally.  It boasts the  seventh largest insect collection in North America.

A white-lined Sphinx moth heads for a flower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A white-lined Sphinx moth heads for a flower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A white-lined Sphinx moth heads for a flower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Side view of a white-lined Sphinx moth. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Side view of a white-lined Sphinx moth. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Side view of a white-lined Sphinx moth. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) is considered the largest moth in the world. Its wingspans can reach over 10 inches long and it holds the record for the largest wing area (62 square inches). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) is considered the largest moth in the world. Its wingspans can reach over 10 inches long and it holds the record for the largest wing area (62 square inches). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) is considered the largest moth in the world. Its wingspans can reach over 10 inches long and it holds the record for the largest wing area (62 square inches). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 5:52 PM

No-See-Ums, But You Feel 'Em

Lynn Kimsey
It happened unexpectedly.

Tabatha Yang and her six-month-old son, Karoo, were sitting on their lawn last Sunday at their West Davis home, when she saw red.  Literally.

One minute they were enjoying the springlike weather, and the next minute his head was covered with bright red dots.  Looking closer, she spotted a tiny insect in his eye, which she quickly removed.

Then her legs began to welt and itch.

They had just encountered no-see-ums, tiny Valley Black Gnats that feed on blood.

“The adults are emerging in large numbers now and need blood so residents need to beware of grassy areas that cover alkaline clay soils,” said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor entomology at UC Davis.  “These insects are ferocious biters. Even though they don’t spread any diseases, they are sufficiently annoying to keep people indoors in some areas of California.”

The Bohart Museum is now fielding scores of calls and emails.

“These no-see-ums are smaller than fleas and have a supreme itch,” said Yang, Bohart Museum education and outreach coordinator, who knew immediately what they were.  

The biting gnats are particularly troublesome along the west side of  the Sacramento Valley, including Davis and Woodland. “They’re often in grassy areas, such as in parks and on golf courses on the west side of California’s Central Valley,” Kimsey said. “When the soil begins to dry and cracks develop, the adults emerge.” The complete life cycle from egg to adult takes about two years.

The no-see-ums  (Leptoconops torrens) belong to the family Ceratopogonidae and are about 1/16-inch long. They are so tiny they could pass through window screens, but they don’t, Kimsey said. However, they can and do slip beneath loose clothing, unnoticed, to get a blood meal.

Like mosquitoes, only the female no-see-ums bite. The insects breed when the weather warms in the spring, usually in May and June, and they remain a pest for several weeks, Kimsey said. They need a blood meal to complete their reproductive cycle.

They also bite domestic and wild animals and birds.

The females inject saliva into the skin, which pools the blood just beneath the surface, resulting in a small red dot that becomes excruciatingly itchy. A single bite can welt into a one-or two-inch diameter spot, which lasts about two weeks.

Kimsey cautions people not to scratch the welts, as scratching makes the itchy bites last twice as long and can lead to infected sores.

To avoid being bitten, Kimsey recommends that you limit exposure by not sitting long in places where they are likely to occur, or where you’ve heard of problem areas.  “Move quickly through the area.”

“Repellents,” she added, “aren’t effective against these flies.”

No-see-um, 70 times life size. (Illustration by Lynn Kimsey)
No-see-um, 70 times life size. (Illustration by Lynn Kimsey)

No-see-um, 70 times life size. (Illustration by Lynn Kimsey)

Even after five days, the bites are still visible. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Even after five days, the bites are still visible. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Even after five days, the bites are still visible. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, May 24, 2013 at 9:08 PM

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