Flies, Maggots and Forensic Entomologists at Bohart Museum on Sunday, July 9

Jul 3, 2017
The making of maggot art. The word was coined by entomologist Rebecca O'Flaherty, a former graduate student at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The making of maggot art. The word was coined by entomologist Rebecca O'Flaherty, a former graduate student at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Do you know the importance of maggots? Have you ever wanted to talk to a forensic entomologist? Ever wanted to create "maggot art" in a family friendly environment?

Members of the North American Forensic Entomology Association (NAFEA) will be special guests and presenters at the open house hosted from 1 to 5 p.m., Sunday, July 9 at the Bohart Museum of Entomology.

The event, free and open to the public, takes place in the Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.

NAFEA is meeting for a conference at UC Davis July 7-12 and the Bohart open house will be part of its outreach activities. The scientists will field questions throughout the event.

"We'll have scientists from across the country here at this family-friendly event,” said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator. Family arts and crafts activities are featured at each open house.  A popular activity planned for the July 9th open house is maggot art, in which maggots are dipped into non-toxic, water-based paint and placed on a “canvas” (paper) to crawl around and create a painting.  The activity, coined by entomologist Rebecca O'Flaherty, a former graduate student at UC Davis, is a traditional part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's Briggs Hall offerings at the campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day.

Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology served as president of the organization in 2015. (See news feature about Kimsey, "The Fly Man of Alcatraz.") Current president is Jason Byrd of the Department Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine University of Florida College of Medicine. The goal of NAFEA is to promote the development of forensic entomology throughout North America and to encourage co-operation with other similar international bodies. NAFEA defines its mission as “to provide a cooperative arena for forensic entomologists to interact and collaborate in ways that enhance the science, moral and ethical foundation, and reputation of forensic entomology.” 

The fly photo below is of a male flesh fly (Sarcophagidae), "very likely genus Sarcophaga" (http://bugguide.net/node/view/458576/bgimage), according to senior insect biosystematist Martin Hauser of of the Plant Pest Diagnostics Branch, California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The July 9th open house is one of three open houses scheduled this summer. The others are:

Saturday, July 22, Moth Night from 8 to 11 p.m.: Moth Night, held in conjunction with National Moth Week, will enable visitors to explore nighttime nature through a blacklighting setup, enabling the collection of moths and other insects. The event takes place in the courtyard in back of the Bohart Museum. The museum will be open throughout Moth Night.

Sunday, Aug. 27:  Bark Beetles and Trees, Forest Health in California,  from 1 to 4 p.m.: The event is in collaboration with Steve Seybold, USDA Forest Service entomologist and an associate of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He and his students and staff will be there to show displays and answer questions.

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

Special attractions include a “live” petting zoo, featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold the insects and photograph them.

The museum's 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 email bmuseum@ucdavis.edu.

Traffic: Note that Old Davis Road that goes past the Visitors' Information Center will be closed due to construction of a paving project (https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/paving-project-close-old-davis-road/) Visitors should enter the campus via Highway 113 and take the Hutchison exit. The parking lot closest to the Bohart Museum is Lot 46.