Insect museum open houses promote education, discovery
By TIM HEARDEN
DAVIS, Calif. -- Tilly Matern spotted the one that was different from the others.
The 18-month-old from Woodland, Calif., placed her tiny index finger on the glass enclosure of an observation honey bee hive to point out the queen.
Education and discovery were the order of the day recently as the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California-Davis held its first in a series of weekend open houses planned throughout the academic year.
The next event is planned for Saturday, Dec. 15, with the theme, "Insects in Art." The open houses aim to introduce families -- particularly children -- to all the beneficial things that insects do, said Lynn Kimsey, the museum's director and an entomology professor at the university.
"We're open weekdays, but a lot of families can't come because the kids are in school," Kimsey said. "We get staff and students to volunteer to help us one day a month for an open house on the weekend, so we can have kids and their parents or grandparents come.
"It's a lot of fun," he said. "We take on different themes for the open houses that are season-related."
The initial open house on Nov. 18 featured "Insect Societies" featuring honey bees, ants and termites. The observation hive was presented by Billy Synk, a staff research associate at the university's Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
Visitors got a close-up look at critters in a "petting zoo," which included Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas.
Founded in 1946, the museum houses nearly 8 million insect specimens, making it the seventh largest insect collection in North America, according to the university. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of insect biodiversity.
Kimsey said the open houses aim to make people more comfortable with insects.
"People spend an enormous amount of money and anxiety over insects which by and large is unnecessary," he said. "What we hope to do is just get people trustable with being around insects and understanding what makes insects tick, how they're different and how they're the same."
Upcoming open houses
Here are the upcoming open houses and themes at the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC-Davis. Admission is free.
Saturday, Dec. 13, 1 to 4 pm., "Insects in Art"
Sunday, Jan. 13, 1 to 4 p.m., "Extreme Insects"
Saturday, Feb. 2, 1 to 4 p.m., "Biodiversity Museum Day"
Sunday, March 24, 1 to 4 p.m., "Aquatic Insects"
Saturday, April 20, 10 a.m. To 3 p.m., "UC-Davis Picnic Day"
Saturday, May 11, 1 to 4 p.m., "Moth-er's Day"
Sunday, June 9, 1 to 4 p.m., "How to Find Insects"
Bohart Museum of Entomology: http://bohart.ucdavis.edu/