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Exhibits let visitors go buggy on Picnic Day

Briggs Hall, home of the Department of Entomology, is a popular place during the campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day. Kathy Keatley Garvey/Courtesy photo

By
From page A5 | April 19, 2013 |

What’s a picnic without bugs?

The UC Davis department of entomology is planning lots of Picnic Day activities, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Briggs Hall and the Bohart Museum of Entomology, 1124 Academic Surge.

The Bohart Museum, home to nearly 8 million insect specimens, will feature wasp nests in its new display case. These are nests once occupied by European paper wasps, yellow jackets, carpenter bees and bumble bees.

The museum also will include a live “petting zoo” where visitors can hold Madagascar hissing cockroaches, a rose-haired tarantula and walking sticks.

At Briggs Hall, the popular events will include maggot art, termite trails, cockroach races and honey tasting, as well as displays featuring forensic, medical, aquatic, apiculture and forest entomology. Exhibits also will include such topics as fly fishing/fly-tying, insect pests of ornamentals, and pollinators of California.

Due to popular demand, the honey tasting tables will double from one to two. Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen is coordinating the honey tasting. He will share six varieties of honey: manzanita, lima bean, pomegranate, almond blossom, orange blossom and Northern desert scrub (Nevada), a reddish honey. Each person will be given six toothpicks to sample the varieties.

Mussen, who has been coordinating the honey tasting for more than 30 years, said this year the honeys are fairly similar in color but not in flavor.

“Many people have asked what almond blossom honey tastes like — now they can find out. It leaves a fairly strong after-taste.”

Visitors to Briggs can cheer for their favorite cockroach at the American cockroach races; watch a termite follow a line drawn with a Bic ink pen (they follow the line because the ink acts as a pheromone or attractant) and create a maggot art painting suitable for framing.

The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program will provide a display in front of Briggs Hall. Visitors can learn about managing pests in their homes and garden. In addition, live lady beetles (aka ladybugs) will be distributed to children.

Plans also call for a “Bug Doctor” to answer insect-related questions from the public.

Kathy Keatley Garvey

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