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Museum open house dispels myths about ‘deadly’ insects

Insect-themed carved pumpkins will be among the decorations at the Bohart Museum of Entomology during a free open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Kathy Keatley Garvey/Courtesy photo

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From page A3 | October 25, 2012 |

A pre-Halloween party Saturday at UC Davis’ Bohart Museum of Entomology promises to be an educational and fun event for the entire family.

Organizers are urging attendees to wear their Halloween costumes to the open house, from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Bohart Museum, 1124 Academic Surge on Crocker Lane, formerly California Drive. The event is free and open to the public.

The theme, “Insects and Death,” focuses on forensic entomology. Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the UCD department of entomology will be on hand to answer questions about insects as decomposers, and why they’re important.

Bohart Museum officials also will correct myths about “deadly” insects and “creepy crawlers.”

“House flies and mosquitoes cause more human deaths than all other insect deaths combined,” said Lynn Kimsey, museum director and entomology professor.

When a fly lands on someone’s food, it regurgitates its stomach contents, such as dog poop, and transmits diseases, Kimsey said.

Indoor plumbing and window screens are the two biggest protectors from house fly transmission of diseases, she added.

“Everyone wants to think scorpions and brown recluse (spiders) are the small arthropods to fear, but really that isn’t the case, so we will be dispelling some of those myths,” said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.

As a fun crafts activity, attendees can draw and color buttons to wear and take home. The Bohart’s button-maker is a popular tool.

Another attraction is a display of insect-themed pumpkins, carved by Bohart personnel.

The Bohart Museum houses a global collection of more than 7 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 the insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum in 1946.

The museum also features a year-around live “petting zoo” with such permanent residents as walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches and a rose-haired tarantula. Visitors are invited to hold and photograph them.

Available for purchase in the gift shop are jewelry, T-shirts, sweatshirts, posters and insect-themed candy, such as scorpion lollipops, chocolate-covered insects and flavored mealworms.

Bohart officials schedule weekend open houses throughout the academic year so families and others who cannot attend on weekdays can do so on the weekends. The museum’s regular hours are 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Admission is free.

For more information, visit http://bohart.ucdavis.edu or contact Yang at [email protected] or (530) 752-0493.

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Kathy Keatley Garvey

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