Bohart spreads virtual wings
YOLO COUNTY NEWS

The Atlas moth, the world's largest, will be among the bugs at the Virtual Moth Open House hosted by the Bohart Museum of Entomology. Kathy Keatley Garvey/Courtesy photo

Community News

Bohart spreads virtual wings

Want to learn more about moths? If you attend the Virtual Moth Open House hosted by the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis, then it may be like a “moth to a flame.”

The free and family friendly event, held in observance of National Moth Week (July 18-26), will take place from 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 25, on Facebook Live (Bohart Museum Facebook page). 

Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the 500,000-lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) collection, will show specimens and answer questions. 

“Due to circumstances, the annual Moth Night at the Bohart Museum of Entomology will be a ‘virtual tour’ this year, and we hope it offers the same fun and interest as in past years,” Smith said. 

“In addition to a live video tour of one of the aisles of moths in this huge research collection, we also will have video on how to set up equipment for attracting moths at night, the most productive time for observing these nocturnal animals. A new addition will be video on how to ‘spread’ the wings of moths and butterflies, an important step in preparing lepidoptera for research and study.”

Want to know just how impressive moths are?

“The live portion of our virtual tour will be spent in the collection itself, and we will show and talk about some of the most impressive moths in the world, including the death head sphinx moth, the highly toxic slug moths, and the largest moths in the world, the Atlas moths,” Smith said.

“There will be examples of some of the many species of wasp mimic moths in the families erebidae and sesiidae, a hummingbird moth with a proboscis, its feeding tube, that is nearly 12 inches long! We will show the extraordinary sunset moth from Madagascar with its splash of amazing and metallic colors on its wings. There will be black witch and white witch moths with wingspans up to 1 foot across. The diversity and beauty of moths easily rivals that of the better known butterflies.”

Want to know how destructive some moths are?

“In addition to the moths known for their attractive appearance, we also need to show some of the destructive kinds, including the gypsy moth that has destroyed millions of acres of forest in the U.S., tussock and tent-worm moths that can defoliate entire trees, and the California oak moth that ravages oak trees along the California coast,” Smith said. “There are moths with wingspans up to 12 inches and others so small you need a microscope to observe them.”

All in all, this is a wonderful and diverse order of insects, Smith said, “and we hope everyone will join us on July 25th, for the 2020 Open House at the Bohart Museum of Entomology.” Smith was named a 2015 “Friend of the College by the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The Bohart Museum is directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, UC Davis department of entomology and nematology. It is headquartered in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane (but temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic).

The insect museum houses a global collection of nearly eight million insects, as well as a live “petting zoo” (think Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas) and a gift shop stocked with insect-themed clothing, jewelry, posters and books, as well as collecting equipment.

For more information, check out the Bohart Museum website at http://bohart.ucdavis.edu or contact [email protected].

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