Moths, Microscopes and Insect Scientists: They All Go Together at Bohart Museum Open House

Moths, a magnificent microscope (scanning electron microscope) and friendly scientists--what could be better than that? How about free hot chocolate, herbal tea and cookies?

The Bohart Museum of Entomology open house on Saturday night, July 22, promises to be a fun and educational event. It's free and open to the public.

The open house, celebrating National Moth Week, will take place from 8 to 11 p.m. in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, and also outside, where two blacklight traps will be set up to collect moths and other insects. The event is free and open to the public and is family friendly.

A $75,000 scanning electron microscope, on loan from Hitachi Corp. for research and outreach, will be available for visitors to see moth scales and other insect parts.

Bohart Museum senior scientist Steve Heydon and two Bohart associates "Moth Man" John DeBenedictis and naturalist-photographer Greg Kareofelas of Davis will set up the light traps and answer questions. Bohart associate Jeff Smith of Sacramento, who curates the butterfly and moth specimens, will field questions about moths and butterflies and show specimens from around the world.

The family craft activity will be to make a moth-shaped window ornament resembling stained glass, said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator. Free refreshments--hot chocolate, herbal tea and cookies--will be served. Common Grounds of Davis is donating part of the refreshments.

On permanent display is the Trump moth, Neopalpa donaldtrumpi, a relatively new species that Bohart Museum scientists collected at  Algodones Dunes, bordering Arizona and the Mexican state of Baja California.  Evolutionary biologist and systematist Vazrick Nazari of Canada named it donaldtrumpi because the yellow scales on the tiny moth's head reminded him of the hairstyle of Donald Trump, then president-elect. The orange-yellow moth has a wingspan of less than one centimeter. 

Nazari published the piece on the Trump moth Jan. 17, 2016 in the journal Zookeys and explained the name: “The reason for this choice of names is to bring wider public attention to the need to continue protecting fragile habitats in the U.S. that still contain many undescribed species." The Neopalpa donaldtrumpi belongs to the family,  Gelechiidae of the Lepidoptera order.

The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology, houses nearly eight million specimens; a year-around gift shop; and a live "petting zoo," including Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, and orchid praing mantis and tarantulas.

For more information on the open house,  email or call (530) 752-0493.