UC Davis Picnic Day Going Virtual--With Insects, Too!

It's just not a picnic without insects.

And when the 107th annual UC Davis Picnic Day goes virtual on Saturday, April 17, the insects will go virtual, too.

The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the Bohart Museum of Entomology will be participating with virtual cockroach races and a series of talks. Among them: Bohart Museum associate and natural historian Greg Kareofelas will present a pre-recorded video on Gulf Fritillary butterflies and entomologist Jeff Smith,  the  Bohart's volunteer curator of the Lepidoptera collection, will deliver a live (Zoom) talk from 1 to 2 p.m. on butterfly and moth mimicry. 

"For my presentation on mimicry within Lepidoptera, it will briefly mention camouflage and spend most of the time on mimicry for defense--mimics of toxic or distasteful species, mimicry using odors or sounds, mimics of snakes or spiders, and mimics of non-food materials such as bird feces," Smith said. 

More events are pending.

The Bohart Museum, temporarily closed, is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building. Directed by Professor Lynn Kimsey, the Bohart Museum includes nearly eight million insect specimens, a live "petting zoo" (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas) and an online gift shop stocked with insect-themed t-shirts, jewlery, hoodies, books and posters.

The UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association is selling t-shirts on its website (including shirts featuring Roach Races), and soon will be offering face masks and stickers.

Discovering Silver Linings
This year's theme is “Discovering Silver Linings.” Despite all that has happened this year, the UC Davis community has continued to find silver linings everywhere, the Picnic Day officials reported on their website. "Our campus always strives to inspire hope and works towards a better and brighter tomorrow."

The UC Davis Picnic Day, launched in 1909, "has become the crown-jewel event of the UC system and the signature event of UC Davis," according to the website. "One of the largest student-run events in the nation, Picnic Day showcases the richness of diversity and achievement at UC Davis and the surrounding community in the areas of research, teaching, service, and campus life." 

It all began, according to the UC Davis Picnic Day website, "when the University Farm invited the surrounding community to view their new dairy barn. Two thousand visitors attended, bringing picnics to complement the coffee, cream, and sugar provided by the University. Following the success of the 1909 picnic, the faculty of the University Farm continued to plan and sponsor the event until a student committee took over the task in 1912. Through the years of Picnic Day history, the event has only been canceled five times. In 1924, an outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease among the cowherds caused the first cancellation. In 1938, delayed construction of the gymnasium, which was needed to accommodate the ever-increasing number of participants, led to a second cancellation. During World War II, the Army Signal Corps controlled the campus, and Picnic Day disappeared from 1943 to 1945. Since 1946, Picnic Day has been growing strong and now boasts an annual attendance of more than 70,000 people. This year, there will be more than 200 events on campus and an estimated 75,000 visitors attending this special event. Since 1959, the parade was extended to include downtown Davis to celebrate the fact that Davis became a separate UC campus and not just the Farm School for UC Berkeley."

This year's Picnic Day won't look like the traditional Picnic Day, but it will include insects!