Essig Museum News - April 2020 - coronavirus edition
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Essig Museum News

Keep up-to-date with the latest research, education, and events of the Essig Museum of Entomology, UC Berkeley's terrestrial arthropod collection (insects, spiders, scorpions, and their kin). Member of the Berkeley Natural History Museums.

Why am I so blue?

Rachel Thayer (Patel Lab) recently published her research on structural color in Junonia butterflies in eLife. Blue pigments in nature are virtually nonexistent. Instead, blue is a structural color created by refraction and interference. Rachel investigates the role of laminar (or base layer) thickness of scales that cover butterfly wings and its genetic control by the optix gene. Similar controls may be responsible for color variation in many other species.

Stick insects are camouflage experts

DEEP LOOK (KQED) recently released a new video on the Indian walkingstick (Carausius morosus) featuring research by Essig undergraduate, Edward Ramirez. Though not native to the United States, these insects are well-established in the Bay Area, usually feed on ivy and blackberry leaves, and illustrate a wide range of color variation that allows them to go largely unnoticed. And they act like sticks too, falling to the ground and playing "dead twig" to avoid predation.

No social distancing for insects

If you have been out-and-about in the Bay Area lately during the nice weather, you probably noticed insects are out in full force. Monarch caterpillars are busy munching milkweed leaves, painted ladies are arriving in droves, and aphids are multiplying on the growing tips of their favorite host plants. Even the gnats and midges are swarming. No need to keep six feet away, take a walk and enjoy our six-legged friends up close. 
Photo: Painted lady (Vanessa cardui) by Tom Greer, 2005

Cal Day cancelled, but Cal Week is on

CalDay originated as an opportunity for prospective students to learn more about departments and opportunities at Cal. In keeping with that tradition, the Essig and other Berkeley Natural History Museum are hosting a webinar, Museums of Berkeley, highlighting research, education, and employment opportunities.

Earth Day celebrates 50 years

This year marks 50 years of celebrating Earth Day. While annual events, like beach clean-up and other social meet-ups are canceled due to coronavirus, you can still do your part by picking up trash on your walk and providing some habitat for insects in your yard. In the Essig Garden this week we found a monarch caterpillar on our milkweed! And if you cannot get outside, Deep Look is hosting an Earth Day Film Fest
Image: University of George, Center for Urban Agriculture

Follow us on Instagram

We are now on Instagram at essig_museum

Essig Brunch Seminar Series

Email if you need the link.

Fridays 10:10 - 11:00 am, 1101 Valley Life Science Building (UCMP "fish bowl")

A weekly seminar series run by the Entomology Students Organization featuring local and visiting researchers presenting a wide range of entomology topics. Open to the public.

Upcoming talks: (check the Essig Brunch website for updates)

Apr. 17 - Elisa Visher, PhD Candidate (Boots lab) UC Berkeleyy
"A trade-off to resistance in the Indian meal moth: Right-side up and upside-down"

Apr. 24 - Marissa Sandoval (Whiteman lab, National Museum Nat. Hist.) UC Berkeley
"Are these wasps as old as we think? Phylogeny and historical biogeography of Labeninae (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae)"

May 1 - Katie Sanko (Tsutsui lab) UC Berkeley
"Evolution of kidnapper ants by host species"

Going to be in town and want to give a talk: email us at

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Donate to the Essig Museum

If you have a specimen collection you would like to donate to the Essig Museum, please contact us at Or make a financial contribution at our Give To Cal site
Copyright © 2020 Essig Museum of Entomology, All rights reserved.

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