The Love Bugs

 

Join the Essig Museum and the Pacific Coast Entomological Society

for a special screening of “The Love Bugs

8:00pm on 5 September 2019, at 2040 Valley Life Science Building

Over the course of 60 years, Lois and Charlie O’Brien, two of the foremost entomologists and pioneers in their field, traveled to more than 67 countries and quietly amassed the world’s largest private collection of insects. He was the Indiana Jones of entomology and she was his Marion Ravenwood. Their collection is a scientific game-changer with more than one million specimens and more than 1,000 undiscovered species. During the past several years, however, Charlie and Lois have grappled with the increasingly debilitating effects of Charlie’s Parkinson’s disease and the emotional toll it takes on Lois. They realize that a chapter of exploration and discovery is coming to an end in their lives. But they live in a time when the beleaguered field of science needs them most, and the O’Briens know they need to keep fighting for it. So they turn to their 1.25 million insects for a little help! The Love Bugs interweaves the O’Briens’ present day journey with animated watercolor illustrations that reveal their past in a humorous and poignant documentary short that explores the nature of Love–and the love of Nature–and what it means to devote oneself completely to both.

Charlie and Lois garnered worldwide attention in 2017 when they announced that they would be donating their $10 million dollar insect collection to Arizona State University. Their collection will reshape entomology for years to come, but outside of entomology circles it was not widely known that such a valuable collection existed. We live in a time when insect populations are declining worldwide at an alarming rate. This decline has a domino effect that could impact all other aspects of an ecosystem and humanity as a whole and the O’Briens’ collection is not only a snapshot of the past of insect life on this planet. It is also a valuable key to providing insights into the potential future of insect life and biodiversity patterns. We want this film to inspire wonder and reverence for the complexity and beauty of insects. We also live in a time when the value of teaching science and the value of investing in science is being questioned at a federal level. We deeply need stories that can help foster a paradigm shift by showcasing scientists as human beings–not only as people who passionately dedicate their lives to something that others might see as trivial, but as human beings whose work is crucial and with whom we can empathize.

Ascend with Bay Area Insects

Ride, walk, or jog along the Greenway in Emeryville and you will be greeted by a swarm of Bay Area “bugs”. Commissioned by the city of Emeryville, Joey Rose created two murals, titled “Ascend”, depicting some of the Bay Area’s most important inhabitants – the insects. Part of Emeryville’s park system, this green space cuts through the heart of Emeryville connecting Oakland to Berkeley. “The Greenway hopes to connect people with nature and serves as an “escape” in a historically industrial city,” says Rose. “My murals reflect this ideal. The intended audience is anyone who may happen to see them. It’s important for people of any age or demographic to feel connected to nature and see the importance of preservation.”

For inspiration, Joey visited the Essig Museum to photograph and sketch his subjects. I asked him why insects for this project. “Insects are an often ignored part of the ecosystem. Unfortunately, there is a stigma against insects. They are usually portrayed as being disgusting or scary. I wanted to show the true beauty of insects. This is a sight-specific mural, so I wanted to highlight local and native Bay Area insects. I hope people will be reminded of my painting when they see these insects around the Bay and vice-versa.”

The murals were unveiled on May 10, 2018 at 5768 Peladeau Street in Emeryville to an enthusiastic crowd. “The two figures in the murals are literally being carried by these insects,” says Rose. “I think that is really the core of what I want people to come away with. It’s not so important that they can identify each and every insect. What’s important is to get people thinking about how essential every creature is to not only our ecosystem, but to us (humans) as fellow members of that ecosystem. Even the little guys are important!”

by Peter Oboyski

Darwin (Evolution) Day 2018

On February 12, 2018 the Essig Museum hosted another great Evolution Day in honor of Charles Darwin’s birthday.  Over 120 students, staff, faculty, and folks from all around the Bay Area got a behind the scenes look at the Museum and some of our special displays. Thank you to our colleagues at the UC & Jepson Herbaria, UC Paleontology Museum, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, and UC Botanical Garden for supplying specimens and information for the displays.

At a reception afterwards, Dr. Peter Oboyski summarized some of the outstanding achievements of the Essig over the past year, including: a collaboration with the Muzeum of Vertebrate Zoology on a multi-taxon survey of the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia (hear more about this project this Friday at Essig Brunch); an Entomology at Cal Reunion in October; new specimen donations and accessions, and a temporary funding increase from the Vice Chancellor of Research and the Deans of Letters & Science and College of Natural Resources. The temporary funding increase will facilitate efforts to secure the financial future for the Essig Museum.

Our next big event is Cal Day on April 21 when we will welcome guests to view displays, touch live insects, and get behind the scenes tours of the museum in English, Spanish, Russian, and Mandarin – hope to see you there!

Entomology student, Jessica, talking about Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets).

   

Students checking out the giant African termite queens, and a marine iguana from the MVZ.

Specimens collected by Charles Darwin in Tierra del Fruego during the Voyage of the Beagle.

Entomology graduate student, Sean Perez, admiring a mimicry display by Professor Nipam Patel.

Carnivorous plants from the UC Botanical Garden.

Lots of happy guests enjoying their visit to the Essig Museum.

 

Thanks to Helina Chen (University of California Paleontology Museum) for taking photos!

Darwin (Evolution) Day – February 10, 2017

Darwindday2007_frontFebruary 10th, 2017 (Friday) 12:00 – 5:30pm

Each year, the Essig Museum celebrates Darwin’s birthday on February 12th. Visit the Essig for special behind-the-scenes tours of our museum in the Valley Life Sciences Building; see specimens of Galapagos finches, iguanas, and tortoise shells; herbarium specimens, live orchids and insectivorous plants; and learn how Darwin and other naturalists improved our understanding of how evolution works in the natural world. RSVP to essig.museum@gmail.com for tours at 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, or 5:00pm.

Lepidopterists Aggregation – January 27, 2018

Lepidopterists Aggregation – January 27, 2018

SilveryBlueYou  and your guests are invited to UC Berkeley for the annual mid-winter gathering of Northern California Lepidopterists and Essig Museum of Entomology open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, January 27, 2018. As in previous years, you need not be a Northern Californian or a Lepidopterist to attend.

Visitors are encouraged to bring specimens, photos, Power Point presentations or slides from collecting trips, and tales of collecting triumphs to share with others. There will be no formal program. There is no charge. Attending lepidopterists may be able to help you identify specimens, and the museum collection will be open for your inspection. For further information, contact your hosts – Peter Oboyski and Jerry Powell, essig.museum@gmail.com, 510-643-0804.

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