Thursday, January 16, 2014

The University of Nebraska State Museum's next Sunday with a Scientist program for children and families will explore insects. The program will take place on Jan. 19 from 1:30-4:30pm at Morrill Hall (south of 14th and Vine Streets on the UNL City Campus).

Tiffany Heng-Moss, professor of entomology and associate dean in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, will introduce children and families to one of the most successful groups of organisms on the planet - insects. Learn about insect diversity and why they look the way they do in this up-close encounter. Visitors will have the opportunity to hold hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, giant millipedes and other arthropods.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bumble Bee Kickstarter Project

Doug Golick and I recently launched a bumble bee domicile project in Kickstarter. We would appreciate it if you help us get the word out  through your social media networks. We were about 10% funded in less than a day so we are hopeful that we reach our goal before the end of the fundraising period.

See the project at


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Giant bugs

There is a new display this summer at the Omaha children's museum....and it has giant robotic's so cool.   In addition, there are many great displays and educational opportunities.   Check it out if you can!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Bumble Bee Conservation

One of the recent projects we have undertaken in the department of Entomology at UNL is to build a better domicile (nest box) for bumble bees.  

WHY???   Because they are important pollinators of wild plants, flowers, vegetables and other crops.   Did you know that bumble bees are often used in greenhouses to pollinate tomato plants?  Worldwide, there are over 250 species of bumble bees and like many other important native pollinators, they are threatened by habitat loss, chemical use, and disease.   Since the late 1990’s, a decline in the abundance and distribution of several wild bumble bee species has been observed.

One of the factors limiting the survival of bumble bees in urban areas is the lack of natural nesting sites. Unlike honeybees, bumble bees do not make a nest. Instead they find abandoned rodent dens and in the spring a queen finds it, occupies and starts a colony. Competition for these nest sites is often high, with queens killing each other for the right to use it.   

In theory, if you create cavities… domiciles…that mimic abandoned rodent dens, you can provide several bumble bee queens places to nest. The more nesting sites available, the more chances for bumble bee queens to establish colonies resulting in more bumble bees.  

However, researchers have found that less than 10% of the artificial domiciles tested are accepted by bumble bees.   The good news is some citizen scientists are having good luck attracting bumble bees to homemade nest boxes of various design.

What are these citizen scientists doing to attract bumble bees?  We have investigated the characteristics of successful bumble bee domiciles and developed a design that we feel has a chance of successfully attracting bumble bees.  It is a small wooden box with cotton and paper insulating material that mimics a cavity that bumble bees will nest in. The boxes are painted white and the entrance holes are ringed with bright yellow or blue paint.   Various other designs will be tested in the future.

Thirty of these domiciles were placed in several locations around UNL’s east campus on the 26th of April, 2013.   We will be monitoring them throughout the summer to determine if they are being used by bumble bees, and make observations that may assist in more effective future domicile designs.

Having your own nest of bumble bees can help your garden landscape.  Hopefully with a bit more research, we can provide a design that will attract nesting bumble bee queens,

Dr. Doug Golick is leading this project. For more information about bumble bees and their identification, visit his web site @

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Opening Day!!!!

The Lincoln Children's zoo, opens today, April 13 at 10 am!  Be sure to check out all the great displays, especially The Hive, home of critters who creep, crawl and fly.   It is newly remodeled, freshly stocked with some great arthropods and looking fantastic.