There were “good” bugs, “bad” bugs and close to 1,000 people at the 5th Annual Kent House Bug Day sponsored by the Southern Research Station (SRS). The annual event was the idea of former Forest Service student employee Jessica Norris, now a local teacher, and Stacy Blomquist, biological technician with SRS Insects, Diseases, and Invasive Plants unit in Pineville, Louisiana.
“We need to grow interest in entomology, which is the study of insects, and encourage kids to get outdoors,” said Blomquist. “Bug Day is an opportunity to teach children and adults about nature, biology and the other sciences that we do at the Southern Research Station.” Seven-year-old Timothy Davis echoed the spirit of the day with his remark, “Looking at this is better than reading about it or seeing it on TV. It’s easy to forget how valuable a bug can be to our environment.”
Touching creepy crawly bugs and hearing about their impacts on our natural world is what Bug Day guests get to do. Not only does Bug Day feature insects, but also their close relatives. There were tarantulas along with critters that eat insects such as a bearded dragon, toads, salamanders and snakes. A huge hit in the night insect room was the Emperor Scorpion which reflected UV light turning from black to turquoise. Always very popular were the Madagascar hissing cockroaches and giant cave cockroaches, which have a 5-inch wingspan. “I’m glad that is not a native roach,” was a common sentiment expressed that day.
Visitors were encouraged to add their name and artwork to Central Louisianas largest caterpillar made out of plastic cups. Each child received their very own ladybug to release at home. Attendees also learned how to save our native pollinator insects by building a native bee box, receiving flower seed to plant, and obtain instructions on how to limit pesticide use.
In addition to the pollinator and night insect stations, attendees also learned about honey bees, big bugs, little bugs, invaders (Emerald Ash borer, Asian long-horned beetle, and Sirex wood wasp), beetles, and what baby bugs eat at the baby bug food station. Hearing, “I didnt know that!” was the reward of all those who worked so hard to make this event possible.