“Yuck! You want me to eat what?!” turned into “Why, that’s pretty good! I can’t even tell that’s an insect,” at the recent Kent House Bug Day held in Alexandria, Louisiana.
For the past 7 years, the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station Insects, Diseases, and Invasive Plants unit has partnered with the Kent House Plantation, the Kisatchie National Forest, Forest Service State & Private Forestry, Louisiana State University at Alexandria, local beekeepers, and pest control companies to present Bug Day to the public.
This year’s newest attraction, “I Ate a Bug,” brought smiles and funny faces to the estimated 1,400 guests. Cricket banana bread and mealworm marshmallow rice krispy treats were two of the items on the menu. Guests sampled cooked insects and received a special pin commemorating “I ate a bug at Kent House Bug Day.”
Learning about entomophagy (eating insects) was one of the many fun activities shared that day. People of all ages met various insectivores (organisms that eat insects), saw itty-bitty soil insects on a computer screen, viewed hackberry gall insects, watched a boisterous fire ant colony devour bits of food, touched and held bess beetles, and cheered on their favorite exotic cockroach in a roach race.
Also added this year, children made seed pots from newspaper and learned the importance of planting flowers for pollinators and the role pollinators play in the ecosystem. Each child put together a classy cricket box to take home their very own “good luck” cricket. A local beekeeper had Italian queen bees on display for kids to view and try to find amongst the worker bees.
Area pest control companies had fun giveaways, face painting, insect tattoos, and a 6-foot-tall cockroach walking around to shake hands with brave attendees. Kids could show off their athletic abilities in the Bug Olympics and duel one another in a stag beetle joust.
After experiencing the 20 interactive stations and viewing over 40 different live species highlighted at Bug Day, participants could enjoy refreshments at the Hungry Caterpillar Café. Our own Smokey Bear was there to bring smiles to all the children he met at the event.
The 4-hour event is held the first Saturday of May each year and has become a favorite spring tradition, with families coming from nearby states to enjoy the planned activities.
For more information, email Stacy Blomquist at firstname.lastname@example.org.