We are preparing to have a “buggy good time” the Crosby Arboretum’s Bugfest event this Friday and Saturday. The festival is our annual celebration of all things insect-related. Last year more than 600 people attended the two day event, which offers children’s crafts, insect identification, and collecting, a visit by the Audubon Nature Institute’s Bugmobile, and the popular night collecting activities on Friday that will begin at dusk.
Why choose to spend your time collecting or observing insects? The simple reason is that they are incredibly fascinating. The collecting process also teaches children many valuable transferable skills, for example, through their observation of characteristics in order to identify them, and also through the methodical process of sorting the insects into specific groups, called insect orders.
Interested in beekeeping? Visit with local beekeeper Buddy Broadway to learn what you will need to get started. See a bee hive in the Children’s Garden and talk with Dr. Jeff Harris, the MSU Extension Service’s new beekeeping expert.
On Friday, school groups will begin to arrive mid-morning. This year, we’re pleased to have a great local turnout. Several hundred seventh grade students will be attending from Picayune Junior High School. The classes will be greeted by entomology professors and students from Mississippi State University, who will demonstrate field collecting activities, help with insect identification and specimen mounting, and present insect-related topics and educational exhibits.
Field collecting will continue all day on Friday. Those who wish to collect insects in order to start or add to their collections will be able to visit the identification and pinning station on the Pinecote Pavilion for the entire event. Have an insect you can’t identify? Just bring it in (dead or alive) to the entomology station.
Roach racing will also take place, with Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Ours will be on loan from teacher Maureen Pollitz from Nicholson Elementary. Munch on a chocolate covered cricket or some sautéed mealworms.
The Bugmobile will make two presentations on Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m. Stations with children’s crafts will be offered on the Buggy Midway Friday night from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, and 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday. The event will conclude at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Have you ever attended our night collecting activities? Grab your flashlight and come pay us a visit, for an experience you won’t soon forget. Nets and collecting kits can be checked out on a first-come basis, and we will have quite a few available for loan. You can also prepare for the event by downloading a collecting manual from our website. Visit our program calendar page and click on the bug to save the file to your computer.
One of the Crosby Arboretum’s trails honors an insect aficionado, Dr. Ross E. Hutchins. Dr. Hutchins started with Mississippi State University in 1931 as a graduate student and later became Professor of Entomology and Zoology. He served as Department Head from 1951 to 1963 and was a prolific writer and photographer.
Dr. Hutchins’ photography collection is held in the Mississippi Entomological Museum, located on Mississippi State University’s Starkville campus. Photos like this are seen throughout the many delightful books he authored on insect life and the natural world. Although they are written for a younger, junior-high or high school audience, Dr. Hutchins’ books are very readable, enjoyable, and educational for all ages.
Are insects “bugging” you in your home landscape? Visit the Mississippi State Extension Service website for more information on pests in your house and garden. Did you know that the Extension Service has an Entomology Insect Identification Lab? Search for those keywords on www.MSUcares.com to learn about how to identify and control common pests such as termites, bedbugs, aphids, and spiders. You may submit photographs and specimens to the Lab for identification. The service is free of charge to citizens of Mississippi. Download a form, and read tips and instructions on mailing specimens to the lab for identification.
Many ask about spiders at Bugfest, particularly about black widows and brown recluse spiders. An excellent publication is available on the Extension website on identification and control of these two pesky species, just search for these keywords in the search field. One place that black widows like to hang out is inside the black plastic pots that gardeners will stack and store outside. The Extension website also has information about the brown widow spider, which seems to be more frequently seen in recent years.
Spiders are not insects, but are usually lumped into this group for discussion. They have eight legs, not six as do insects, and are in the class Arachnida, or called arachnids. Members of this group are carnivorous and include mites, scorpions, “daddy long legs”, and ticks. Signs will be posted at Bugfest asking participants not to collect spiders. Not only are they beneficial, but if they are to be preserved in a collection, they need to be placed in alcohol in a special vial, rather than attempting to mount them with pins as is done with typical insect specimens..
For more detailed information on Bugfest, see our website. Interested school groups may call the Arboretum office to schedule a Friday arrival time by calling (601) 799-2311. It is not necessary for homeschool groups to call ahead for an arrival time unless your group will be more than a dozen persons. Bring a lunch and make a day of it! Those who are able to stay for the entire day on Friday will find the afternoon to be less crowded and a good time to have access to the entomologists at the identification station.
The Crosby Arboretum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and located in Picayune, off I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road (south of Walmart and adjacent to I-59).
For further exploration:
Search for the website of the Mississippi Entomological Museum on the MSU campus in Starkville. In their search bar, enter “Insect Collecting Methods” by Joe MacGown for more information on collecting supplies, traps, and links.