Students, general public learn about bugs

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Crosby Arboretum hosted BugFest on Friday and Saturday to share insect related information with the public.

“It is our purpose to introduce kids to insects,” said Dr. John Guyton, a Mississippi State University extension entomologist

He said many parents or teachers tell children to not touch an insect because it can hurt them, but there are so many insects that are helpful to nature.

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The BugFest included bug catching, bug identification, a butterfly exhibit, children’s crafts and a visit from the Audubon Institute’s Bug Mobile. Volunteers were available to “pin” bugs visitors caught and to talk about many different insect topics, such as bee keeping and fire ants. Pinning bugs is using a pin thrust through the body of a bug to attach it to a display.

On Friday, students from Picayune Junior High School and West Hancock Elementary participated in the BugFest activities and kept cool by eating snoballs.

Picayune Junior High 7th graders Kyra Jones and Jaden Hall said they both enjoyed their day at the Bug Fest.

Hall said her favorite part of the day was catching the bugs and “just learning about new bugs that I have never seen or heard about.”

Jones said she enjoyed learning about bugs that were introduced to America that weren’t supposed to be here and that are now causing problems.

Larisa Shaw, a 2nd grade teacher at West Hancock Elementary School said she brought her students because their science unit for the year is about insects. Shaw said her students have really enjoyed themselves and “they don’t want to stop.”

When asked about their favorite part of the day, Shaw’s student, Sierra McGowan enthusiastically said, “everything.”

Along with Picayune Junior High School and West Hancock Elementary students, there were many home-schooled children enjoying the educational festival at the arboretum.

Ginger Morel and her daughter Miranda traveled from Abita Springs, La., to attend the Arboretum’s festival.

Ginger said she has brought her children for the last four years. Her daughter Miranda said this was her second year attending and this year she learned about the honeybees and honey production.

Miranda said her favorite part of the festival was “getting to see all the different types of insects.”

Buddy Broadway, a beekeeper from Picayune, spoke to visitors about honeybees, how they produce the honey and about beekeeping.

Broadway sells his honey from his eight beehives locally and uses the money to help fund beekeeping in a village in Africa. He said the villagers are taught how to become beekeepers so that they can supplement their income. He said most families make about $350 a year and that beekeeping helps bring in more money.

Broadway said the bees produce more than honey and that the bee’s wax can also be used to make candles, lip balm, soap and other products.

Guyton spoke to the children about Madagascar hissing cockroaches. He said they are very helpful in nature because they will eat things that other insects will not. He placed the cockroach on a Styrofoam ball and the youngsters watched in fascination as the cockroach held the ball while walking and turning the ball.

Guyton also pulled out a Pitcher Plant, which is a carnivorous plant that eats bugs. Inside the plant are tiny hairs that keep bugs that walked into the pitcher from walking out of the plant and the design of the plant also keeps out water, thus blocking another way of escaping.

He said the plant contains an enzyme that breaks down the bodies of the bugs it has trapped.