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BugFest at the Arboretum is this weekend

By Pat Drackett

Director, The Crosby Arboretum, Mississippi State University
Assistant Extension Professor of Landscape Architecture

This weekend, the waiting will be over and another BugFest will be here! Yes, this is the time of the year when insects take center stage at the Arboretum and it will be nothing but – bugs, bugs, bugs!

Whether the topic of insects gives you a creepy crawly feeling or you are a die-hard fan of anything with six legs – or know someone who is – we hope you will join us this Friday and Saturday. Field and forest will be full of visitors enjoying the many activities that are part of an event celebrating the insect world.

BugFest is made possible by the participation of Mississippi State University entomology faculty and students from the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology. The event has been coordinated continually by Extension Professor Dr. John Guyton for more than ten years. For youth who are intrigued by insects, this department offers an outstanding summer bug camp, as well as a beekeeping camp.

At the Arboretum’s annual insect celebration, you might even find a spider or two. Although spiders have eight legs and classified as arachnids, not insects (which have six legs), they often come to mind when people think about “bugs”.

Only a small portion of the world’s million or so insects are pest species or considered harmful to humans. We may think of insects as generally pesky, but most of them have important roles, for example, in nutrient recycling or aiding in plant pollination. Many people of the world’s nations consume insects as a part of their diet, due to their high protein content. This practice is called entomophagy, and it can even take place at BugFest if Dr. John’s wife Peggy brings a plate of her famous homemade “Cricket Chirp Cookies”!

Enter the term, or “insects as food”, or “insect cookbook” into an Internet search engine and you will soon be reading about a whole new world. You’ll find that a variety of recipe books exists on the subject. Perhaps your revulsion will turn to fascination!

You must admit that such a book would be a great solution to the problem of needing a unique gift for the person on your list who is always impossible to buy for.

The Extension website at http://extension.msstate.edu offers numerous publications to aid in the study and identification of insects as well as information on controlling household insect pests. Have you discovered an insect you need to identify?  Bring your specimens to the entomology station on the Pinecote Pavilion during BugFest!

Bugfest takes place this Friday and Saturday, October 18 and 19. Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. is a field day for pre-registered school and homeschool groups. From 6:00 to 8:30 p.m., the public will enjoy “Blacklighting for Bugs”, and other night-collecting activities (bring a flashlight!).  On Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., all ages will enjoy entomology-based children’s crafts and other activities, and a presentation by the New Orleans Audubon Institute Bugmobile at 10:30 a.m. Cost for Friday’s field day, students $2; no charge for teachers or chaperones. Friday evening and Saturday is $5 for adults, and $2 for children. Members are free!

Mark your calendar for the Arboretum’s Fall Native Plant Sale on Friday and Saturday, October 25 and 26, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. Members enter one hour earlier each day.

A wire-wrapped jewelry workshop will be held Saturday, November 2 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with jewelry maker Connie Boyd of Unique Stones. Cost of $70 includes chain, tools for use, silver wire, semi-previous stone and lesson, paid directly to the instructor on the day of the workshop, cash or check only. Limited to 10 persons. Reservations are required.

We have so much coming up next month! A yoga class will be held on the Pinecote Pavilion on Saturday, November 2, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. with certified yoga instructor James Sones. Reservations are requested. Members $2, non-members $5.

Join us for the 17th Annual Piney Woods Heritage Festival on Saturday, November 16, from 10:00 to 3:00 p.m. Stop in to see the Arboretum’s fall gallery exhibit, photography by Jenny Bibb Ryals. To sign up for programs, call 601-799-2311.

For more information, please see our Facebook page or the calendar on our website at https://crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu. The Crosby Arboretum is located at 370 Ridge Road in Picayune, at I-59 Exit 4, and open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 to 4:30. Leashed pets are always welcome!