Bugfest kicks off with a buzz

Published 7:00 am Saturday, October 19, 2019

Children got a unique experience Friday morning as they gathered around Breanna Lyle to pet a hissing cockroach in her hand at the Crosby Arboretum’s Bugfest.

Some of the kids just wanted to look at the four-inch long bug in Lyle’s palm, but others were brave enough to gently pet it. One child screamed gleefully after she pet the cockroach.

Along with showing off the hissing cockroaches, entomology students Lyle and Rebecca Holmes used hand puppets to teach kids about which bugs can harm them and which bugs are helpful.

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That day, 78 Early Head Start 2- and 3-year-olds came to the Arboretum. Outdoor activities like Bugfest help the kids learn to care for nature, said Iliana Antunez, community engagement manager with Early Head Start.

Megan Morgan said that even though her son is only 2-years-old, she’s sure he’ll remember getting to examine bugs and beehives up close.

After the puppet show, beekeeper Jac Coleman explained the bee lifecycle to the young attendees and demonstrated his beekeeping equipment, including smokers, skimmers and extractors. The small children were most interested in things they could put their hands on, Coleman said. The event gives kids the opportunity to learn how beehives are built and how pollinators benefit gardens and forests, Coleman said.

Laura Cordeiro brought her two homeschooled sons to Bugfest for a chance to see insects up close. The family is always on the lookout for learning opportunities, and the Arboretum offers many, Cordeiro said.

“So far it’s pretty fun. I like the cockroaches a lot,” said Marcus Cordeiro.

Xavier Brown, a Pearl River Central High School student with the Early Childhood Education program, said it was his first time at Bugfest. Brown and 11 other high school students were at the event to work with preschool students. The Bugfest field trip was the first time the program has traveled with a class of preschoolers, said early childhood education teacher Melissa Long. For Brown, the best part of Bugfest was working with kids, he said.

For Sarah Goodrich’s daughter, the highlight of the day was just spending time in the Arboretum.

“I think they’re having more fun looking at the turtles than anything else,” Goodrich said.

Bugfest will continue Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is $5 for adults and $2 for children.