It’s getting “buggy” at The Crosby Arboretum!

Published 9:42 pm Sunday, September 19, 2021

By Patricia Drackett

Director of the Crosby Arboretum and

assistant extension professor of landscape architecture with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Over these last few weeks, we’ve been noticing bevies of butterflies cavorting at the Arboretum, and if you’re a regular reader of this column, you know that these dazzling insects have been a frequent subject lately, and writings often center around this being an excellent time of year to visit our public garden, especially for photographers who enjoy capturing insect life by camera.

We’re pleased to announce that we are planning a mini-BugFest celebration on Friday and Saturday, September 24 and 25 from 9:30 to 12:30 each day.  Friday will be open to school and homeschool groups, and Saturday’s activities will be for the general public.

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.

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.

Three main stations will be available at BugFest. In the “Zoom Room” attendees may view educational videos with Extension entomologist Dr. John Guyton. Masks are required for indoor areas and group size will be limited. The videos will also be available to view at home.  A link will be available on our website and Facebook page where you can register to access the content on Friday and Saturday.  Finally, the Zoom presentations will be recorded, so if you miss the event you can view them later!

An insect identification station will be located on the Pinecote Pavilion, and a limited number of nets and collecting containers will be available. Participate in an insect photography contest. Prizes will be awarded for those who photograph and identify the most insects. Saturday activities will include children’s insect crafts.  In the Pollinator Garden, learn about the plants growing here and how you can create a butterfly or pollinator garden of your own from the Pearl River County Master Gardeners.

The number of persons attending BugFest will be limited this year, and we ask that you call to register.  Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children. More information about the event, including a program of activities, will be posted on our Facebook page as well as our website. You may also sign up for event updates on our website.

BugFest has been made possible through the participation of Mississippi State University entomology faculty and students from the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology for almost twenty years, led by the continuous coordination by Extension Professor Dr. John Guyton. For youth who are intrigued by insects, the MSU entomology 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, or more. 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”.  We request that the Arboretum’s spiders not be killed or collected as they are important components of our healthy ecosystem.

Those who would like to explore insects further may be interested in author Sally Kneidel’s books, “Pet Bugs: A Kid’s Guide to Catching and Keeping Touchable Insects<http://www.amazon.com/Pet-Bugs-Catching-Keeping-Touchable/dp/047131188X/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_y>”, and “More Pet Bugs: A Kid’s Guide to Catching and Keeping Insects and Other Small Creatures”. Both books can be found on websites offering used books for as low as a penny plus shipping costs! 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 the event.

Sign up now for “Common Butterflies to Mississippi and their Host Plants” with Pearl River County Coordinator and Extension Agent Dr. Eddie Smith on Friday, October 16 from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m., free to Arboretum members and $5 for non-members. Reservations are required. Please call the office at 601-799-2311 to sign up for programs. The Arboretum is located at 370 Ridge Road, off Exit 4 in Picayune, and is open Wednesday through Sunday from 8:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information see  www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu<http://www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu>.