Crosby Arboretum readies for BugFest Oct. 13-14

Published 11:10 am Thursday, October 12, 2023

By Susan Collins-Smith
MSU Extension Service

School groups, nature enthusiasts and the public can enjoy two fun-filled
days of exciting, hands-on learning about the environment, ecosystems, wildlife and insects at
the Mississippi State University Crosby Arboretum in Picayune.
BugFest offers insect-related displays, interactive exhibits, games and crafts. Biologists,
naturalists, entomologists and other experts from Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama will host
booths and give presentations on butterflies, bats, caterpillars, beetles, crayfish, ladybugs, hissing
cockroaches, dancing praying mantises, native and exotic arthropods and more.
“BugFest is our largest annual event and always brings a crowd,” said Pat Drackett, arboretum
director. “This year, we’ve added more activities and booths, so we hope to have even more
Event exhibits include the Audubon Insectarium with native and exotic arthropods and the
Hattiesburg Zoo with a tarantula, hissing cockroaches and insect-eating animals.
Other educators and exhibits include:
 Blake Layton, MSU Extension entomologist.
 Eddie Smith, Pearl River County Extension agent and coordinator and Southern
Gardening host.
 Steve Barney, Louisiana “Beetle Man” with more than two decades of beetle experience.
 Blair Sampson, Chris Werle and Austin Goldsmith, U.S. Department of Agriculture-
Agricultural Research Service entomologists, discussing bees and other pollinators.
 Jeff Harris, MSU Extension bee specialist.
 Linda Auld, the “NOLA Bug Lady,” discussing butterflies and caterpillars.
 Horticulturist Amy Nichols, discussing using ladybugs to help manage garden pests and
encourage pollination.
 Patrick Allison’s Crayfish Booth.
 Mandy Sartain, MSU Extension associate, discussing bats.
 Nate Venarske, owner of Mississippi Woodland Nursery, discussing pollinator-plant
interactions and gardening for spiders.
 Nadine Phillips with the Mississippi Native Plant Society, featuring Dr. Doug Tallamy’s
“Bringing Nature Home” and “Home Grown National Park.”
The event is open to school and homeschool groups Oct. 13 from 9:30 am to 12:30 p.m. for an
educational field day. Registration is required for school groups. Contact the arboretum at 601-
799-2311 to register.

Admission for school groups is $2 per child and free for teachers. Chaperones and families
attending with students pay general public prices.
The event opens to the public Oct. 13 from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Attendees can visit insect-related
displays, talk with educators, walk the arboretum trails, view the photo gallery display, and visit
the gum pond, pitcher plant bog and pollinator garden. From 6 to 8:30 p.m., participants can join
in for “blacklighting for bugs,” identifying insects, looking for bats and talking to experts.
Children’s crafts also will be available. Bring a flashlight to enjoy these activities.
The event again opens to the public Oct. 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features presentations,
vendors, crafts, pollinator tours and more.
Adults and children are invited to enter the arthropod photo contest. Registration is free and open
through Oct. 7. Find contest rules at the Extension registration portal at Contest winners will be announced during BugFest Oct. 14.
Admission to the event for nonmembers is $5 for adults, $2 for children 12 and under, and $4 for
seniors, first responders and military members. Admission for members is $3 for adults and $1
for children 12 and under.
The arboretum partnered with Orkin of Gulfport, Keesler Federal Credit Union and Wildlife
Mississippi to sponsor the event and photo competition.
MSU is an equal opportunity institution. For disability accommodation or other information,
contact the arboretum at 601-799-2311.

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