Crawl, scamper, or inch your way to the second annual Hokie Bugfest, when kids of all ages can learn about the importance of insects and their relatives in our daily lives. Children and their parents can discover what a 10-inch millipede looks like, stare a tarantula right in its eight eyes, and watch cockroach races.

The Oct. 20, event is free and open to the public; it takes place at The Inn at Virginia Tech.

The many hands-on exhibits and the large collection of insects on display — including blue death-feigning beetles and cave-dwelling whip scorpions that squirt vinegar from their tails — are designed to not only send shivers down spines but also to build an interest in the science of entomology.

“Insects often do more good than harm,” said Mike Weaver, professor of entomology and Virginia Cooperative Extension director of Virginia Tech Pesticide Programs. “Insects play a vital role in the environment; for example, they pollinate crops and decompose waste materials. Entomology helps unlock the secrets of both the insect world and the environment at large.”


The festival is a learning opportunity for children, who can admire a giant bird-eater tarantula, try on beekeepers’ suits, and learn about aquatic insects. Dozens of hands-on exhibits will also give families the opportunity to learn about less-popular arthropods such as bed bugs, cockroaches, stink bugs, mosquitoes, and termites. After visiting eight exhibits, children will receive official junior entomologist certificates.

Jim Alberti’s troupe of performing fleas, the HokieBird, the Hokietron, and robotic insects will also be featured.

Hosted by Virginia 4-H and the Department of Entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the festival celebrates the legacy of William Bradford Alwood, Virginia Tech’s first entomologist and an internationally known scientist. He is credited with laying the foundation for the college and developing the horticulture and pest management disciplines.

The Hokie Bugfest takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A complete list of activities and parking information is available on the Hokie Bugfest website.

The event is held in collaboration with the entomology department’s student-run organization, the W.B. Alwood Society.




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