Photograph by John de Dios/Bear Essential News for Kids
Would you ever want to eat an insect? Now you can! On Sept. 18, several thousand people went to the Arizona Insect Festival hosted by the Department of Entomology (the study of insects) at the University of Arizona. The festival, which started in 2011, is held in September each year. There were sautéed mealworms and onions on a chip, cricket cookies and protein bars. It may sound gross, but my brother, dad and I tried them and they were actually very good.
Assistant Professor of Entomology Kathleen Walker says that even though some people think insects are gross, they are important to our Earth. Walker explains, “The main purpose of the festival is to tell people that insects are all around us and we don’t realize it. If we didn’t have insects, the world as we know it would be different. We probably wouldn’t be able to live here if we had no insects.” Our world is 52 percent insects.
You can learn about insect eggs, brains, their bodies and much, much more. The UofA has been working with the hissing cockroach from Madagascar for over 10 years. They are prey to many animals in Madagascar. But when an animal such as a lemur tips over the log or wherever they are, they will start hissing to try to scare the predator away. Noah George, 9, says, “My favorite part was putting my arm in the male mosquito container because they do not bite.”
Other exhibits included making your own bug out of clay, holding a cockroach and looking at insect eggs under a microscope just to name a few.
Jianna George, 11, says, “My favorite part of the festival was having a worm crawl on me.” When I asked Walker how she became interested in bugs, she said she was in the Peace Corps in Guatemala helping people plant trees when she noticed that people were using pesticides in dangerous ways. She realized she wanted to learn more about insects so she could help people be safe with insects. Walker says, “Insects are our neighbors and they are actually kind of cool.”