This year’s Insectapalooza at Cornell University promises a peek at “the Bizarre, Bad, and Beneficial of the insect world.” The 14th annual hands-on event “for children, teens, and adults of all ages” is this Saturday at Comstock Hall.
Insectapalooza has proven to be “an exciting way to communicate science to the public,” says Linda Rayor, the director of the Naturalist Outreach Program and a senior lecturer research associate in Entomology. “We aim for a mix of infotainment for the younger set with giving people access to the amazing diversity and value of insects.”
Favorite features include a butterfly room, a “battle of the bugs” display showing “the diverse, resourceful and just plain weird ways some insects prey on other bugs,” and an Arthropod Zoo with “a collection of creatures that most people never have the chance to see.” There are cameras attached to microscopes so we can get a closer look at the tiny insects.
The pollinator exhibit includes an entire room of honeybees and bumblebees, and visitors can taste honey made from bees in the room. Bee expert Emma Mullen says insects “play such as huge role in our lives, like pollinating crops on the beneficial side and as agricultural pests on the negative side. An event like this lets people see a bigger picture of where their food actually comes from.”
A new exhibit for 2017 is Sounds of Insects, showcasing “the buzzings, chirpings and clickings of dozens of arthropod species.” Rayor says people are accustomed to hearing insects as part of a larger auditory experience, like the cacophony of a late summer evening. The new exhibit isolates those sounds in a way that she says provides a unique experience of the auditory world of bugs.
“You can get about as up close and personal as you can imagine, or you can stay at arm’s length,” said Scott McArt, assistant professor of entomology.
It’s the 14th annual Insectapalooza, and Cornell says it draws “up to 2,000 people” each year “to witness hundreds of live insects, spiders and other fascinating arthropods.”
Insectapalooza is free for children age 3 and younger, and per person for kids (and non-kids) 4 and up. It’s at Comstock Hall, on Garden Avenue near the Hoy Road parking garage and the Crescent Lot, from 9am-3pm on Saturday.