Mosquitoes, ants and cockroaches, sounds like a great time, right? The annual Arizona Insect Festival will take place on Sunday, Sept. 20 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Student Union Memorial Center Grand Ballroom at the UA.
Over 5,000 visitors have attended in the past, and there could be even more this year. “This is a big anniversary,” said Dr. Katy Prudic, who organized the event. This will be the Insect Festival’s fifth year.
The Insect Festival is hosted by the university’s department of entomology. There will be over 20 different booths that feature insect-related research from the university’s own scientists, including Prudic’s butterfly research booth.
Each booth represents a single lab or a collection of labs, where you can personally engage with the researchers. “It’s always exciting to share all the research that’s going on at the [UA] with the Tucson community,” Prudic said. Her booth will feature live caterpillars and butterflies, as well as information on how to identify local butterflies.
With popular booths like “Insects as Food,” which allows you to taste a selection of edible insects, it’s no wonder the festival is a hit with kids. But it’s not just the kids that get enthusiastic.
“It’s always fun to see how excited, not just the children get, but their parents—about what’s going on and how insects make a living and how that living then interacts with your everyday life,” Prudic said.
Nicole Bui, a biosystems engineering senior, has been attending the Insect Festival since her freshman year and will be volunteering at the festival for her second year in a row. “The first time I went, there were only 5-year-olds and their parents, but it’s grown a lot and it’s really exciting to see and be a part of it,” Bui said. She will be at the cockroach booth this year, called “The Joy of Roaches.”
Other booths feature information on arthropods, spiders, scorpions, moths and bees. There is even a booth dedicated to some of the pest problem species, which offers information on solutions for these unwanted visitors.
The Insect Festival offers a fun, interactive way to learn about insects and ecosystems. “There are so many different types of insects and it’s awesome to see people not afraid of them, but embracing them,” Bui said.
The event and parking is free, so come and learn about insects.
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