It was off to the races at the San Bernardino County Museum Saturday, but the leads weren’t the majestic hoofed kind.
Instead, they were the hissy, scuttling, spiny-legged type.
Cockroach races brought out fans of all ages to attend the[restrict userlevel=”subscriber”] museum’s annual “Insectival”–a bug festival, where guests got an up-close-and-personal look at the world of insects.
And while insect fanciers like three-year-old Bradley Barcza couldn’t get enough of the multi-legged critters, some event attendees like his father, Steve, were simply bugged out by the creepy crawlies.
“It’s not for everyone,” said Donna Barcza, Bradley’s mother, of the dozens of insects available to touch. “But we’re hoping to learn the difference between the good and bad bugs. We need to since (Bradley) loves to have ants crawl on because they “tickle”.”
To offer answers to questions like the Barcza’s had, several bug experts were one hand to help shed some light about the insect world.
Grad student, James Ricci, from UC Riverside’s Entomology Department was among them.
“We’re here to teach everyone about entomology–what is an insect, what they do, why we need them and how they’re important,” he said.
To offer a hands-on learning approach, Ricci along with a group of other department members, brought along more than a dozen insects to introduce to museum guests.
Crawling around in plastic containers were blue death fainting beetles, stink beetles, stick insects, moths, Bess beetles and Madacascar hissing cockroaches, scorpions and tarantulas to name a few.
“Giving people a chance to get up close and touch (insects) helps kids and adults alike get interested in science,” Ricci added.
The festival was expected to draw in more than 1,500 guests as it is the museum’s largest event attraction along with Train Days, said Jolene Redvale, curator of education at the museum.
Other groups such as master gardeners, San Bernardino County Department of Public Health and the Loma Linda University School of Medicine Advanced Imaging and Microscopy Core were also on hand offering information about the bug world.
“Bugs are all around but we often don’t see them because we’re not looking…,” Redvale said.
To help discover bugs, children and adults were provided with nets to help catch insects flying around and hiding in trees.
“When you really stop and look, you can find them everywhere.”[/restrict]