By Chris Patrick
In March 2015, the Eastern Branch of the Entomological Society of America held their annual meeting in Rehoboth, Delaware.
A newcomer to entomology, I spent most of my first meeting at the family-oriented “It’s a Bug’s World” insect expo. Children with painted faces bumbled among exhibitor tables, their pipe-cleaner antennae bouncing with every step. Parents trailed behind, clutching pompom-festooned insects fashioned from egg cartons. Occasionally, I was able to corral a child into a corner of the sun-soaked room to ask them a few insect-related questions. Their answers left me contemplating the enduring love of little girls for butterflies, as well as the bravery of young people when it comes to putting insects in their mouths — I didn’t even consider eating any bugs. See some of the cute faces at the expo below:
The organizer of “It’s a Bug’s World” at the Eastern Branch meeting, Faith Kuehn, is an environmental program administrator with the Delaware Department of Agriculture. The day of the expo, she was wearing a woven, cotton-candy pink poncho patterned with butterflies. I pulled her aside for a brief interview about the program. If you also like non-insect animals, the following video includes Trooper, the agriculture detector dog, and his guardian human. He was a popular guest at the event.
Before “It’s a Bug’s World,” I didn’t know there were so many jobs related to insects. The diverse array of exhibitors at the expo represented the large number of careers in this field. Members of the more obvious professions were present, like the Delaware beekeeper Blair Cherico who lyrically referred to himself as a “nectar collector” and offered his honeycomb for sampling. The honey tasted like honey, but the wax, chewy and sweet, was eerily similar to bubblegum in both texture and flavor.
I learned that the correct term for an exterminator is Pest Management Professional, or PMP. In fact, I got to meet a couple of them, including Thomas Parker, the president of Pest Control Services. He removes pests from libraries and museums around the world. Sometimes, instead of using pesticides, he freezes books to kill the insects that are damaging them.
Another fun exhibitor was the cheerful Delaware Forest Service member Ashley Peebles, who brought a collection of pinned insects from Delaware forests, as well as a live Madagascar hissing cockroach from her own colony to share. Watch the video below to see more exhibitors at the expo.
Chris Patrick is a graduate student in the science writing program at Johns Hopkins University. Click here to read her blog.