The Academy’s Staff Talks Bug Fest Favorites

This weekend, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is inviting everyone out to its annual celebration of the creepy, wiggly and crawly world of bugs.

Bug Fest encourages visitors to check out a plethora of live bugs including beetles, ants, millipedes, scorpions, spiders and caterpillars in new and fun ways.

There’s bug racing, stage shows of magnified insects and bug-inspired yoga, to name a few of the activities this weekend.

But what do the people who are the eyes, ears and legs of Bug Fest look forward to most?

DrexelNow reached out to them to see what they’re getting antsy about. 

Roach racing is one of the big draws of Bug Fest. Photo by Meredith Dolan/ANS.

Karen Verderame, Academy educator, head of Bug Fest

“One of my favorite things is having the opportunity to show visitors a whole other side of insects through our live displays. Visitors will hesitantly approach an enclosure with a large beetle or fearfully walk into the Roach Race 500 room, but after they get to see the insect up close, maybe even touch one, they become relaxed and even want to know and see more. Many even cheer for their favorite cockroach in the races!”

Jon Gelhaus, PhD, curator of Entomology, Drexel professor, Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science

“My favorite part of Bug Fest is the Bug Walks, led by the Academy’s Entomology staff and members of the American Entomological Society. We take bug enthusiasts into the ‘wilds’ of the gardens surrounding the Logan Circle fountain and explore the wonderful insects living there, right in downtown Philadelphia, in the middle of the concrete jungle.”

An up-close encounter with a stick bug outside the Academy of Natural Sciences. Photo by Meredith Dolan/ANS.

“The leaders are often as surprised by some of the insects we find there as those coming along on the walk — you never know from year to year what we will see.”

Hollie Barattolo, Academy educator

“I'd have to say that my favorite part of Bug Fest has to be our buggy chefs. Every year we are visited by great chefs who prepare delicious dishes for our guests using bugs as the main ingredient. These culinary artists introduce our visitors to a surprising way of looking at food that is healthy, environmentally friendly and delicious. I'm stopped all year long by visitors who want to recount in great detail their exciting encounter with mealworm chutney or fried dragonfly, and I love every tale! It's those lasting impressions that make this such an exciting event.”

One of the hands-on activities at a past Bug Fest. Photo by Meredith Dolan/ANS.

“This year, we're happy to welcome David George Gordon for the first time to Bug Fest. His love of all things buggy — on and off the plate — is a perfect match for this event, and I can't wait to hear all about it from our visitors!”

Sean Stallworth, coordinator, Outside In exhibit

"My favorite part has to be talking and presenting to people the scorpions and tarantulas because I think they are the coolest bugs in the world. And when the visitors see me handling them, they think I'm super cool and brave (I will never tell them I'm not) but this allows me to have their full attention. That's when I'm able to educate them on the wonders of these spectacular arachnids."

For more info on Bug Fest, click here.