From left, Lansing residents Ainsley and Hadley Lumanog, 6 and 3, pet a tarantula on Tuesday morning at the Michigan 4-H Children?s Garden for Bug Day. It was the Lumanog sisters’ first time at Bug Day but they were not afraid to lean in and touch the large arachnid or the cockroaches.
Wedged into a corner of the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden, Gary Parsons carefully lifted a scorpion from its cage to give the children, who were crowded around the table for a better view.
Some took a couple steps back, but others leaned in for a closer look.
“They’re seeing things that they didn’t even know existed,” said Parsons, insect collection manager in MSU’s Department of Entomology. “Most of these kids have never picked up a bug, and to be able to hold a tarantula or touch a scorpion is a big deal for them.”
More than 175 children and parents attended the seventh annual Bug Day on Tuesday at Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden, said Jessica Albright, education coordinator for the garden.
“We really do it just to expose the kids to the insects that are in the garden and kind of give them an appreciation for the insects,” Albright said. “A lot of kids are afraid of bugs, so we try to fulfill that awareness.”
Various stations were set up around the gardens with hands-on activities, such as making a bug hat out of a paper plate, creating an insect out of pipe cleaners and tasting honey with graham crackers.
One of the busiest areas throughout the morning was the table with insects and workers from the Department of Entomology’s Bug House.
“It’s a great partnership — we really try to maintain and foster our relationship with (the Bug House),” Albright said. “It brings a lot of people in, because the Bug House isn’t open every day like we are.”
The Bug House is exclusively funded by the Department of Entomology, Parsons said.
“The university doesn’t contribute anything to it,” he said. “That is one of the reasons we are not open all the time.”
Emily McKay, a horticulture junior, worked at the welcome table and said the Bug Day offered exciting, interactive activities for the children.
“It’s a great day to learn and get involved within the garden and be excited about the creatures,” McKay said. “There is a lot of beneficial insects that help the garden.”
There were also insects that were not typically observed in the backyard, said Barbara Norton of Dowagiac, Mich., who brought her grandson.
“Children in the city don’t have an opportunity (to see insects) very often, unless they go in the country with their parents,” Norton said.
Seven-year-old Korben Leung of East Lansing came to the event, despite his dislike of bugs, and said he enjoyed seeing a giant moth and observatory bee hive.
“I have seen lots of amazing things,” Korben said.