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Beetles, mosquitoes, and termites, oh my! Hokie Bugfest returns for third year of insect fun

BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 4, 2013 – When talk turns to cheering on your favorite cockroach in a suspenseful, six-legged race, wrangling a tarantula, or studying the sign language of bee flight patterns, it can only mean one thing: Hokie Bugfest is back.

The third annual Hokie Bugfest will take place in Latham Ballroom at the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center on Oct. 19, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Visitors will be able to have an up-close and personal meet-and-greet with some of the same arthropod all-stars from previous years — including stink bugs, bed bugs, mosquitoes, and termites — as well as the more notorious members of the insect underground like tarantulas, death-feigning beetles, scorpions, and vinegaroons, which are cave-dwelling whip scorpions that squirt vinegar from their tails.

The annual celebration of all things creepy crawly is a chance to introduce kids and adults alike to the field of entomology and learn more about bugs beyond the “ick” factor, as well as help visitors gain an understanding of bugs’ importance to the environment.  

Among the insect-themed exhibits the festival will feature this year are a live Bug Zoo, a haunted Bug House, an entire room dedicated to luminescent bugs, and assorted games and crafts. Young entomologists can try to stump the “wizards of entomology” and, new this year, see how silk is made from silkworm pupae. Bug enthusiasts can also admire a giant bird-eater tarantula, the largest species of spider.

Another new addition will be a bug judging contest for 4-Hers. Prizes will be awarded for the best bug collections.

"We are so very excited to host the third annual Hokie Bugfest!  Last year we enjoyed the company of over 3,600 adults and children. We are adding an extra hour to the day this year to accommodate what we hope is an even larger crowd," said Mike Weaver, entomology professor and Virginia Cooperative Extension director of Virginia Tech Pesticide Programs.

Pint-sized entomologists in-training can earn an official junior entomologist certificate after visiting eight exhibits at the festival.

Jim Alberti’s troupe of performing fleas will also be back for the day’s celebration of arthropods, along with appearances by the HokieBird, the Hokietron, and robotic insects.

Hosted by Virginia 4-H, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and the Department of Entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the festival celebrates the legacy of William Bradford Alwood, Virginia Tech’s first entomologist and an internationally known scientist. He is credited with laying the foundation for the college and developing the horticulture and pest management disciplines.

The event is held in collaboration with the entomology department’s student-run organization, the W.B. Alwood Society.

For more details and a schedule of events visit the Hokie Bugfest website. Visitors are encouraged to avoid longer lines by attending later in the morning, during the noon hour, or later in the afternoon.

Nationally ranked among the top research institutions of its kind, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences focuses on the science and business of living systems through learning, discovery, and engagement. The college’s comprehensive curriculum gives more than 3,100 students in a dozen academic departments a balanced education that ranges from food and fiber production to economics to human health. Students learn from the world’s leading agricultural scientists, who bring the latest science and technology into the classroom.

Written by Amy Loeffler.

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