Hundreds bugged by Museum of Arts and Sciences

wcrenshaw@macon.comJune 14, 2014 

About this time of year most people are making a concerted effort to avoid bugs and/or kill them in mass numbers, but people at the Museum of Arts and Sciences on Saturday were taking a different approach.

Hundreds of people came to the museum’s annual Bug Day, where they were able to see, hold and eat things that scurry about.

While there were a pest control booth and a veterinarian booth to help people with bug problems, one message of the event was that not all bugs are bad.

Sharron Cornacchione, the museum’s animal curator, said Bug Day is one of the museum’s biggest family days of the year.

“I think people are just fascinated with insects,” she said as she let a Madagascar hissing cockroach about the size of a man’s thumb crawl on her arm. “A lot of people are scared of them, but once they learn about them the fear goes away. I tell everybody, fear comes from a lack of knowledge.”

The event featured a “Fear Factor Feast” table in which people could try “chocolate chirp” cookies, which are basically chocolate cookies with crickets serving as some of the chips. There also was mealworm pesto and roasted caterpillars.

Shows where held in the museum auditorium, and Will Shoemaker, of Macon, put on one with the Madagascar hissing cockroaches that he raises. He said they make good pets for people who don’t want to put a lot of time into raising a pet.

“They don’t make a mess,” he said. “They don’t stink. They don’t bite. They are just an interesting bug.”

Jim and Pat Williams, of Warner Robins, bring their grandson Edward Johnson to Bug Day every year.

“We like bugs,” Jim Williams said. “We are outdoorsy people.”

Jeff Burne, a local entomologist, showed part of the vast collection of dead beetles he has gathered from around the world. He has a large collection of jewel scarabs, a type of beetle found in Mexico and South America.

“Beetles to me are just the most fascinating creature because there’s more of them than anything else,” he said. “If you put every type of animal in a box, shook it up and started pulling them out, every third one would be a beetle.”

He said beetles are important because they eat dead plant matter. In other words, they are the buzzards of the plant world. More critically, he said, they provide food for a wide range of other animals.

“They are very important to the ecology,” he said.

Steve Nofs, a master beekeeper in Macon, was there with an observation beehive. It is a working hive contained behind glass. The queen was marked with a painted-on orange spot.

He said beekeeping is becoming increasingly popular, in part because many people recognize the importance of honey bees, which pollinate crops. Bees can be kept in urban areas, he said, as long as people follow a few precautions such as not putting a hive near a sidewalk. Honeybees won’t attack people, he said, as long no one comes near their hive.

“They don’t go out looking for people to harm,” he said.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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