Ants Invade Museum of Natural Sciences for BugFest on Sept. 17

The annual BugFest is September 17, 2016. Source: North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh NC.
The annual BugFest is September 17, 2016. Source: North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh NC.

Released by Jon Pishney, naturalsciences.org

Ants! What they lack in size, ants more than make up for in numbers, and they offer countless behaviors to explore. Ants are Earth’s first farmers and shepherds, they engineer floating pontoons and enslave other ants, and their combined weight actually equals humanity’s. Yet despite all these intriguing facts, we mostly ignore this global community of ants beneath our feet … except when they enter our kitchens uninvited. Delve into the secret life of ants as the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences hosts the 20th anniversary of BugFest, September 17, 2016, 9am-7pm.

This free event, the largest one-day bug-centric event in the country, introduces visitors to a range of arthropods from North Carolina and around the world. You’ll learn about the coolest ants: from exploding ants that self-destruct to keep predators away, to trap-jaw ants that use their powerful jaws to jump away or toward an intruder, to zombie ants that have fallen under the spell of a fungus. Beyond ants, you’ll see Mexican red-rump tarantulas, brown marmorated stinkbugs, whip-tail scorpions, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, tobacco hornworm hawkmoths, death feigning beetles and much more.

If looking at all these insects makes you hungry, you can grab a plate of buggy food at the Café Insecta, where local restaurants offer a variety of bug-filled fare ranging from BBQ cricket bug-a-roni to pineapple chili wormsicles. While eating bugs might sound weird, not eating bugs is even weirder. Whether it’s Mexican agave worms or South African locust porridge, bug-filled dishes have found their way into the culinary palates of up to 80 percent of countries on Earth. And yes, they’re good for you. Whole insects are high in fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

Throughout the day, BugFest offers bugs and bug experts, games and activities, live music, movies and presentations to entertain and educate the entire family. Enjoy watching Captain Spalding getting shot from a cannon during the Alberti Flea Circus, compete in the Dung Beetle Battles at the Arthropod Olympics, or watch moon jellyfish receive a veterinarian check-up at the Window on Animal Health.

This year you can also watch and even participate as New York muralist Matthew Willey paints honeybees on a wall behind the Museum’s Nature Research Center. Willey is the founder of The Good of the Hive Initiative, and has committed to personally paint 50,000 honeybees — the number necessary for a healthy, thriving hive — in murals around the world. Through art and imagination, The Good of the Hive raises awareness about the current struggle and population decline of honeybees while celebrating their incredible behaviors. Willey has already painted three murals in the Triangle area this summer.

Still hungry for bugs? Stay late and witness a horror horde of crawl-and-crush giants clawing out of the Earth from mile-deep catacombs when the Museum screens the 1954 gem “Them!” at 5 p.m. After atomic tests in New Mexico cause common ants to mutate into giant man-eating monsters that threaten civilization, James Whitmore, James Arness and Fess Parker jump into action. [PG; 94 minutes. Free.] Before the film, learn about real-life monster ants with NC Museum of Natural Sciences’ myrmecologist (ant expert) Dr. Adrian Smith!

BugFest is brought to you by Terminix Companies of Eastern North Carolina and BASF. For more information about the event, including a complete list of presentations, exhibits and activities, visit bugfest.org.

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (11 W Jones Street and 121 W Jones Street) in downtown Raleigh is an active research institution that engages visitors of every age and stage of learning in the wonders of science and the natural world, drawing them into the intriguing fields of study that are critical to the future of North Carolina. Visit the Museum online at www.naturalsciences.org.

The NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. For more information, call 919.807.7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.

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Kay Whatley serves as Editor and Reporter with The Grey Area News. Kay is a published author with over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. Kay Whatley is wife to Frank Whatley, founder of The Grey Area™ newspaper and The Grey Area News online news website.