By Molly Daly
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Academy of Natural Sciences held its annual Bug Fest this weekend, a chance for the public to explore the weird and wonderful world of insects.
Among the attractions were bug cooking and tasting demos, entomologists on hand to identify that “weird thing” that came to your porch light, and chances to eyeball and even pet some of the world’s most charismatic invertebrates. All of it aimed at getting people to marvel at and to appreciate bugs.
Entomologist Jason Weintraub was showing visitors Black Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillars — the green, yellow, and black ones that devour parsley, fennel, and dill plants.
“They’re gonna eat just about any plants in the carrot family,” he said. “Some gardeners consider them pests, others like to encourage populations of butterflies and will let them feast on their garden. I tend to do the latter.”
Entomologist Isa Betancourt says we can learn a lot from insects:
“The presence of some, and absence of others, can indicate the health and status of the environment and what’s going on around us. They’re also just fun, like little aliens, but right here on Planet Earth.”
Sixteen year-old Arianna Bradley, who’s on the staff thanks to her participation in the Women in Natural Sciences program, was thrilled to be sharing insect information:
“We like knowing that flies taste with their feet, or that some things actually eat their vomit. Bees are only able to make honey because they regurgitate the honey. And then they bring it back in, and they keep doing that until it becomes kinda viscous.”
In other words, she says, yes, you’re basically eating bee puke when you have honey.