Entomology Club Visits Nassau County 4-H Campers
by Jonnie N. Dietz

Members of our Entomology Club and Education and Outreach Committee recently spent a day with the 4-H Day Campers of Nassau County. To kick off the day, campers let out their creative side with maggot art masterpieces. Students received live maggots which they dipped in paint, plopped on their paper, and watched as their living paintbrush squirmed around to create a truly modern work of art. Next they learned insect anatomy as they raced against one another to draw and name their own anatomically correct bug. Some drew insects with super powers, and others drew bugs of titanic proportions.

The campers show off their maggot masterpieces.

The campers got a little more active with the Pollination Station activity. They were split into different colored flowers and insects such as moths, beetles, bees, and butterflies. Insects were on a mission to find their specific flower counterpart, so they could take a shot at reaching their proboscis-arm though the pollen Cheetos, and down into the rewarding Starburst candy nectar.

Graduate student Catherine Nalen (center) prepares anxious campers for the Pollination Station.

After lunch, we prepared one extra snack for the campers that their parents don't pack in a usual lunch. The campers gathered anxiously around Dr. Rebecca Baldwin as she pulled out the griddle and threw on live meal worms seasoned with a bit of Mrs. Dash. Nearly every camper gladly gobbled the treat, and came back for seconds! The next bugs were brought along for touching rather than eating. Beetles, a Chilean rose tarantula, hissing cockroaches, and a giant millipede were all big hits among the students. "I touched a roach" stickers convinced even the most leery campers to stroke the unusual guests.

Dr. Rebecca Baldwin sharing mealworm hors'douvres.

To simulate the way different insects eat, campers participated in a mouthpart relay. Grasshoppers ate cheerios with no hands, true bugs pierced and sucked their juice boxes dry, flies sopped up water with a sponge, and butterflies used a straw to siphon nectar out of their cup.

Biting competition in the mouthparts relay.

The last activity was a slightly different kind of race. Who knew you could make your very own race track for termites by drawing with a pen? After drawing circles and designs on their paper, campers watched in amazement as their termite followed the chemical in pen ink that so closely resembles their very own pheromones. After a brief recap of the day, the campers packed up their belongings along with a little more appreciation for the wonderful world of insects.

Thomas Fasulo is the newsletter editor. You can submit news anytime to fasulo@ufl.edu. Issues are published the middle of each month. Submit items for an issue by the 7th of that month. Detailed articles, such as this one, must be submitted before the first of the month for that month's newsletter.

Return to the August 2010 issue.