Bug-loving students at Colorado State University will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Gillette Entomology Club – the oldest student group on campus – with a Bug Bash today, April 6.
The Bug Bash will be held from 6-10 p.m. in the Plant Sciences Building on the Colorado State campus.
The event will include an arthropod petting zoo, allowing bash-goers to hold “Steve,” a giant African millipede. They also may handle a friendly Chilean rose hair tarantula, a giant Asian mantis, or a Madagascar hissing cockroach.
And if that’s not enough to entice the crowds, surely CSU students will do “the wiggle” for fortified snacks, including Chirpy Chip Cookies (special ingredient: edible crickets) or Chex Mix Plus (the “Plus” being protein-rich mealworms). Carnival games will include a bed-bug toss.
The Bug Bash also will feature a showing of “Them!” The classic 1954 sci-fi movie follows the hero’s encounter with a nest of gigantic irradiated ants; it nabbed an Oscar nomination for special effects.
The Entomology Club was founded by Clarence Preston Gillette, a renowned insect scientist who worked in a variety of leadership roles at CSU from 1891 to 1935. Gillette, CSU’s first entomologist and an expert in aphids, started the entomology group with four student members in 1912.
As it has from the beginning, the 100-year-old club holds student gatherings on campus to nurture its members’ shared interest in insects and other arthropods, which are said to account for more than 80 percent of all known living animal species. Just one group of insects, beetles, is considered so vast that scientists estimate one of every five different living things on Earth is a beetle.
Club members, numbering about 20, also focus on outreach: They visit area schools and share bug facts with students ranging from preschoolers to fellow collegians. The club’s cockroach races have become a zany trademark. The races pit discoid cockroaches – ideal because they neither fly nor climb – in erratic scuttles across painted plywood as viewers cheer them on.
Entomology is a trademark feature of the CSU College of Agricultural Sciences for good reason: Many crops rely on insects for pollination and other critical activity; just as many are vulnerable to insect destruction. That’s why honeybee hives are trucked to orchards and produce fields nationwide, and why Russian wheat aphids and other invasive insects are the focus of multimillion-dollar research projects.
CONTACT: Jennifer Dimas at (970) 491-1543 or Jennifer.Dimas@colostate.edu.