Hokie BugFest just one of Tech’s bug-centric events this fall

The Department of Entomology at Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Science and the Virginia Cooperative Extension are hosting five beetle-themed events this fall in five Virginia locations: Montgomery County, Pulaski County and Radford, and Henrico County and Virginia Beach.

One of the largest science outreach events of the year at Virginia Tech, the Hokie BugFest returns for the 12th year on Saturday, October 8 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Squires Student Center in Blacksburg. (A special pre-opening from 9am to 10am is reserved for people with mobility or other special needs.)

“We are very excited to be back in person after two years of online programming during the pandemic,” said Daniel Frank, organizer of the festival and faculty member in the Department of Entomology.

This year’s event features more than 30 exhibitors, including Virginia Tech Labs, area museums, community groups and industry experts. Visitors will enjoy hands-on activities, working beehives, a beetle library, 3D insects and many live arthropods including scorpions, blue death beetles, tarantulas, centipedes, hissing cockroaches and more.

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Virginia Tech Bug Festivals are free community events that invite visitors and school children to learn about science through the fascinating and important world of entomology. Topics range from pollinators and urban pests to aquatic insects and forensic entomology. University and community experts will be on hand to answer questions and share their own excitement about bugs.

“Our goal is to inspire the next generation of scientists and demonstrate the importance of insects worldwide,” said Frank. “And what better way to spark curiosity than the vibrant, often alien-looking, extreme world of bugs.”

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In Pulaski County and Radford, third and fourth graders had the opportunity to attend an in-school Hokie BugFest September 8-29. Hokie BugFest on the Go attended 42 classes and more than 700 students and 50 teachers or administrators at six schools in these NRV areas.

Hokie BugFest On the Go is a traveling field trip program that brings BugFest from Virginia Tech to the classroom. For an hour, small groups learn all about entomology, meet live arthropods from the Hokie BugZoo, and collaborate with graduate students and university faculty and staff. All attendees will receive activity booklets to reinforce concepts after the event.

For those unable to attend an event in person, the Virtual Hokie BugFest will offer an online bug world from October to May 2023. Visit hokiebugfest.org for videos, photo galleries, downloadable activities, and fun facts about bugs.

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Founded in 2020 to protect festival goers during the pandemic, the Virtual Hokie BugFest reached more than 10,000 unique viewers in 2020 and 2021 and has continued that success in 2022.

Along with this year’s programs in Henrico County and Virginia Beach, Hokie Bug Festivals showcase Virginia Tech’s motto: Ut Prosim (that I may serve) and the College of Agriculture and Life Science’s commitment to science education and outreach statewide.

Virginia Tech Hokie Bug Festivals are sponsored by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech Pesticide Programs, and many community partners.

– Submitted by James Mason, Virginia Tech