October 25, 2016

Insectapalooza Offers Ithacans Hands-On Experience with Arthropods

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The Cornell Department of Entomology sold over 2,000 tickets to its annual insect fair, Insectapalooza, Saturday in Comstock Hall, according to Stephanie Westmiller, administrative assistant in the Department of Entomology.

The entomology department started planning for the event in September, according to Ethan Degner grad.

Degner called the fair “a science outreach event for entomology” that aims to teach the public about the importance of insects. There were at least 14 exhibits “for children and adults alike,” including a new addition this year — the ant farm.

“The ant farm was lent to us by hobbyist and undergraduate architecture student, Daniel Tompkins,” he said.

Degner said the two most popular exhibits were the butterfly room and the arthropod zoo, calling their subjects “big and charismatic insects.” He added that the department doubled the amount of butterflies in the butterfly room this year.

“Attendees enjoyed the opportunity to be interactive with the butterflies,” said Juan Silva grad.

“I think the goal of showing people the butterfly room was to encourage the conservation and biodiversity of remarkable lepidopteran species.”

Degner explained that many of the insects, such as cockroaches, mosquitoes and ladybugs, are maintained as “educational tools” or for research projects at the University. Others, like the butterflies, are “brought specially for the event.”

“Honestly, I think [Insectapalooza] was a huge success,” Degner said. “We had an excellent pool of volunteers that donated their time, energy and expertise to make this a success. I estimate that we had between 150 and 200 volunteers total.”

Judy Ptak, an Ithaca resident, said she attends Insectapalooza every year with her four grandchildren. “The event is very informative and [my grandchildren] have a great time,” she said.