On Oct. 22, the Cornell Department of Entomology hosted Insectapalooza in Stocking Hall after postponing the event due to COVID restrictions.
“It’s Good to Bee Back” was the apt theme for this year’s annual one-day insect festival, which returned this October after a two-year hiatus. The event was well-attended by both Ithaca locals and Cornell students and faculty and featured interactive booths and workshops aimed towards sharing the entomological sciences with the community.
Insectapalooza’s objective has always centered on scientific communication. In 2005, Prof. Linda Rayor, entomology, was asked to create an event for the department that would serve as a chance to interact with the public and share entomological knowledge.
“That first year I thought we were going to be lucky if we had 300 people show up. We had over 1,500,” Rayor said.
Since its initial success, Insectapalooza has continued to grow and has become such a largely attended event, it was moved from Comstock to Stocking Hall in 2019. This year was no different, and the much-anticipated return of Insectapalooza brought in bug enthusiasts of all ages.
“I think I learned more about insects from the younger kids than I taught them myself,” said Insectapalooza volunteer Luke Martini ’25 “It was really cool to see a young population really interested in insects and bugs.”
The event featured hundreds of live arthropod specimens, including a comet moth, walking sticks, beetles and spiders, as well as insects from the Cornell Entomology Collection.
Besides the more interactive exhibits, such as the butterfly room and arthropod zoo, the event also featured informative booths that detailed tick safety, plant-insect interactions, drosophila diversity, mosquito morphology and other insect-related research lined the perimeter of the building.
30-minute workshops led by students and faculty were a new addition to Insectapalooza this year, and included topics like macrophotography, Beekeeping, the Spotted Lanternfly and Careers in Entomology.
“We tried workshops because I think there’s a place for longer interactions over certain issues,” Rayor said. “[One] of the goals I [had] was to really up the diversity of what we’re doing,” Rayor said.
Besides infotainment value, Rayor sees Insectapalooza as a method of recruitment and outreach to young people interested in entomology. The addition of a Careers in Entomology workshop, led by Cole Gilbert, director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Entomology, served to show budding entomologists the diverse career paths available within the field.
“It gives us a chance to be personal with the public and future entomologists in a way that I just don’t think you can beat,” Rayor said.
The 17th annual Insectapalooza was embraced warmly by both the department and attendees after its two-year postponement. Rayor and other involved members of the department hope to continue this annual tradition and stay connected to local bug-lovers.
“Part of being a scientist is giving back and sharing the science,” Rayor said. “I see Insectapalooza as important to the public, important to kids, people who are trying to find their way as future entomologists, and for [students] interacting with the public about science,” Rayor said.