By Rick Palsgrove
Southeast Editor

Messenger photos by Rick Palsgrove
A Macleay’s spectre stick insect crawls up the front of George Keeney’s shirt at the third annual Bugstravaganza held at Walnut Woods Metro Park on Aug. 4.

Bugs really are our friends.

These flying, swimming, and crawling critters were celebrated at the third annual Bugstravaganza held on Aug. 4 at Walnut Woods Metro Park, 6716 Lithopolis Road, Groveport.

“Without insects, and other small bugs, life would be impossible for large living things – like humans. They allow other things to live by providing food and being food,” said Mindi McConnell, Walnut Woods Metro Park manager. “Would the world exist without pollination? Insect pollination is responsible for about one third of the food we eat including apples, chocolate and coffee. Birds, bats, and frogs eat insects. Insects also help break down waste materials so they are recycled into the ecosystem.”

Bugstravaganza featured activities and displays for children and adults. Representatives from many organizations helped visitors catch and release insects, learn about backyard bugs, take part in creek exploration (where visitors waded in the creek to find aquatic insects), and see insects up close. The event also included crafts and games such as making edible bugs, bug rock painting, and bee crafts.

Visitors viewed live Monarchs, dragonflies, honey bees, moths, caterpillars, insect fossils, insects from around the world, insect collection, and aquatic insects as well.

A butterfly and a bee hang out together on a common milkweed bloom at the flower filled pollinator garden at Walnut Woods Metro Park.

“One of my favorite bugs is the Monarch, in all its stages – egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly,” said McConnell. “The Monarch is my favorite for many reasons, but the most fascinating one is that the last generation migrates over a thousand miles to Mexico where they will spend several months wintering in fir forests to survive. Then in the spring they start the next generation that will start to fly north. I have a live exhibit in our park office that is open to the public.”

Representatives from The Ohio State University Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology brought several live insects for visitors to see at Bugstravaganza. Among the live insects on display were centipedes, various kinds of cockroaches, beetles, a black widow spider, a tarantula, and a Macleay’s spectre stick insect.

Though the Macleay’s spectre stick insect looks formidable, George Keeney, a research associate with The Ohio State University Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology, said the bug is not aggressive.

A Metro Parks employee catching some insects in a Walnut Woods Metro Park meadow. Insects were caught and released during Bugstravaganza so visitors could learn about them.

“It comes from Australia and eats eucalyptus and pyracantha fire thorn,” said Keeney. “The females hang upside down in trees and sway in the wind to mimic leaves to disguise them from predators, such as birds.”

For more information on Walnut Woods Metro Park, visit metroparks.net.

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