Bugs on the UA Mall

The first Arizona Insect Festival will offer a family-friendly view of Earth's most numerous creatures.
Sept. 19, 2011
Extra Info: 

The event is free, with free parking for the festival available in the Main Gate and Tyndall garages, but you must be there before 11 a.m. The Park Avenue garage will be open all day.

Other parking on campus will be restricted because of the UA-Oregon football game.

Follow the Arizona Insect Festival on Facebook.

What: 
Arizona Insect Festival
When: 
Saturday, Sept. 24, 8 a.m.-noon
Where: 
UA Mall, near the Student Union Memorial Center
Ladybugs en masse. (Photo by Margarethe Brummermann)
Ladybugs en masse. (Photo by Margarethe Brummermann)

Insects arguably are the most diverse animals on the planet. Their numbers include at least 6 million species, possibly twice that many, and account for about 90 percent of the animal life forms currently inhabiting just about every part of the planet, except the oceans.

Many can't be seen easily without using a microscope; some can grow as much as 2 feet in length.

And a tiny sample of this remarkable class of creatures is the focus of the first Arizona Insect Festival later this month on the University of Arizona Mall.

The festival is geared for just about everyone, especially families. Twenty separate exhibits and activities will offer the opportunity to learn about the importance of insects in daily life, all of which will be cleverly disguised as fun.

There will be exhibits on social insects, build-a-bug using modeling clay, edible insects, an insect brain zoo, insect olympics and dung beetle dung-ball rolling races.

Kids also will be given "passports" that can be stamped at each exhibit and turned in for an Arizona Insect Festival lady bug pencil.

Wendy Moore, an assistant professor of entomology and one of the festival organizers, said it's all about "the diverse and unique roles insects play maintaining healthy ecosystems – such as pollination and litter decomposition – to the spread of diseases and the productivity of crops and native plants.

"The University of Arizona is home to one of the largest and most important groups of insect scientists in the world. The festival will highlight insect-related research throughout a wide range of academic departments including entomology, ecology and evolutionary biology and neurobiology," Moore said.

Moore, who also is a research associate at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, organized a smaller event at the museum several months ago that was attended by more than 1,500 people. 

The festival – part of Family Weekend at the UA – is free. Free parking will be available in the Main Gate and Tyndall garages for those who arrive before 11 a.m. After 11 a.m. there will be a fee because of the UA-Oregon football game that night. Parking is free all day in the Park Avenue garage.

The event is sponsored by the UA department of entomology and the UA Insect Collection in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Center for Insect Science, the Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Entomology and Insect Science, UA Family Weekend and a Community Connection Grant from the UA Foundation.