Get an up-close and personal look into the secret lives of insects and their relatives as the fourth annual Hokie BugFest comes to Blacksburg on Saturday, Oct. 11, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center

The event is free and open to the public.

Visitors to the popular festival will get a chance to view a cast of exotic arthropods from the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Arthropods making an appearance include a black widow spider; hundreds of tarantulas, such as a Brazilian black tarantula; death-feigning beetles; scorpions, including a Formosan forest scorpion; hissing cockroaches; West African black, flame leg, and North American millipedes; and vinegaroons — cave-dwelling whip scorpions that squirt vinegar from their tails.

Bug aficionados can also view a bird-eating tarantula — one of the largest species of arachnids on the planet.

Some of the more infamous members of the insect world will be on display — pests such as bed bugs, gypsy moths, stink bugs, mosquitoes, and termites, along with more congenial honey bees at an apiculture exhibit. 

Attendees can try on a beekeeping suit and discover how bees help make agriculture possible by pollinating crops. This year the apiculture exhibit will double in floor space, and kids will be able to participate in a bee-waggle dancing contest.

And just in time for Halloween, non-insect visitors can enter their own creepy crawly-inspired costumes in a costume-judging contest. 

And the bugs will get in on the Halloween fun, too. Creatures that sport their own radiant costumes will be on display at the Luminous Cave where glow-in-the-dark millipedes and other phosphorescent arthropods will greet guests. More spooky fun will be on hand at the haunted Bug House — a fun house with an insect theme.

“Hokie BugFest has grown into a regional entomological festival that we are proud of,” said Mike Weaver, professor of entomology and director of Virginia Tech Pesticide Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Many families make it a fall break tradition to come and see our bugs.”

Last year’s festival attracted approximately 4,300 guests with one family coming from as far away as Michigan.

There will also be a Bug Creations room where kids can make bug-inspired crafts and get their faces and fingernails painted like their favorite insect. Visitors can even buy a pumpkin at our pumpkin patch and visit dogs Bo and Ty, widely known as the canine mascots of Virginia Cooperative Extension. 

Entomologists-in-training can also earn a junior entomologist certificate by visiting eight exhibits at the festival. Older kids will enjoy testing their wits at the Bug Jeopardy booth.

Two-legged visitors will be tickled by the Alberti Flea Circus, a traveling troupe that will perform several times throughout the day in the Alumni Hall auditorium.

The Hokie BugFest was inspired by William B. Alwood, Virginia’s first entomologist. Alwood, an early pioneer of pest management and fruit culture, was one of Virginia Tech’s most famous scientists. 

The W.B. Alwood Entomological Society, a graduate student organization, helps host the Hokie BugFest as part of its outreach mission.



Written by Amy Loeffler.
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