Monday, March 19 , 2018, 8:54 pm | Overcast 56º


Bug Fest to Take the Creepy Out of the Crawlies

See, touch — and taste — your way through the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History program

David Gordon really loves bugs — especially when they’re baked, stir fried or chocolate dipped. You see, Gordon is a bug chef. Yes, you read it right — a bug chef and author of Eat A Bug Cookbook. He’ll be part of a unique hands-on program — “Bug Fest: Surf & Turf” — at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 25.

In addition to Gordon’s witty and interesting bug-cooking demonstrations — where, if brave enough, participants will be able to sample the crispy, crunchy critters — there will be a variety of activities. Climb a 25-foot rock wall like a spider, see the new Astrobug planetarium show, touch live insects and crustaceans, and learn about the museum’s ongoing scientific research. You can marvel up-close at some of the fascinating behaviors and adaptations of our arthropod friends.

Although it’s difficult to think of creepy crawlies as “friends,” the folks at the museum would like to change that perception. “We’d like to hear the ‘Eeews’ turn into ‘Wows!’” says Heather Lahr, manager of the museum’s adult and family programs. “When people learn about an animal they once feared, they tend to gain a greater understanding and come away with a renewed appreciation of how we need these creatures for our very own survival.”

Do we need bugs to survive? Yes! Insects are found in every ecosystem on Earth and provide vital ecological functions. Bugs aerate soil, pollinate flowers, control insect and plant pests, and decompose dead or dying materials. According to museum entomologist Michael Caterino, “If all insects were to vanish off the face of the Earth, the world would be an uglier, smellier and, above all, hungrier place in no time.”

Insects are nature’s janitors. They clean up after other animals, ingesting waste products and remains left behind that otherwise would be unpleasant and dangerous to humans. Remember the last time you got a whiff of a dead animal? Well, thanks to insects, decomposition is shortened — along with the time we have to put up with the odor.

For daring adults (must be at least 21 years old to participate), there will be a special event from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. July 24 called “Bugs & Beer.” Gordon will take attendees on a deliciously unique culinary tour, while tasting brew from local companies.

Space is limited. To RSVP for “Bugs & Beer” or for more information about “Bug Fest,” contact Heather Lahr at 805.682.4711 x 170 or [email protected].

— Easter Moorman is the marketing and public relations manager for the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

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