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Spiders, spiders and more spiders, theme of BugFest 2011

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 23, 2011
Arts, Entertainment, Travel, Science, Food Editors. Images available.
Contact: Emelia.Cowans@naturalsciences.org; 919.733.7450, ext. 305

Arachnids march all eight legs into formation and line up front and center for BugFest 2011

(RALEIGH) — Whether they’re hiding in the corners of our homes, spinning a web or descending upon us on a single thread of silk, spiders are undeniably fascinating which is why they’re the theme bug for this year’s BugFest—the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ biggest event of the year and the largest, one-day, bug-centric event of its kind in the country.  On Saturday, September 17 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., all four floors of the Museum, as well as Bicentennial Plaza, Jones St. and Edenton St. will become bug central station. This buggy wonderland, now in its 15th year, continues to be one of the keystone events at the Museum where visitors turn their fears into fascination. BugFest is FREE and will certainly be a day of educational fun for the whole family.

Boasting crowds of more than 35,000, BugFest never disappoints, but what keeps visitors coming back for more is undoubtedly the Café Insecta—BugFest’s free bug-food emporium. Chefs from Spize Café, The Market Restaurant, Tir Na Nog, Carolina Jacks, Thai Villa, Whole Foods and the Museum’s Acro Café will create a host of bug-filled dishes for everyone to enjoy until it runs out so get there early! Traditional food and drink are also available for sale. Featured in the Museum Store are Escazu Artisan Chocolates of Raleigh’s Big Butt Ant Bar, featuring queen ants from Colombia.

New to BugFest this year is a really cool citizen science project called the “School of  Ants” formerly called the “Backyard Biodiversity Project” led by N.C. State post-doctoral student and Museum intern Andrea Lucky. The first 500 visitors wanting to participate will receive an ant collection kit baited with cookies to help collect various species of ants. The findings will then be sent back to the lab where the ants can be identified. Once all of the ant species in North Carolina are mapped, that map will be revealed at the 24-hour opening of the Museum’s new wing, the Nature Research Center on April 20, 2012.

Special presenters at BugFest include D.C. Randle, science teacher at Minnesota’s St. Francis High School who is also a former Teacher-Argonaut for the Jason Project and Dr. Margaret “Meg” Lowman, the Museum’s new director of the Nature Research Center, now under construction on Jones St., west of the Museum. Dr. Lowman, also known as the “mother of canopy research,” and Randle will co-present two talks entitled, “Bugs R Us: Student Research Trips to the Amazon Tropical Rain Forest” at 11 a.m. and "Stalking Bugs By Hot-Air Balloon: How Scientists Collect and Classify Insects"  at 1 p.m. inside the Museum’s 1st floor auditorium. Other auditorium presenters include Duke University researcher Cynthia Tedore who has done extensive research on non-venomous jumping spiders. Visitors can also see the movie “Bugged,” a documentary about the Asian long-horned beetle that invaded the United States in the mid 1980s and is currently listed in the top 100 of the World’s worst invasive alien species.

The Museum’s own Andy Kaufman, curator of the Living Conservatory, will present an educational station on tarantulas and Dr. Colin Brammer, entomologist and curator of the Naturalist Center will have a station on bees called, “Native Bees Build it Better,” in a addition to a host of stations inside the Museum teeming with experts on a variety of arthropods, especially spiders—venomous and non-venomous. 

Many of BugFest’s  educational stations can now be found on Jones St., which will be blocked off between Salisbury and Wilmington Streets. There, visitors can find the KidZone which will feature the Roachingham 500, where you can “bet” on the fastest Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches in the land;  the Arthropod Olympics, Bug Bounce, Cameron the Caterpillar (large walk-through caterpillar-shaped tunnel), face painting (small fee) and “Buggy” Story Time. For information about BugFest, call 919-733-7450, ext. 502 or 554, or visit BugFest.org


Terminix Co. of Eastern North Carolina is the Lead Sponsor of BugFest. Additional sponsors include Armstrong Cricket Farm, Bruegger’s Bagels, Caribou Coffee, Pepsi Bottling Ventures, and Whole Foods Market. All BugFest activities are free (unless otherwise noted on-site). 

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, 11 West Jones St., Raleigh, documents and interprets natural history of the state of North Carolina through exhibits, research, collections, publications and educational programming. Find more information online at naturalsciences.org. Hours: Mon-Sat., 9am-5pm and Sun., Noon-5pm. General admission is free. The Museum is an agency of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary.