Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bugs Matter at SSU'’s First Insecta-Palooza!

Bugs matter at the first annual Insecta-Palooza! set for 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. in Sonoma State University’s Darwin Hall on Saturday, Oct. 24.

Entomologists of all ages can explore the fascinating world of insects in a day long series of interactive displays, presentations and lectures
and a chance to use the University’s top-notch microscopes.

A look through the magical magnifying lens of these microscopes is especially revealing of the largely invisible wonder of the world of insects.

"Without insects, life as we know it would end," says Frederique Lavoipierre, Director of SSU's Entomology Education and Outreach Program and coordinator of the event. "95% of all animals on the planet are insects. They pollinate much of our food, control pests and add beauty to our environment." A family-friendly event for all ages, Insecta-Palooza! is a benefit for the popular program which has inspired more than 6,000 young people about the world of the insect.

"An up-close and personal introduction like this can lead to a life-long appreciation of insects' place in the web of life and the critical role they play in the health of our ecosystems," says Lavoipierre.

Trained docents will be on hand for guided explorations, offering the public a rare look at the University's insect and other collections.

Also included is a live insect zoo, lectures, interactive labs and displays, tours and a silent auction.

Special lectures featured include:

Basic Bugs: What’s the difference between a bug and an insect? How can you tell a bee apart from a fly mimic? Do scorpions really glow in the dark?

Garden Allies: Learning to recognize the insects that help control pests, and the native bees that help pollinate favorite fruits and vegetables. An introduction to soldier beetles, flower flies, lacewings and many other helpful allies.

Habitat Gardens: Beneficial insects and other garden wildlife are easy to attract to gardens. A few simple guidelines to a world of wonder in any backyard. Growing a beautiful garden that provides habitat for beneficial wildlife.

Native Bees in Field and Garden: Dozens of species of native bees have important roles to play in pollination and ecosystem health. Learn about the species likely to be found and how to encourage their presence in agricultural settings and gardens

Honeybees and other Helpful Hymenopterans: Pollinating honeybees are a member of the Hymenoptera, which includes bees, wasps and ants. An overview of the life of the honeybee and an introduction to wasps.

Aquatic Insects in the Water: Ponds, streams, lakes, rivers and vernal pools all have unique communities of aquatic insects and other invertebrates. Meet some of these wonderful insects, and find out why they are important to understanding the health of local ecosystems.

Insect Defenses: Insects have evolved innumerable strategies to defend themselves from a large and hungry world. Discover some of the strange and sometimes amazing ways in which
insects protect themselves.

Presenters include:

Frederique Lavoipierre, author of the Pacific Horticulture magazine series ‘”Garden Allies” and coordinator of the SSU Entomology Education and Outreach Program.

Kate Frey, winner of two gold medals at the Chelsea Garden Show in London, a landscape designer and consultant, and director of the SSU Sustainable Landscape Program.

Vic Smith, curatorial assistant in the Entomology Department at the California Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Gordon Frankie, UC Berkeley's director of the Urban Bee Research and Outreach Project, brings his expertise to Sonoma State with displays and a lecture.

Jonathan Taylor, Sonoma County's 'Bee Man' and hymenoptera enthusiast shares his wealth of knowledge with a Hymenoptera Exploration display that includes a demonstration bee hive and a lecture.

Tours of the SSU butterfly and native plant gardens will also be available.

Admission is $10 individuals, $5 children, 10-17. Children under 10 are admitted free.

The complete schedule can be found at

For information, contact Frederique Lavoipierre, (707) 664-2733.

Sonoma State University is located at 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park.

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