Ayden Geary, 8, comes face-to-face with a Madagascar hissing cockroach. “It’s cute,” he said.
People of all ages gathered to observe, race and consume little creatures during the fifth annual BugFest on Saturday, hosted at the University of Florida’s Steinmetz Hall, which houses the department of entomology and nematology.
This year marks the first where the event is open to the public, rather than just for students, said Kristen Donovan, a 22-year-old entomology senior at UF.
Donovan said the Entomology Club puts on BugFest each year to spotlight the study of insects. This year, she said, they wanted to inspire children and families with the world of bugs.
Dmitry Kardasz, 5, held a rectangular piece of paper marked with abstract lines of green, purple and blue.
“We put maggots in paint, and when they come out you put them on your paper,” he said. “And then they make art for you.”
Dmitry said maggot art is the best activity, but he also enjoyed the food.
He tried the banana bread–but it had a surprise.
“It was bug banana bread, for some reason,” Dmitry said.
The menu also included oatmeal worm cookies, larval hummus and mealworms in Creole, nacho cheese and plain flavors.
Farther down the hall, cameras flashed during photo-booth sessions and cockroach races.
Outside, visitors were able to observe an Asian forest scorpion, Chilean rose tarantula and a hive of bees.
UF Transportation and Parking Services sold over 47,000 parking decals in 2016, and then issued more than 60,000 citations that same year, with two parking areas contributing to the majority of tickets because of their proximity to campus.