Squeals, gasps and giggles echoed from under a tent Friday on the front lawn of the John Graham Public Library as “Bugman” Ryan Bridge displayed native and exotic insects to about 90 children and adults.
“It was every bit as entertaining as it was educational,” library director David Cubie said of the second installment of the summer reading program.
The show and tell presentation about the dynamic nature and behavior of bugs was a hit with children and adults.
“It was a great program, really interesting. I liked that the kids got to handle the bugs and see different things,” one grandmother said.
“It was great that he held up (the display boxes) and talked to us about them,” T.C. Magee, 12, said.
Magee attended the program with his mother, brother Logan, 8, and twin cousins, Erin and Nate Whisler, 8.
Magee’s mother, Heather, is a biology teacher at Big Spring High School. She also enjoyed the educational presentation about native and non-native insects.
“It was neat, very informative,” she said. “I like that he explained the differences between insects and arachnids, which people often get confused.”
She also admired that Bridge explained that tarantulas and scorpions could make good pets – especially for the entomologically inclined child.
“He explained that tarantulas are not always harmful and that large scorpions are least poisonous. He encouraged them to not be afraid, but to have respect,” she added.
In addition to showing an incredible collection of bugs from across the globe, Bridge also allowed the kids to handle Madagascar hissing cockroaches.
“I liked that I got to hold it (cockroach),” Zachary Mell, 6, said. “Their legs tickled.”
“It was great, really cool,” Erin Whisler said. “I liked when he let us hold the cockroaches. They were really active.”
Her brother, Nate, liked the large walking sticks, tarantula and scorpion.
“I liked to see how the tarantula moved,” he said. “I had no idea it could live so long, I thought one year or two, not 25.”
After learning about the incredible insects found after dark right in their own backyard, several kids left with plans to set up lights to observe bugs.
Andrew Dye, 8, said he plans to put a light up to “see what comes out.”
Parents were also intrigued about the types of bugs they might discover when the sun went down. As one family left the library, a mother could be heard conspiratorially whispering to her child “we just don’t know what kinds of things we’ll catch tonight!”
As part of the summer reading program, the “Bugman” is one of several special presentations lined up, Cubie says.
Parents have until July 7 to sign children up for the summer reading program, which includes other special programs and weekly incentive prizes.
“In addition to the weekly incentive prizes, we are having a raffle after the end of Summer Reading on Aug. 13,” Cubie said. “The way that works is that for every five books a child checks out they get a raffle ticket toward one of six prizes of their choice.” Prizes include MP3 players and gift cards to Wal-Mart.
For more information about the library’s summer reading program, call (717) 776-5900 or visit the John Graham Public Library at 9 Parsonage St.