By Lethbridge Herald on August 13, 2017.
Birds of Prey Centre gives a close look
The Alberta Birds of Prey Centre in Coaldale had people going buggy for bugs Saturday.The annual Insect Discovery Day, an event put on in partnership with the Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation and the Alberta Entomology Society, traditionally takes place around the second weekend in August and provides an opportunity for people to get up close and personal with the insects they share space with.
The day included site-specific events, such as pond dipping and butterfly catching; a tour of exotic insect collections; a display featuring parasites and how they interact with their hosts; an an opportunity to see a bee hive in action — complete with live bees — and an assortment of locally-found insects.
In addition there was regular bird flight demonstrations, opportunities to hold birds for photographs, and feeding the centre’s world-famous ducks.
Amanda St. Onge is an entomologist and the volunteer coordinator for the event. She said the day is an opportunity to bring people — particularly children — and entomologists together.
“We capture different insects with (the public),” she said. “We show them how to safely capture insects, and we have some field guides on hand who can show them how to identify things, and answer questions people may have about insects.”
St. Onge said the event is an important way for scientists to be able to share their knowledge. It’s also an opportunity for entomologists to earn some experience speaking with the public — something they might now be used to, if they have been spending their time on research.
“There’s not too much point researching stuff if you don’t disseminate that research into the public,” said St. Onge. “Part of that is just getting people interested in insects and learning about all the life around them outside.
“It’s always a really fun experience for us to get to interact with all the kids and all the families who come out.”
She said the event also draws farmers who might have questions about insect activity and their farming operations.
“We have so many activities and so many fun things to look at,” said St. Onge.
One of the big draws — literally — is the giant water bug, which can be found in standing or gently moving water. Often, people find them in parking lots or near bright lights.
“A lot of people have seen them in their lives, but maybe only once or twice,” said St. Onge. “They finally get to find out what it is.
“There is always one or two kids who come, and then, when they meet you, they get excited and tell you they want to study bugs. That’s always amazing to hear.”
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