Popular ‘Insect Night’ — Featuring Fireflies, Maggot Art, More — Is Saturday in Wooster

WOOSTER, Ohio — The nighttime is the right time to see some really cool bugs, and you can do just that at The Ohio State University’s annual Insect Night in northeast Ohio.

The free family event — done partly for fun, partly to share Ohio’s creepy, crawly, mostly good to have around nocturnal bug life — is from 8-10:30 p.m. June 30 in Secrest Arboretum, part of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), 1680 Madison Ave., in Wooster.

More than 400 people attended the event last year. So did luna moths, tree crickets, burying beetles and others.

See lightning bugs and other stars

“Probably the most popular are the lightning bugs, which will be out in full force,” said event co-organizer Denise Ellsworth, director of the Honey Bee and Native Pollinator Education program in Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). OARDC is part of CFAES’s Wooster campus.

“Somehow we always have lots of lightning bugs and not a lot of mosquitoes. I’m not sure how that happens. If this were my yard, we’d have the opposite,” Ellsworth said with a laugh.

Graduate students, faculty and staff from CFAES’s Department of Entomology — the science of insects — will lead the event’s activities. There will be guided walks, black light traps to lure moths in so people can see them up close, a bug zoo, cockroach races, face painting, firefly catching and — drum roll, please — maggot art.

Maggot art?

“It’s made by live maggots,” Ellsworth said.

The wriggling Rembrandts — small, worm-like fly larvae — will “crawl through kid-safe and maggot-safe paint, leaving behind painted trails,” she said.

You’ll have to frame the results yourself.

Bugs so good you could eat them

You’re also encouraged to come hungry, if you dare. The event will proffer a sampling of edible insects.

Usually, “kids are the bravest” at eating them, Ellsworth said, which also goes for spotting, holding and learning about insects overall.

Often, children at Insect Night “are teaching the rest of the family as they’re learning, so they’re kind of a conduit for the natural world,” Ellsworth said. “I think connections get made, both within families and between the participants and insects.”

Guided walks in the dark

There’s no set schedule for the activities, which will run throughout the event, but the walks will have a sign-up sheet. A walk will venture out into the darkness as soon as a group is filled.

“It’s a great way to get out in nature and see things most people don’t get to see,” Ellsworth said.

You don’t need to register to attend the event, parking is free, and participants will receive a free milkweed plant for their garden, a food source for, among other things, milkweed tiger moths at night and monarch butterflies during the daytime.

If you go, bring a flashlight, walking shoes and a clear, empty jar for collecting insects. Park in the lot across from the arboretum’s Garden of Roses of Legend and Romance on Williams Road, and from there, walk a short distance on a paved path to the Jack and Deb Miller Pavilion.

In case of rain

If rain is threatening, call 317-403-4193 to find out whether the event will go on. The rain date is July 2 at the same time and location.

The sponsors of the event are Mike and Diane Borger; Ohio State’s Zamorano Program; and CFAES’s Entomology Graduate Student Association, Department of Entomology and Secrest Arboretum.