Lake County Buggin' Out: Penitentiary Glen Reservation holds insect-oriented celebration

·2 min read

Sep. 11—It seems a fair question — why would anyone want to host a day highlighting bugs?

Generally deemed annoyances, irritants, nuisances, and other unprintable words here, bugs, by their very nature, continue to get a bad rap, according to Lake Metroparks.

And thanks to efforts to combat the pervasive status associated with bugs, Penitentiary Glen Reservation in Kirtland, bringing light to the other side of the coin, continues its "Bug Day!" event, a staple of the park system for 33 years.

This year's theme — "Bug Day: Celebrating Story Bugs!" — explored some of the "biggest and best insect celebrities," as attendees learned about them and how they function in a variety of ways in real life.

"Each year we have different buggy topics to highlight something new and exciting about different insects," said Shayna Swerdlow, schoolhouse interpretive manager.

Featuring games, live exhibits, activity stations, storytelling, and family fun, guests got up close and personal with numerous subjects, including butterflies, ladybugs, fireflies, ants, grasshoppers, hissing cockroaches, and, the top-billed: Rosy, a rose hair tarantula.

Live educational shows conducted by Mark "Bugman" Berman, crafts, and souvenirs were also featured and enjoyed, while "Bugology degrees" were earned.

Initially apprehensive, youngsters' curiosity soon took over, an approach the day embraces, Swerdlow noted.

"They don't even realize they're being educated," she said. "Bugs may seem like just pests to some, but bugs provide a major food source for fish, reptiles, amphibians, and birds. They also play an important role in our (everyday) lives, as they pollinate many fruits, flowers, and vegetables."

The system's Children's Schoolhouse Nature Park, home to a Bug Zoo, where staff members teach and take care of many insects, also attracts "swarms" of onlookers, eager to know more, Swerdlow noted.

"Our goal, every year, is to spark curiosity and demonstrate to the public that bugs play a vital role in maintaining our ecosystem," she said. "It's important for kids to learn that not all bugs are bad or dangerous. Our lives wouldn't be the same without them."