One weekend a year, the dinosaurs and birds take a back seat to insects with the celebration of Bugfest. It's this coming weekend, and the theme this year is Beetlemania.
Scientists tell us beetles are the most diverse class of creatures on earth.
Thousands exist unidentified and many have gone extinct without ever being named. But those which have been identified make up one out of every five life forms on earth. Nothing else comes close.
Beetles perform important tasks in the ecosystem, but we tend to hear more about the ones we don't like. For example, many are wood-borers at some point in their existence.
The Southern Pine Beetle is a particular problem right now in some South Jersey forests. But Beetlemania is designed to promote broader understanding, and when you attend, you're more likely to see how these common creatures fit into the world.
You'll see mounted specimens from the museum's huge collection. You'll also "meet" live specimens collected just for this weekend, some from right in the neighborhood and others from as far away as Malaysia.
You'll also see a cooking demonstration with beetles, and yes, you may taste if you dare.
Beetlemania/Bugfest is happening Saturday and Sunday from 10:00am to 5:00pm. It's free with your regular admission to the Academy.
It's at 19th Street and Ben Franklin Parkway. For more information, access the Academy of Natural Sciences or phone 215-299-1000.