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Close encounters of the bug kind

Posted on August 12, 2014 by Sunny South News

Some kids love bugs, while some kids and adults loathe them but everybody loves to learn about insects — especially the creepy crawly kind.

This Saturday marks the fourth annual Insect Discovery Day at the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre in Coaldale from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. — where it is promised there will be close encounters of the bug kind.

Alberta Birds of Prey Centre wants southern Albertans to join bug experts from the Entomological Society of Alberta in a day of activities and learning about the resident insects of the centre. Discover how to gently capture, observe and release butterflies in a nearby field and have close-up encounters with insects used in scientific research. Kids can also bring along some of their own backyard bugs for identification.

“It’s always a big highlight of the summer for us. We have some of the research scientists who work for Agriculture Canada, Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge and they set up different stations around the site. There’s going to be a pond dipping station for aquatic insects and there’s a butterfly kind of field station for kids catching butterflies and dragonflies out on the grassland area. There’s an indoor area, where they bring in all sorts of mounted displays from their collections and some of them are from Alberta and some of them from other parts of the world. They look pretty big and gross and hideous,” said Colin Weir, from the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre, adding kids love the monster-like bugs, pond dipping and running through the fields.

“It’s an opportunity — if anybody has any bugs they want to bring from home, if they want to identify them, if kids catch any — they can try to stump the scientists,” he noted.

Weir said the centre will still have regular activities going on such as bird handling, flying demonstrations and the centre’s eagles will be flying and of course children can feed the resident ducks.

“It’s a very family-friendly day,” he said.

According to Weir, the idea to feature bugs at the centre went through a metamorphosis when he presented one of his travelling bird shows to the Alberta Entomologist Society at a provincial meeting in Lethbridge.

“I did this presentation for them and I said this would be a wonderful venue for them to share their studies and their interests as visitors. I said it would really be nice if they would be interested in maybe hosting a day,” Weir explained.

Weir said the event is highly popular with kids and the research scientists really enjoy it too.

“Bugs are very, very popular with children and for at least this one day of the year all the local insect researchers feel like rock stars,” he joked.

There will be regular admission price for the special event. For more information call 403-345-4262.

“Everybody bring your cameras, bring your kids and hopefully everybody will have a good time.”

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