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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: Bugging out at Raleigh's BugFest

Alison Krug

Newsroom director Alison Krug

Too often we find ourselves stuck in a bubble at Chapel Hill. When we spend the majority of our time around the same people at the same school in the same major with the same interests, it’s easy to feel as though everyone is competing for the same jobs, the same accolades, the same opportunities.

This past Saturday, the bubble popped as I found myself watching a line of smiling people up to their elbows in buckets of cockroaches.

Raleigh’s BugFest, hosted by the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, is a celebration of all things arthropod. Armed with nothing but friends more adventurous than I, a hashtag for live tweeting (#KrugBüg) and the comforting knowledge the event was sponsored by Terminix (settling my fears of a cricket uprising in protest of Café Insecta), I left Chapel Hill behind for a day of bugs.

Now I don’t have the best track record with bugs. Last Spring Break I took a trip to Florida only to be stung by a bee in my first step onto the beach. Last month a wingless but enthusiastic cicada buzzed around my kitchen for half an hour. This morning a bee got stuck in my hair.

When our dear, dear, bug-loving opinion editor invited me along to this year’s BugFest, I found it wasn’t all buckets of cockroaches (though that was a standout exhibit). What I didn’t expect was to see hundreds of people who LOVE bugs. They LOVE them.

It can be the most refreshing thing to be reminded that things that don’t excite you can be the light of others’ worlds. People gabbed about their favorite ant while wearing antennae and snacking on mealworm mac ‘n’ cheese. (I found my spirit ant with the help of lovely volunteers — I’m a textbook case of odorous house ant.)

BugFest is for those who love bugs in every way. Everywhere I looked, bugs were celebrated through a range of expressions. Come learn about one! Come learn how to protect one! Come touch one! Come eat one!

I stuck with “learn about one!” and “protect one!” and gave a hard pass to “touch one!” and a harder pass to “eat one!”

My braver friends took a trip through Café Insecta. “You can barely taste the cricket!” one exclaimed. “I think I have a leg stuck in my throat,” another mumbled. Just good, clean, buggy fun.

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It’s soothing to be reminded there are people in the world who love things you don’t care about. Surrounded by entomologists, both professional and amateur, I found myself feeling like a bee in an anthill. I’d spent nearly all my time in my own beehive, doing the same waggle dance as all the other bees, feeling like the hive was the entire world.

Now I was buzzing around an anthill, full of ants with ant-hopes and ant-dreams and ant-aspirations. I’d been living among bees and thinking I was competing against everyone, forgetting there were more than just bees outside of my hive.

I also can only write in bug analogies now. Sorry.