Department of Entomology holds 32nd annual Insect Fear Film Festival


Tyler Hedlund, graduate in LAS, smiles as he introduces the whipspider on his face to curious spectators at Foellinger Auditorium on Friday.

Crickets hopped from hand to hand, and spiders crawled across students’ faces this Saturday at the department of entomology’s 32nd annual Insect Fear Film Festival.

Community members of all ages gathered in Foellinger Auditorium for the event. Beyond the films, the festival included face painting, insect balloon animals, an insect petting zoo, an insect art contest, a raffle and a Bugscope.

This year’s festival focused on the theme of female entomologists, said May Berenbaum, entomology department head and founder of the festival.

Barenbaum was recently highlighted as a woman who has acheived great success in the field when she was presented with the National Medal of Science in November for her research on insects.

“Over the years, the image of the female entomologists changed from lab assistants who are obsessed with their youth and beauty, to scientists who can save the world from rogue giant insects,” Berenbaum said.

The two films featured were “Growing Up Creepie,” a cartoon show about a little girl who was abandoned as a baby and raised by insects, and “Mansquito,” a film about a female entomologist who ends up creating a man mutated with a mosquito that terrorizes the town.

“Overall, we want to promote entomology and show that insects aren’t as scary as people think they are,” said Tanya Josek, graduate student in entomology who helped plan activities for the festival.

To achieve that, the department brought a number of live insects for people to hold, and collaborated with the Beckman Institute on Bugscope, an activity that gave people the chance to control a microscope to look at insects at the nano-scale.

“That’s more fun than anything scientific,” said Zoe Frankowicz, junior in LAS, who attended the festival. “It’s definitely a fun event, and it’s a good place to get creeped out and scared and get out of your comfort zone.”

Josek said with this year’s festival, the department wanted to prove there are a lot of women in science who do their own research and are good at what they do. She said she hopes the event can help inspire young girls to become more involved in scientific fields.

“They do things that is stereotypical for men, and I am hoping that the younger kids can see that just because you are a girl doesn’t mean you can’t do something,” Josek said.

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