March 5, 1999 | By: Haven Miller

For years Hollywood film makers have told fascinating tales starring fictional insects (Jiminy Cricket and Flik the ant are two that come to mind). But insect experts at the University of Kentucky are telling equally compelling stories about the lives of real insects. Instead of movies, they're using the Internet.

"We've had responses literally from around the world from people who have visited our web pages," said Lee Townsend, Extension entomologist in the UK College of Agriculture. "Teachers are frequent visitors, often using the information as background material for their classes. Student visitors often incorporate the material into their studies."

Computer users clicking into the site will find a section titled "Katerpillars and Mystery Bugs" (the "K" in caterpillar in honor of Kentucky), followed by sections labeled "Bug Fun," "Insects All Year," "Parent, Teacher Resources," "Insect Stories," and "Bug Food." Each section may contain photos, facts, or suggested activities. For instance, under "Bug Fun" users will find a puzzle called "Elmer Fudd's Garden," and also familiar sayings about insects titled "Bug Quotes." Under "Insect Stories," visitors can read about creatures such as the "bolas spider" that captures its prey cowboy-style with a swinging bolas.

"By far our most frequently-visited section is the one called 'Bug Food,'" said Townsend. "By bug food we mean either food cooked to resemble an insect or spider, or food that actually contains insects. In many cultures around the world insects are considered an important source of protein, or perhaps even a delicacy."

Townsend described the entomology web pages as a sort of "one stop shopping" for primary and middle school teachers, home study teachers, and 4-H agents looking for project ideas and resource materials on insects.

"This is a great benefit for teachers. They don't have to purchase a book on insect activities - they can just go to the UK entomology web site and get what they need," said Esther Moberly, Scott County Cooperative Extension agent for 4-H. "Children love to study insects - to learn, for instance, how insects chew their food or protect themselves with camouflage. It's intriguing, and students thrive on the science."

Under the web page section labeled "Parent, Teacher Resources," site visitors can click in to an online newsletter developed by the entomology department titled "Wee Beasties."

"'Wee Beasties' has lots of information for teachers," said Townsend. "There are articles written by entomologists, color photographs, suggestions for lessons, and tips for additional resources such as books or videos."

Townsend said the section for parents and teachers also has suggested 4-H projects that may help local Extension agents in program planning.

The best way to find the UK entomology web pages designed for teachers and students is to start at the University's main home page at www.uky.edu, then click "Academic Programs," followed by "Agriculture," followed by "Departments," followed by "Entomology," followed by "Katerpillars & Mystery Bugs."

Contact: 

Writer: Haven Miller
(606) 257-3784

Source: Lee Townsend
(606) 257-7455