Insect Fair introduces crowds to creepy crawlers

By Lauren Guerrero

Many gathered over the weekend to enjoy Cal Poly Pomona’s creepy, crawly Insect Fair. The event was held in the Bronco Student Center on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and included over 500,000 live and preserved insects.

Guests were able to learn about insects’ contributions to life and how people can have careers as insect experts.

Guests who were daring enough to get up close and personal with the exotic vermin were able to touch them. Some of the insects available for interaction were millipedes and Madagascar hissing cockroaches.

As guests waited in line for the shuttles to the Pumpkin Festival, Tickles, a Madagascar hissing cockroach, made a surprising appearance.

“It tickled a little bit, when he was moving around in my hand. ” I wasn’t scared,” said 6-year-old Jasmine Alvarado.

“This is our second year; the first year we came, we loved it, so we came back,” said Gaby Alvarado, Jasmine Alvarado’s mother.

Other insects on display included butterflies and moths from around the world. The cicadas, Asian insects identified by their unique wing patterns and the loudest insects on the planet, captivated several curious guests.

Leaf-looking insects known as katydids showed off their patterned wings. There was also a colorful array of exotic grasshoppers.

The largest group of insects on display was the beetles. Although small, the beetles’ display was filled with lots of color, texture and unique patterns.

However, a furry tarantula was the center of attention. People gathered to watch brave guests, both young and old, hold the furry creature.

“This is Metallica. She is a metallic pink toe [tarantula]. … They are venomous; however, [they are] less [venomous] than a bee sting. This particular spider is docile, so typically, it will not bite. Although, everything needs to bite to eat,” said Joe Rossi of Trinity Exotics.

Rossi has been coming to the CPP Insect Fair for approximately 6 years. He talked about his passion for the unique creatures.

“I’ve been here for the last 5 [or] 6 years. I’m with Trinity Exotics, and we deal with snakes and lizards, this show particularly with bugs, and anything that’s ‘creepy crawly,'” said Rossi. “I love insects, and I’ve been keeping insects for 15 to 20 years.”

“It’s more of a hobby than a business. I do it just basically to make sure that people get used to it,” said Rossi.

Children were left with a lasting impression because of the insects.

“My favorite kind of insect would have to be a praying mantis or a tarantula,” said 10-year-old volunteer Alissa Wells.

However, the Insect Fair’s mission was to teach children and adults about the insects that inhabit our planet.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of with tarantulas. They have a purpose in nature, and they control some of the [creatures] we really don’t need in our house or in the jungle. They are also food for other animals,” said Francisco Torres, an arachnologist and entomologist.

Torres has been coming to the insect fair for over 13 years and wants to help people overcome their fear of exotic insects.

“The main goal for me is to educate as many people as possible to conquer their fears,” said Torres.

Admission to this year’s Insect Fair was $5 for adults, $4 for students and children over 2 years of age, and free for children 2 years of age and under.

Insect Fair

Zoran Liu-Moy / The Poly Post

Insect Fair

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