Bugs on Wheels has Gotten an Upgrade!

May 7, 2018
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In 2018, Bugs on Wheels turned 12! For 12 years, Cockrell Butterfly Center and HMNS Education staff members have been driving amazing bugs all over the state of Texas and beyond to teach your kids how to love them. I started the program in 2006 with my entomological counterpart Laurie Pierrel. I would spend my days tucked away in the Insect containment room feeding and caring for incredibly large and beautiful exotic arthropods. I would put many of them on display, but there was a whole world that the public did not have access to. So, we started Bugs on Wheels. It began as a very simple show and tell of our biggest and best bugs, a program which would later be named “Amazing Arthropods”. As the years went by, the few programs we would give in a year began to multiply, so we decided we needed to expand our offerings. Since then we have added a long list of additional topics, from butterflies to beekeeping, but the classic Amazing Arthropods has remained by far the most popular. It’s no surprise because it’s hard to go wrong with the giant furry tarantulas, enormous rhinoceros beetles, huge spiny walking sticks, and more!

So as we make our way through the second decade of Bugs on Wheels, we wanted to continue to offer more, but instead of adding more topics, we’ve decided to add new variations to the old favorite! We wanted to focus more on ecosystems, as they are such an important part of the way we teach science. With Rainforest Arthropods, your children can be transported to the tropics as they learn how certain rainforest residents interact with their environment and each other to survive. Desert Arthropods will show students how some bugs adapt to extreme temperatures and conserve water to survive some of the harshest conditions on the planet. Finally, with Texas Bugs, discover some amazing creatures that share this great state with us. Texas has such a diverse landscape with many different types of habitat, making it home to an amazing diversity of arthropods!

Specific adaptations can now also be explored in the classroom with a variety of expanded offerings. Students can discover the array of Dazzling Defenses that arthropods use to combat enemies, play hide and seek with Camouflage, Mimicry, and Warning Coloration, learn the differences in Poison vs. Venom, and find out how Carnivores feast on their prey! Detailed descriptions and other information can be found at www.hmns.org/outreach

Our next goal is to overhaul our plant outreach. We will be rolling out new topics for different grade levels, starting with a garden sensory experience for pre-K and kindergarten. We plan to have these available for the 2018-2019 school year so stay tuned for details! We’ll see you in the classroom!

Authored By Erin M Mills

Erin Mills received her undergraduate degree in Entomology from Texas A&M University in 2004, and after a short tour of the pest control industry, joined HMNS as the Cockrell Butterfly Center's Insect Zoo Manager in 2005. Over the years she expanded the butterfly center's live arthropod collection, developed the ever popular "Bugs on Wheels" outreach program, and continued to establish her role as HMNS's insect expert. In October of 2016, she achieved her long time goal of becoming the Director of the Cockrell Butterfly Center and in January of 2021, she joined the team at HMNS Sugar Land as the Director of Nature Programming. Erin leads hikes in Brazos Bend State Park and provides fun, hands-on nature-based experiences at HMNS Sugar Land. As a Board Certified Entomologist, Erin has extensive knowledge of insect identification, ecology, plant relationships, husbandry, really any insect-related topic!

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