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Bug Zoo Festival to Shine Spotlight on Hopper and Other Creepy Crawlers
Thursday, May 16, 2024


Racheal Gutierrez looked down affectionately as an inch-long praying mantis hopped from the back of her hand to her thumb.

“I’m so in love with Hopper,” said Gutierrez, the community outreach coordinator for the Sawtooth Botanical Garden. “Like other praying mantis insects, he has five eyes, with one eye on each side of his head and three more in the middle. He can turn his head 180 degrees, and you can tell he’s a male because he has more than five lines on his back. If it’s a female they have fewer than five lines on their back.”

Males try to scurry away fast as soon as they’ve finished mating, she added, because females like to bite male heads off. The goal is to mate with as many mantises as possible.

Hopper is one of the critters that are on display this week as the Sawtooth Botanical Garden conducts school field trips to its Bug Zoo. The festivities will conclude with the annual Bug Zoo Festival from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18.

Kids will be able to get up close and personal with creepy crawlers as bug experts share interesting factoids about them.

On Saturday Sun Valley caterer Eileen Reiss will also have ingredients on hand for children to create ants on the log, butterflies out of apple slices and peanut butter and other bugs out of fruit  and vegetables. There also will be chocolate chip cookies made of crickets.

Admission to the Bug Zoo Festival is $10 for adults and $5 for children. Little ones under 3 will be admitted free.

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