What is Bama Bug Fest?

A young bee enthusiast checks out of a hive at Bama Bug Fest 2019.
A young bee enthusiast checks out of a hive at Bama Bug Fest 2019.

What hatched as a small nature-themed museum event just a few years ago, has metamorphosed into the Bama Bug Fest, a community celebration of “bugs”. What the general public calls “bugs” are more properly known as arthropods, a group that makes up three-quarters of all animal species on Earth, and includes insects (butterflies, grasshoppers, beetles), arachnids (spiders and scorpions), myriapods (centipedes and millipedes) and crustaceans (crabs, shrimps, and crayfish), as well as true bugs (like cicadas and plant-hoppers).

Since “bugs” are often maligned in our society, this event serves as an important opportunity to educate the public about the important roles these creatures serve in our world, and to celebrate the amazing diversity of arthropods that can be found right here in Alabama. Similar bug-themed events are held by museums and universities across the United States, and up until now, no such event existed in Alabama.

The foundation of our annual event began in 2016 when the Alabama Museum of Natural History held a small gathering at Moundville Archaeological Park entitled MothFest for National Moth Week, an international campaign to encourage the public to document moth species globally. For the first two years, fewer than 100 participants joined us in observing the moths that came to lights and baited trees set up by museum staff. While the bugs were great in Moundville, we wanted to tweak things and try to grow the event.

Bama Bug Fest 2022 Poster
Bama Bug Fest 2022 Poster!

In 2018, we experimented with moving the location of MothFest! to the Mildred Westervelt Warner Transportation Museum in Tuscaloosa and also partnered with the Tuscaloosa Public Library. With these changes, our attendance jumped to over 300 and confirmed the potential of this event. To continue to build upon our success, we decided the next step should be to expand the theme of the event beyond just moths and include all “bugs”. Thus, Bama Bug Fest was born.

The Bama Bug Fest logo was created by Thomas Shahan (thomasshahan.com), a well-known artist and photographer, whose artwork often centers around “bugs”. Shahan’s design features an adult male Giant Stag Beetle (Lucanus elaphus). The males of this species have enormous jaws used to wrestle each other over favored mating sites, and this species can be found throughout the southeastern U.S. during the summer months.

Bama Bug Fest is crawling your way on April 9, 2022 from 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM at the Alabama Museum of Natural History! This all-things-bug event has a little something for all ages!