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Kids bug out learning about insects at Charles City Library

  • Ginny Mitchell, an entomologist with Iowa State University, puts on her presentation of Bugs-O-Mania at the Charles City Public Library on Wednesday. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra

  • Ginny Mitchell holds up an insect for all to see at the Charles City Public Library on Wednesday afternoon. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra

  • Ginny Mitchell holds up an insect for all to see at the Charles City Public Library on Wednesday afternoon. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra

  • Ginny Mitchell holds up an insect for all to see at the Charles City Public Library on Wednesday afternoon. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra

  • Ginny Mitchell holds up an insect for all to see at the Charles City Public Library on Wednesday afternoon. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra

  • Ginny Mitchell, an Iowa State University entomologist, shows off a Hercules beetle to a youngster on Wednesday afternoon at the Charles City Public Library. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra

  • Kids look at bugs at the Charles City Public Library on Wednesday. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra

By Kelly Terpstra, kterpstra@charlescitypress.com

If you didn’t think that coconut butterfly shrimp you ate on your last vacation down south wasn’t an insect, you might want to brush up on your knowledge of seafood.

Ginny Mitchell, an entomologist at Iowa State University, will let you know that in fact all crustaceans from the ocean are arthropods, or to put it in simpler terms, bugs.

“Even some of the animals you like to eat, they’re very closely related. They’re made of the same stuff. So when you eat shrimp, it is just like eating crickets,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell, representing the Iowa State University Extension Office, was at the Charles City Public Library on Wednesday afternoon as part of Bugs-O-Mania.

It was an exciting and entertaining time for kids and families to learn about some of the creepy and crawly insects that some have only seen on the movie screen.

“Entomologists don’t only study bugs. We get to study the largest group of animals on earth called arthropods,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell also wanted to remind seafood lovers that the shrimp cocktail ordered off the menu at Red Lobster or the chocolate covered cricket consumed at an exotic locale on vacation are perfectly all right to eat and good for you.

It was a learning experience for many who had never seen a hissing cockroach or Hercules beetle before.

“We are mammals. That’s the kind of animal we are,” said Mitchell. “Bugs and arthropods are not mammals. In fact we’re so totally different.”

Mitchell, a scientist who runs an insect zoo at ISU, said arthropods have exoskeletons, a segmented body and jointed limbs such as spiders, millipedes, centipedes, scorpions, shrimp, crabs and lobster. Arthropods comprise more than 75 percent of all species on earth.

Even the beautiful monarch butterfly is an arthropod. Mitchell described to the many children and parents in attendance that the butterfly’s life cycle begins as a caterpillar inside a cocoon.

“I like to call it a bug sleeping bag,” Mitchell laughed.

Then a transformation or metamorphosis takes place when the insect enters into the pupa or chrysalis stage. Soon after the insect will fly away as a brightly colored butterfly.

“You know most insects start their life out in an egg,” she reminded the kids.

Mitchel also informed everyone who gathered inside the Zastrow Room that arthropods are ectotherms, which means they get their heat from the outside.

Matthew Pfab, an Iowa State student, helped out with Mitchell’s presentation.

Children got to look at and hold some of insects during the hour-long learning session. The presentation is part of the library’s All Wonderful Wednesdays.

Next Wednesday folks will get the chance to be entertained by the magic and illusions of magician Eric Michaels from 1-2 p.m.

Today (Thursday) at 10 a.m. at the Charles City Library, Iowa Public Television personality and caped crusader Dan Wardell will make an appearance as part of his Reading Road Trip tour across the state.

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