ITHACA, N.Y. — Butterflies, cockroach races, exotic spiders: sound exciting? This Saturday, people can get up close to all sorts of insects and arachnids at Cornell University’s annual Insectapalooza.

In the spirit of Halloween, this year’s theme is “Fear Factor” and a Cornell Chronicle article leads, “Ever wonder what it’s like to stick your hand in a bucket of maggots?” This reporter sure hasn’t, but there are plenty of fun events planned for people of all ages that don’t involve touching squirming larva. If it’s any better, the article concedes the bucket will likely contain wire worms, not maggots.

Now in its 15th year, the popular event has drawn up to 4,000 people to see 150 species of live insects, plus thousands of pinned specimens from the Cornell University Insect Collection. There will also be other hands-on activities and exhibits, according to Cornell.

The event will go from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in Comstock Hall. There is a $3 entry fee but children 3 and younger are admitted free.

Other exhibits include a butterfly room with free-flying butterflies; a pollinator room with live honeybees and bumblebees, including tastes of their labor; plus scorpions and exotic spiders; cockroach races; and kid-friendly activities like face painting and stickers.

In addition to being a fun way to see insects up close, the event is also a way to educate people about the importance of insects.

“Aside from insects being fun, from an educational perspective, they play important roles in ecosystems,” Scott McArt, assistant professor of entomology, said in a Cornell Chronicle article. “Insects are major pests on crops that we try to control to have an abundant food supply. Insect predators also provide many positive services in terms of pest control, pollinators are important for pollinating our crops, and mosquitoes and ticks are big players in terms of human health.”

Featured image: A vinegaroon (or whip scorpion) climbs on a student’s arm. (Photo by Matt Hayes/CALS)

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.