Monday, April 19, 2010

Keeping Archie Millipede and my Hissers alive at a chilly Frick Earth Day 2010

A couple months ago, I was invited to partner with Frick Environmental Center and bring Fun with Bugs to the Frick Earth Day celebrations May 17, 2010. Since May weather can be unpredictable, I requested electric so that I could plug in the heating pad that warms the two glass tanks ('Millipede Manor' and 'Roach Ranch'). These tropic-loving bugs prefer temps of 80 degrees Fahrenheight, will stop getting romantic at below 65 F, start showing their underbellies at 50 F, and die shortly after if kept at those temps.

Well, three days before the event, it was 79 F, sunny and hisser-friendly weather. Archie and Millie my giant millipedes approved of it too (they were getting all cuddly). Then on D-Day... the temperature dropped to 40 F (35 with wind chill). That would be DEATH for my beloved pets. I considered pulling out of the event, but I didn't want to let down any of the brave souls who ventured out that day for the Earth Day festivities and Fun with Bugs activities.

So I brought a space heater in addition to the heating pad. And we put up a tarp around the entire corner where the Bug Petting Zoo was. This definitely helped block a bit of the wind. The heating pad beneath the two tanks cranked out enough heat to keep the bugs alive. We kept a thick blanket over the tanks throughout, and took the hissers out only for the races. The Bug Wrangler for the day, Spencer Clark (my DH), kept his hands warm so Millie the Giant Millipede was pretty comfy as long as the space heater was directed at her. She even
nibbled on some cucumber slices.

My hissers didn't do as well. I've never seen them so sluggish, and was shocked when I found one of them flipped over. He had gotten away from the heating pad, and his body was way cold. I took Barbaro, Big Mama, Lola and Enigma out for only about 10 minutes for each race. Once the cold hit them, they would slow down big time. The Hissing roach races were the slowest on record. Still, in turn, Big Mama, Lola and Enigma managed to get to the finish line. I think they just wanted to get out of the cold! Barbaro seemed to just give up. Poor Barbaro. I'm relieved none of my hissers died.

Even the humans were cold. A surprising number of folks came out for the festivities and Fun with Bugs saw about 400 to 500 visitors from 11 am to 4 pm. The cold was definitely a deterrent to lingering, but many persevered to eat chocolate covered crickets, pet Millie, and take part in the races and contests. Thanks everyone and a huge thank you to volunteers Mallory, Mike, Terry and Kristen too!


For the Frick Earth Day Fun with Bugs report, click here
For some photos of adventurous bug eaters click here

P.S. Hey it would be great if you could click on any ad here and I'll get 1 to 2 cents per click from the advertisers. Thanks!

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