Children bug out at Estuarium

Published 9:56 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Participants in the North Carolina Estuarium’s program “Bugs!” set off to capture insects on the grounds. (WDN Photo/Vail Stewart Rumley)

As a little girl, she would chase butterflies around the yard. Later, when she was old enough to hold a net, she’d capture the colorful insects.
At 16, Alina Suedbeck is still chasing and capturing, but now she’s also into scientific method, insect identification and figuring out what perfect career her future entomology degree will deliver.
Suedbeck was at the North Carolina Estuarium in Washington on Tuesday, teaching the bug basics — collecting, classifying and mounting specimens — while sharing her own fascination with the little creatures with area children.
“(Insects) are interesting. They’re cool,” said Suedbeck. “They’re tiny things that are alive, and there are so many of them.”
Her favorite bug is a lacewing or antlion, commonly called a doodlebug in its larval stage and whose adult form resembles a dragonfly. But what really interests Suedbeck is the method: classification of living organisms through order and intraorders, families and subfamilies.
“You have these giant, broad views, and then, like butterflies, they’re all divided down until you have only two or three,” Suedbeck explained. “It’s all so organized.”
Suedbeck taught Tuesday’s crowd of 7- to 12-year-olds the fundamentals of identification as well as her own techniques for finding and collecting insects. The group then fanned out across the Estuarium grounds. They were armed with homemade nets, on a mission to bring back bugs. The results of the expedition were then killed (humanely, according to Suedbeck) and specimens affixed to a pin board.
“(The children) definitely learned how to pin. I taught them to arrange their legs any way they wanted to — like art,” Suedbeck said.
When asked what she plans to do with the bug degree later on in life, she rattles of a list of potential careers: forensics, testing for utility companies, professor and researcher, but for now, Suedbeck will continue sharing what she’s learned through the East Carolina Entomology 4-H Club at various classes and presentations, teaching children to love the bugs in their lives.