AUGUSTA, Maine. (WABI) Many people go out of their way to avoid creepy crawling insects on a daily basis.
But for folks attending Bug Maine-ia at the Maine State Museum, Tuesday was a celebration of bugs and their importance in nature.
"It's like fun to hold them, but just a little scary, but you get used to it very quick."
More than 1,000 students and teachers packed the Maine State Museum for Bug Maine-ia. In its 15th year, the event is a chance for adults and children to learn how bugs change the world for better or for worse.
"Bees are very good for flowers," said Silas, a students from Stepping Stones Montessori School.
The University of Maine helped teach kids how to identify ticks and what to do if you spot one on yourself or a pet.
"Ticks are becoming a topic among the kids, especially as their teachers are reminding them to do tuck checks and to be careful going into the brush," said Clay Kirby, Insect Diagnostician.
Entomologists, foresters, and environmental educators set up interactive exhibits and displays to explain the wonders and importance of insects, particularly in food production.
"Bees make honey," said Finn of Stepping Stones.
From tarantulas to hissing cockroaches, kids seemed more eager than their parents and teachers to hold these diverse and, let's say, visually intimidating creatures.
"It felt soft and it was a little scary, but I got used to it," said Elizabeth, a second grader from Brown Elementary.
"I'm really surprised by the number of kids that are really into insects. A lot of times, we grow up and as adults we kind of step back and go, 'Oohhh.' I even had a spider on my leg last night and I was like 'Eewww,' even though I love insects and spiders. But kids, a lot of times, are just really open to it and they want to know more," said Kathy Claerr, Vice President of Maine's Entomological Society.
Students got the chance to explore outside the museum as well, gaining a stronger appreciation for the natural world and some of its smallest inhabitants.
But, as expected, their favorite part of Bug Maine-ia was getting the opportunity to hold a hairy, giant spider.