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How I Got Bugged

By Karl C. Priest 27 June 2008

My earliest recollections of insects were the “pepper bugs” in my eyes and various bites on my legs and arms. Unbeknownst to me, I was experiencing the results of the curse placed upon Creation in the Garden of Eden.

Later, I got my first bee sting when I was grabbing bees from clovers and throwing them at some friends (Boys will be boys.) All along, there were the multiple mosquito bites.

Of course, those painful experiences with various bugs were not sufficient to turn me into an amateur exterminator.

Neither did my mother’s reactions to a common malady of urban housing project residents. I am referring to roaches. My expert house cleaning mother would go after them with her bare feet if one dared show itself to her.

What moved me to become an amateur entomologist was when I considered the ant.

About age eight, on a summer day, I was getting a Popsicle while sitting on the concrete sup in front of my row house apartment. A piece of the Popsicle dropped between my fit right in front of a foraging ant. As I continued to eat the Popsicle I watched the ant leave and disappear into nearby grass. Before the Popsicle was gone, I saw a stream of ants arrive at the dropped piece and begin a circuit of arriving and departing ants. This observation made an impact upon my young mind.

Another summer day I went out my backdoor and immediately heard a loud sort of clicking sound in some nearby briar bushes. I went over to investigate and located the source of the noise. To my amazement I found a praying mantis (the first time I had ever seen one) in the process of devouring a cicada. I watched, fascinated, as the mantis finished its meal and the noise grew quiet.

Another time, I was playing in the woods and was hiding in some dense brush. As I peered through the branches to locate my friends, I noticed a twig begin to move. Closer observation revealed that I was actually looking at a waling stick which, had it not moved, would have went completely unnoticed by me.

All of these experiences were etched into my mind, but the seed did not germinate until I began my career as a teacher.

I was motivated to teach science without boring the students with textbook reading and worksheet writing. Somehow, a list of 4-H resources came to my attention and I requested the material for the entomology program. Following the 4-H method I was thrilled to see learning come alive in that Fall science unit.

In order to teach the subject, a teacher must know more than the kids so I studied entomology on my own and I soon was “hooked” on insects.

When my son was about five years old, we began taking father-son entomology field-trips and build a private insect collection. These fun times continued until he became a teen and I started teaching only mathematics.

After the Kanawha Creation Science Group was formed Bobby O’Connor was scheduled to do a creation presentation at a church in Point Pleasant, WV. In an off-hand conversation he found out of my interest in insects and invited me to do a mini-presentation with him. The experienced was thrilling to both me and the children and adults from the church.

Soon thereafter I made some overhead slides and did a presentation of insect facts to our local creation group. The presentation was well received and one man came up and said that he found himself wanting more than the brief experience I provided.

So, I compiled a more in-depth program. I fixed up my collection, which had deteriorated somewhat, and, thanks to Bobby I got to go to some other churches.

The result is that, with God’s guidance, the present program developed over dozens of appearances and hours of reading and research. As technology improved, I switched from overheads to PowerPoint slides. The main problem I have had is keeping the presentation down to one hour.

That bugs me. ;)