Raising a Bug...When You Hate Bugs

If you’re like me, you probably aren’t a fan of bugs. Of course, I know they are necessary on this planet for a variety of things, but I just can’t get over how weird and gross they look and how they make a weird crunch noise when you try to kill the ones that wander into your room. 

When I was about seven years old, a giant camelback cricket was in my garage and was jumping around, and I was running around screaming. It jumped on my foot. I clearly remember this moment; I was so grossed out I even googled to see if there was a term for having a fear of crickets. About a year later, cicadas, a bug that emerges about every 17 years, came out in the thousands where I lived on the East Coast. Cicadas were everywhere and left shells of their body on every outdoor surface imaginable. Growing up, bugs were just not something I wanted to be associated with. So, why did I decide this semester to take an entomology class?

For the most part, it is because it looked like the easiest class to fulfill a science credit I needed. However, before enrolling in this class, I was unaware that a huge part of this class was to raise a bug. When I learned this, I really did consider dropping the class but realized I am terrible at science and this was probably still my best choice. The bug we had to raise was called a Manduca — a type of moth. We received eight little eggs and were expected to have at least one egg make it all the way from egg to a caterpillar-like stage, all the way to a moth. We got the eggs in late January, and the final bug wasn’t due until April, meaning I was going to have to have bugs in my room for about four months, which I was definitely not looking forward to. We were only allowed to raise three bugs, so even though all my eggs hatched, I had to kill some which made me a little sad. How was I supposed to choose which ones would be killed? 

I decided that naming the three bugs that I decided to keep might make the process of raising them a little easier, so my roommates and I chose the names of Soldjer, Fendi, and Loyalty. I felt a little more attached to them after naming them, but they were still gross. I had to switch out their food every other day and had to leave a light on for them for exactly 12 hours at a time, or else it would mess up their growth cycle. 

I watched these bugs from egg all the way until they were moths, and I kept a daily notebook of their growth and changes. Now that they had become moths, I was able to turn them in, and for the first time in months, my room is finally bug-free. And although I thought I would hate every second of it, I have to admit that I have learned quite a bit from raising bugs.

First of all, if bugs are going to be in your room, it is better for them to be in a container than just freely roaming around. They are also really cool to watch as they go through their life cycle: from an egg the size of a ballpoint of a pen to a pretty big moth with about a 5-inch wingspan. Lastly, everyone wants to see your bug, so if you’re looking for new friends, this could be a great way to make some.

Overall, I wouldn’t raise another bug, but I’m glad that I had the chance to learn something from raising my Manducas. I still wouldn’t describe myself as a “science person”, but I can definitely share some cool Manduca facts now to sound like I know things about bugs.