The rain eventually came down July 7. It wasn’t enough, however, to stop a group of 21 young adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts from attending the Wonderful Bugs of N.C. event at Smith Lake Recreation Area.
As part of its Summer Outdoor Education Program, Fort Bragg’s Family and MWR had the event led by Carvers Creek State Park Ranger Jacob Fields.
Fields majored in fisheries and wildlife sciences at North Carolina State University. He has been a park ranger at Carvers Creek State Park in Spring Lake for three years now.
“As a child, I was introduced to the outdoors quite a bit,” said Fields. “I loved being outside. I loved looking for insects. That was one of my first interests, bugs. Creepy crawlies. I like flipping rocks and turning over logs.”
Fields brought several of his own bug display cases to the event, which included beetles, wasps and butterflies. He also brought some viewing and dissecting microscopes for the kids to get up close and personal.
“(Bugs) are in our backyards. They’re all around us. They’re probably the most common thing to find,” said Fields.
The most surprising part, according to Fields, was when the first family showed up to the event and their three young boys started finding bugs before the tour even started. He then utilized the specimens as props for the rest of the guests.
One boy even found a rhinoceros beetle. According to Fields, this is a tricky bug to wade out because they live underground and are very secretive creatures.
A particular topic that Fields covered at the event was the difference between bugs and insects. The everyday person might not know that there is a varied scope of definitions. Typically, bugs refer to any bug in general. Bugs are everything from spiders, centipede or millipede, fly or wasp. But insects refer to just three-segmented animals that have joints and legs and antennae.
Given the downpour, Fields could only show the group the surrounding facilities at Smith Lake. But that just made the younger ones get creative.
Fields handed out nets and collecting containers. He instructed the group how to capture bugs and put them in containers safely without handling.
“Before long, we were reeling in a lot of stuff. Spiders, wasps, mud daubers and dragonflies,” said Fields.
Ultimately, Fields sought to impart a sense of wonder and discovery in the group.
“A big aim I try is just to reduce the fear. Bugs are good,” said Fields. “They play roles in the environment and you can find them anywhere. It’s a great way to educate your child by going outside and looking around.”
“Slithering Snakes,” the second and final event for the Summer Outdoor Education program, will take place on Aug. 4 at Smith Lake.