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Sophia Di Piazza at
Mississippi State Univ. Bug Camp
June 2016

bee girl

collecting aquatics

pinning bugs in lab

Congratulations to Sophia Di Piazza! Sophia is active in 4-H Entomology and plans to become an entomologist. She wanted to attend the annual Bug Camp at Mississippi State University last June. BioQuip helped make it possible for her to go by paying the Bug Camp fee. Here is the articulate and interesting essay Sophia wrote about her experience.
   My name is Sophia and I am 14 years old. I have been interested in insects for about three years, and I plan to be an entomologist. This year I had the opportunity to attend Mississippi State Universityís Bug and Plant Camp because BioQuip gave me a scholarship. The camp was led by Dr. John Guyton. He shared so much wonderful information and made me feel very welcome. I had so much fun, learned from guest speakers, collected insects, did educational activities, and met other kids who also love insects.

   During the week I heard many presentations. Dr. Jerome Goddard spoke about medical and forensic entomology. Dr. Richard Brown gave a presentation about the places he has traveled and insects he has discovered. Amanda Lawrence talked about insect diseases. Audrey Harrison (graduate student) spoke about aquatic macro invertebrates and took us collecting. Dr. Natraj Krishnan showed us how to make a robot roach. I learned about arthropod husbandry from Breanna Lyle, Corran Hall, and Brady Dunaway. All of these speakers, and more, had great information to share and I am so happy to have learned from them.

   I did so many activities that I have never done before and saw some amazing things. Dr. Mike Williams taught us about pinning and labeling insects. Dr. Jeff Harris showed us a beehive, told us about the different parts, and taught us about how bees make honey. Dr. Harris also put on a bee beard, which was really cool to see. One day we went to Dorman Hall where mosquitoes are raised and saw experiments that are being conducted by Dr. Jonas King to learn about mosquitoes and the diseases they carry. We also learned from Dr. John Schneider about his black soldier fly rearing and research. In Dr. Krishnanís fruit fly rearing lab, I learned about fruit fly DNA and how studies can be done on fruit flies to learn about humans. I collected aquatic insects on the Noxubee Refuge and day collected in the forests of the Noxubee refuge. I really enjoyed these activities and I canít wait to try some of them at home.

   One of my favorite things we did at camp was night collecting. We did this every night and I caught some amazing insects. We used black lights and mercury vapor lights from BioQuip. We had about six sheets out each night and we collected at the Noxubee refuge and some of the leaderís properties. One night I think I ate an insect unintentionally.

   At the beginning of camp we were broken up into teams of four students each. The reason for this was that we had two ongoing competitions and the teams competed against each other. One competition was to see which team could collect the most insect orders and species. My team collected 21 orders and 160 species to win this competition. The other competition was called the Linnaean Games. It was a game show style competition about insect facts we had learned during the week. And my team WON this as well! We had so fun much getting ready for it and I am glad we did so well.

   For the plant part of camp, I had a wild salad made of plants not found gardens but in nature. We ate the parts of plants that most people throw away. We also went to the Noxubee Refuge for a walk on a trail to learn about insect-plants interactions and interesting and useful plants. I learned which plants are safe to eat and which plants have medicinal uses. I really appreciate plants more now that I know more about them.

   Going to camp opened many doors for me. All the knowledge I gained aside, I met many people that will probably be my colleagues in the future. I also met professors and experts that have offered to help me with any questions I might have in the future. I feel that attending this camp was a great step towards my dream to be an entomologist. I am so grateful to BioQuip for giving me this amazing opportunity. I canít wait for Bug and Plant Camp next year.

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