|WSU organic farm manager Brad Jaeckel.|
Reminiscent of a famous scene in the 1979 horror film, “Alien,” when a baby space creature bursts out of a human’s gut, wasp larvae that had hatched inside the aphid were busting their way out.
In right foreground, entomology Ph.D. students Robert Zinna, left,
and Elias Bloom show students insects caught during a “sweep”
of a crop row at WSU’s organic farm.
And so it was on this September afternoon that Jaeckel led 20 students from WSU’s “Insects, Science and World Culture” class around the four-acre farm on the rim of campus. The class, taught by entomology Ph.D. student Robert Zinna, does more than give students a leg or six up on science.
Ink and dyes, beeswax in candles, crickets ground into flour, honey on our toast, silk threads in our scarves – all are examples of how we benefit from bugs, he said. But we also harness them for their work among crops and flowers, and that’s what Zinna wanted his students to see at the organic farm.
“I don’t like bugs at all. My hope is that by learning about them, I can get over my fear,” she said. “Just maybe, I’ll come to admire them.”
Natural born killers
Bumblebees, lacewings and ladybug beetles (technically, ladybugs aren’t bugs; they’re beetles) are also important natural enemies of pests, he explained.
An earwig. Don’t believe stories
that they climb into people’s ears
while they sleep, said Zinna.
When one student pointed out an earwig nestled in the hollow of a plant leaf, the group’s – ahem – ears perked.
Alex Boyce, a senior majoring in history, said he better understands the clever methods organic farmers must use to grow crops without chemicals.