ENCINITAS — If you’re a lover of all things creepy and crawly, from earthworms to spiders and everything in between, then this weekend, the place for you to be is the San Diego Botanic Garden.
The garden plays host to the 18th annual Insect Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
While the connection between Madagascar hissing cockroaches and fragrant roses might not seem apparent at first, Botanic Garden representatives said the two are a natural pairing.
“Insects play a huge role in the whole ecosystem of any garden,” said Sam Beukema, the garden’s events and education manager. “There are good insects and there are harmful insects. The county of San Diego and the Botanic Garden both have an interest in providing that information to visitors, and what a better way to do it than through Insect Fest?”
The County’s Department of Agriculture Weights and Measures — namely its Entomology Laboratory — has partnered with the Botanic Garden to put on the educational and entertaining fair. It gives the county the opportunity to pass along information to residents about current insect trends that are impacting gardens and local flora and fauna, such as the Diaprepes Root Weevil or the Bamboo mealybug.
Additionally, the kids will be entertained with exhibits such as bug collecting, interactive insect arts and crafts and tasty cooked mealworm larva — in teriyaki, mesquite and barbeque flavors — which Beukema said is a popular staple of the festival.
“I buy about 1,500 mealworms for the weekend and we usually go through all of them,” Beukema said. “The interesting thing is that it’s the girls — not the boys — who love them. The boys are usually scared of them.”
The San Diego Botanic Garden is located at 230 Quail Gardens Dr., Encinitas. Admission is free for children or with paid admission or membership to the garden.