Toddler with a millipede. Albemarle County, VA

Who doesn't love a millipede?

Hokie BugFest celebrates the fun and exciting science of entomology, and the Virginia Tech tradition of learning and discovery, through outreach and engagement. This event highlights an ongoing youth education program hosted by the Virginia Tech Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, Virginia Cooperative Extension's 4-H program, and the department's student-run professional organization, the W. B. Alwood Entomological Society. Since its inception in 1966, Alwood Society members have engaged over 30,000 children by hosting department tours, visiting schools, and supporting special events like the Hokie BugFest. The event is just one day in this ongoing, year-round effort. 

The ninth annual Hokie BugFest is scheduled for fall break weekend of October 5, 2019 from 10 am to 5 pm (general public). A pre-opening is again being hosted for adults and children with special needs starting at 9 am. Those individuals will be issued a pass to be in Squires early. Check in at the event table (Squires first floor entrance) to seek this access.

Overall the priorities for this year's event will continue as in the past. They include: 

  • FREE admission
  • Family-oriented environment
  • Collaboration with the town of Blacksburg
  • S.A.F.E. (Supporting Autism Friendly Environments) event
Autism SAFE Event


The ninth annual Hokie BugFest came off without a hitch on Saturday, October 5 at the Squires Student Center and Downtown Blacksburg. This year's attendance was estimated to be over 10,000 (a new high). These numbers may seem scary in terms of attending next year's event, but by moving the event to a large room, widening the aisles, and spreading out the exhibits, Saturday's event eliminated the long lines and crowding we experienced in 2018. The event seemed comfortable most of the day.

Activities ranged from multiple exhibits on College Avenue to hundreds of attractions in Squires Commonwealth Ballroom, Colonial Hall, and Old Dominion Ballrooms. The Commonwealth housed over 12,500 square feet of science exhibits, performers, speakers, and contests. One of the most entertaining contests took place in the afternoon when Galen Fisher of Richmond won the bug eating contest after downing two tarantulas and eight other arthropod morsels to take the crown. Yum! [DANA... PLEASE EXPAND WITH SPECIFIC DETAILS OF THE OUTCOME HERE]

The highlight of the event attracted thousands to the museum room where the incredible Dan Capps Insect Collection covered 23 tables with the world’s most beautiful arthropods. People were amazed at this collection which has been shared with the public across the country including its exhibition at Disney’s Epcot Center.  We are hoping to welcome the collection back to campus for the tenth annual event in 2020.

Hokie BugFest wouldn’t exist without the contributions of hundreds of dedicated volunteers including our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends. Our many donors and partners made this event free to the public again this year. They are a truly amazing group of friends and dedicated supporters. Many had faith in the success of this event from the beginning and can share in the pride of what it has become today — thank you!!!

We continue to be amazed at the public who have consistently come to campus year after year to share their enthusiasm, joy, and encouragement that keeps us going with new and improved activities dedicated to their entertainment and discover. Thank you for your ongoing support. We are so much looking forward to seeing you return for our tenth anniversary next October.

LOST AND FOUND (OCT 5 EVENT IN SQUIRES)... lose something at Hokie BugFest 2019? Anything lost in Squires Student Center can be found at the Welcome Desk on the first floor. To see if something you lost may be there, go to the following website:


(see Exhibits and Performances, below, for more details)

Virginia Tech Squires Student Center

  • 9:00 am - pre-opening - S.A.F.E. environment for families with children with autism; open to adults and children with special needs (check in at event information desk (Squires main entrance or second floor entrance) for programs and other information).
  • 10:00 am to 5:00 pm - open to the public (FREE)

College Avenue - Draper to Otey Street

-- closed to traffic from 7:00 am) to 7:00 pm for event access

The layout of Squires Student Center - Hokie BugFest 2019.

The layout of Squires Student Center - Hokie BugFest 2019.
squires19105.pdf Squires Layout - 2019 Hokie BugFest
Street Layout - College and Otey
College Avenue and Otey Street Exhibits and Activities. Additional exhibits to be announced.
collegeavenue2019+print 4.pdf College Avenue and Otey Street Layout - 2019

2019 Schedule - Squires Student Center & Downtown Blacksburg

Hokie BugFest opens to the general public at 10:00 am and closes at 5:00 pm again this year.

Hokie BugFest is open to adults and children with disabilities at 9:00 am. Just pick up a pass at the registration desk upon entering (first floor) Squires Student Center.

In working with the Virginia Tech Center for Autism Research), the Hokie BugFest has designated a S.A.F.E. (Support Autism Friendly Environments) event. As in the past, we are providing several sensory-friendly activities for children with autism and their families. Along with those activities, Hokie BugFest will again host several quiet rooms for all parents and children. There are also many areas to relax and unwind in Squires.

LYRIC THEATRE (College Avenue)

  • 10:00 amMaker Activity - Bug Costume Making - Makers can enter the costume contest in Squires (by 11:15 am)
  • 11:15 am - Storytime with Joelle
  • 1:00 pm  - Storytime with Joelle
  • 2:00 pm - Movie: Minuscule - Valley of the Lost Ants (Rated G) -- FREE Admission
  • 4:00 pm - Movie: MicroCosmos (Rated G) -- FREE Admission (for those who missed it last year)


  • Joelle Shenk - Story Time with Joelle - Blacksburg


  • 3:00 pm - Humans "Dressed" as Dung Beetles Race -- Racers must be 10 years or older. Register as a team or individual by 2:45 pm at the contest registration table in the first floor lobby of Squires Student Center (to the right of the elevator)
  • Until 5 pm
    • HBF Souvenirs - Event T-Shirt, Buttons, and more; Fundraiser - W. B. Alwood Society - VT Entomology
    • Get your Halloween Pumpkins - Fundraiser - W. B. Alwood Society - VT Entomology
    • Kettle Corn, Food & Drinks - Hethwood Market
    • Dogs & Cats (fleas not welcome) - Montgomery County Animal Care & Adoption Center
    • VT Police Mobile Command Center - Forensic Entomology Exhibit and more - VT Police Department
    • VT Autism Mobile Clinic - VT Center for Autism Research
    • Gardening for Pollinators - Combined Exhibits - Free Pollinator Plant Bulbs
    •     Beegle Landscaping and Lawn Care - Floyd
    •     Crow's Nest Greenhouses - Blacksburg
    •     Virginia Master Gardeners -- Virginia Cooperative Extension
    •     Virginia Master Naturalists - New River Chapter
    • Virginia Native Plant Society - New River Chapter



  • Lost & Found, Emergency Assistance – Squires Welcome Desk
  • Contest Registration – Dung Beetle Race & Bug Eating Contest – Information Desk to right of elevator
  • Event Information Desks – center lobby – pick up an event program brochure
  • Art Tables – 2019 Festival Mural - guests are welcome to add to the drawings on the tables to the right of the elevator


  • BugArt Studio - Creativity Center for All Ages -- VT Entomology
  • Art Contest Exhibits
  • Art Contest entrants awards - Please drop off art pieces on Thursday, October 3rd from 4pm-7pm or on Friday, October 4th between 9am-8pm (see contest guidelines above). Entries exhibited in Old Dominion Ballroom. Winners announced in Old Dominion at 2:00 pm. Exhibitors can pick up artwork at end of the event (after 4 pm).
  • Face Painter - Meghan Tucker - Wytheville


(see Commonwealth Ballroom Layout (below) for letter/number key to ballroom exhibit locations)


  • Virginia Tech Insectarium (live bugs) - VT Entomology – thanks to VT Natural History Club volunteers
    • 104 - Exotic Cockroaches
    • 111 - Regional Spiders
    • 117 - Scorpions, Vinegaroons, & Whipspiders
    • 205 - Caterpillars, Walking Sticks, Mantids, True Bugs
    • 208 - Tarantulas
    • 211 - Velvet Ants, Wasps, Beetles
    • 212 - Millipedes, Centipedes, Isopods
    • 216 - Tarantulas
  • 101&103 - Gliding Insects - Build Your Own! (Socha Lab) -- VT Biomedical Engineering & Mechanics
  • 105&107 - Agricultural IPM - Vegetable Entomology (Kuhar Lab) 
  • 106 - Invasive Insects in Virginia Vineyards - (Pfeiffer Small & Tree Fruit IPM Lab) - VT Entomology
  • 108 - Gypsy Moth - Slow the Spread Project - VT Entomology
  • 109 - Aquatic Entomology (Entrekin Lab) - VT Entomology
  • 110 - Insect Identification Laboratory - VT Entomology
  • 112&114 - Mosquito Genetics (Sharakhov/Sharakhova Lab & Paulson Medical Entomology Lab) - VT Entomology
  • 113 - Orb Weaver Spiders & Their Webs (Opell Lab) - VT Biological Sciences & Fralin Life Science Institute
  • 115 - Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center, Roanoke
  • 116 - Forest Entomology (Salom Lab) - VT Entomology
  • 201&102 - What's Bugging Your Pet? (Zajac Lab) - Virginia/Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Blacksburg, VA
  • 203 - Insect Pathology - Novozymes, Salem
  • 204 - Superior Exterminating – Roanoke
  • 206 - Virginia Pest Management Association – Fredericksburg
  • 207&209 - Radford's Roach Road Show! - Davis Ecophysiology Group - Biology Dept. / Selu Garden & Service Club, Radford University
  • 210 - What does a baby firefly look like? - REALISE Program, Biology Dept. - Radford University
  • 215 - Mosquitoes! (Lahondere/Vinaugher Lab) - VT Biochemistry
  • 217&118 - New River Valley Beekeepers - Explore the world of beekeeping
  • 218 - Virginia Tech Science Festival - Blacksburg
  • 220 - Office of Pesticide Services - VA Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services – Richmond
  • 222 - Protecting the Pollinators of Virginia - Office of Plant Industry Services - VA Dept. Agriculture & Consumer Services -Richmond
  • B1 - Virginia 4-H – Virginia Cooperative Extension - view the world through virtual reality vision – learn about Virginia 4-H
  • B2 - Understanding Your Unwanted Roommates (Miller Urban IPM Lab) -- VT  Entomology
  • B3 - Live Butterflies -- Kellie Worrell - Carroll County
  • B4 - Learn about Bees with our Pollinator Scientists - Virginia Tech Bee Group - VT Entomology - VT Horticulture
    • Schurch Lab of Ecology
    • Couvillion Lab of Pollinator Ecology
    • Gross Lab of Molecular Physiology
    • Wilson Extension Apiculture Program
    • O'Rourke Agroecology Lab
  • B5 - Children's Entomology Book Fundraiser - a special book written just for HBF by Kellie Worrell. Books available for a $10 donation to benefit VT Entomology/Virginia 4-H.
  • B6 - Virginia Tech Pesticide Safety Education - Larry the Label - VT Entomology

(see Commonwealth Ballroom Layout (below) for letter/number key to ballroom exhibit locations)

OTHER ACTIVITIES - Hallway - Commonwealth Foyer

  • Earn a Junior Entomologist's Certificate - VT Entomology
  • Picture Yourself As A Bug – Photo Booth -- VT Entomology (Hallway near Commonwealth Ballroom)

 QUIET/SAFE ROOMS (204, 235)

  • Bug Library -- Regional Libraries of Montgomery/Floyd Counties (204) – come learn about the library – read a book – relax.
  • S.A.F.E. Break Room (235) - a sensory-friendly environment - VT Center for Autism Research / VT Entomology (9:00 am to 5:00 pm)



  • 10:30 am - the Bug Whisperer - Tony Gustin
  • 11:30 pm - Costume Contest (adults/child entries report by 11:15 am)  - prizes/crowning of HBF King & Queen 2019 (kids)
  • 12:00 pm - Where Do Bugs Go in the Winter? - Special Guest -- Brent Watts - WDBJ7 Weather
  • 1:00 pm - Bug Eating Contest (adults - turn in your entry form by noon)
  • 2:00 pm - the Bug Whisperer - Tony Gustin
  • 3:00 pm - Insect Collection Awards (bring collections to Museum Room by noon for judging)
  • 4:00 pm - the Bug Whisperer - Tony Gustin


  • 10:30 am - Brandon the Balloon Guy
  • 11:00 am - The Slightly Fantastic Circus of Fleas
  • 11:30 am  - Break
  • 12:30 pm - Break
  •   1:00 pm - The Slightly Magnificent Comedy Magic Show
  •   1:30 pm - Bug Bingo (prizes) - Wizards of Entomology
  •   2:30 pm - Brandon the Balloon Guy
  •   3:00 pm - The Slightly Fantastic Circus of Fleas
  •   3:30 pm - Bug Bingo (prizes) - Wizards of Entomology
  •   4:30 pm - Brandon the Balloon Guy
  • Performers/Speakers
  • Tony Gustin - the Bug Whisperer - Milwaukee, WI
  • Brent Watts - Chief Meterologist, WDBJ7 Weather - Roanoke
  • Brandon Owens - Wytheville
    • Brandon the Balloon Guy - Insect Sculptures and Balloon Art
    • The Slightly Fantastic Circus of Fleas - a microscopic marvel of fantastic fleas and marvelous mites performing just for you!  An entomological endeavor like no other.
    • The Slightly Magnificent Comedy Magic Show - a family friendly insect-themed show with plenty of audience interaction.
  • Wizards of Entomology - Rick Fell/Wayne Surles - Blacksburg/Glen Allen


  • Bo/Ty Dawgs - the pride and joy of Andy Overbay, Extension agent from Smyth County. They are the unofficial mascots of Virginia Cooperative Extension. Look for them throughout the event and get some puppy cuddles - Chilhowie
  • Larry the Label Mascot - Pesticide Safety Education Program - Read the Label and Use Pesticides Safely!
  • Flea Circus - Brandon Owens, Wytheville - performing throughout the event - see above for details under Colonial Auditorium
  • Magic Show - Brandon Owens, Wytheville - performing throughout the event - see above for details under Colonial Auditorium
2019 Hokie BugFest - Commonwealth Ballroom Exhibits
2019 Hokie BugFest - Commonwealth Ballroom Exhibits
commonwealthlayout_labeled90.pdf Squires Layout 2019 - Commonwealth Ballroom
Downtown Parking Map

Directions for General Public

From I-81: Take Exit 118B towards Blacksburg/460 West. Exit the 460 Bypass at the South Main Street exit. Follow South Main Street towards downtown. Turn left onto the Roanoke Street. Follow Roanoke Street to Otey Street. Turn right and park in either of the parking lots to your right. If these lots are full, there is parking on-campus and elsewhere in town. See maps above.

Parking & Public Transportation:

Parking nearest the event is located off of Roanoke and Otey Street to your right. There are over 300 parking spaces in the Media Lot and the Squires Parking Lot as seen on the map above. There is also parking in surrounding Squires Student Center and around the Virginia Tech Drillfield. Parking is open to the public (free) on weekends on the Virginia Tech campus. The town of Blacksburg will also offer free meter parking for the event. There are two parking garages near the site. Both are within walking distance but not immediately adjacent to the site. The Kent Square parking garage charges for parking on weekends. Virginia Tech parking, including the parking garages, are free. Beware of areas marked "24 Hours" parking. These are tow-away zones and are enforced at all times. For details go to Zoom out on the Google map above to see these locations.  Additional parking details are linked below:

Directions and Parking for Buses:

From I-81: Take Exit 118B towards Blacksburg/460 West. Exit the 460 Bypass at the South Main Street exit. Follow South Main Street towards downtown. 
Turn left onto Alumni Mall and follow the signs for bus parking. Parking for buses will be available at the Moss Art Center (first come, first available) or along the Alumni Mall as available.

Exhibitor Parking and Unloading:

Parking for exhibitors will be available in front of Squires Student Center on the Alumni Mall. Meters will be bagged for exhibitor parking only adjacent to Squires Loading Dock B (east end of Squires on the Mall). This dock is designated for HBF loading and unloading on Friday and Saturday. Please use this entrance for larger items. Otherwise, you can use the general public (second floor) Alumni Mall entrance for smaller items and carts until 9:00 am on Saturday. If you need assistance unloading/loading please call (540) 231-6543 by Thursday October 4th at 5pm. Parking is open anywhere around Squires Student Center.

Please note: Part of College Avenue will be closed to thru traffic on October 5th for our event's outdoor activities. Through access will be restricted on Draper Street.

October is one of the nicest months to visit the New River Valley. Weekends in Blacksburg are fun but very busy, even when there isn't a home football game at Virginia Tech. Lodging can be limited and expensive at times. We have chosen the fall break weekend for Virginia Tech students. This will likely reduce competition for parking and access to campus on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Onsite Food at Hokie BugFest

As a thank you to our sponsors we ask that you consider  taking your business to those marked with an "*" below:

Squires Eateries

Virginia Tech Dining Services in Squires will be open on the day of the event. Menus and hours are usually posted online for each week.

  • Au Bon Pain
  • Burger 37

College Avenue Eateries

We are working with Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. to encourage downtown restaurants to offer themed meals and specials. It's just a short walk out the front door of Squires to access nearby restaurants. As a result we anticipate a wide variety of foods and food prices this year.

Eateries on or very close by College Avenue include:

Beating the Crowds at Hokie BugFest

Hate crowds? Who doesn't! Last year we welcomed an audience exceeding 8,500 in attendance. For most attractions we were able to eliminate the line problem we experienced in prior years. As in the past we have eliminated activities that produced lines in prior years. This includes the Spider's Lair and the compressed bug zoo area. This year we are spreading those exhibits throughout the Commonwealth Ballroom. Also in the ballroom are the butterfly tents (located on the first floor last year).  In terms of sheer mass of people at the event, our lightest period of time is in the afternoon. Late afternoon until closing at 5:00 pm is ideal. Our activities remain the same throughout the day, so coming during the hours of less attendance will not affect what you see. You just might see more during the less crowded hours. With the reopening of the Commonwealth Ballroom in Squires this year, we are moving many of the exhbits into this location. This should make things less complicated in finding things. Again this year, we are locating some of the event on College Avenue and the Lyric Theatre. Some people didn't realize the event was in two places last year. We are planning more signage this year to point people to these locations. See you at the event and thank you for attending.

For handicapped individuals and their families, we will open at 9 am with activities at the Squires Student Center. Hokie BugFest is designated a S.A.F.E. event for children with autism. S.A.F.E. rooms will open starting at 9 am at Squires. The Squires rooms will be open throughout the day for families seeking a quiet or less stimulating environment for their children. If you come at 9:00 am please check in at the registration desk (first and second floors) to gain access. The event is not open to the general public at this time.

Area information, including other lodging, restaurants, and attractions. Come and enjoy!

Entomology - A Virginia Tech Legacy

Support Virginia Tech & the Hokie BugFest

The Hokie BugFest is made possible through the generosity of donors like you. Your kindness has allowed us to keep this a free event for the public. Each year we are in great need of monetary and in-kind support to organize and run the event. You might not know this, but our group hosts small exhibits, camps, and tours for school children and others throughout the year. At those opportunities, we promote the event and test new learning experiences that we include in the annual Hokie BugFest.

If you would like to support the Hokie BugFest you can do so in the following manner. Donations are tax-deductible and are greatly appreciated. Those who donate within four weeks of the annual event will have their names included in our banners, online, and other advertisements. As soon as we know of the donation, we will add your name to our sponsor list.

Sponsor Levels & Types

  • Platinum: $3,000 and above
  • Gold: $2,000 to $2,999
  • Silver: $1,000 to $1,999
  • Bronze: $500 to $999
  • Copper: $499 and under

All sponsors, partners, and donors will be acknowledged on this website. Major sponsors and donors will also be included in posters and other advertisements as space permits. Last year sponsor names were projected on the wall of the event ballroom. Sponsor types include:

  • Corporate: Donors of in-kind and monetary support. Last year we received both types of donations. Although in-kind donations are greatly appreciated, they are difficult to put a dollar value on. We ask donors to let us know the value of in-kind gifts.
  • Promotional: We received tremendous support last year from several very important promotional sponsors. We hope to sustain long-term relationships with these sponsors because their support is critical to publicizing the event. We ask promotional sponsors to help us determine the value of their support so that we can rank the sponsor level accordingly.
  • Exhibitor: Space is available to any sponsor or donor who has an exhibit that is appropriate and applicable to the Hokie BugFest. Signage and minimal advertising are allowed, but we do ask that exhibits provide a learning environment associated with entomology and science. Last year we asked several groups to provide exhibits as a service to the event. Recognizing the time and effort needed to put up and staff an exhibit, we did not request a donation. But some of those groups also donated funds and in-kind items. In those cases, we valued the exhibitors' time, efforts, and donations to rank their sponsor level in our promotions. We seek a minimum of a $500 donation (monetary or in-kind) for those seeking to host an exhibit. Non-profits, schools, universities, museums, and similar groups are excluded from this requirement.
  • Individuals: We welcome your generosity if you can support us in any way. We need volunteers and partners who can donate their time and help with the event. We need cash donations to pay for facilities and other obligations. We also need art supplies and activity items for all ages. We will try again this year to pair individuals and groups with a single exhibit or lab activity.

Giving Online

To donate online, please go directly to On the online form, the page will populate automatically with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as the “area” and Hokie BugFest as the “Designation” fund. Simply enter the amount of the gift and the frequency to show your support.

We also have a “text to give” option so donors can text the word “BugFest” to 51555 and make a gift online.

Giving by Check

To donate in the form of a check, please write your check to "Virginia Tech Foundation." In the memo line, please write "Alwood Legacy Fund 875250". This will ensure that your gift is directed to Hokie BugFest. Please send your check to: 

Virginia Tech Advancement Division
Office of Gift Accounting
University Gateway Center (0336)
902 Prices Fork Road
Blacksburg, VA 24060

For questions, please contact Shepherd Cronemeyer, (540) 231-1096 or

Giving at the Event

If you plan to donate at the Hokie BugFest, you may donate in the form of a check (as described above) or in cash at the registration table in the lobby of the event on October 5th.


Did you know that you can make a pledge that will allow you to spread your donation in smaller payments over multiple years (up to five)? For most people, this is the way to give - it enables you to make a significant donation without a major impact on your budget. For more information on how to pledge, please contact:  Shepherd Cronemeyer, Assistant Director of Development for Leadership Gifts, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, 129 Smyth Hall (0402), 185 Ag Quad Lane, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061 -- Contact information: (540) 231-1096 -

QR Code to Donate to Hokie BugFest
QR Code for Donating to Hokie BugFest

Each year the Hokie BugFest welcomes an army of volunteers including our students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends. Volunteers who work more than two hours at the event are provided an event t-shirt, a special event nametag, and lunch. We maintain quite a bit of security on who we allow to volunteer, especially if they are in contact with children. All of our department volunteers complete a background check prior to volunteering. We also require others to complete Virginia 4-H volunteer forms and comply with their rules. Forms and volunteer standards can be found below:

For those seeking to volunteer, please contact:

  • Rachel Parson
    Virginia Tech Pesticide Programs
    302 Agnew Hall
    Blacksburg, VA 24061
    (540) 231-6543