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What’s the buzz? Bug Week is coming June 10-17

  • Published
  • Military Health System

Buzz. Buzz. Swwwwaaaaaarm. SPLAT! These familiar sounds are a reminder that summer — and even more bugs — will arrive soon.

To educate and inform the military community about illnesses transmitted by bugs and how to prevent bug bites at home or while deployed, the Military Health System is holding Bug Week, June 10-17. The week will also demonstrate the good things bugs can do for us.

To kick off Bug Week, the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Maryland, is hosting Bugapalooza, a free, family-friendly event 10 a.m. to noon, June 10, rain or shine.

Bugapalooza Activities

Entomologists from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research will host a show-and-tell where they will display insects and other arthropods. The display is intended to educate visitors on the differences between insects and other arthropods; the importance of beneficial insects; the problems many insects cause to humans, animals, crops, and the environment; and how to protect yourself from harmful insect bites and diseases.

“Some bugs actually provide us with health benefits, and our activities will highlight common prevention practices useful for the military and the public, all during an enjoyable, family-friendly event,” said Andrea Schierkolk, the museum’s public programs manager.

U.S. Army Capt. David Denlinger, an entomologist (bug expert) at the Defense Health Agency, will showcase a display of preserved insect specimens to show the diversity (and awesome-ness) of insects. He’ll also describe what entomology is, a variety of career paths, and why insects are important.

Maria Gonzalez-Morales, an entomologist with the Defense Center for Public Health-Aberdeen, will host the “Unwelcome Bugs” station, sharing that although most insects have great benefits, such as the production of honey and silk, others pose serious risks to human and animal health. Visitors will be able to observe a live colony of bedbugs, a cockroach feeding station, and other eye-catching collections.

Gonzalez-Morales, an expert in medical and veterinary insects, is eager to answer any questions about bedbugs, cockroaches, and mosquitoes, and the diseases associated with them, such as malaria, Zika, chikungunya, dengue, and many others, she said.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Lewis “Scotty” Long, an assistant professor in the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences’ department of preventive medicine and biostatistics, will bring some friendly Madagascar hissing cockroaches, passalid beetles, and some pinned specimens. He will be happy to answer questions and describe how some insects play important roles in maintaining the health of our ecosystem.

Bugs, Fake Bites, and a Rapper

Brian Spatola, the museum’s anatomical curator, will display his personal colony of dermestid beetles, sometimes referred to as nature’s forensic scientists. These beetles eat flesh from decomposing organisms and animals down to the bone. They can be useful to scientists who may use them to speed up the process of decomposition to aid in postmortem investigations or for anatomical preparations.

Medical illustrators from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences’ Val G. Hemming Simulation Center will create special effects makeup of injuries from insect bites and associated skin issues because of vector-borne diseases, and apply them to visitors’ skin to resemble what different insect and tick bites may look like.

Visitors can also expect to watch a performance from Fairfax County’s “MC BUGG-Z,” an insect biologist who raps about bugs.

A fact-filled family guide, stickers, coloring books, and tattoos will be distributed and are available for download on the Bugapalooza web page.

Get in on the Buzz

The goal of Bug Week is to educate beneficiaries on the prevention and treatment of bug-borne illnesses, as well as how some bugs can have a positive effect on their health.

To see what all the buzz is about, visit to:

  • Learn fun facts and how you can prevent yourself from bugs with TRICARE on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
  • Get the latest news, videos and information from the MHS about bugs and bug-borne illnesses on Facebook.
  • See how the Defense Health Agency is supporting readiness and tackling bug-borne illnesses on LinkedIn and Twitter.