August 2018 Newsletter – Creepy Crawly Zoo

Greetings all you bug lovers out there and welcome to the latest Creepy Crawly Newsletter! We’ve got lots to share with you today including new friends, old friends, and chances for you to catch Tony and his buggy menagerie, so let’s dive in!

WE HAVE A NEW SPONSOR!!!

We are thrilled to announce a new sponsor, partner, and Bug BFF, Animal House Pet Supplies! I, your intrepid Bloggess and finder of all things bug-tastically fun, visited the shop and owner, Dan (pictured here sweet talking a cranky sugar glider) to get the scoop on our new pal and his mission.

You guys. Go visit Dan! Dan grew up around lots of animals and got his start as a small animal expert with birds. He has since branched out to reptiles, amphibians, insects, arachnids, and small mammals. After spending some time doing trade shows for reptile supplies, he decided what he really wanted to do was own his own shop that catered to small animal and creepy crawly lovers eveywhere.

And cater it does! At any given time you might find inside the many tidy cages and tanks sugar gliders, hedge hogs, gerbils, hamsters, tarantulas, millipedes, beetles, orchid mantises, roaches, dart frogs, iguanas, geckos, and dragons, just to name a few of his furry and scaly friends!

Don’t see the small companion your heart longs for? No problem! Dan’s many years cultivating relationships with trusted suppliers means he can procure for you any number of exotic and domestic small animals buddies. He likes to keep his stock interesting and often carries new and unusual critters, as well as breeding many himself.

As an avid animal supply shopper (you didn’t really think all I housed were butterflies, did you?) I can attest first hand to Dan’s excellent stock and really great prices. he has things on his shelves that I would otherwise have had to order, and you can’t put a price on his friendly demeanor and thorough knowledge.

Wait! Did I mention that he offers small animal boarding as well? If you are leaving town and your dear relatives or neighbors balk at caring for your millipede/boa constrictor/hamster, Dan will take care of them for you. For an incredibly reasonable fee, you can rest easy that your slithery/hoppy/burrowing family members will be as well cared for as if they were home with you. Probably better. Dan’s an expert.

You can visit Dan for yourself at his lovely store at 100 Fox Street in Mukwonago, or like him on Facebook, here. We look forward to partnering with Dan for a long time to come!

SHOW TOMORROW AT DISCOVERY WORLD!!!

As summer draws to a close, you still have one chance for this season to see Tony’s Creepy Crawly Zoo at Discovery World TOMORROW! Saturday, August 18th, join Tony and all his creepy crawly companions for one last Discovery World hurrah!

But wait! You can’t make it tomorrow, you say? You want nothing more than to spend time with Tony and his incredible insects but can’t possibly shirk your responsibilities to go play with bugs? Well, first off, just come out and play with the bugs. You know you want to. Secondly, DISCOVERY WORLD AND THE CREEPY CRAWLY ZOO WILL BE WORKING TOGETHER FOR ANOTHER YEAR!!! YAAAAAY!

That’s right! Starting in October, you will still be able to catch Tony’s show and zoo at Discovery World for another fabulous year! We are thrilled to keep working with such an incredible institution and so many great people.

You should still totally come to the show tomorrow, though.

BRING THE CREEPY CRAWLY ZOO TO  SCHOOL NEAR YOU!!!

Aagh! Did I just say that summer was ending?!? I did, but that doesn’t mean the Creepy Crawly Zoo can’t keep educating and entertaining through the long winter months! Back-to-School is actually a great opportunity to have Tony’s show visit your school or classroom! As we all know, the Creepy Crawly Zoo and the Gateway Science Tour are a great way to get kids fired up about science and learning! Spread the word to your kids’ teachers and any educators that you may know that Tony would love to bring his show and Zoo to your school!

BUG DAY AT WEHR NATURE CENTER!!!

Last, but certainly not least, The Bug Whisperer will be live and in person at this year’s BUG DAY at the Wehr Nature Center!

Sunday, September 16th, from 1-4pm, come to the Wehr Nature Center to celebrate all things bug! From Tony’s show at 1:30, to eating bugs with Chef Emily’s Creepy Crawly Cuisine, from the Bug Discovery Walk to the chance to see one of the largest butterfly collections in Wisconsin, it promises to be a thoroughly wonderful insect-filled afternoon. You can find all the details here, and be sure to put the date on your calendars!

As always, thank you for spending time with us here at www.creepycrawlyzoo.com. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog, news updates, and, as always, spread the word to friends and family about the continuing progress on The Gateway Science Center. Info for sharing can be found here, and donations can be made here. Until next time!

Let’s Talk About Ticks, Baby!

Greetings and salutations once again my fellow insect fanatics!

So, it might be because I spend a silly amount of time wading through prairies and smashing my face up against trees and pawing through piles of rotting wood and crawling into the dark corners of basements, but I find a lot of insects on my body. Like, daily. Spiders, flies, ladybugs, inch worms, crickets, caterpillars…like, every day. Normally, I don’t mind these little six and eight legged visitors warming themselves on my skin or hitching a ride to a better hunting spot, but there is one visitor in particular that I just cannot cotton to and must expel from my epidermis immediately!

What ever could it be, you may wonder?

Today let’s have a discussion about some thing buggy that bugs me and you, namely, TICKS! Itty, bitty, bitey, blood-suckers just laying in wait for a tasty morsel to wander by. Deer, racoons, and YOU!

Look at this adorable little tick! Look how cute and round and smiley…awwww, sweet little tick, right? Wrong! Ticks are not sweet and not smiley and not adorably round and purple like a grape. In reality, ticks are often seed-shaped with eight specialized legs and some pretty awesomely terrifying mouth parts.

Their legs are truly amazing. They are designed to make them very clingy. First, as they hang out on the tips of tall grasses or tree leaves, bouncing in the breeze until something exuding some warm and fuzzy body heat happens by. As our warm-blooded body brushes said grass or leaf, the tick grabs onto them, going along for the ride. This is where their special feet come in and are grossly cool.

Their little feet are designed just so their prey can’t feel them! Creepy, right? But such a good design! They have tiny little ‘u’ shaped feet that are so fine and good at their job, even the sensitive hairs on your arms can’t detect them. This means they can wander all over their prey totally unbeknownst to them until they find a really soft, tender spot to sink their little mouth parts into.

Now that is what a tick looks like! Okay, so the disgustingly cool thing about tick mouths is the way they bite. They don’t plunge in all-of-a-sudden like a mosquito, oh no. Instead, they have to work just a little bit harder to get to your juicy, delicious blood beneath your many layers of tough skin. The ticks have specialized parts on their mouths that they use to sweep and sweep (kind of like rowing a boat with your arms looks) and brush their way down and through the layers of your skin until they reach blood. Gross! Amazing! I love it!

Once they manage to brush their way through all those pesky layers they can bite into you, but even then their mouth parts are so small it takes a while for them to actually get a good sucking flow going. So much effort for the tick!

As you know, tick bites can carry a host of diseases, among them Lyme’s Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. So we worry, don’t we, when we play outside or go hiking or camping? But there is good news!

From the time you brush against that tall grass and pick up your unwelcome hitchhiker, to the time the little bugger has finally managed to pick a sweet spot and sink in, actually takes a little time. Up to a couple of hours, in fact. So tick bites are super preventable! Yay!

So what do you do?

Bug spray! Woohoo! We clever humans have long since invented aerosol prevention that is extremely effective. Just make sure it’s got some Deet in it. After using your bug spray there’s one more possibly even more important thing you can do to keep yourself safe and healthy.

TICK CHECKS! Sometimes sweat or swimming or rain can wash away our bug spray, but a good and thorough tick check can save the day. Don’t be shy about it. Many ticks can be easy to see, but some nymphs (young ticks) and particularly the dreaded Deer Tick can be virtually impossible to tell apart from a freckle. Poppy seed sized! So tiny! So use your eyes, use your hands, use the buddy system, and check everywhere, every day. It really takes so little time and is well worth it.

I’m a big proponent of tick checks. So much so that I have composed an actual tick-check-themed poem just to help you remember what to do and how important it is! So here goes…

An Ode to Checking for Ticks

Finally the time is here!
The sun is warm, the sky is clear!
It’s time for hiking and biking too,
Rowing and fishing in a canoe.
Parties and picnics ‘til well after dark,
Day after day we’ll play in the park.
Crickets are chirping and birdies they sing,
But please remember this one thing:
Amongst the ladybugs and bees
Is a nasty pest causing some unease.
She makes no sound of any kind,
And her tiny size makes her hard to find.
Her feet are designed so you don’t even feel
When she’s grabbed your knee, elbow, or heel.
And when you find one in your hair….
It means she CRAWLED all the way up there!
Mosquito bites itch, bee stings hurt a lot,
But that’s nothing compared to the bite this girl’s got!
She’ll bury her head way down into your skin,
And hang out for hours before she begins
By sweeping her barbed little fangs forth and back
Again and again in slow-motion attack.
She buries them further with every brush,
(You can’t feel this at all so she knows there’s no rush).
Finally, when she’s totally stuck,
Her feeding mouth plunges and she starts to suck.
Your blood flows into her and she into you.
For multiple days, exchanging of goo,
Germs and bacteria, saliva and blood,
Her body engorged now, the color of mud.
Finally full she drops off with no fear.
You may not even know she ever was near
Until you get fever, joint pain, or a cough,
Rashes, fatigue, body aches….had enough?
All of this is so easy to skip!
After being outside simply go in and strip!
Get all the way down to your birthday suit
And check every inch from your hair to your foot.
Use your mirrors and fingers, don’t skip a pore.
It doesn’t take long and you know what it’s for.
Your health and safety are important to all,
So in spring, through summer, and well into fall
When you go outside put on your bug spray
And do your tick check at the end of the day!

Until next time, my insect oriented friends, have fun, be safe, wear your bug spray, and check for ticks! And don’t forget to come back frequently for updates on Tony’s shows and the progress of the Gateway Science Center. As always, you can lend your support here, at the Go Fund Me site, or just by spreading the word!

June 2018 Newsletter

Welcome to the Creepy Crawly Zoo June Newsletter!

We apologize for missing the May Newsletter, there was just so much going on! Namely…

THE BUG WHISPERER GOT MARRIED! In a lovely outdoor ceremony and surrounded by loved ones, Tony and his beautiful fiance’ Jennifer tied the knot. We couldn’t be happier for them both, and wish them all the best!

The Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! show at Discovery World on May 12th was a huge success! The unveiling of the half-million dollars in displayed insects and the Creepy Crawly Zoo show was attended by 1,400 people!

A special thanks to Dan Capps for his amazing and generous donation of one of the premier insect collections in the world. Channel 12 News came out in the morning and did a very nice piece on Tony and the event. Check it out here!

UPDATE ON THE GATEWAY SCIENCE CENTER!!!

As Tony continues to work towards realizing his dream of building the Gateway Science Center, he has gained some recognition through a recent JS Online article which you can read here.

This Friday afternoon, June 8th at 4:00pm,  you have the opportunity to hear Tony and long-time friend and bug donor extraordinaire talk about the Gateway Science Center on live on WPR! Tune in and be inspired!

Between the recent insect collection donation, the huge success of Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!, and these most recent pieces of good publicity, the Gateway Science Center is really gaining some momentum! Stay tuned here for updates! And if you want to help make this dream a reality, you can contribute to the Gateway Science Center project through the Go Fund Me page here. Be a part of science in the making! Education! Fun! Make a donation or simply spread the word

Schiele Museum Show 2018

The recent Creepy Crawly Zoo show at the Schiele Museum featured a bug eating contest which was a huge success as well as a milestone for Tony as it marks the first time his presentation made a kid puke! Now that is in-your-face science happening up close and personal! He presented some new milipedes which proved alsmost as popular as the bug eating, and enjoyed the event very much.

Welcoming A New Guest Blogger, Monarch Lady!

Oh wait, that’s me!

I am honored and excited to be helping Tony out by guest-blogging on his page. I am a Monarch maeven and an insect fan-girl through and through.I look forward to bringing you more bug fun, caterpillar weirdness, and Creepy Crawly news updates!

Monarchs, Monarchs, and More Monarchs: Introducing Monarch Lady!

Greetings and salutations bug lovers! My name is Lindsay, a.k.a. Monarch Lady, and I am so excited to be a guest blogger for Tony the Bug Whisperer.

Although I am a fan of all things six and eight legged, slithery and slimy, creepy and crawly, my specialty happens to be the catching, rearing, and releasing of Monarch butterfly caterpillars. I have been doing this long enough, and in great enough numbers, that I now know a few secrets about Monarch caterpillars that very few people know, that I cannot wait to share with you. Secrets like, for instance, baby monarch caterpillars will occasionally hitch a ride on other bigger monarch caterpillars to get where they need to go. Secrets like, for another instance, when it is very late at night and it is very quiet in the house, and you happen to have a dining room with 200 caterpillars in it (as I so often do), you can absolutely hear them all chewing, and it is weird.

You may be thinking, “Did she say caterpillars in her dining room?” I did! This whole project started when my son found a Monarch caterpillar in our garden and I had just read an article that said the two most important things you can do to help Monarchs is to plant milkweed and, if you can, bring them inside to raise them. I thought, “I can do that.” But the only space large enough was the dining room. So, over the years, my very patient family has become accustomed to eating our meals surrounded by shelves full of caterpillars and hanging baskets full of chrysalises and butterflies.

The Monarch Lady dining room wall of caterpillars.

Don’t do this! This is crazy!

I spend all summer wading through wild prairies, parks, marshes, beaches, and my very tolerant neighbors gardens collecting caterpillar eggs and caterpillars to bring back to the house to hatch and raise. I travel far and wide gathering enough food to feed them all, locating new wild prairies where milkweed might grow, and lobbing little balls of soil and clay and wildflower seeds into empty lots. I get up very, very early every day so I can open every box one at a time, clean out the caterpillar poop (called frass), and supply the inhabitants with a fresh leaf for the day. I love every minute of it, but it is very time consuming.

The most important thing you can do is practically anything! Truly! Every little bit helps. Grow native nectar flowers in your gardens, grow milkweed too. If you find an egg or two, or a caterpillar of any size, consider taking it in to raise. Their chance of reaching adulthood in the wild is between 1% and 4%, so if you bring even that one egg inside and raise the caterpillar, you are giving it a much better chance to survive and go on to make more butterflies!

“But why is it important to save the Monarchs?” You may ask. Monarch butterflies are considered an Indicator Species. What that means is that their numbers can be used to represent the numbers of all pollinator species, so if their population is low it probably means all pollinator populations are low. Monarch butterfly numbers are very low, and this is bad for all of us that enjoy butterflies and, you know, fruit. Can’t have fruit without pollinators! Another reason we work to save Monarchs is that they have an unusual biology and their migrations are amazing and we don’t yet fully understand the “why” and “how” of either of those things. It would be a shame if they died out before we learned what they have to teach us.

I could probably go on and on and on, but I think I will save some of the fascinating things there are to know about Monarchs until another time. There are so many fascinating things!

So, stay tuned! Many interesting posts to come, and all the news about Tony’s Gateway Science Center as it happens!

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