Annual ‘Mosquitofest’ proves to be a big hit with children
Bees and bugs were the big attractions at Saturday’s Mosquitofest at the Marin/Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District in Cotati.
Mosquitofest, now in its fifth year, continues to grow each year and draws in children, parents and interested observers from all throughout Sonoma and Marin counties.
Last year, more than 500 people attended this event, and the District anticipated an even bigger crowd. And that’s saying something considering neighboring city Rohnert Park was hosting an all-day celebration of its 50th year as an incorporated city. The impetus behind Mosquitofest was to draw attention to Mosquito Vector Awareness Week. The District had the foresight to expand their scope through the school systems.
Originally for all ages
“Originally, it’s geared for all ages, and as it started to grow, we started promoting it in the schools,” said Nizza Sequeira, the District’s public relations director. “And the teachers really like the idea of the backyard bug contest. It tied in well with their science programs, so they started encouraging kids to come as well.”
Granted, this event has been geared toward kids, but there was something for everyone. Those who stopped by also were treated to either a free burger or hot dog on the grill.
“The men like to look at the big equipment like the boats or all-terrain vehicles we use out in the field,” Sequeira said. “The kids are always curious about everything, but they really like our Backyard Bug Barn and the Backyard Bug contest.”
The Backyard Bug Barn had on display just about every bug one could find in the backyard. The contest consisted of children between kindergarten and the eighth grade finding a bug, watching the bug, drawing the bug, learning and writing about the bug. This year, Sequeira believes what had been on the minds of most who attended Mosquitofest were ticks, a serious problem for dog and cat owners in Sonoma County.
“We’ve got a lot of people inquiring about ticks and Lyme disease this year,” she said. “Yellowjackets and mosquitos would be next as far as interest.”
Eating flavored bugs
Not only were there bugs on display, there also were bugs available for consumption. Isaac Holiday, an 11-year-old from Santa Rosa, was one of the brave souls who ate a smorgasbord of crickets. He mixed chocolate-covered, bacon and cheese, sour cream and onion and barbequed crickets into a small cup and downed them all in one shot.
“It didn’t taste too bad…it tasted crunchy” Holiday said. “I did it just to do it, but I know it’s not something I’d eat all the time.”
Leon Beck, an elderly gentlemen from Santa Rosa, said he learned of places mosquitos lay their eggs. More importantly, he said he learned how to prevent mosquitos from infesting certain areas of a home.
“You see this pipe that comes out of the house?” Beck said, pointing to a display on one of the tables. “If you don’t put a screen down there, mosquitos will lay their eggs in there, and man will you have a serious problem. I’ve been around a long time, and that’s something I never knew. See, you’re never too old to learn something new every day.”
Knowledge is power, and educating the public on the potential hazards that come with insect bites is one of the District’s primary goals.
“We want residents to walk away from this event with a better understanding of the importance of mosquito and vector control and the part they play in reducing their own risk of contracting a vector-borne disease.”