Part 1 of 3, interview with Aaron Rodriques
Interview by Fallon Davis
How did you get into the science of entomology?
It was a long time ago before I can even remember, I must have been about 3 or 4 years old. I’ve always liked insects, I would watch ants and bees, and different flying insects. There aren’t a lot of them in the Bronx compared to other places, but the little we had I enjoyed. I was definitely intrigued by them. I really didn’t have anyone to introduce entomology to me. My parents really didn’t talk about insects or show any interest in them. It was more something I liked, I would watch educational shows every once in awhile. I used to go digging in the back yard for insects and I would bring them home. Eventually, my parents just accepted it and let me keep whatever I wanted for the most part.
What types of bug pets do you have?
Quite a few, I don’t have many true bugs. I have Madagascar hissing cockroaches, I have different kinds of beetles too. I have this really cool thing called a blue death feigning beetle, it’s a bold blue beetle that will play dead if it gets attacked by a predator. I have praying mantis’, I also have a lot of arachnids too. I have tail whip scorpions, the list goes on and on really I just have a large amount. Total: 300 hundred or so… maybe a bit more.
Who were some of your influences growing up?
I liked Steve Irwin a lot, he was the Crocodile Hunter. He was so passionate, I loved his positive attitude towards animals that people normally wouldn’t consider approachable or not something they would normally think about. So that was a really big influence. Also Jessi Knudsen Castañeda is another big influence. She is the coordinator of Animal Wonders, it’s like an animal sanctuary. She is pretty recent and she does really amazing shows and that’s really good press.
Have you had any bad/scary experiences?
I did, it was actually at a show and I was with a group of people showing the animals. I think one girl didn’t realize that I was holding a giant millipede in my hand. She just noticed it and suddenly screamed really loudly. I had one of my fat-tailed scorpions and I was showing it to people. One girl wanted to see it and it ended up crawling in her hair– she had trouble getting it out. So that was interesting. Sometimes people will play with my animals, but then they don’t know how to handle them so they end up getting tangled in their hair or in their shirts or something. It’s always a very weird experience.