Let Your Kids Play With Bugs

Let Your Kids Play With Bugs

Bug Scientist Aaron Rodriques Says Hissing Cockroaches Are Great Pets For Kids

Part 3 of 3, interview with Aaron Rodriques

Interview by Fallon Davis

If kids want to get into etymology, is there a certain age they should start experimenting with bugs? What type of insects or bugs should they start out with or should avoid?

Actually, you can handle insects at any age. The key is that you always have adult supervision up until the age of seven or eight. When they’re a kid around age four or five, you can buy them caterpillars and moths that transform. A lot of insects are safe and a lot of them you can touch. Actually, the harm is from the kids so you want to make sure the kid is handling the animal and they don’t crush it or anything.

Aside from that it’s pretty straightforward, so you can show your kids how to touch an animal, how to handle it, show them that they’re just like us; they’re things that can feel and get hurt. So it’s always safe to be really gentle with them and really patient. I think a young age might be an even better age, the younger the better to expose them and have them learn from an early start. Even if it’s weird, I think it’s important to build empathy because you’re exposing them to this animal that can feel. If you teach them at a young age, they can even be better to other people when they’re older. When they have the feeling of empathy when they’re young it can really make a difference in how they live their teen years or adulthood.

Cockroaches aren’t good pets to have in your house. There are really big ones from Madagascar which are really clean and they aren’t like the pests you’ll find in your house. Only about three or four cockroach species are pests. There are thousands of roaches and only three or four species can really do you harm, or you can find in your house. Big ones like Madagascar hissing cockroaches are fine pets, actually I’d say they are just about as good as any other insects for kids just as long as they don’t try to eat them. Right now there are over 2,000 different species of cockroaches. Not sure how many, there’s probably a lot more that we haven’t discovered yet. They are so diverse, it’s really amazing.

How important do you feel it is to teach kids about your profession?

That may be my most important task whenever I do these shows is to inform young children. At present, I feel insects are not represented in biology or in fact biology itself is not fully represented. I feel when I get to do these outreach programs for children I’m instilling them with the passion that I had when I was young and it’s just something that will drive them to learn more. Their interests doesn’t have to be insects, but learning more in some kind of science and that passion which is normally underestimated can really help them do well in school and to have dreams and aspirations. So, I feel like teaching kids during little shows or in a classroom is really important because it gives them an understanding of animals and it gives them an understanding of what it is they want to be when they eventually go on to high school or college and so on. So it’s really important for us, for everyone that the next generation is informed.

What events do you have coming up?

I’ll be doing a show for the Morbid Anatomy Museum

What are some common questions that people usually ask at these events?

There are a lot of insects and animals I have that people haven’t seen before. Usually I don’t just do insects, I’ll do arachnids, crabs, reptiles, amphibians, etc. I’ll do a bunch of different kinds of animals. One question is, are they dangerous? That’s a major one. A lot of insects that we are told are really bad are harmless. A lot of different cockroach species are harmless and a lot of spiders are harmless too. Spiders and arachnids pretty much have a bad reputation, but there aren’t too many that can hurt people. I think it’s a lot of fear that goes behind hating insects and arachnids. There is a lot of misinformation and it’s the media telling us that we need to be afraid of them, when in reality we don’t have to.

Spiders are very common in the home. How dangerous are these insects?

Spiders help so much in the environment, some bite but are so small they wouldn’t break the skin so it doesn’t matter. A lot of them can bite, but a lot of them are so small they wouldn’t want you. I have tarantulas and I’ve never been bitten in my life, they’re a very gentle species. They prefer to run away and hide. They have a bad rep for being aggressive, but in reality a large portion of them are fine and you can handle them without having to worry.

Ask Aaron anything about bugs or learn about his next show.

Go back to part 1.

I'm Fallon Davis, the Managing Editor of The #MakeHealthPrimary Journal. I love talking to people and learning about what passions they have. I have a B.A. in Mass Communications with a focus in broadcast production and over a decade of experience interviewing professionals and writing for publications.