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People’s U. Returns With ‘Bugs & People’

Photo Provided Bug art by Bob Villamagna is on display in the Ohio County Public Library for the upcoming series “People’s University Livestream: Bugs & People,” which kicks off Thursday.

WHEELING — What do cicadas and people have in common? Both are re-emerging and re-uniting this summer.

Inspired by the return of Brood X or the Great Eastern Brood of periodical cicadas, the People’s University at the Ohio County Public Library will offer an eight-class summer series on entomology (insect biology) called “PU Livestream: Bugs & People.”

The series will feature some of the best entomologists and experts from all over North America to teach attendees about the six major insect orders, as well as the history of human and insect interaction, a subject known as cultural entomology.

The series will remain an online livestream, which facilitates the nationwide, prestigious faculty.

Participants will have the opportunity to learn about insects while becoming eligible to win various insect-related prizes through interaction with the instructors.

Check the library’s web site at ohiocountylibrary.org for more information.

People’s University Livestream: Bugs & People takes place at 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays each week for eight weeks beginning May 27.

Class 1 will be titled “Brood X Cicada Mania, Part 1, and will be an introduction to insects in general and where cicadas fit in the Class Insecta aspects of insect biology, using cicadas, a superfamily, the Cicadoidea, of insects in the order Hemiptera (true bugs), as the example. This will set the stage as an introduction for the series.

The instructor for the first class will be Dr. Gene Kritsky, who is dean of Behavioral and Natural Sciences and a biology professor at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati. He received his Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Illinois.

Editor of “American Entomologist,” he has authored or edited 10 books and more than 250 papers on subjects as diverse as entomology, Egyptology, dinosaur biology and insect mythology. He is the author of “The Tears of Re: Beekeeping in Ancient Egypt” and “The Periodical Cicadas: The Brood X,” edition 2021.

The library has commissioned Wheeling’s own Bob Villamagna (known this month as “Bobby Cicada”) — a popular mixed-media artist who uses repurposed lithographed metals, found objects and vintage photographs to create colorful and whimsical pieces — to make a work of art based on the People’s University series.

Though not Wheeling’s major 17-year cicada brood — which last visited in 2016 — a small colony of Brood X has existed here for many years.

“In light of the long quarantine from which we are just starting to emerge thanks to vaccines,” library programmer Sean Duffy observed, “we thought the periodical cicadas’ epic journey made a nice metaphor for what we humans are all experiencing.”

And, of course, there are prizes, including the sure-to-be-highly-coveted Villamagna art.

“Starting now and running through and including July 15,” Duffy said, “anyone can come to the library, find the giant 8-foot cicada wings, take a photo or ask library staff to take one in front of the wings, post it with the hashtag ‘#BroodPU” or tag People’s University at the Ohio County Public Library –or email the photo directly to the library for posting — and be entered into our drawing to win the artwork or another gift, such as #BroodPU tee shirts, tote bags or coffee mugs, gift certificates to local restaurants, or insect related books — including children’s books.

Participants also can become eligible to win the above prizes plus pet treats by dressing their pet like an insect and sharing their images in the same manner.

Patrons may attend as many classes as they wish. There are no tests of other requirements and all programs are free and open to the public.

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