Anna Spadaccini of Hamilton participating in a preview of the puppet show that will be part of the 11th annual Insect Festival set for Saturday, Sept. 7, at Mercer Educational Gardens, Hopewell Township.

CONTACT: Barbara J. Bromley
(609) 989-6830

LAWRENCE, N.J
.—The 11th annual Insect Festival sponsored by the Rutgers Master Gardeners of Mercer County will be held Saturday, Sept. 7, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Mercer Educational Gardens, 431A Federal City Road, Hopewell Township. 

Attendees are invited to view the seven demonstration gardens -- Annual, Butterfly, Cottage, Herb, Native Plant, Perennial and Weed ID -- and talk with Master Gardeners who will be on hand to offer tips and display guides for recognizing some of the pesky as well as beneficial insects. Every garden will host an activity that will entertain and teach children of all ages about the incredible and often beautiful insects common to the Northeast. The event will be held rain or shine; admission is free and on-site parking is available.

There will be many exciting activities offered this year. Viewing tiny organisms through microscopes at the Bugs in Water activity will be back again this year. Enjoy an insect hunt on the paths cut through the restored meadow or visit with native and honeybee experts who can explain why we need to be less fearful and more respectful of the most important pollinators in our ecosystem. Learn how insect predators, including both bats and birds, can help control insect pest populations and reduce the use of chemical pesticides. Children will be able to help paint a mural of the newly restored meadow, take a look at red wriggler worms making compost in a simple container that is easy to set up at home, and join in a bee waggle dance used by honeybees to communicate with one another about the location of blooming flowers.

Popular events from previous years will continue -- butterfly births, Monarch butterfly tagging, bugs galore (insect inspection and handling), the insect puppet show, tattoos, crafts, hayrides, and Q & A with Barbara J. Bromley, Mercer County Horticulturist. Local environmental agencies will also be present with their experts and displays -- Rutgers University Entomology faculty; Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association; Conserve Wildlife, NJ; Mercer County Soil Conservation; Mercer County Mosquito Control; NJ Department of Agriculture Beneficial Insect Rearing Laboratory; Mercer County 4H; and  Mercer County Equestrian Center. The Naturalist from Mercer County Parks will also be present to lead insect-related activities.  

Cooperating Agencies: Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; U.S. Department of Agriculture and County Boards of Chosen Freeholders. Rutgers Cooperative Extension, a unit of the New Jersey Agricultural Experimental Station, is an equal opportunity program provider and employer. Contact your local Extension Office for information regarding special needs or accommodations. Contact the State Extension Director's Office if you have concerns related to discrimination, 732-932-5000, ext. 584.

The Master Gardeners of Mercer County is a volunteer educational outreach program of Rutgers Cooperative Extension. Master Gardeners participate in many volunteer programs throughout the County, as well as answer home horticulture questions through their Rutgers Master Gardener Helpline, (609) 989-6853, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., March through October, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., November through February. For more information on the organization’s educational programs and events, visit www.mgofmc.org.