COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio State University’s Department of Entomology will be bringing exotic bugs to schools and community events throughout Ohio.

The project began more than three years ago, with a customized Airstream trailer. The goal was to create a “mobile classroom, laboratory, and bug zoo,” said Jeni Ruisch, the OSU entomology outreach director. Colorful Painted Lady butterflies and stick insects are among the exhibits.

The new Bugmobile made its debut on May 7 at COSI’s Big Science Celebration. Families were given the opportunity to explore a hands-on introduction to the world of arthropods.

Eastern lubber grasshopper (Romalea microptera)

Ruisch said the Bugmobile will provide students around Ohio with a chance to learn more about nature, which will serve as a field trip for schools that may not have the resources to travel to state nature preserves.

Among the more exotic insects on the mobile bug zoo are walking sticks, tarantulas, and scorpions.

Flat rock scorpion (Hadogenes troglodytes)

“We can take experiments to the kids, where students might not have this kind of stimulating, exciting way to look at science … having a live animal right in front of you,” said Ruisch.

The recent warm spell has likely created a buzz in your backyard. “Pollinators are out right now. They love the flowering plants, transferring that pollen to other flowers,” said Dr. David Shetlar, a professor of urban landscape entomology at Ohio State.

“We have about 60 species of ground-nesting bees in Ohio,” Shetlar said. “Some of them form colonies, usually in thin turf that’s in a sunny area.” The bees burrow 6-8 inches in the ground and build cells made up of pollen and nectar, where the larvae develop, though not emerging until next spring, he added. The solution is to re-seed in the fall and fertilize to avoid patchy bare turf.

In Ohio, bees pollinate more than 70 crops and play a vital role, along with other pollinators, in maintaining our global food supply.

Regarding the lush lawns, Shetlar recommends regularly mowing in the fast-growing grass climate of May to preserve your turf. He said the best time to spray for the sprouting dandelion, clover, and other flowering weeds, is in September and October, not when they are in full bloom.

For more information on the mobile insect zoo, including submitting a request to have it pay a visit, click here.