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Family bugs out

May 18, 2001

Family bugs out



By LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

The Jenkins family of Hagerstown has gone a little buggy.

On Monday, a pupa they had been nurturing since November hatched a giant colorful moth.

Earlier, their home was invaded by 150 baby praying mantises the size of grains of rice.

The bug-mania that has taken over the Turners Lane household these days is all in the name of learning.

Christy Jenkins home schools her daughters Rebekah, 8, and Julianna, 5. Rebekah's natural interest in bugs has led the whole family, including Clara, 3, and Gloria, 22 months, to explore and experiment.

They find some of their creepy crawly subjects in the yard. Others are brought home by their dad, Mike Jenkins, who works as a landscaper.

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"I'm not a big bug person so I'm still getting used to it," Christy Jenkins said.

The girls, however, seem to have no fear, letting tent caterpillars crawl up their arms and picking up baby snakes once they've identified them as harmless. Mike Jenkins even taught them how to pet a honeybee (very carefully).

The moth project got started when Mike Jenkins brought home the pupa, or chrysalis, he found while cutting sod on Blue Heron Lane in Hagerstown.

A family friend and entomologist, Daniel Boone, told them to keep it in a dark, cool place until April. They did. Then they kept it in a cage on their dining room table until Monday, when the moth emerged.

Rebekah says she wants to be an entomologist just like Boone, who identified the moth as a royal walnut.

After studying it, they released it in the Spring Valley neighborhood it came from.

That moth was easier to control than the praying mantis babies, some of which Jenkins found in her house a week later. Because they are a protected insect, the family made sure they weren't harmed.

Rebekah came up with the idea of attracting them to a green and white dish towel in order to carry them outside.

It's hard to say what will be next. The family has already been visited by a black widow spider (sealed safely in a jar).

Christy Jenkins said her brother-in-law, an exterminator, offered to bring the Jenkins' a live cockroach, but she drew the line.

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