sealPurdue News

March 16, 2001

Purdue Bug Bowl draws folks like flies to honey

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – It takes talent to spit anything more than 30 feet. It takes fortitude to spit what was once a living, chirping cricket that far.

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Cricket spitting is just one of the many activities during Purdue University's annual Bug Bowl, April 7-8. An insect petting zoo, bug crafts, butterfly exhibit and face-painting are just a sample of the other activities available to the more than 10,000 people expected to attend.

In its 11th year , Bug Bowl continues to add new activities and exhibits. This year, a storytelling room has been added. Elementary education students in the class Entomology 105 will read and share stories about insects with children who visit throughout the weekend.

Two of the most popular Bug Bowl events are cockroach racing and the cricket spitting contest. Spectators can cheer on their favorite roach at "Roach Hill Downs." Each six-legged contestant races down a short track pulling a tractor with a different school flag.

"Roach Hill Downs is popular because it is an off-the-wall event with neat facilities, strange twists and a good announcer," says Tom Turpin, Bug Bowl's cofounder and a Purdue professor of entomology.

Cricket spitting, added in 1997, is one of the newer events. Purdue's contest inspired the Guinness Book of Records to include a cricket spitting distance record in the human achievements category. According to Guinness, the current recordholder is a past Bug Bowl contestant who spat a cricket 30 feet, 1.2 inches on June 26, 1998.

Entering the cricket spitting contest isn't the only excuse for putting an insect in someone's mouth at Bug Bowl. Food items with insect ingredients also are offered at the event. The Department of Entomology cooks up everything from chocolate chirpy cricket cookies to insect stir-fry for brave Bug Bowl guests to try.

Despite the fun, food and games, there is an educational purpose behind the event. "Basically, it's just to get people to think about insects and the role they play in our lives," Turpin says. "Insects benefit people because of products like honey and silk. They pollinate our crops and help clean up the environment by getting rid of dead stuff."

Bug Bowl is a part of Purdue's Spring Fest celebration. Other events that weekend include the Animal Sciences Boiler Barnyard, Ag Economics Marketing Madness, the Purdue Landscape Architecture Boiler Brick Bowl, the Veterinary Medicine Open House and the 88th Annual Horticulture Show.

Bug Bowl events take place in and around the Agricultural Administration Building on the Purdue campus. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 7, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 8. Admission to all Spring Fest events is free

For more information on Spring Fest activities, check out the Web site.

Source: Tom Turpin, (765) 494-4568,

Writer: Mindy Reef, (765) 494-8402,

Related Web site:
Guinness World Records cricket spitting Web page

Cockroach racing at "Roach Hill Downs" is one of the highlights of Purdue's annual Bug Bowl, slated for April 7-8. Other activities include cricket spitting, a petting zoo and foods made from bugs. The Bug Bowl is part of a full weekend of activities on campus during Purdue's Spring Fest. (Agricultural Communications Service Photo by Tom Campbell)

A publication-quality photograph is available at the News Service Web site and at the ftp site. Photo ID: Turpin.race

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