'The Bug Lady' brings her program to Leechburg Area adaptive art and life skills classes
Students bugged out at Leechburg Area High School this week.
A visit from Susanne Lypka, aka “The Bug Lady,” provided an up-close and interactive learning experience about insects for students in Erin Hettrich's adaptive art and life skills classes.
Lypka, a Philadelphia native, is semi-retired after 20-plus years running her educational business, The Bug Lady.
Lypka recently relocated to the area, settling in Aspinwall, allowing her proximity to her family, which includes daughter Hettrich, art teacher at Leechburg for grades K-7.
“It was definitely interesting growing up with bugs,” Hettrich says. “My mom always had my brother and I wrapped up in collecting, mounting and dissecting something.”
More than 30 insects, both alive and dead, were on display for the students.
“The students are both really stoked and a little freaked out (about the insects),” Hettrich says. “I have brought in a few insects here and there to help students draw insects realistically, sometimes bugs get a bad rap which is another reason I want to introduce students to all of The Bug Lady's “friends.”
Lypka has a passion for explaining the benefits of insects and helping kids connect to the real world through bugs. She has degrees in education and biology.
A live Madagascar hissing cockroach held the children's attention. Most students were eager to touch the hard shell, which feels like touching a fingernail, says Lypka.
“My favorite insect was the scorpion,” says sixth-grader Cody Greer. “I saw one in a video once, but I was brave today and held the hissing cockroach — it was ticklish.”
Hettrich plans to use this experience on insects to create a upcoming corresponding art project.
“She how pretty she is,” says Lypka, showing off her female tarantula named Rosie.
Rosie showed off, even spinning a little silk for the students.
Under the beam of ultraviolet (UV) light, scorpions glow a vibrant blue-green. When the lights were turned off in the classroom, a green glow emitted from a live scorpion named Stinger —eliciting “ooohs and awws” from the students.
Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.