Bettina Bergh isn't frightened by creepy-crawlies.
In fact, the entomologist loves insects so much she considers herself their ambassador to mankind.
"I consider myself a diplomat for the insect world," said Bergh, of Augusta. "They are fascinating little animals. They've got hearts. They've got breathing systems just like we do. They've got stomachs."
For 27 years, Bergh has been sharing her love of insects to children of all ages through a presentation of slide shows, insect puppets and lots of insect displays.
Bergh will lead A Look Into the World of Insects at 11 a.m. Saturday. The free class will be held at the Mistletoe State Park Nature Center on Mistletoe Road in Appling.
Bergh said through the presentation, which includes her personal insect collection in seven glass-top boxes for close-up viewing, she tries to inspire children to get them to see the beauty of insects.
"This is my lifelong love," Bergh said. "I fell in love with insects when I was 3 years old; butterflies had landed on me. By the time I was 5, I knew I wanted to be an entomologist ... loved insects ever since.''
Challenging the creepy and often scary image many insects bring to mind, Bergh said she likes to teach people about the good insects. Only 2 percent of the entire insect population is harmful or causes diseases.
Bergh will display her venomous insect collection, including such specimens as yellow jackets and red velvet ants.
"I have (a) venomous insect collection, These are dead - so they (children) can see the things that can hurt them," Bergh said. "I show them these things that can potentially hurt them and tell them what to stay away from.
"It's very simple. If you think in nature, anything that is really brightly colored - such as red and black, yellow and black, orange and black - are generally things that can hurt you."
Five of Bergh's display boxes contain insects native to areas from Georgia to New York. But two more boxes are insects collected locally, Bergh said. She calls that collection, which includes big beetles and cicadas, "the big, the bad and the ugly."
Bergh said anyone who attends the class will also hear some of her insect trivia. Bees often are regarded for their ability to pollinate crops and other plants and for their honey production.
Bee hives, she said, were also used in ancient warfare. In medieval times, hives were tossed on invaders as. The honey also was used to preserve meat.
Whether it is through the close-up nature photos of the slide show, the insect collection or the trivia, Bergh said she hopes to open plenty of eyes to the fascinating world of insects.
"People think, 'Look at the pretty birds,' but with a bug, they think, 'Yuck, a cockroach.' Squish," Bergh said. "There's so much beauty out there ... I just try to make them excited about it."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.