NUI Galway zoologist, Dr Michel Dugon, and his creepy-crawly friends will tour schools around Ireland to teach kids about bugs, biodiversity and ecology.
Dr Dugon is also the presenter of Bug Hunters, an educational TV series in 30 episodes currently airing on RTÉ2 and RTÉJr. In each episode, Michel and three young naturalists explore parts of the Irish wilderness to unearth some of the most fascinating, colourful and strange-looking creepy-crawlies.
A specialist of venomous and poisonous animals, Dr Dugon is also a fervent advocate of Irish wildlife. Dr Dugon said: “Ireland is home to more than 12,000 species of bugs, including 400 species of spiders, 100 species of bees and over 2,000 species of beetles. Contrary to common belief, Irish ecosystems are very rich and divers and very accessible as well.”
Bug Hunters features some of the most prominent and species-rich ecosystems in Ireland, from the mountains of Wicklow to the streams of Connemara and the rock formations of the Burren.
To promote knowledge about local ecosystems, Dr Dugon has created Eco EXPLORERS, an NUI Galway-backed science outreach initiative. Last year alone, he visited 44 schools in six counties and more than 7,000 pupils followed his workshops and holiday camps on ecology and biodiversity.
Dr Dugon, who uses live exotic animals in his workshops, said: “Exotic bugs are fantastic models to teach kids about important concepts like biodiversity, ecology, and evolution. People don’t forget their first encounter with a tarantula or a giant millipede. It is also an excellent occasion to re-establish the truth about misunderstood critters.”
The second season of Bug Hunters is being aired simultaneously on RTÉ2 and RTÉJr. Episodes are available online on the RTÉ player at http://www.rte.ie/player/ie/show/10324438/.