Once we're there, however, the bickering and complaining quickly drop away. Even the surly preteens are lured into participation by the craft table that calls them to make their own insects — though the insect that twelve-year-old M makes is the flea character Myoga, from the Inuyasha anime/manga series. Eleven-year-old H, now a tough middle-schooler, informs me that she is going to check out the raptors by herself — owls, kestrels, peregrine falcons, bald eagle; she knows the way. Seven-year-old N spends her time in the Critter House helping to feed the turtles mealworms, petting the Madagascar hissing cockroaches, examining silkworm cocoons, and asking question after question.
Three-year-old Little Brother is in his element, catching insects with his "sticky tongue" (a party blower with Velcro on the tip), trying to jump 600 times his body length like a flea, pollinating flowers by buzzing around dressed as a bee while moving yellow bottle caps among several chalk flowers drawn on the sidewalk, feeding a hungry frog by throwing toy insects through its hula-hoop mouth, and then dressing up like an insect complete with compound eye goggles, knight armor (exoskeleton), bike helmet with antennae (like a burrowing beetle's), snow mittens (sticky hands), kneepads (extra joints), and giant empty water bottle on his back (air bladder, like a diving beetle's). He meets a boy his age with a Spiderman doll, and they fly down the grassy hill while dueling with their own handcrafted spider creations.