Bug hunt at the library tomorrow

Face_of_Praying_Mantis-SQThe shrubbery, flowers and grass surrounding the Saugerties Public Library is a hotbed of life if you know where to look. On July 8, starting at 6:30 p.m., Barbara Hammerstone, a supervisor in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will show young people where to look and how to identify the creatures they find.

Hammerstone will start her program with a short PowerPoint presentation about insects and their identification. Then the group will head out to the area surrounding the library to find specimens, put them into jars to inspect them, then release them.

Hammerstone said she had offered a similar program several years ago, but the library had little shrubbery or nearby plants before the addition was completed, and the bug hunt was limited. There are more possibilities now, with the landscaping around the new addition.

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“I’m hoping we’ll be able to find bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, caterpillars and maybe a hummingbird moth or praying mantis,” Hammerstone said. “There are a lot of different flowers and grasses in front of the library now, so you never know.”

Hammerstone is well qualified to teach about insects and similar creatures. She graduated from the State University of New York at Binghamton with a degree in biology and has been working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for more than 23 years, she said. Her department, Plant Protection and Quarantine, clears potential pests from agricultural products before they are shipped. She’s worked in the ports of New York and New Jersey, and at JFK Airport clearing cargo and passengers of harmful insect pests. She currently works for the department in Modena. Her job largely involves ensuring that logs, lumber, apples, onions, orchids, seeds and other agricultural products are free of pests and diseases, she said.