Ticks Take The Spotlight At Upcoming Insect Film Festival

February 22, 2018
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The 35th annual Insect Fear Film Festival will feature ticks. The festival's founder, May Berenbaum, said even though ticks are arachnids and not insects, they chose to feature them because of their importance as disease vectors.

“Knowledge is power," said Berenbaum, entomology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "I used to be terrified of insects. I was phobic about them until I took a class freshman year of college. And I discovered they were so fascinating, I kind of forgot to be afraid of them.”

Berenbaum said that most movies about ticks focus not on the eight-legged critters themselves, but on the diseases they can carry “because that’s primarily how ticks manage to mess up human lives.”

But in the 1993 movie, Ticks, which will be featured at Saturday night's event, “they are front and center and impossible to miss," she said. "Unlike real-life ticks, you cannot miss a tick when it’s the size of a border collie.”

Berenbaum said the largest known tick is the sloth’s giant tick, which is about the size of a golf ball when fully engorged. But as its name implies, it feeds only on sloths, not humans.

There’s something for everyone -- the scary tick movie for adults, and plenty of activities for the younger crowd, including kid-friendly TV episodes, a ventriloquist tick puppet, and a petting zoo with live ticks - in containers and disease-free.

Doors open at 6 p.m. at Foellinger auditorium on the University of Illinois Urbana campus. Find more information about the festival on the group's Facebook page.

Hear the full interview with Berenbaum on SoundCloud:

Story source: WILL