OUR INSECT FRIENDS: We do not believe the world has to be broken down into people who go "ew" at the sight of a creepy-crawly bug and the people who reach down to pick the bug up, the better to admire it at close range. There's probably a lot of cross-over there; all of us know that insects are a vital and positive force on our planet, serving many rolls, and some if not all of us would get a strange sensation to have eighty wee legs brushing against our palm all at once. But the proliferation of fine insect fairs and festivals has done much to raise the bug's small profile in recent years, especially with the younger set; our young'uns love their butterflies and caterpillars and grasshoppers. If that is your young'un, and you like yourself a lovely ladybug now and then, too, then scurry up to Encinitas and the San Diego Botanic Garden, which will host an Insect Festival on Saturday, July 14 and Sunday, July 15.
BUTTERFLIES AND BEYOND: Yep, the superstars of the winged world will be in the house -- or, er, the outdoors -- but so will a lot of other neato creatures. We want to see the bee hive and the live beetles and the carnivorous plants (nope, carnivorous plants are not bugs, but we hear that the plants do favor a bug or two for dinner, now and then). The fair is on from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, and your Botanic Garden admission gets you in. So, creepy-crawly or totally cool? Let's all settle on the second choice and celebrate the bajillions of insects we share this big planet with, 'kay? ("Bajillions" is not the technical term, of course; the Smithsonian puts the number closer to 10 quintillion. Call it a whole bunch.