Dr John Caldow visited the Stratford library recently to speak to kids about the benefits of insect diversity in ecosystems.

Caldow is an environmental education expert from Sale with a keen interest in the role biodiversity plays in maintaining healthy ecosystems.

He has been working with ‘Bug Blitz’ for 16 years and is the current program director

Dr Caldow believes he has talked to more than 40,000 students and taken over 150,000 photos of insects collected by young children.

“I think when we go out and we’re finding bugs, we’ve got the greatest bug collection force in the world. No one is better at finding bugs then children,” he said.

“We found some strange things. Maybe even a new species of an interesting huntsman in the local area. A kid found it about 10 years ago, but it may be an undiscovered species of huntsman.”

As part of his school holiday program, Dr Caldow has been visiting libraries in the Gippsland region.

He visited the Rosedale, Sale, Maffra, Startford and Yarram libraries.

Dr Caldow said he enjoys the travelling aspect of his work.

“I never feel tired, because it’s always a pleasure to work with children, and their parents and grandparents, I love it,” he said.

“When you’re doing what you love you don’t feel tired.”

Dr Caldow has a Gunaikurnai assistant called Electra Greene, who thinks people often forget how important insects are to society.

“Our bugs are really important to the environment. If you don’t have bugs, we don’t get all the things that make the Earth go round,” she said.

The event was part of a wider school holiday program in Wellington Shire libraries themed around insects.

Nothing to fear

In the cozy nooks of our local library, nestled among shelves of books, an event unfolded that captured the curiosity and fear of young minds.

Dr. John Caldow, a man with a passion for the tiny creatures that inhabit our world, began his presentation by pulling a little spider, half the size of an index finger out of its enclosure.

He opened “Now kids, this is what we call a ‘social huntsman’ and it can’t hur…”

Before John could even finish his sentence a young girl in pink clothes, no more than four years old, let out a shriek, began crying and ran to her mother.

This is what John would call a common but irrational panic.

“My experience with huntsman spiders and spiders in general, we’ve caught tens of thousands of huntsman spiders and spiders in general over the years and they’re usually very small. But even the bigger ones, like the huntsman … as long as they’re handled properly, they’re actually very nice creatures, we’ve totally misunderstood them. We have built Arachnophobia.”