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The Slice: Nature calls for a contest

Sun., July 3, 2011

Adults and children tend to have different opinions when it comes to one aspect of summer.

Most grown-ups don’t really appreciate insects.

But a lot of little kids find them fascinating. So, with that in mind, I’m announcing The Slice’s “Help, I’m a Bug” Contest.

(The name comes from a classic Calvin and Hobbes strip. Calvin’s mom has been typing a letter to her mother, but she has to step away for a moment. When she returns to the typewriter, she discovers that Calvin, now nowhere to be seen, has typed – in the middle of the letter – “Help I’m a bug.”)

I’ve had a tendency to ignore the rules when it comes time to judge Slice contests lately. So let’s not get bogged down in too many specifics at this point.

But here’s the basic idea. All you have to do enter is submit original photography, drawings, short essays or poetry about the insects of summer.

I’m sort of thinking this is mostly for kids. Still, I certainly wouldn’t discourage or penalize parental assistance. Family projects are fine.

The entry deadline is July 20. Be sure to include your daytime phone number.

There will be modest prizes. (If you were thinking of submitting work that is not your own, don’t bother. There’s no cash to be won here.)

If you are stuck for an idea, here’s one.

Years ago, a WSU entomologist told me how someone can find out what sort of bugs live nearby. Peel a banana and leave it out in your yard for a few days, he said. Maybe under a bush.

If you don’t have a yard, try a park.

So if you want to do that and then take a picture of the resulting banana-based activity, that’s one way to go.

Yes, I recognize that there’s an “ick” factor here. But that’s one reason this is focused on kids. Many of them haven’t been taught yet to regard the natural world as disgusting.

One last thing. Give yellowjackets and such a wide berth.

You won’t win by getting stung.

Today’s Slice question: Without passing judgment or going off on a values trip … the quintessential Inland Northwest family has how many children?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email Check out The Slice Blog at There are only 16 things better than hearing that you have no cavities and do not need to come back for any fillings.

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