Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting the owner of perhaps the most extensive live insect store in the country, known to his clients as Ken The Bug Guy. Along with his adorable family, he was the main host of the short-lived-but-fabulous Buggin’ Out series on the Science Channel, two episodes of buggy-awesomeness that I highly recommend you watch. At one point, his two year old daughter handles a large live scorpion (sans stinger), affectionately named Stumpy.
I drove over an hour out to his shop in Concord, CA — all the while amazed at my luck that it was only that far to get to such a place. Ken’s shop is the number one bug-supplier in the US, which is why they rarely have time to answer the phone. I realized that if I wanted the real skinny on this bug business, I’d have to show up in person.
Ken’s shop is small, but packed to the brim with bugs of all sorts, as well as cool supplies like blacklights (for hunting scorpions, which fluoresce), insect anatomy models, bug jewelry, ant farms, etc., etc. It’s also piled high with crazy insects you wouldn’t want let loose in your house.
I initially approached Ken with caution, not certain he would be on board with the whole entomophagy thing, but I figured he spent much of his time feeding insects to other insects, so it was worth a shot. Like a good businessman, Ken was gracious to me and my goals, and was incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. He brought out some very impressive species for me to eye-sample: Domino cockroaches, giant cave roaches, millipedes, wind scorpions, tarantulas of all shapes and sizes (with prices ranging from $10 to $600), and scorpions of all colors and levels of venom, some with a deadly sting. To be blunt, it was frickin’ rad. I must admit that I dropped an uncharacteristic amount of money there, and walked away with a veritable smor-bugs-bord.
Although the majority of the bugs I bought are meant for eating, I was particularly drawn to one of the Rose Hair Tarantulas, and I’ve decided to adopt her. She is a real beauty, with an iridescent pink carapace, and leg hair as soft as bunny fur. I can’t believe I am actually adopting a spider as a pet, but it’s amazing how quickly invertebrates can crawl into your heart. I can’t wait to buy her cool stuff for her terrarium and go out and catch her some crickets. I guess we’re two of a kind, as we’re both enthusiastic entomophagists.
Thanks, Ken The Bug Guy. Thanks a LOT. ; )