Did you know that the highest diversity of solitary bees on Earth lives in the Tucson Mountains or that the color (carmine) in red lipstick and eye shadow comes from insects that live on prickly pear cactus?

Neither did we, but with the Arizona Insect Festival happening at the University of Arizona on Sunday, Sept. 20, you’ll have the chance to learn more fun facts, get up close and personal with hundreds of six-legged critters and participate in insect-related activities.

Apparently, Arizona’s insect population puts us on the map with insect enthusiasts around the world.

“Arizona is home to some of the greatest insect biodiversity in the entire country,” said Wendy Moore, assistant professor and curator of the University of Arizona Insect Collection. “It is world famous amongst insect hobbyists and scientists alike for the phenomenal array of species that come out during the summer monsoon.”

The star of this year’s festival is the Apache cicada. Most people know them by their loud buzzing calls that fill the air during the summer.

“We chose the Apache cicada as our theme insect to bring this midday summertime singer out of the trees and into the limelight, to introduce Tucsonans to one of their most abundant and noisy neighbors,” Moore said.

The festival, in its fifth year, will feature 25 booths, most displaying different insects or related arthropods, such as scorpions. Some booths will have a specific focus, while others will have a broader theme, like how insect brains work.

The festival is designed for fun, education and inspiration.

“We are supported by the citizens of Arizona and want to give something back by connecting with our community, sharing our knowledge and our passion for studying insects and hopefully inspiring the next generation of insect scientists,” said Bruce Tabashnik, regents’ professor and head of the UA’s department of entomology.

Read on for more details and what to expect at the free festival.

Contact Angela Pittenger at

apitteng@tucson.com or 573-4137.

On Twitter: @CentsibleMama