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opcorn? No thanks. Candy? Maybe later. Pass the maggot crispies and bug brownies, please!

Students at Iowa State U. will bypass traditional cinematic snack fare for more down-to-earth delicacies at this year's Insect Horror Film Festival. The gala, pinned down for Sept. 11 and 12, will celebrate its ninth year with two creepy-crawly movies - The Naked Jungle and Mothra.

But if these films aren't enough to give students butterflies in the stomach, the concession stand shouldn't disappoint. Students can sample from a variety of snacks - not gummy worms or chocolate-covered raisins, but mealworms and chocolate-covered crickets.

ISU senior Sarah Byers has brought her appetite for arthropods to the festival for the last three years. Her favorite delicacies are the chocolate-covered chirpies, which she says are "like chocolate-covered peanuts, only they don't taste like peanuts." Not a problem. She goes for the bug brownies, too. "The brownies are pretty good, but the legs stick in your teeth," she admits.

Every year, about 500 people show up for the free flicks event, which also features a butterfly tent and an insect petting zoo. ISU Entomology Club President Jennifer Remmers says students and local residents may be a little squeamish about the goodies, but there's always someone ready to dig in. "The little kids will always eat [the insect recipes] right away, while their parents will stand back and say, ‘Oh my God!'" she says.

Pat Miller, director of ISU's Committee on Lectures, says the festival is about more than just films and good eats - it also educates people about insects. Before each film, entomology professors offer some scientific solace - assuring festival-goers that genetic mutations like "The Fly" are only possible in Hollywood.

And as for the bug-laced treats? Miller says there's no need to call an exterminator when the day's done. "They run out of food every year!"

By Sarah Ziegler, Iowa State U./Illustration by Mario Luque, California Polytechnic State U., San Luis Obispo

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