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In Character with Kristie Reddick and Jessica Honaker

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - There are plenty of creepy crawly things  moving about where Bug Chicks Kristie Reddick and Jessica Honaker live. The tarantula on  Reddicks elbow is Shemp, and the Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches on Honakers nose and hand are Trina and LiddyKristie Reddick and Jessica Honaker are best friends who visit schools, libraries and museums with their many little friends, making presentations as the Bug Chicks. We’ll let them explain.

Portland Tribune: As I understand it, chicks eat bugs. Just what are you two up to?

Kristie Reddick: We could have been the Bug Girls, but there’s a very famous female entomologist blogger called Bug Girl, and we didn’t want to step on her toes.

Tribune: I didn’t think chicks had toes.

Reddick: Chicks have talons. We are females who study insects.

Tribune: So then you don’t eat bugs?

Jessica Honaker: We do and have. People all over the world eat bugs. Why shouldn’t we?

Tribune: Favorite bug dish?

Honaker: David George Gordon’s Jamaican Jerk Crickets. He has a cookbook of recipes to make bug dishes, and his Jamaican Jerk Crickets are crunchy, a little salty, spicy, like happy, upbeat music in your mouth.

Tribune: And I thought you loved bugs. Here I find you consume them.

Reddick: We do love bugs. We’ve created our entire career and lifestyle around this company where we teach people about insects.

Tribune: So how did you become fascinated with bugs?

Reddick: When I was little, I desperately wanted a pet. I shared a bedroom with my sister, and I smuggled into the house a caterpillar in a shoebox. My sister told on me, and when I went back to the shoebox the caterpillar was gone. It had chewed a hole through the shoebox and escaped in our bedroom.

I told my sister without sunlight it would never turn into a butterfly. It would continue to grow larger and larger and probably live underneath her bed. She cried a lot. Now her kids watch our Bug Chicks videos.

Tribune: Is there a bug you don’t like?

Honaker: Crickets. I don’t like to hold them in my hands. I don’t like the way they jump. When you enclose them in your hands and they try to jump you can feel them pinging against your skin.

Tribune: The school kids must enjoy the show. Any kid in particular come to mind?

Reddick: We were teaching at a local library. There was a 2-year-old boy, and he was holding everything, insect-wise. I put a giant cockroach in his hands, and he looked at me and whispered, “I am a superhero.” He felt so powerful and brave to hold this giant cockroach, that he felt he could do anything after that.

Tribune: I get it. You like bugs. But if there’s a cockroach in your bedroom what do you do?

Reddick: We own cockroaches. We’d put it back in its cage. But if it’s not one of ours, I just name it and leave it alone. A stink bug landed on Jessica’s mouse pad the other day. She named it Sid and he’s been flying around the house and landing on us. We pick him up and say, “Hello,” and put him on the table.

Tribune: You two travel around a lot in search of bugs, right?

Reddick: Jess and I slept in a two-person tent for six months in Kenya while I was doing my masters research on camel spiders.

Tribune: Six months? How long can it take to know everything there is about camel spiders?

Reddick: We know almost nothing. They’re not true spiders.

Tribune: So we know almost nothing because they lie a lot?

Reddick: They’re rare, not many people study them. Most of them are nocturnal, and a lot of people are terrified of them. They’ve got lobster claws that come off the front of their face and they chew their food instead of envenomating it. True spiders use venom to inject their prey.

Tribune: What’s the difference between insects and bugs?

Honaker: All bugs are insects but not all insects are bugs. Insects have three body parts and six legs. Bugs are a type of insect. Their wings fold in an X over their backs and they have a long needle-like mouth part called a rostrum.

Tribune: So you’re not really Bug Chicks, but more like Insect Chicks, right?

Reddick: We’re actually Arthropod Chicks. Arthropods are animals with exoskeletons and jointed legs. Spiders, crustaceans, millipedes, centipedes are all arthropods.

Tribune: But Arthropod Chicks wouldn’t work, would it?

Reddick: No, it’s bad branding.