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“What’s Bugging You?” Returns as a New Animated Series

steve and art with bugs
(Image: VPM/David Vinson)

What’s Bugging You?

Entomologist Dr. Art Evans and radio producer Steve Clark, co-hosts of VPM’s popular and long running radio program What’s Bugging You?, have joined forces once again. Their engaging, wide-ranging, and humorous explorations into the world of insects and entomology are presented now for the first time on screen as a new animated series. 

The radio program was based on Art’s book, “What’s Bugging You – A Fond Look at the Animals We Love to Hate,” drawn from a collection of 50 monthly columns published in the Richmond-Times Dispatch. The book is chock full of short essays inspired by his experiences in the field and are peppered with fascinating bits of insect natural history. Art explains that “I have long held that there are two kinds of people—those that love insects and those that don’t yet know that they love insects. I always try to target my books, lectures, interviews and other entomological endeavors at both of these audiences. It was pure luck that I found such a sympathetic ear in Steve Clark.”

Over the years, VPM radio producer Steve Clark has been associated with several long-running radio programs popular with VPM radio audiences, including A Moment in Time and The Sound of Swing. One fateful day, Steve just happened to be wearing his radio engineer hat when Art came into the studio for an interview on a call-in NPR gardening show based in North Carolina. The rest, as they say, is history. 

“I’ve always been aware of insects, bugs, spiders, and other arthropods ranging from crab lice to crab imperial,” shares Steve Clark.  “ During most of my life, bugs were dangerous, annoying, scary looking or they were agricultural, garden and household pests. During the decade of our radio series What’s Bugging You?, I became the perfect know-nothing layman to whom Dr. Art Evans introduced hundreds of fascinating creatures. Many had strange, startlingly bizarre life cycles, and I found I loved bugs, the creepier the better, as he suggested I might. Art and this project opened my eyes to the natural world like nothing else ever had. I’ll never see bugs and life quite the same. Entomology it turns out can be wonderfully hilarious.”

VPM’s new What’s Bugging You? animated series leans into the crazy, fun and hilarious aspects of the insect world. It asks the question of when is a bug a true bug? How do I find those insects hiding in plain sight? What in the world is a booger beetle and a fecal shield? All these answers and more are uncovered in the new videos through artfully illustrated and accurate depictions of insects and their surroundings.

Each video captures the look of a field notebook, with handwritten observations and illustrations. Inspired by entomologists' collections, animator David Vinson shares, “I wanted the labels to have typewritten and handwritten text, like you would see in a case of pinned insect specimens with notes and scientific names. As for the insects themselves, I wanted them to have the illustrative quality of a field guide. Even though it was all created digitally, I still wanted it to look like the elements could have been made by hand.”

Whether you love insects or you just don’t know you love them yet, we think you’ll enjoy this series. Not only is it fun, gross, weird, and strange, it’s also educational and entertaining. You’ll learn more about the insects that are all around us as you stop and wonder “what’s bugging you?”

Get started now for there’s a lot to explore in the new animations and in the archive of radio segments at What's Bugging You?.