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Cat causes bugaboo with 4-H entomology display

ana anthony/Daily Globe Megan Sauer, Adrian, is shown with her entomology collection before the judging session Wednesday at the Nobles County Fair.

WORTHINGTON -- Wednesday morning at the Nobles County Fairgrounds was a busy one for 4-H members as they scurried in and out of buildings for conference judging of their non-livestock projects.

Megan Sauer, a member of the Elk Tip Toppers 4-H Club, had brought in two glass-paneled boxes displaying her insect collection.

Inspired by a friend who used to exhibit his entomology collection at fairs, Sauer -- who was in third grade then -- decided she wanted to follow in his footsteps.

"My grandpa made both my collection boxes for me, and that's how I got started," she explained.

Since then, the soon-to-be junior at Adrian High School has collected insects from 45 categories. Between her two boxes, she has almost 100 insects. Flies, grasshoppers and butterflies are just a few of the bug species in her collection.

While most of her insects were caught in her backyard, Sauer has a few from out-of-state and a moth from Romania.

After catching the bugs, one can either place bugs in killing jars or freeze them for at least a day, she said.

"I like to freeze mine for three days because I had an incident when it came back to life after I pinned it," she said.

The next step, before pinning, is to place bugs in a relaxing jar to soften and spread the appendages without causing damage.

"When you pin it, it has to be on the right side of the thorax," Sauer explained. "The thorax is the middle part of the bug."

As a self-taught collector, most of the knowledge she garnered was through reading various insect and butterfly books. Her two favorite insect orders are Lepidoptera -- more commonly known as butterflies and moths -- and Odonata, or dragonflies.

Three days before the fair's entry day on Wednesday, Sauer's cat jumped on one of her boxes, reducing the number of her insect categories to 25.

"Usually when bugs are smashed, you can glue them together, but these ones were beyond repair," she said.

Every year, Sauer aims to add to her collection or replace older insects with new ones.

She has brought an entomology display to the Nobles County Fair every year since her collection began and was the only entomology exhibitor for a while until last year.

Twice, Sauer took her entomology display to the Minnesota State Fair as a trip winner. She enjoys talking to other collectors at the state fair and comparing her collection to theirs.

Having won grand champion in entomology at the Minnesota State Fair and overall grand champion in one of her earlier years at the Nobles County Fair, Sauer is hoping to get a "pretty nice ribbon" this year.

Today, 4-H'ers will learn who the purple ribbon winners are from Wednesday's judging session.

This morning is also livestock entry day at the Nobles County Fair. Afternoon events include the 4-H dairy show at noon, the 4-H rabbit show at 1:30 p.m. and the 4-H sheep show at 5 p.m., followed by the open class sheep show.