If you think The Beatles were popular in the '60s, you haven't seen anything yet.
I visited the West Virginia Department of Agriculture's Insect Museum, and I met perhaps the biggest beetle fan since the mop-haired lads from England wanted to hold our hands. But these beetles don't sing, they just sit quietly in their little wooden display cases.
Laura Miller, whose official title is taxonomic entomologist, is actually a cross between a museum curator, a librarian, an explorer, a researcher and a laboratory technician. She walks between the 70-plus cabinets of the state's insect collection like a proud mama.
It looks innocuous enough when you arrive; the wood-tone cabinets look like they hold files. Then Laura opens a door and slides out a wooden case with a glass top, and visitors get to see the wildlife that's hiding behind those cupboard doors.
There are a quarter-million cataloged insects in there! There are butterflies, moths, pretty things, mean-looking creatures - and a whole lot of beetles. Probably a good third of the collection is Coleoptera, or beetle.
There's even a beetle that's blue and gold, and it graces the logo of the entomologists group in West Virginia. One particular case has beetles with evil-looking pincers on them. Of course, those are on the males, and they are used to fight for female attention, Laura explained with a laugh.
Laura truly loves insects. She admits they are all intent on eating away at our plant life, but she said part of the reason they become pests is because their natural predators and their natural habitats are often shrinking due to man's sprawl.
Weeds? Laura loves 'em. I want to invite her over just because she would actually appreciate my weeds! She said she's not too happy when she encounters a perfect lawn, complete with perfect flower beds. That's because many of the insects she tracks love the weeds that many folks want to pull. Not that she's crazy or anything. She concedes she's a bit frightened of wasps, "unless I have my net - then I feel a bit better."
I was comforted by the fact that Laura didn't mind that I kept calling them bugs instead of insects.
"They're all bugs until they are identified," she said in her soft voice, smiling. Born and raised in Mexico City, she received a master's degree from Marshall University and her wealth of knowledge about insects seems endless. She enjoys searching for insects as she hikes, and she seemed thrilled when I showed interest in her job and in the contents of all of those bug boxes.
Her co-worker, Berry Crutchfield, often fields calls and letters from West Virginians who have unidentified insects in their woods, yards or gardens.
He then can give recommendations for control of the pests. And when the entomologists at the West Virginia facility can't identify a strange creature, they have some high-tech tools that allow them to network with entomologists worldwide.