Lancaster students talk sex, bugs and rock at Glastonbury

From left, ecologists, Nick Loughlin (OU), Ali Birkett (Lancaster), Emma Sayer (Lancaster), Jo Griffin (Liverpool) and Nigel Fisher (Oxford) at Glastonbury Festival.
From left, ecologists, Nick Loughlin (OU), Ali Birkett (Lancaster), Emma Sayer (Lancaster), Jo Griffin (Liverpool) and Nigel Fisher (Oxford) at Glastonbury Festival.

Wellies (check), festival gear, (check), boxes of bugs and creepy crawlies....(check)!

Armed with tanks of worms, ladybirds and dung beetles, a group of Lancaster ecologists are ready for the Glastonbury Festival crowd.

Sex & Bugs & Rock ‘n Roll is a Lancaster University project set up to bring science to the community and beyond.

The team, who study the interrelationships between organisms and their environment, are joining hundreds of thousands at the largest greenfield festival in the world.

“One of the things that keeps us coming back is the amazing atmosphere, it is such a happy festival, everybody is cheerful and friendly,” said Dr Emma Sayer, leader of the project.

“You get immersed in your day job, it is not an easy job, work is getting scrutinized all the time so being able to create excitement is an amazing feeling, it helps you relive your love of science when people are really interested.”

The team have been running the project since 2013 and this is their third visit to Glastonbury.

This year’s theme, ‘The Hidden Wonders of Woodlands’ will give people the chance to see woods in a new light.

Festival-goers will also be able to contribute to research in a fun way by creating an image of their ‘ideal’ woodland.

A fake animal poo game is available too, where visitors have to guess which animal is which.

Dr Sayer said the crowd are generally enthusiastic but sometimes alcohol can play a part.

She said: “One guy pulled his trousers down in front of me before, offering to give me a specimen sample, I politely declined, all in good fun of course.”

The ‘Sex & Bugs & Rock ‘n Roll’ road show is championed by the British Ecological Society as a way of putting a human face to research.

“We are not old men, professors with white beards, we are early on in our careers, we love a music festival and a pint, we won’t throw clever jargon at you, just come and have a chat with us,” said Dr Sayer.

Temperatures have soared above 30C at Glastonbury (which takes place from June 21-25) and the team have set up their stall in the Green Futures Field to talk to the public about the Hidden Wonders of Woodlands.

So keeping the bugs cool is vitally important.

Water bottles are constantly being filled and ice packs are being used as a cooling system for the orange ladybirds, dung beetles and various types of worms. More via www.festivalbugs.org.