"I'm not saying I'm not all those things, but I work to translate science into something entertaining and interesting and that's when people learn. In other words, I'm not above hamming it up."
Raupp spent time this past week filming stink bugs during their last weeks of hyperactivity for 2011 at the Howard County Community Gardens off Oakland Mills Road. He'll post his latest video on the six-legged imports in a couple of weeks at bugoftheweek.com; currently he's blogging about webworms.
While he isn't giving away his "script" for this particular video, he does mention that his "CSI: Garden Pests" video, in which he impersonates Lt. Horatio Caine of TV's crime drama "CSI: Miami," has attracted nearly 1,300 views.
Meg Boyd Schumacher, executive director of the Howard County Conservancy, said his mid-August talk on managing stink bugs and other pests sold out at the nature facility in Woodstock, as anticipated.
"Mike has the ability to connect with his audiences and help them understand scientific things easily," and that's why his talks usually attract capacity crowds, she said. He also imparts advice people can use, like telling people to prevent stink bugs from entering homes this fall by caulking windows and doors and by screening ridge and gable vents.
But adults aren't his only fans.
The entomologist is giving a Wonder Walk for all ages at the Howard County Conservancy next weekend, where participants will observe "toxic" monarch butterflies, "parasitic" paper wasps, "cryptic" ambush bugs and "showy" milkweed bugs — insect descriptions courtesy of Raupp.
The scientist doesn't even have to be seen to get his message across, even though insects do make for compelling video.
"Mike could talk about dirt and people would listen, he has so much passion in his voice," said Tara Boyle, a managing producer at WAMU-FM radio, home of "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," on which Raupp is a frequent guest. "He's brought so much useful info to our news and talk-show listeners. He's one of our favorite guests by far."
Raupp said nature is wacky and he'll keep being wacky for as long as people want to be entertained while they learn, even though bugs have a distinct advantage in that scenario.
"Insects have been around for 320 million years, and they'll be here for another 320 million years," he said, "long after we all go the way of the dodo bird and become extinct."