People and Places

I like #bigbugs and I cannot lie. Sneak peek at the Museum of Nature’s “BUGS outside the box” exhibit

“Can you imagine if they were this size in real life?” Asked a woman on my right. “No.” I replied envisioning scenes from Stephen King’s movie, The Mist.

She was referring to the 16 sculptures of insects done by Italian artist, Lorenzo Possenti, scattered around the room, a larger-than-life addition to the Canadian Museum of Nature’s travelling exhibit BUGS outside the box which opens to the public Friday, Oct. 23 and will run until the end of March.

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Jumbo dragonfly sculpted by Italian artist Lorenzo Possenti.

The museum staff gamely wore antennae on their heads as they introduced the new exhibit and welcomed us to take photos, look, examine, and touch (certain things, not all). Here’s what I learned about the exhibit and the bugs:

  • Insects don’t have a brain. They have many neural cells that run throughout their bodies and can continue working even if a part of the insect is lost. Example: How does the male praying mantis continue getting busy after the female has eaten his head? He’s only lost the neural cells at the top of his body, the rest continue to work, including those located in the baby-making region.
  • They also don’t have lungs.
The stag beetle: how it breathes with no lungs and thinks with no brain.
  • There are not only models and dead bugs at the exhibit, but also live specimens chilling out in, and outside, of terraria.
  • There are interactive activities such as dung rolling (not actual dung), bug eye masks, and a microscope that you can control.
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The Goliath beetle (which came first, the beetle or the fable?) almost as big as my hand.
  • Robert Anderson is the resident scientist and he’s added to the travelling exhibit.
  • There are currently more than a million named species of insects in the world and it’s estimated there are more than 10 million waiting to be discovered.
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Beautiful bugs – a butterfly collage constructed by museum staff.
  • If there was a giant scale and you put all the humans in the world on one side and all the ants in the world on the other, the ants would be heavier.
  • There will be workshops on how to collect, pin, and display insects, as well as a pollination challenge visitors can participate in, and a 3-D movie coming to their theatre.
This ham was just begging me to take his photo.
  • Bugs cannot grow any bigger (thank goodness for that) because of their limited ability to get enough oxygen. Years and years and years ago, the climate was very different and there was more oxygen in the atmosphere. That’s how giant dragonflies and other critters used to exist.
  • Male mosquitos only eat plant nectar.

In addition to my newfound knowledge, I was given a pack of honey mustard crickets to try out, which I eagerly brought back to share with my co-workers (see video of us trying them here). They are a great source of protein, low in fat, and super low-impact on the environment. In fact, a few universities are adding them to their campus cafeterias. Would you try them?

Honey mustard crickets – high in protein, low in fat, and only natural ingredients: crickets, mustard seed, salt, granulated onion, orange peel, minced garlic, dried cane syrup, granulated honey, spices.