A Bug's World

May 21-September 4, 2016

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Giant bugs are crawling into Sloan Museum! Trade sizes with an insect and find bugs looming large in this interactive exhibit. Learn about entomology—the study of insects—while exploring common backyard species magnified 40-120 times their size in scientifically accurate animatronic detail. Aspiring entomologists will investigate giant replicas of 5 species: Chinese praying mantis, stick bug, swallowtail butterfly caterpillar, desert locust, and rhinoceros beetle. Watch as the caterpillar edges its way around a massive bug-collecting net and the praying mantis hides and hisses behind a veil of dangling grass. Crawl through a wormhole to see two giant beetles knock horns, battling for territory.

Visitors will walk through a giant microscope lens, seem to shrink, and then encounter five gigantic robotic insects up to 200 times life size! Created by the Kokoro Company (makers of the dinosaurs in our recent “Dinosaurs Return"), these creatures move in life-like fashion in natural settings, including scenic backgrounds, giant leaves and grass, authentic insect sounds, and low dramatic lighting.

Rhinoceros Beetle: Two male horned beetles, members of the scarab beetle family will battle each other in horned combat. From the order Coloptera, meaning “sheath wing,” these 11-foot-long beetles have two armor like front wings that cover and protect the transparent wings used for flying.

Chinese Praying Mantis: This 19-foot-long leaflike insect may look gentle (it’s name comes from its appearance of praying), but it’s actually one of the most intimidating hunters. Large eyes, strong legs and powerful jaws enable mantids to capture and eat other insects.  They even eat each other: females recycle males after mating! This robot will demonstrate its most threatening behavior.

Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar: This 15-foot-long wiggler represents one stage of the seemingly-magical process of metamorphosis.  Caterpillars hatch from eggs, and are the larval stage of the process. Growing in five steps, called instars, by molting or shedding its skin as it gets bigger caterpillars finally attach to a leaf and become a pupa. A chrysalis forms around it and provides protection for the several months needed to develop adult legs, mouthparts and wings. Finally, a beautiful butterfly emerges from the cocoon and the process begins again!

Desert Locust: These grasshoppers travel in swarms, eating crops, grass, trees and anything else in their way. This robot is 12 feet long, and demonstrates the powerful legs that enable this animal to jump phenomenal distances, up to forty times the length of its own body!

Stick Insect: 21½ feet long, this bug demonstrates the art of insect camouflage. Mimicking branches or twigs by imitating their appearance and motion, these strict vegetarians employ this strategy to hide from their predators.

Magnifying glasses four feet in diameter will add another face-to-face opportunity, bringing the antennae, eyes and mouthparts of a mosquito, bee and dragonfly into closeup view. Hands-on controls let visitors manipulate the mouthparts on these heads and see how chewing, sucking and soaking feeding strategies are accomplished.

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