Enter a ‘Lord of the Rings’ type bugs encounter

 

The Orchid Mantis is attractive and deadly. It is among the Field Museum's Fantastic Bug Encounters. (J Jacobs photo)
The Orchid Mantis is attractive and deadly. It is among the Field Museum’s Fantastic Bug Encounters. (J Jacobs photo)

 

You don’t have to be interested in entomology to enjoy and be fascinated by the new exhibit opened the end of June  at Chicago’s Field Museum. You are even likely to go home from the exhibit, called “Fantastic Bug Encounters!” with some interesting facts to pass along such as how one of the species, the jewel wasp, performs’ brain surgery” on cockroaches to turn them into zombies.

Meet the bees in their hive. (J Jacobs photo
Meet the bees in their hive. (J Jacobs photo

By the way, the word “fantastic” is a perfect description because the exhibition is on loan from New Zealand’s famed Te Papa Tongarewa museum where it developed the exhibition with the Academy Award-Winning Weta Workshop.

Think “Lord of the Rings” and you will walk in prepared for what you will encounter. The Weta Workshop produced sets, costumes, weapons, armour, and creatures for director Peter Jackson’s film trilogy. And Weta is the name of a giant, flightless prehistoric cricket group native to New Zealand.

So be warned, you walk into giant, pod-like homes of such real bug creatures as the Japanese honey bee and the jewel wasp. Take a selfie if you dare turn your back on one of them.

But for those visitors who would like to know more about the insects and some spiders, there are several interactive stations that tell about different creatures’ wing design, camouflage, speed, reflexes and superpowers.

Not all of insects will be dead. The exhibit includes a small Live Bug Zoo where a museum staffer will handle some of them so visitors can see them up close.

A Field Museum staffer holds a patent leather beetle for visitors from the Chicago Park district to see. (J Jacobs photo)
A Field Museum staffer holds a patent leather beetle for visitors from the Chicago Park district to see. (J Jacobs photo)

These encounters are on the hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a patent leather beetle, a lubber grasshopper, a death feigning beetle and a Madagascar hissing cockroach.

Plus, there are some live bugs in glass enclosures to see and not touch such as the emperor scorpion, a stick mantis and a pink-toed tarantula.

“Bugs are weird, beautiful, and fascinating creatures, and we’re proud to be able to share them with visitors of all ages in Fantastic Bug Encounters!” said Jaap Hoogstraten, Field Museum Exhibitions Director. “This exhibition is full of gorgeous larger-than-life models that show what these animals look like close-up and how they’ve perfectly adapted to the world around them—our visitors will never look at bugs the same way again.”

DETAILS: Fantastic Bug Encounters!” is at the Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, on Chicago’s museum campus near Soldier Field, Chicago now through April 19, 2020. For hours and ticket information call (312) 922.9410 and visit Field Museum.

Jodie Jacobs

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