Come one, come all to the most jaw dropping spectacular you’re liable to see in this lifetime! Enter if you dare, for behind this curtain lies Dr. Entemo’s Palace of Exotic Wonders a traveling exhibit now on display at the San Diego, CA Natural History Museum in Balboa Park.
Hurry, hurry hurry folks! This exhibit opened on February 22nd, and will run through May. Within you will find yourself transported into the curious world of insects. Insects are scientific marvels, with a strange and marvelous biology all their own. Delving into the insect kingdom is as close as many of us might dare come to interacting with a truly alien species!
As you first enter, you’ll be greeted by former insects now on display. In life, these quick critters seem to be always on the go, but here, frozen in time, you can take the opportunity to see how fascinating their construction really is. These arthropods, actually ear their skeleton on the outside of their bodies, protecting their soft insides from harm. Can you imagine what you’d look like if you did the same?
Many of the things which you’ve only seen in movies actually come true in the kindgom of insects!
Zombie Mind Slaves!
The horsehair worm for instance, lays it’s larvae in water. The larvae lay in wait for other insects in larval form to devour them, but it’s all a trick! Once eaten, the worm larvae is not digested, but grows inside it’s host, waiting for their body to die. Here on display is a Jerusalem cricket, infected by a horsehair worm, and here’s where the story takes on a terrifying twist. When a cricket somehow manages to eat a horsehair worm, usually by consuming an insect already infected, the worm takes control of the cricket’s body. Crickets are not fans of the water, and not at all equipped for swimming, but under control of the worm, they are driven to jump into the nearest puddle and drown themselves. This allows the horsehair worm to escape, and lay it’s eggs, continuing the cycle.
Prehistoric Monstrosities Unleashed!
For years Artic explorers have reported a large hairy mass lodged in the ice. It was not until the “Comafit Expedition” in 1901 that part of this mass was extracted. It appeared to be a gigantic, leg and claw of a spider. How gigantic? Well just look at this picture!
No, that’s no crab claw. One look at the creature trapped in ice is proof enough of that!
However, it wasn’t a spider either. An expedition in 1954 was able to extract the head of this beast, which appeared to be that of a gigantic “nasute” termite! “Nasute is the soldier class of termites, charged with protecting the queen. They do this by spraying sticky threads from a nozzle in their forehead. Imagine something the size of your dog able to glue you to the floor with s blast of sticky goo from it’s head! What’s more, these soldiers are tiny compared to their queen, who is the biggest termite of them all! Can you imagine how big she must have been?
Yet it wasn’t a termite either! An examination of the abdomen and forelegs of this beast closely resembled that of a “Formacine” ant. These legs are hairless, unlike the hind legs. Formacine ants use these legs to secrete acid as a defense mechanism.
Because no one could say for sure what this animal was it was labeled TerAnTUla, part termite, part ant, part spider! Was it real or was it all a hoax? According to “The Bluffington Bugle” the parts of this as of yet unidentified arthropod were sold at auction in 1972. You’ll have to look at the evidence provided in the exhibit and decide for yourself!
Strange Glowing Entities
Though no one seems to know exactly why, a true scorpion will glow under ultra violet light!
Entomologists, or scientists who study arthropods (a scorpion is not an insect, it’s an arachnid) will go searching for these little marvels using portable black-lights! There are over 1500 species of scorpions out there, but only 20 are considered deadly. Still, their sting packs a wallop, so always check your shoes and shake out your clothes and sheets in the morning and at night to be sure you don’t have a run in.
The male Asian Stag Beetle uses three chitinous horns to fight off competitors for territory. The goal is to claim the largest amount of territory for oneself, and control over the resulting females who may wander through.
The Dung Beetle is an unusual creature that will gather up animal scat or dung and roll it into a ball. This ball is used for either food, or in the case of a brooding ball, a place to keep fertilized eggs until they hatch are mature enough to emerge on their own. While it might seem a little (or a lot gross, depending on how strong your stomach is) these beetles are incredibly helpful to our environment. By collecting and consuming dung, they are constantly replenishing the nutrients in soil so that plants can grow.
These creatures were considered sacred by the Egyptians who linked the beetle rolling a ball of dung across the desert to their god of the rising sun Khepri, who moved the sun across the sky. While these beetles are very impressive, the Egyptians were mistaken in their belief that all beetles were male, and that they were able to create new beetles from their dung balls by mystical means. Dung beetles are both male and female, and the new beetles that emerge have been waiting inside for a while.
The Mummy Lives!
The ancient Egyptians also believed that mummifying a body after death could preserve it so that the dead might reenter it and live again. This is a type of metamorphosis which we have never been able to witness come to pass. However, insects achieve metamorphosis every day! It is a process very similar to mummification in some ways.
These Darkling Beetle Larvae are busy consuming, preparing their bodies for the change.
The larval insect sheds it’s skin, and develops a hard, chitinous coating around it’s body to protect itself. This is called a chrysalis (a cocoon is when an insect spins an enclosure of silk around it’s body for the same reason.) In the Darkling Beetle however, the larvae sheds it’s skin to become a strange, immobile creature as shown here. Like a mummy, the beetle now appears to be dead, but just wait!
Here the Darklings have emerged from their slumber and began life anew as Beetles.
This is only a smattering of all the things there are waiting for you at Dr. Entemo’s Palace of Exotic Wonders. If you can’t make it to San Diego, check out the exhibit online, here http://www.drentomo.com/EntomoWebBanners/index.htm or check and see when this traveling show will be crawling into your town.