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Bug Bonanza Goes Behind the Scenes

Jason Weintraub gives Entomology Collection tour

August 1, 2012

Did you know that beetles are the single most diverse lineage of living things? There are dung beetles, stag beetles, ground beetles—even ladybugs are beetles! What about the most recognizable, famous butterflies on the planet—those iridescent blue-winged beauties? Did you know that they’re part of the Morpho genus, many members of which are named for Greek and Roman mythological figures?

Here at the Academy, we think bugs are so cool that we’re devoting the entire month of August to them. Join us throughout our bug bonanza to take behind-the-scenes tours of the museum’s Entomology Collection, which is home to more than 4 million wacky, weird, and wonderful preserved bugs. When you take a tour during August, there’s no telling what sorts of exciting critters you might encounter! Cicadas, flies, centipedes, and moths all inhabit our cabinets, cases, and jars, but you might also discover some rarer specimens with the help of Entomology Collection Manager Jason Weintraub and Curatorial Assistant Greg Cowper.

While our collection is especially strong in insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, roaches, and mantids, it also features thousands of other species from all over the world. The Academy’s hidden treasures include a giant walking stick that was thought to be extinct until its recent rediscovery on a South Pacific island; the world’s deadliest insect, a pest so common it’ll make you shiver; and a tiny parasite that lodges itself in the bodies of hosts like wasps and cockroaches (learn more about this order of insects, Strepsiptera, here). You could never even imagine the number of insects our collection boasts, some of the places they come from, and their differing shapes, sizes, and colors.

Which specimens will you see when you come to the Academy? Every day holds special surprises! For this truly extraordinary opportunity to get up close and personal with bugs of all kinds, visit the museum Thursdays through Mondays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. throughout the month. You can sign up for a behind-the-scenes tour at the Admissions Desk on the day of your visit, or you can call 215-299-1167 for more information. The tours are $7.50 for nonmembers and $5 for members, ages 8 and up. You won’t want to miss this one-of-a-kind opportunity to see some of the most diverse and fascinating creatures the Academy has to offer!