BOSTON NATURE ENCOUNTERS, PART 4: INSECTS, FLOWERS AND THOSE WHO DEFY DEFINITION

Our next “port of call” in blustery, frigid Boston was the Museum of Science and it offered a number of live exhibits in addition to many fascinating scientific showcases, most of which were interactive. The delighted squeals of the hordes of children who  were enjoying it  added to the wonder and energy of it all.

My readers  are well aware of my dueling emotions of fascination versus fear of flying insects.  Once again I had the opportunity to experience both as the Museum of Science not only had a lovely Butterfly Garden but also of collection of creepy, crawly and flying bugs.  Let’s start with the creatures that have been aptly described as “self propelled flowers” by science fiction writer Robert Heinlein.

The Butterfly Garden is narrower than the wide expanse of the Museum of Natural History’s Butterfly Conservatory in New York so it was a bit more difficult to maneuver around the foliage to catch the butterflies in a photo – here is a sampling:

The variety of butterflies and moths is astounding.  In the United States alone, over 750 and 11,000 species of butterflies and moths, respectively,  have been recorded thus far and there are thousands still not identified.

After the delicate beauty of these ethereal creatures, I wasn’t quite ready for the jolt of adrenaline activated by the next grouping of live exhibits – fortunately these are not free range:

The above is a weta  from New Zealand.  It’s name comes from the Maori word   “wetapunga” which means  “god of ugly things”.  The giant weta species is the heaviest insect in the world and can have a wingspan of 8 inches.  It is too heavy to fly but nevertheless I was quite unnerved – I am hoping I DO NOT run into its relative on my next international journey.

These honeybees actually did have a conduit into the open air – there was a tube attached to the hive that passed through the building to the outside.   However not one bee was willing to leave this cozy cuddling to venture into the below zero windchill.  I fully concur.

I have made great strides in facing my fears of flying insects through photography as I have chronicled in previous posts.  There is no amount of pics I can take however, to eliminate the terror of the next creature, and it isn’t even an insect at all:

This is a tarantula – the largest species of spiders in the world.  It is an arachnid – eight legs and two body segments.  Despite the fact that it cannot fly and it cannot get beyond its glass enclosure – I was unable to get closer – I still have shudders looking at this.

Back to harmless insects, but this next group has a bit of an identity crisis.  Leaf? Insect? Stick?

 

Even butterflies get into this act with a pitch perfect portrayal of a dry brown leaf, courtesy of Lenore:

No worries – the real flora have their moment in the sun to show how its done.   This collection of orchids is stunning:

 

And, courtesy of Lenore, this pitcher plant which has a surprising talent:

This tropical plant is carnivorous. The nectar which is found in the lip of the pitcher as well as in the interior of the pitcher is intoxicating.  When an insect drinks the nectar, it becomes disoriented and slips deep into the plant.  The movement of the insect triggers the pitcher plant to secrete acids and enzymes which kill and dissolve the insect into nutrients.

I didn’t get too close to the pitcher plant either.

#