Big, beautiful bugs

If you’re feeling bugged by all the six-legged creatures crawling around now that the weather is warmer, try taking a new look at the creatures who share our space. Huge insects—some more than 25 feet long—have descended on the Morton Arboretum as part of a traveling exhibit of gargantuan bugs.

From a 50-pound bumble bee to a 1,200-pound Praying Mantis, the sculptures magnify insects through the use of metal armatures with wood sculpted around it. Twelve insects have a temporary home at the arboretum, with two of them taking up residence in the arboretum’s lake.

The sculptures are built mainly of trees, dried branches, tree roots and green saplings. The huge bugs are designed to encourage families to learn more about bugs and how they help trees.

“You’ll never be able to see a bug that big,” says Anamari Dorgan, manager of Interpretation and Exhibits for the arboretum."It’s designed to encourage families to discover and explore the outdoor world.”

As part of the exhibit, which runs through July 20, families can take part in the many drop-in bug activities planned daily—from Build-A-Bug to Wear-a-Bug."What a family will probably do is go visit the bug sculptures and then stop in the Children’s Garden and make a day of it,” says Kathy Johnson, manager of the Children’s Garden.

The activities during the week are mainly drop-in crafts, but weekend activities include more extensive programs. For example, during the Dragons, Frogs and Pollywogs Festival kids can use microscopes to examine pond life and compare the lifecycle of a dragonfly to that of a toad.

“We did some research before we brought the exhibit in and we realized that kids like bugs when they’re little, but that goes away and kids get more fearful as they get older,” Dorgan says."We want to change that and Big Bugs is so dramatic.”

Arboretum staff members also hope kids take away an interest in bugs and use that to examine the bugs in their own backyard."We want kids to become bug detectives,” Dorgan says.

The bugs are designed by artist David Rogers and visiting the sculptures is included in the price of an arboretum admission ($9, $6 for kids 3-17, free kids 2 and under). The Morton Arboretum is located at 4100 Illinois Route 53 in Lisle. For more information visit its Web site at or call (630) 968-0074.

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