Take a close look at life on the road – insect life! High-resolution images and real specimens showcase the surprising beauty and diversity of often-unseen insects found along roadsides and powerlines, and in yards and neighborhoods. Learn about the pollinator conservation research program at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Daniels Lab that aims to provide flowering habitats in these areas for some of our state’s most important, but underappreciated wildlife. Watch actual footage of insect activity in these environments and get a behind-the-scenes look at the imaging system used in the museum’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity to capture photographs of these tiny creatures.
- Twelve real specimens and high-resolution images of some of Florida’s tiniest insects, including the cattail mosquito, kudzu bug and chalcid wasp, showcase their detail and beauty.
- Located opposite the exhibit are the McGuire Center’s research labs where visitors can get a live look at the scientists working to help these insect populations.
- Not all bees live in hives. Some, such as the hibiscus and blue calamintha bees, work and live alone.
- Green mantisflies are neither mantids nor flies. They get their name from their mantis-like appearance and their method of catching small insect prey with their spiny front legs.
- In order to take photos of these tiny insects, some of which are just a few millimeters in length, the Daniels Lab uses a technique called focus stacking to capture multiple images, each with a small part of the specimen in focus. These are then combined into a single image that showcases the entire insect.
The Insect Effect
With an estimated 5.5 million species, insects are the most diverse group of animals on the planet. More than one million have been named by scientists — and many more have yet to be discovered. In fact, insects account for 80% of animal life on Earth. But, both the number and diversity of insects are declining around the globe due to habitat loss, pollution and climate change. Without widespread action, many of these important creatures face extinction within the next few decades.
This October, the Museum is hosting events all about pollinators! We might not be able to celebrate butterflies, bees and other pollinators in person at our popular ButterflyFest, but we can learn about pollinators and how to support them in our gardens virtually this year. Take part in gardening and photography workshops as well as an online plant sale!
This exhibit was produced in collaboration with Florida Museum researchers Jaret Daniels, Kristin Rossetti, Matthew Standridge and Andrei Sourakov and Jonathan Bremer with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Video was created by Chris A. Johns. Daniels Lab research funded by Florida Department of Transportation.