We'd already been on the Fishes and Birds tours, but all of us interns in the Pritzker Lab missed out on the Insect Collections tour. Thanks greatly to the awesome Assistant Curator Corrie Moreau, we were able to sit in with some U of Chicago up and coming teachers for a private tour instead. Especially cool was the fact that there is an exhibit - The Romance of Ants - dedicated entirely to Corrie, how she became a scientist, and her work with ants (which everyone should definitely check out).
Walking in the the room itself was magnificent and exhilarating. All of the "special" creatures were out (you know, the ones they always have available for Members' Night and such) and personally, I have never seen anything like it. Box after box had colorful beetles, huge moths and even jewelry made from different insects. We were told about Corrie's favorite piece of jewelry: a bejeweled beetle with a very long life expectancy...that you can wear as it turns into a live action brooch!
After some explanations we were introduced to some very alive insects. While I was horrified of the jumping spider, Corrie calmly removed it from the cage and showed us. The same happened with a scorpion...thankfully we weren't allowed to touch them. But then came the Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. And let me tell you, they sure do hiss. If you couldn't tell already, I'm not a bug person; ants scare me, as do bees and beetles. But I held one! It was very calm, barely moving the whole time.
That was all fun up until the tarantula came out. Considering every spider horrifies me, it took me a but to agree to hold one, and I surprised myself. When I say I'm horrified, I'm not exaggerating. Every spider: the smallest baby one, the red ones, the big (relatively to me) ones, even daddy long legs. But I held it! As gross and freaky as it sounds, the tarantula barely felt like a spider; it was delicate, light, and adorable. I wanted to hold it as long as I could.
So, lesson learned...you never know what you can find in the insects room.