In The Lion’s Den

Last Saturday I went, accompanied by my father and Boyfriend, to the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History to attend the 21st Annual Bug Fair.  Why?  Because there is something strangely attractive about facing a caged enemy. To be in the presence of the foe within a controlled environment. And fear, after all, can arouse a twisted curiosity all its own.

Inside we saw it all:  insects – dull and metallic, looking like sticks, looking like leaves, looking like miniature dragons, looking like tiny dinosaurs, possessing more legs than was seemingly decessary – were impaled on pins and displayed throught the first floor of the museum.  Children, who should also have been impaled on pins, dashed -unheeding – underfoot.

There were live displays, too:

A giant millipede crawling up one's arm feels like, for those who might have wondered, a bristle brush suddenly come to life, with every bristle moving in a different direction.  I asked the handler if it was likely to grow any more, and he said yes, it was a possibility.  I then remarked that there really didn't seem to be any point.  It being a giant already, and all.


An orange-kneed tarantula balanced on my hands – trying to make sense of the plain of rings and knuckles – walking tentatively at first, then stopping to pose for thte camera: 


At another table, feeling drunk with power at that point, I saw that one of the tanks was carrying the (sting-less) whip-tailed scorpion  was open, and asked if I could hold it.  The handler didn't think that this was such a brilliant idea and offered a Madagasgar Hissing Cockroach in its place:


I had to pet this monstrosity, as I was told that it 'liked' it.  I didn't want the roach to go all mental and hissing on me, so I had to do so:


I was called 'a very brave lady', to which I answered that if he didn't want to see the brave lady suffer a complete meltdown, this roach had better be taken off my hands.  Forthwith.


I saw writhing balls of worms,  I saw the dreaded potato bug – clearly a baby, as it wasn't yet the size of my fist (it's also called 'Child of the Earth' which would be rather charming, if it wasn't for the fact that it was a potato bug), I had a most interesting conversation with an isopod expert about the sea roach – a creature in appearance so disgusting, so aesthetically offensive, that I will not dent my blog with a link to any type of image.  Dent your own imaginations, if you must. 


I spoke with a woman about leeches, and mentioned how maggots were used to clean wounds, a treatment which she confirmed was making a comeback.     


Live insects were on sale – purchased chiefly by teenagers who no doubt thought it was edgy and dangerous to have a bug as a pet.  I was able to find it my heart to pity an insect whose well-being would now be in the hands of a 13 year-old.


Then we escaped.  I kept asking Boyfriend if he wanted to go in for any insect face-painting, but he was having none of it.


Outside we made our second stop:  The Pavilion of Wings; in short, an aviary for butterflies.  Only a few people were allowed in at a time; when it was our turn we stepped carefully into a very lovely place:   


There were handfuls of gardens and treelets distributed throughout this little screened world.  And everywhere there flew petals of color and swatches of patterns, as if a tapestry had been torn to pieces and thrown into the wind where they had taken life and flight. 


Butterflies fluttered in front of my face or rested on leaves, their wings panting.   The colored dust powdering their wings glittered in the sun like a thick, velvety frost. 


I saw a butterfly resting on a rock border, being watched very closely by a young boy, maybe 8 years old.  He was so intent, I just knew he was thinking how many blows of his fist it would take to flatten that living thing.  So I made it a point to walk over, call Boyfriend's attention to the butterfly, etc.  The boy left.


But not before leaning forward and solemnly waving goodby to the butterfly.  Who knew what kind of communion I had just interrupted?

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22 responses to “In The Lion’s Den

  1. What a strange outing that was. lol I am afraid of most bugs. The just yuck me out. Branson has one of the butterfly places. I have never been, but would like to go. I would like to go too the place in Mexico where the Monarchs go home each year.

  2. eew eew eew! Great photos.

  3. oh my. you are a very, very, very brave woman. i would run screaming from the building. not that i would ever have come near it in the first place.

  4. Great photos and a fun read. The butterflies are lovely.

  5. Oh I would be itching for a week and a half after that first part, and you ARE a brave lady for handling those critters. I love the pictures though (well, as long as I don't look at what you are holding).
    gaaaah, I might be itchy for a week and a half now anyway!

  6. Did you spend the rest of the evening scrubbing yourself raw in the shower? 🙂 You really are brave.
    I've been to a butterfly thing – it's just so neat to be in a room like that.

  7. You are a brave woman! I've held a cockroach and enjoyed it, but all that other stuff? EEww!
    Also, when I read "potato bug", I think of what other people call "roly-poly"s or "pillbugs", which are very small. I guess a potato bug is something different, then?

  8. I've had a giant millipede placed on me too, they are kind of sweet in a weird prehistoric freaky way. Having one placed on you is one thing though, if I saw it running across my kitchen floor I would scream bloody murder and have nightmares for weeks!Is that a Custo Barcelona shirt? Love those.

  9. great pics, fantastic descriptions, and you, as always look positively FAHboolous!

  10. I have to agree with the above comments, you are much braver than I am.

  11. Yes, you are not only better-dressed than I am, you're much braver.I lof butterfly domes, though. So pretty.

  12. IG/Alexandra/LT: Courage had nothing to do with it. I just kept thinking to myself, "Photo opp, photo opp…"
    Crankster/Michelle: Yes, I did feel a little Unclean after the experience…I needed to tend to my ablutions afterwards.
    Alex: You asked for it.
    AF: Yes – it's ALL about location. And yes, that's a Custo – the style was a few years old when I bought it on eBay: enabling me to purchase it for $40!!!

  13. Ew! That's like some unholy hybrid of ant and hornet.

  14. Ew. Ewewewewewewew. I thought you hated creepy-crawlies, Aubrey! Just the thought of the millipede is giving me a coronary. Aren't they poisonous?

  15. Odd, ain't it?
    I believe that some millipedes are poisonous. But this particular guy had nothing to defend himself with save his fearful size and millions of wee legs.

  16. omg you are prettier braver and better dressed than me. I can't believe you touched a tarantula. Well done. I have done leech therapy. It can really help in some cases. But I didn't touch them. ewww.

  17. I've held a tarantula before. But those other buggies wig me out.

  18. Wow, what an exciting day! I don't think I would have been so brave. The Batcat is proud of you, Aubrey! (except he and his meerkat friends probably would have made a meal out of your pet millipede).

  19. Get Well Soon, Aubrey. I believe you have caught a bug.

  20. Wait a minute. Hold on just one minute. YOU let a tarantula crawl on you? YOU? So bugs are safe unless they're in your bathroom? I can't keep up with the concept. Wow. I am so proud of you! As much as I love bugs, even I would have had no part of that hissing thing.

  21. Now this is weird, Aubrey, because I like bugs but can't STAND centipedes! And I, too, was amazed at your staunch courage and bold approach to the entymological diaspora!

  22. Aubrey, were you heavily drugged to do that? You were my kindred spirit in squeamishness! I would have run screaming from the poster!
    Seriously, I could barely handle the can of bug spray at the cottage in France because it had too realistic of a picture of a wasp on it. When I was a teenager shelving books in the public library, I would get the willies after handling a book of insects.
    This is going to make my Insect Horror Show of the Day from the cottage part of my France trip look just lame in comparison (when I finally am able to post it).

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