Monday, July 18, 2016

You Can Make An Insect Zoo (1974, Hortense Roberta Roberts)

If you have an irresistible urge to hoard insects in your home, and that pencil box full of dead flies just isn't cutting it any longer, then get ready to graduate to the big leagues. Because YOU can make an insect zoo!

Calling your creepy collection of bugs housed in makeshift cardboard boxes and discarded plastic ware a "zoo" will lend your insect fetish a whiff of legitimacy. And I won't even mention the potential income in tickets sold and yearly Friends-Of-The-Insect-Zoo membership dues.

I've always had a love/hate relationship with the insect world. I find bugs fascinating when safely observed on film or through the protective glass of a sealed container. Scurrying into my bed or landing in my jelly sandwich? Not so much.

You Can Make An Insect Zoo (1974, by Hortense Roberta Roberts, photos by Francis Munger) provides instructions for several types of bug enclosures for the junior entomologist to show off his menagerie of crickets, ants, moths and butterflies (sorry adventure-seekers, giant hissing cockroaches aren't welcome at this zoo!)

The Plastic Drinking Glass Case, intended for butterflies and moths, is described as the "easiest cage to make", and they aren't kidding. It's literally a plastic cup set upside down on a paper napkin. I accidentally make this cage all the time after a few cocktails.

The Cardboard Box Cage is a little more complicated with its screen windows and clear plastic roof.

The Milk Carton Cage requires pulling a nylon stocking (ask Mom's permission!) over a cut-out milk carton. With visibility on all four sides of the enclosure, it's sure to be a popular exhibit with zoo guests.

The Wire Screen Cage looks more like a proper insect cage you might buy at the store. It's a roll of screen sandwiched between the cut-out bottoms of two plastic bottles.

The book suggests using old bleach bottles. No doubt both the insects and your customers will appreciate that fresh bleach scent.

No, the Cricket Cage is not the name of a trendy insect night club. Rather, it's an elaborate complex to house crickets that includes sleeping nooks, feeding pods, and a place to lay eggs.

It also works as Barbie's Bug Infested Studio Apartment.

The crickets from my yard don't look like the creepy ones pictured here--thank God. If I had a box full of these in my "zoo", I'd want to keep a can of Raid nearby in case I needed to, uh, close the exhibit early for a special event.

If the "zoo" concept doesn't take off, I'm thinking we rebrand as Cricket X-Treme Sports Arena.

Finally we have this Tunnel Cage, which lets you observe the tunneling action of an ant colony sandwiched between two transparent cups. I wonder what percent of ants end up accidentally glued to the cardboard base? Is there a target living-ants to glued-ants ratio with these exhibit openings?

Here's what the unglued ants look like.

You Can Make an Insect Zoo is a book I checked out once or twice from my grade school library, but I never actually built any of the cages and my "insect zoo" never happened.

Lucky bugs.