Meeting Big Backyard Monsters | Project Discovery

The creatures at the South Carolina State Museum are big monsters found in your backyard. Because the bugs are much larger than the actual insects, details, as seen from the perspective of their prey, can be viewed without a microscope. Insects can not only see hundreds or thousands of images with their compound eyes, they can also see in all directions.

Some of the insects covered in this program include the praying mantis, dragonfly, unicorn beetle, and spider. Camouflage, habitat, characteristics, predator/prey relationships, and behaviors are discussed for each species.

A hymenopteran’s nest is a hexagonal structure made by wasps, bees, and other stinging insects. Bugs walk by, moving all six legs. Museum visitors can experiment with this mode of transportation by manipulating a robot. An insect collection shows the side, shape, and diversity of any one species of insect, such as a beetle.

Arachnids are spiders. The brown recluse, also known as the fiddleback spider, is a type of spider found in South Carolina. Black widows are common in South Carolina. There are six to eight different species of the black widow spider. Some have a telltale red hourglass on their abdomen, some have three red stripes, and some have no markings at all. Even though there are differences, all black widows have a bulbous abdomen and are a shiny blue-black color. The tarantula is an arthropod that has fangs that go up and down. There are approximately 500 species of spiders in South Carolina, but the tarantula is not one of them.

Butterflies are also insects, and there are many beautiful varieties in South Carolina. The stages in the life cycle of the butterfly are discussed.

Museum visitors manipulate a mechanical display to explore the wing movements of the dragonfly. The front wings move opposite to the back wings.

Scorpions are also considered insects. They are found in South Carolina from the Midlands region of Columbia to the mountains.