Coimbatore

Dazzling hidden beauty of insects

A wooden giant replica of Violin Mantis is one of the attractions of the Insect Museum at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore.   | Photo Credit: S_SIVA SARAVANAN

There are 75,000 species of insects, of which 38 % are beetles, the most dominant group; India has 6 % insect diversity; ancient Egyptians had built a temple for dump beetle; and, in 1919 farmers in Alabama, United States, erected a statue honouring the boll weevil insect - all this and more is in store for you at the Insect Museum at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.

The university has built the museum with ₹5 crore assistance from the State Planning Commission on 6,691 sq.ft. building, which Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswamy will inaugurate on Monday.

It will be the first museum dedicated to insects in the country, Vice-Chancellor K. Ramasamy said. “Other museums have sections on insects but this is fully dedicated to insects.”

The university has planned the museum with five themes - insect diversity, insect biology, beneficial insects, insects and plants and cultural entomology. In the insect biology section, the museum has a photograph that shows a butterfly feeding on crocodile tears. An Entomology Department faculty says that the butterfly feeds on salts in the tears.

There are nearly 700 such photographs on display.

Insects are also good actors and known for tricks, the faculty says and points to an atlas moth, which, to escape predators, flaps only that portion of its wings that resemble snake’s eyes. The insects are also known for their camouflage techniques.

The museum also has exhibits and photographs of monarch butterflies, which migrate over 5,000 km from North to South America, and beneficial insects like silk worms, honeybees and lac insects.

There is also this interesting piece of information for you that 50 % of the plant will be filled with excreta if there were no scavenger insects. Australia faced this problem many years ago and had to import a scavenger insect to feed on waste of imported cattle.

In the cultural entomology section, the Museum showcases stamps on insects - there are 5,000 from various countries, coins and a photograph of an ancient Egyptian temple dedicated to dung beetle.

As the jaw keeps dropping due the ‘wow’ element, it is time for some fun. Once you enter you date and month of birth, the computer at the exit tells you which animal you are. And before walking out, remember to check the souvenir shop as well.

Mr. Ramasamy says it took the university four years to put together the Museum, which as 20,000 insects from 50 species.


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Printable version | Nov 19, 2021 1:05:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/dazzling-hidden-beauty-of-insects/article23352720.ece

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