From Ants to Zebra spider, it's a bug's life

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Awesome Insects! Royal Museum, Edinburgh. Until September 2

Anyone who has a serious insect phobia might want to stay away from an exhibition running at the Royal Museum in Edinburgh until the beginning of September. The museum's entomologists have selected dozens of specimens from their vast collection of creepy crawlies and put them in a show called Awesome Insects!

The compact exhibition has been created for children and aims to show how special insects are and why they deserve our respect rather than our indifference or disgust. There are more species of insects than all the varieties of plants and animals put together.

The exhibition is divided into three areas, opening with an examination of human interaction with insects through time and across cultures. Displays show that while insects have been worshipped, worn as jewellery, used for medicinal purposes and eaten, others routinely destroy crops.

Visitors are introduced to Malcolm the manted, the show's mascot, and you can test your general knowledge of insects by playing the "What is an insect?" game and mixing and matchig insect body parts at the ladybird jigsaw table.

In the main area of the exhibition, The Lab, visitors can find out what an entomologist does. Working at laboratory tables and using magnifying glasses, you can examine insect skeletons, inspect the shapes of their mouth parts and match them to bite marks on a leaf, and guess what insect came from which pupa. You can learn about insects that change their shape, defend themselves with body armour and regularly fly coast to coast across America.

After the challenges of The Lab, visitors are invited into The Garden, where the atmosphere is more relaxed and fun. Specially commissioned illustrations and interactive features help to tell the story of Scotland's insects. You will discover that Scotland is the exclusive home of some species and that many of the insects here are more similar to Scandinavian ones than those found in England.

The museum is running three schools' sessions a day, with two facilitators on hand to help. The show incorporates 5-14 science curriculum links and will appeal mostly to P3-P7 but also P1 and P2.

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