a peek inside the fishbowl

24 Oct, 2015

Bugs = beauty, at the Museum of Nature (plus a giveaway AND bonus cricket-eating video)

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Ottawa for kids|Fishbowl patrons|Giveaways and product reviews|Ottawa

We have a winner! The email has been sent and the name posted in the last comment. Thanks all for your entries, stories, and confessions. :)

When our daughters were very young I made a concerted effort never to appear squeamish or grossed out by any spider, snail, or snake that we’d come across during our many family hikes, nature walks and camping adventures. The scene always unfolded with an excited shout:

“Mom! Dad! Look at that [spider/slug/bug/creepy crawly thing] over there!”
“GEE girls, that’s so COOL,” I’d exclaim. Calmly. And then I’d step back and let Mark pick up whatever was crawling or slithering along. I hate to admit it, but it’s true. I guess my charade worked – either that or the girls inherited something from their father – because during the course of their young lives they have picked up countless snakes, fish, worms, and insects of all kinds: dead or alive.

We’ve really tried hard to teach them that Nature is Awesome and Beautiful, which is why I’m very pleased to tell you about a new exhibition that just opened at the Canadian Museum of Nature (a Fishbowl patron).

I got a sneak preview earlier this week and got to thinking about my own experiences with bugs. I actually spent a lot of time outside with friends, catching bugs in jars and observing them up close. But for some reason – and I’m sure this is true for many of us – bugs lost their lustre along the way… which is too bad because there is a LOT to admire about bugs.

This exhibition is unique in that part of it is a travelling exhibition (this means that it stays at one museum for awhile before moving on to another) and the other part of it is supplemented with the Museum’s own collections, like these bunches of beetles:

Boxes of beetles!

A significant part of Bugs Outside the Box is a series of 16 very large sculptures:

Bugs Outside The Box

They were all created by hand by an Italian artist named Lorenzo Possenti. His laborious process started with a specimen and a microscope and ended with these gorgeous models. The sculptures have been praised by the experts for their incredible scientific accuracy.

The other eye-catching part of Bugs Outside the Box is a series of stunning arrangements. (These are all farmed specimens by the way, bred for study and collection.)

Nature as art

So beautiful!

I have a pretty good feeling that the live specimens will also be a big draw:

Alive. Very real. And very large.

Below is a female Jungle Nymph, a type of stick insect. The female reaches a length of 15 cm (!) and apparently it’s the second heaviest insect in the world.

Jungle Nymph (yes, it's real)

There is so much to learn here. And as always, the Museum understands how to make learning fun and engaging for kids by making the experience  hands on and multi sensory. In fact, there’s an area where you can buy a packet of bugs to snack on. Which I did (later at home!):


I’m thinking it would be VERY cool to check this exhibition out over Halloween weekend, don’t you? Do note that it will be open until March 27 (so you have plenty of time to catch it).

This exhibition is supported by Orkin Canada, and a surcharge of $4 (in addition to regular museum admission) applies to the Bugs Outside the Box. I have four passes to give to one Ottawa family. Interested? Read on!

  • This giveaway is for four passes to the Canadian Museum of Nature and the Bugs Outside the Box exhibition.
  • In order for your entry to qualify, tell me something about bugs. Anything! Do you love ’em or hate ’em? Maybe you have a favourite specimen, or a story to share about an encounter. Would you be brave enough to hold a Jungle Nymph on your hand? Or eat a package of crickets? :)
  • One entry per email address please.
  • This giveaway is void where prohibited by law.
  • If you can’t post your comment for whatever reason you can email it to andrea at quietfish dot com. Please note, I cannot be responsible if your entry is misdirected or gets stuck in my Spam folder.
  • I will draw the winning name using Random.org at noon EST on October 31, 2015. I’ll contact the winners via email at that time and post the name here as well.

That’s it! Good luck!

31 Responses to "Bugs = beauty, at the Museum of Nature (plus a giveaway AND bonus cricket-eating video)"

1 | Connie P

October 24th, 2015 at 12:50 pm


I’ve eaten crickets and held a Madagascar hissing cockroach in my hand. Also bravely trying to show my kids not to be afraid!
Would love these museum passes :-)

2 | joy

October 24th, 2015 at 3:31 pm


bugs are creepy – they make me say eek!! i don’t think i would be brave enough to eat a cricket, but i might hold a creepy crawly in my hand (if forced to).

3 | Elnaz

October 24th, 2015 at 4:43 pm


Butterflies are my absolute fave! Love seeing their gorgeous colour patterns – so mesmerizing :)

4 | Alison in Ottawa

October 24th, 2015 at 6:54 pm


I have milkweed in my garden but saw no monarchs this summer. But I do love seeing the other bugs in the garden. I don’t want to touch them, but I love to watch them.

5 | Brenda A

October 24th, 2015 at 7:04 pm


You crack me up, mostly because I could have written much of this post myself! I,too, have always “played cool” when it comes to bugs and my girls. I am fine with and love snakes, but bugs (especially SPIDERS) kill me just a little bit inside every time I have an interaction with one.

We have been waiting for this new Museum of Nature exhibit to open and would love to attend with your giveaway tickets. Thanks!

6 | Anne

October 24th, 2015 at 7:21 pm


Great post and video! We — my 9-year-old, my husband and myself — are very excited about this exhibit. We love bugs. We can’t have furry pets (allergies!), so we have a pet ant named Fred, a centipede named Carl (who we’ve trained to sleep in the basement so we don’t accidentally step on him at night!), and a no-kill spider policy (we catch and release them). Needless to say I wouldn’t eat a bug….but I admire you for trying! :-)

7 | lynn clayton

October 24th, 2015 at 8:17 pm


my son is in love with praying mantas he finds them fasinating and he loves how they walk he says mom they look like they walk on stilts.

8 | Lynn

October 25th, 2015 at 8:42 am


Ha! I think you know that me and bugs are NOT copacetic. It’s actually a bit of a problem, actually – I have to have the kids kill any spiders in the house while I run away screaming. I’m not sure I can stomach this exhibit but I do think it would be good for me to SUCK IT UP and try.

9 | Jennifer

October 25th, 2015 at 5:57 pm


My kids are fascinated by bugs at the moment. They love how those potato bugs (not sure if that’s the correct name of them) curl up into a ball in their hands. Great contest!

10 | Sarah

October 26th, 2015 at 9:08 am


I have a weird love of most bugs, bed bugs and earwigs excluded. My favourite is definitely spiders – they kill many of the other ickier bugs!!

Can’t wait to attend this exhibit with the kids.

11 | Rebecca

October 26th, 2015 at 9:16 am


bugs are fine, usually….when outside ;)

12 | Heather

October 26th, 2015 at 9:18 am


Great giveaway ! My twin four year old boys find any bug cool. From them i have learned to find the cool factor in each bug too.

13 | Jason

October 26th, 2015 at 9:24 am


All bugs are great, as long as they are outside our house! Those speedy multi-legged ones that occasionally appear in the bathroom are especially unpopular in our household…

14 | binki

October 26th, 2015 at 9:32 am


I heart bugs. Did the Open House of the Nature Museum last weekend (in Aylmer). Best thing ever. Met a scientist who had found some old specimens of beetles and he tracked them down to a gentleman by the name of Charles Darwin. Seriously. Darwin beetles…right there in front of my daughter and I. Woooow!

15 | Peter

October 26th, 2015 at 10:52 am


You are far more brave than I! Love the video – hate bugs! Wow.

16 | Kristen

October 26th, 2015 at 12:50 pm


I like some bugs (like dragonflies) but hate others (earwigs). I think it is because early on I was taught some were “good” and some were “bad”. Silly distinction really!

We would love to win the passes, since good or bad bugs are endlessly fascinating!

17 | KristaR

October 26th, 2015 at 3:29 pm


I’m not deathly afraid of bugs, but definitely won’t touch any…my kids like to pick them up and examine them though. They would love this exhibit!

18 | Chris

October 26th, 2015 at 3:29 pm


My wife hates spiders. I think they are great (since they take care of the more PITA bugs). Whenever she asks me if “that’s a spider on the wall” I say no, so it can go merrily on it’s way.

PS: I don’t think I could eat crickets.

19 | Laura

October 26th, 2015 at 6:11 pm


I’m okay with bugs…as long as they stay outside where they belong! And I don’t think I’m ready to try snacking on them just yet ????

20 | wendy

October 26th, 2015 at 11:08 pm


You are soooo brave !!!

Its strange how I can handle some and not others.
Spiders ,I do not like in my house as the thought of one climbing on me while sleeping just makes me shiver
I am terrified of centipedes or any thing that crawls and has so many feet ,legs ?? Crickets dont bother me or Grass hoppers

Would love to take my Daughter and two Grandaughters to see the exhibit
Thanks for the chance ????

21 | Samantha Read

October 27th, 2015 at 4:03 am


I love pretty much all bugs, but I have a special kind of love for spiders. They love me almost as much as I love them. They love me so much I fact that I am visited by spiders more than any other creature. No matter what I’m doing or where I go, they always seem to find me, and not just little ones, large ones too. I believe they’re wolf spiders or something similar. They live all around my home and surrounding property. My FB friends have a love/hate relationship with me because I post huge spiders all the time! I can’t help it they’re so neat!

22 | andrea tomkins

October 27th, 2015 at 11:32 am


This comment is being posted for Kathleen P, who writes: ”

I’m pretty impressed by bugs, but there are definitely times and places where they shouldn’t be! Other than those inopportune moments when they surprise me, I pretty much love them. Spiders are particularly cool. I have no problems dealing with them, and generally take them outside. My husband holds to the policy that creatures in the house that are not invited or paying rent will be summarily executed, so I have to get to them first.

Would love to get tickets to the new exhibit.”

23 | Danielle

October 27th, 2015 at 5:01 pm


I’m like you. I am not a fan of bugs, but have tried to hide it from my daughter. About 3 months ago, I was in the shower, and looked up to see a huge spider! I know, not technically an insect, but still gross! I go out of the shower shampoo still in my hair and made my husband deal with it! That was one of my major “I’m cool with creepy crawlies” fails.

24 | Jenn

October 27th, 2015 at 9:14 pm


I have a really hard time with bugs, especially the ones I find inside my house. I grew up in a few different countries around the world where the bug situation was pretty intense. I’ll never forget the time I stepped on a cockroach in my bare feet and slid across the floor. It was a big cockroach – yikes! Nowadays, it’s those house centipede ones that scurry across your floors when you’re least expecting them that freak me out the most. Alas, my kids love bugs and are fascinated by them. I think they’re pretty interesting but prefer to look at them through glass.


October 27th, 2015 at 11:57 pm


I am not a fan of bugs. No one could ever pay me to eat some crickets. I do like butterfly though.

26 | Julie bolduc

October 28th, 2015 at 5:25 am


I like some bugs, and others I can’t stand example FLIES

27 | Chanda Tanguay

October 28th, 2015 at 6:48 am


I’m not a bug lover, and am glad for my cat in many cases. We lived in one apartment that was in a basement and the bathroom always had silverfish. I’d call the cat and she’d always come running to hunt the silverfish.

Butterflies are nice though. :)

28 | HollyStar

October 29th, 2015 at 8:22 am


Like you, I try very hard to be chill about bugs around my boys. I want them to form their own opinions. I’m fascinated by ants & how they work together to do amazing things. We have a bug collector with a magnifying glass & we have fun turning over rocks in our garden to see what’s hiding underneath.

29 | Carolyn

October 29th, 2015 at 9:33 am


I’m the bg and spider catcher in my house – my husband won’t go near them and tries not to squeal like a little girl when he sees one. My 3 daughters seem to folow in their father’s footsteps and are just as loathe to touch or catch one. I have hopes for my son who is 6 and is stil fascinated and has no fear of almost anything!

30 | andrea tomkins

October 30th, 2015 at 1:45 pm


We have a winner! It’s commenter #14 – binki – who wrote:

“I heart bugs. Did the Open House of the Nature Museum last weekend (in Aylmer). Best thing ever. Met a scientist who had found some old specimens of beetles and he tracked them down to a gentleman by the name of Charles Darwin. Seriously. Darwin beetles…right there in front of my daughter and I. Woooow!”

Congratulations binki! Check your email!

31 | andrea tomkins

October 30th, 2015 at 3:47 pm


We have a new winner! As our original winner opted to give the tickets away as he’s a current museum member. HOLLY STAR, check your email!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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