Just recently, I had the pleasure of experiencing the Brookfield Zoo’s “XTREME BUGS!” exhibit and MAN WAS IT AWESOME!! If you have the chance, while it’s still up and running (through September 7) take the whole family to go see it! The exhibit features live extreme insects, an animatronic action trail with gigantic bugs that move and make real bug noises, and even special events!

Here are some photos from my experience!

xtreme bugs brookfield zoo chicago il

xtreme bugs centipede brookfield zoo chicago il

xtreme bugs ant brookfield zoo chicago il

xtreme bugs cockroach brookfield zoo chicago il

Bugs are not usually what one thinks about when they plan a zoo trip. It’s usually all about the monkeys, tigers, and giraffes.

Are insects animals?

The answer is definitely YES! In fact, they’re among the most diverse group of animals on the planet. Insects represent over half of all living creatures on the planet Earth with about a million different species!

Most people view insects as pests, but without insects to pollinate plants, produce honey, wax, and lacquer, and aide in decomposition of organic materials, our planet and the humans that occupy it would face many tragedies related to famine. Plus, a lot of insects eat other insects. Take dragonflies, for instance. Not only are they pretty to look at, but they also like to eat mosquitoes. And who doesn’t mind avoiding getting bitten by mosquitoes?! Not me!

Xtreme bugs dragonfly info

Xtreme Bugs Emerald Dragonfly

Another beneficial insect is the ladybug. They eat aphids, which are known to be crop destroyers. Asian Lady beetles prey on the same pest insects and therefore, the ladybug can very easily be confused with the asian lady beetle.

Ladybugs vs. Asian Lady Beetles

This is a ladybug.

ladybug

And this is an Asian lady beetle.

asian lady beetle courtesy of Ricky Kluge

There’s a distinct difference in color and markings in the photos above, but these details can vary so much from region to region. Ever notice how Asian Lady beetles smell bad? This is because of a secretion emitted as a defense mechanism against birds so they don’t get eaten.

You’ll find these bugs most commonly during the fall as temperatures drop. They love basking in the sun on the south and west sides of buildings. Asian Lady beetles often seek refuge in cracks and crevices on homes, where they lie dormant over winter.

VW Bug with lady bug Xtreme Bugs

ladybugs at brookfield zoo 

Aren’t Praying Mantids the coolest?!

Brookfield Zoo’s XTREME BUGS exhibit features some fun facts about all sorts of bugs. Mantids are wonderful options for all natural pest control. They prey on other insects and could really do a great job of keeping pest populations down.

Meet Harry!

He’s the cute face you’ll see all throughout the trails of animatronic bugs, offering snippets of bug info.

Harry the Mantid Xtreme Bugs Brookfield Zoo

 Harry Xtreme Bugs

mantis animatronic at brookfield zoo

Bug Buffet

For those of you that may be more daring to experience the Brookfield Zoo’s XTREME BUGS exhibit to the fullest like I did, you can sample edible insect delectables inside the exhibit’s house. Cajun crickets and an herb cricket dip are a couple of the items you can taste if you dare!

Cajun crickets
The Crispy Cajun Crickets tasted like spicy pine nuts. Nutty with a kick! Some of you must think I’m nuts for eating bugs.

hoppin herb dip
I honestly couldn’t taste the crickets in this dip, but it was delicious! LOL!

Honeybees

You’ve probably been hearing about the collapse of honeybee colonies over the past few years. This is a very real thing. Many tests are being conducted to discover the cause regionally, but pesticide use, fungi, viruses and crops that have been genetically altered are all probable reasons for making matters worse. A lack of honeybee colonies doesn’t just mean a shortage on bear-shaped honey bottles. It means less pollination. Less pollination means plants don’t reproduce or grow. Honeybees are such a vital part of our food chain.

european honeybee at brookfield zoo

european honeybee info brookfield zoo

CCD Xtreme Bugs

Cicadas

How many of you can’t stand the loud noisy hum of the cicada? It does get pretty obnoxious in the summertime. And they totally win the prize for being able to produce the loudest insect noise!

cicada xtreme bugs exhibit

animatronic cicada brookfield zoo

Got some of your own bug questions?

Post your own bug photos and questions on our Facebook Page!

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