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Attack of the Giant BUGS

Three 10-ft. tall, 25-ft. long ants are among the bug beasts on display at the Morton Arboretum

LISLE, Illinois' David Rogers" "Big Bugs" at the Morton Arboretum (April 25 through July 20) are 12 gargantuan bug sculptures built of trees, dried branches, tree roots and green saplings. This role reversal of dimension and perception is an attention-getter to help teach kids how trees and insects are dependent upon each other, explains Kunso Kim, the arboretum curator of living collections.

"They evolved together," he notes. "Insects pollinate trees, enabling them to reproduce, while the insects receive nourishment from the pollen," Kim says.

A dragonfly, damselfly, grasshopper, ladybug, assassin bug, spider with web, bee and hive are among the supersized bugs.

There's also a Daddy Longlegs that's 17-feet in diameter, weighs 450 pounds, is made of willow and has red cedar for the eyes and legs. And it's hard to miss the 18×20 x 2 foot 1,200-pound praying mantis carved of black locust.

Kids visiting the Morton receive a free bug-detective guide with a map and clues that lead them on an adventurous tour of all 12 bugs around Meadow Lake.

In the Children's Garden a "Build-a-Bug Workshop" lets kids craft their own bugs and bug masks. There are drop-in activities like "meet a beekeeper," "taste honey," "pollination dance," plus bug art shows, talks, guided walks and even an "insect orchestra."

The arboretum also has interesting facts and interactive activities via its website, a strand of spider silk is stronger than a strand of steel of the same width; honeybees communicate by dancing (don"t we all); and grasshoppers can leap 20 times the length of their bodies " hmm" let's see, in human terms for a 6-footer that would be a leap of 40 yards! NB: An excellent standing long jump for homo sapiens is about 8 feet.

The Morton Arboretum has a 1,700-acre collection of 4,057 kinds of trees, shrubs and other plants from around the world and is open every day.

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June 26, 2019, 12:04 pm PDT

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