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Critters Buggin at the Audubon Insectarium

butterflies new orleans audubon insectarium

I got this love hate relationship with bugs. There are some bugs that I think are absolutely repulsive, others that I think are kind of interesting and some that I think are beautiful. The one particular bug that to me is completely gross is the cockroach, even the name has this hard edge to it that just in the saying of it sounds kind of gross and icky.

In fact I think the cockroach is the most disgusting repulsive bug in the world. Bless it’s little heart. It’s only being what it is, and can’t help it. But I think there is an innate sense that humans have about cockroaches, that they are filthy and harbor disease, and that they are sneaky.

There is something about human nature that abhors sneakiness, although we’ve all indulged in being a little sneaky from time to time, it’s something that perhaps we abhor in ourselves. The lowly little roach just kind of shows us who we are, or should I say an aspect of who we are, or at least what we think we are.

On the other end and closely related to the cockroach is the beetle. Now I think beetles are cool. They don’t scurry when the lights go on and they’re not afraid of you when you handle them. In fact, many of them are downright strikingly beautiful.

At the Audubon Insectarium you get to experience the gross and the beautiful all in one hour or so. The place is well laid-out and when I was there it was packed with people all oohing and aahing and sometimes ewing and ughing.

Even if you find insects repulsive one thing you gotta say is how fascinating they are and just how important they are to our survival. Some clean up our messes and others pollinate our crops. They are the cleaner-uppers as well as the master gardeners. Their ability to form complex societies and perform herculean tasks are all on display at the Insectarium.

hissing cockroach new orleans audubon insectarium

Hissing Cockroaches
There is one live encounter with a hissing cockroach that most might find disgusting. A volunteer holds this thing in her hand and you get to touch it if you want. I did. But this thing doesn’t look anything like the ubiquitous roaches in New Orleans. In fact it looked kind of
like a big doodle bug and seemed to be quite content sitting in the volunteer’s hand. I petted it a few times and she showed me the holes on its back through which it made the hissing noises. She also explained that these things are very clean and don’t harbor disease like our famous ones here. This roach was actually pretty cool. (Didn’t ever think I would ever actually find myself saying such a thing!)

cricket pancakes new orleans audubon insectarium

Insect Snackin’
The museum has a kitchen where you can sample some snacks made of mealy worms and munch on cricket pancakes. They are supposed to be full of protein and I tried them all. And you know what? They didn’t taste like much. There was nothing unpleasant about them in the least. So I wouldn’t have a problem eating insects as long as they are prepared in an appetizing way. Wouldn’t eat a cockroach though. No way, no how, no matter how you flavored it or prettied it up. Yucko.

Beautiful Beeetles
One of my favorite areas for the museum are the display cases of beetles and moths and butterflies all laid out in pretty patterns. Some of the beetles looked like jewels, and colors of the moths were incredibly beautiful. beetles at the new orleans audubon insectarium How anyone looking at those could not believe in a Supreme Being, a Master Designer is beyond me. Just looking at those cases with all these extraordinarily beautiful complex creatures is all the evidence of God I need.

Toward the end of the journey is a little theatre presentation, a humorous film starring talking bugs with a full theater experience, a la moving and hissing seats that has you jumping and laughing. Then on the way out is the Japanese garden with butterflies that flit about you so quietly and easily that it makes you feel incredibly relaxed.

The Audubon Nature Institute has another hit on their hands. After all the years of delays, and the interruption of Hurricane Katrina this one of a kind museum was worth the wait and a perfect addition to the Audubon nature empire. And a fitting addition to thinks to do for tourists as well as New Orleans. Can’t wait to go back. You can find out times and prices here at www.audubonnatureinstitute.com

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