Our Unexpected Arthropod Housemates
The 2nd Special Exhibition Gallery, Global Environment Hall
February 7 – October 14, 2018
The characteristics of your home and lifestyle may affect the arthropods that come to dwell there.
Everyone has uninvited guests in the house from time to time. Most of us even have a bunch of tiny roommates who don’t pay rent. To be specific: arthropods of all shapes and sizes share our homes. For all of human history, insects, spiders and their relatives (collectively known as arthropods) have been our constant companions. We compete with them for food, use them as resources, and – whether we like it or not – share our homes with them. Many species, both common and unfamiliar, have been evolving with us for millennia. They come in all shapes and sizes; sadly, our knowledge about them is restricted to a few species.
It is believed that the number of arthropods on the planet far exceeds the number of all the other members of the animal kingdom put together, and our home host far more biodiversity than most people would expect. A recent investigation found even clean homes are crawling with over 100 different species of arthropods. Don’t doubt it. Our homes are not exactly what you think that only have cockroaches, mosquitos, flies, ants, mites and bed bugs. These unexpected housemates, accidentally or intentionally inhabit our homes, taking up residence in our kitchens, studies, storage rooms, bathrooms, and even bedrooms. Their lives are rarely observed, but play out daily in the shadows, corners, and crevices of our homes.
Our Unexpected Arthropod Housemates exhibition is curated by Dr. Chan Mei-ling, an associate researcher at the Entomology Section of the Museum’s Biology Department. Chan, concerned mainly with the evolution and diversity of issidae and psocids (booklice), insists that all animals have as much right to live as human beings. People love beautiful things and want their homes not to be disrupted. Moth, flies, cockroaches, ants and spiders look ugly and terrible and visit our homes unexpected. That’s why arthropods are always looked upon with disdain compared with butterflies, fireflies, dogs, cats, or Guinea pigs, according to Chan. “People classify insects as beneficial or harmful from a human viewpoint, which is destroying Nature’s delicate balance,” says Chan.
Our Unexpected Arthropod Housemates running from February 7 to October 14, 2018 at the Museum’s 2nd exhibition gallery explores the arthropod diversity of our homes. Comprehensive in scope, yet intimate in scale, the exhibition presents a rare glimpse at the exotic and a fresh look at the unwelcome housemates.
Occupying 4,270 square feet of exhibition space on the ground floor of the Museum’s Global Environment Hall, this ambitious exhibition includes nine themes: ‘Our Houses’, ‘Harmful Arthropods? Beneficial Arthropods?’, ‘Making Themselves at Home’, ‘Arthropods and Their Habitats’, ‘Who is Hiding in My House?’, ‘Extraordinary Skills’, ‘Small and Scary Arthropods’, ‘Insecticides Should Not Be the First Resort’, and ‘What If There Are No Arthropods in My House?’ Featuring hands-on activities, dramatic specimen displays, colorful video, vivid illustrations, sophisticated graphics and even live animals, this exhibition draws on the latest scientific research to explore arthropods’ extraordinary evolutionary success and their impact on our lives. An exciting highlight in the exhibition is the positive home atmosphere. In the physical home environment, visitors will get an understanding of which arthropods are found in our homes and where they like to inhabit, and learn about numerous stupefying facts about arthropods. Another highlight is a complete collection of 84 mosquito specimens donated by Dr. Lien Jih-ching, who is reputed as “Dr. Mosquito” or “Mosquito Man”.
“The most challenging part of this exhibition is to be able to persuade the audience who might be afraid of arthropods. How do we get them to come here?” said Chan at the exhibition opening reception. “As our team brainstormed, we decided to use interesting cartoons to reduce their fear of arthropods. Most important of all, we hope to help change people’s perceptions by understanding that it’s just another fact in life that arthropods co-live with us in the same space. It is not necessary to fear them. Instead, we should use them as an indicator to measure the environment we live in. Visitors to the exhibition will realize that science is fun and everywhere! Even our homes can be another research spot for science.”
Our Unexpected Arthropod Housemates will make a very worthwhile, enjoyable, and informative visit for you!
Our Unexpected Arthropod Housemates is organized and presented by the National Museum of Natural Science.
Our Unexpected Arthropod Housemates is proudly supported by the Department of Entomology, Chung Hsing University, Applied Zoology Division, Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, Department of Entomology, Taiwan University, Department of Biology, National Changhua University of Education.
This exhibition is made possible by the generosity of many institutes and pest control companies.