This part of the Lower Hall exhibition deserves special attention. As a matter of fact, the insects, though constituting but one of several classes of the phylum Arthropoda, are so numerous and diverse that actually “occupy” our planet.
Exposition of 27 showcases displaying insects is located in the depth of the Lower Hall and takes about one quarter of its capacity. It begins with colored diagram showing species richness in various insect orders in comparison with that in other invertebrate and vertebrate animals. There is at least about million of insect species known by now, that is no less than 4/5 of all known animal species, but actually there must be many more of them.
A walking stick (Phyllium siccifolium) from SE Asia
The principal aim of this part of the exhibition is to expose diversity of insects living on the territory of Russia. But inhabitants of other countries and regions are also shown, especially those from tropics, which are just outstanding by their brightness and originality, as well as by amazing variety of morphological types.
The insect exhibition is arranged taxonomically to show most typical or most interesting representatives of each of the insect orders. There are photos, schemes and pictures exposed above the showcases to provide some interesting details of insect morphology. For instance, even tiny sensory hairs (sensillae) on antennae of a night moth, magnified 8000 times, can be seen.
A huge nest of the Indian bee
Besides information on insect morphology, some fundamental biological notions are illustrated in the insect exhibition, such as variation, mimicry, cautionary and protective coloration. Tree-like schemes show phylogenetic relations between insect taxa.
A unique collection of examples of building activity of the social insects is displayed in three showcases: termitaries, ants nests, a variety of different shapes and structure of wasp and bee nests, including those from S America and Australia, a fragment of the barrel with a hollow, where you can see a hornet’s nest, as well as a huge nest of the Indian bee.
The giant robber-fly (Atrophaneura alcinous)
Systematic part of the insect exhibition contains about 5,000 species. One can see here giant walking sticks as long as 30 cm from tropics of Asia, the largest Agrippina moth and the most weighty Goliathus beetle. The are also unusually large flies of the genera Mydas and Panthophthalmus (S America), the largest predating robber-fly (Satanas gigas), and possibly the most beautiful butterfly, the Madagascar sunset moth (Chrysridia madagascarensis). Also shown are numerous tropical butterflies not known to occur in Russia.
Labels for some species are marked by red, which means that respective species are listed in the Russian Red Data Book. Some of them are protected by law, some need most close attention. Among them is, for instance, a species of armoured crickets (Bradyporus multituberculatus) from steppes of Ciscaucasia, which was recorded for the last time in 1950-ies. There is a lot of species of butterflies, beetles, hymenopterans, dragonflies, etc. that need protection.
A species of swallowtail butterflies from Far East (Sericinus montela) is represented in display by two specimens of different gender to show sex differences in their coloration. Very rare is another Far East swallowtail butterfly (Atrophaneura alcinous), which feeds on particular lianas. Besides, it is worthy to mentioned a night moth (Arcte coerula) placed in the Red Data Book quite recently.
The Crimean carabus (Carabus scabrosus tauricus)
There are also several rare beetle species with their labels marked by red, among them are ground beetles, flower chafers, also the largest beetle in our country, Callipogon relictus, for which both imago and larva are displayed.