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TULLIE HOUSE: Exotic mini-beasts take over

9 June 2014

Get involved in National Insect Week

Madagascan hissing cockroaches and Indian stick insects are just some of the small animals that Tullie House Museum has welcomed in for June in celebration of National Insect Week.

Do you want to cuddle a cockroach or stroke a stick insect? Tullie House has loaned 6 invertebrate species from Blackpool Zoo including  head cockroaches, desert locusts and African sun beetles. 

Although not insects, the museum has also obtained some giant African land snails. All are temporarily residing in the Museum’s Border Gallery Resource Area until mid July. Visitors will be able to see the animals during regular opening hours.

Sunday 22nd June
From 1pm – 4pm, local artist Karen MacDougall will work with families to produce a collaborative insect sculpture to subsequently display in the museum. This will be inspired by the insects on display. There will also be an opportunity for visitors to handle some of the animals.

Saturday 19th - Sunday 20th July
The animals will also form part of an upcoming 24hr Bioblitz event, taking place at Curwen Park in Workington, where families will have a chance to explore and learn about local natural history.

Geoffrey McCarthy, Family Learning Officer, Tullie House said: “Usually museums see live insects as pests and are keen to keep them away from their collections. But we thought it would be a fantastic way to encourage people of all ages to learn about insects by hosting some live animals in the galleries. I formerly worked in zoo education and know how much children and families can enjoy learning about insects so was keen to bring this approach to Tullie House. Insects represent one of the largest groups of animals on the planet and collectively have an enormous effect upon us humans which we often take for granted."

National Insect Week is important to Tullie House because it has an extensive collection of around 100,000 specimens, covering most British insect Orders. The Museum hosts the Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre (CBDC), which holds information on the distribution and abundance of wildlife in the county.

1. National Insect Week, 23 – 29 June, encourages people of all ages to learn more about insects. Every two years, the Royal Entomological Society organises the week, supported by a large number of partner organisations with interests in the science, natural history and conservation of insects. 

2. Family Friendly Sundays take place at Tullie House every Sunday during Cumbrian Term Time 1-4pm. Activities can include trails, puzzles, explore and discover activities as well as arts and crafts.  Activities are free, but donations are welcomed.  Normal admission charges apply.  Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

3. The Tullie House Entomology collections contain some 100,000 specimens, covering most British insect Orders. The bulk of this derives from the collections of three local amateur entomologists - G.B. Routledge (1864-1934), J. Murray (1872-1942) and F.H. Day (1875-1963). All three collected a wide range of insect groups, but each seems to have specialised in particular areas. The G.A.K. Hervey collection of butterflies and moths is also held in the Museum. The collections are largely derived from Cumbria and Dumfriesshire.

4. The Tullie House Mollusca collections total some 2,000 specimens (c.50% of local origin). This consists of the collections of E. & D. Blezard (local terrestrial and aquatic species), M. Garnett (local marine species) and F. Fisher (British and world-wide species), with additional material from J. Donald (local terrestrial and aquatic species) and Dr. B Colville.

5. Tullie House Museum hosts the Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre (CBDC), which holds information on the distribution and abundance of wildlife in the county. The CBDC website gives further information on wildlife recording in Cumbria.

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