Insect Hall

Fascinating diversity

Exhibition

Sammlungsschublade mit Käfern aus dem Naturhistorischen Museum

No other group of animals has developed such an enormous number of species, and a variety of shapes like insects have. The museum’s Insect Hall gives our visitors an insight into the abundance of adaptations that allowed insects to conquer almost every conceivable habitat.

Their anatomical blueprint is always the same. Mandibles, legs and wings, on the other hand, have evolved in several ways, creating various tools for movement and acquiring food.

Insects can also produce sounds with their wings, legs and mandibles. Their chitinous exoskeleton is particularly suited for this: rubbing parts of it against each other can create quite impressive sounds.

Insects of the forest

Insects play a big part in the metabolic cycle of the forest. They eat leaves and needles and help with the decomposition of old wood. However, mass propagation can also cause significant damage. The spruce bark beetle is well known for its characteristic feeding pattern found beneath the bark of occupied trees. The red wood ant is considered a beneficial insect. Our lifelike model of its nest depicts the hill, the nest built underground, the thrown out sand at the edge and the typical spruce stick structure in its centre.

Insects at the water surface

The water surface represents a very peculiar habitat. Because of the water surface tension, an elastic membrane forms, strong enough to carry light weights. Water striders, backswimmers and whirligig beetles are the most commonly known inhabitants. Our enlarged models are around 40 times the insects’ original size and were specially designed and built at the museum.

Social Insects

While honeybees, ants and termites keep their nests for multiple years, the nests of wasps, hornets and bumblebees only last a single season. The whole colony dies in late fall. Only the young queens find shelter to hibernate and start a new colony the next spring. Alongside wasp, hornet and bumblebee nests, termite mounds and the realistic recreation of a red wood ant nest, this exhibition also features a live bee colony that can be observed in its hive.