HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Zoo this weekend opens its first insectarium in the park's 92-year history, featuring some exotic and venomous species in more than two dozen custom habitats that make up what's being dubbed "The Bug House."
"They're fascinating and they're just hard to see out in the wild," Kevin Hodge, curator of the Children's Zoo at the park, said Friday as workers were putting final touches on the $3 million project. "Most of these insects around here no one's ever going to see on a trip to Africa or Malaysia. A lot of times they're at the very tops of trees and could be among thousands of animals living on one huge canopy tree."
A specialized insect display seems appropriate in Houston, a city that's grown up on what was a swamp and where disease-carrying mosquitoes and 2-inch-long flying cockroaches are accepted facts of life.
The homegrown roaches, though, are dwarfed by the giant cave cockroaches from Panama and northern South America that are housed in one of the 25 aquarium-like exhibits.
Other impressive insects on display are black Asian forest scorpions from Malaysia, white-eyed assassin bugs from South Africa and blue death feigning beetles, which flop over on their blue backs and play dead when confronted with desert predators that prefer live victims.
The bug house also is home for a red-spotted longhorn beetle, which hails from Southeast Asia, and a Gooty sapphire tarantula, named for the town in southern India where it was discovered.
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