“This is a sleeping moth, do you want to see it?” says the gallery assistant half way round the Sensational Butterflies exhibition at the Natural History Museum. In her hands she holds a moth that is as big as my two outstretched hands. With two staring eyes adorned its open wings, I eye the moth curiously. It’s hung off something brown.
“What’s that?” I said, pointing at the mystery brown perch.
“It’s another moth, almost out of its cocoon,” she says.
I shudder and hurry along. I think it was something about the “Don’t panic if a moth lands on you” sign on the door as we entered that gives me the heebie-jeebies. For anyone curious about butterflies and moths and keen to get a closer look, Sensational Butterflies is perfect! Running for its seventh year, the exhibit is housed in a large tent on the grounds of the Natural History Museum.
Another assistant shows us the caterpillar version of this moth, which is also gargantuan and heebie-jeebie inducing. It seems to devour a whole leaf in front of our eyes, with a coming-to-get-you vibe radiating from its green skin.
“They only live 5 days,” the assistant continues, “Their mouths don’t function, so they live off the energy from when they were a caterpillar, and then die when it runs out.” And just like that this exhibition manages to move me from semi-fear to near tears. Sensational is definitely the word!
Housed in a large tent on the grounds of the Natural History Museum, Sensational Butterflies is truly a unique exhibit, showcasing butterflies and moths from across Asia, Africa and South America in flight. Running until September 13th, 2015, the exhibit is open daily and is packed with assistants who really know their stuff. Look out for the cage of hanging chrysalises, the huge moths on the fruit table and of course just remember – Don’t panic if one happens to land on you!
(Image Credits: All photos by Megan Donnelly)