No EEK! from this teen-tomologist!
Although just 15 years old, Caitlyn Morgan’s knowledge of bugs, spiders, and butterflies far exceeds her age. Interning at the National Museum of Natural History‘s Insect Zoo + Butterfly Pavilion, Caitlyn has spent the last couple of weeks expanding on and refining what she already knows about entomology.
Her daily internship duties, under the direction of her supervisor, Lisa Porter, Volunteer Coordinator for the Insect Zoo + Butterfly Pavilion, include cleaning the cages and feeding hair-raising-named species such as the Assassin Bug, the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, and the Lubber Grasshopper. After prepping the bugs for their daily debut on the Insect Cart, this rising sophomore at T.C. Williams high school in Alexandria, Virginia, wheels it into the exhibit area where museum visitors can learn about and actually handle these and other species.
So what, exactly, do these creatures eat? “Bits of lettuce, bananas, stuff like that, depending on the species,” Caitlyn explains. Her favorite parts so far of the experience? Caitlyn doesn’t even pause to think: “Feeding the tarantula, definitely! Oh and feeding the Assassin Bug. Tarantulas get a cricket once a week, although they can survive a year without food in the wild,” she explains. “And Assassin Bugs are fun to watch eat because they use their rostrum to pierce the sides of their meals so they can suck out the insides.” Even Caitlyn admits her attitude toward the various animals has evolved from a bit of disgust to “a mixture of respect and like.”
Caitlyn’s future goals include studying either anatomy or entomology and from the looks of things at NMNH, she’s well on her way. In fact, we think she’s “Simply Amazing.”