Recently, I discovered Reunion’s insectarium for the first time when our home-schooling group went on a guided tour. A handful of adults with about ten kids between us, we showed up at nine a.m. on a very hot morning in Le Port. I’m not the biggest fan of insects, so I wasn’t too sure what to expect. Would there be cockroaches crawling all over the place? Would there be bugs flying around my face and touching me?
But I shouldn’t have worried. On arrival, we met the loveliest guide in the garden of the insectarium, who had an obvious love of her job and of nature. She quickly introduced us to a couple of adorable young praying mantises, and we took turns holding them. Then it was time to feed one of our new friends to the spiders. The children watched, fascinated as the spiders trapped their prey in their web for breakfast. The second praying mantis was reserved for a chameleon, who grabbed it in a split second with its long tongue. Next, we visited the butterfly enclosure. There were dozens of different coloured butterflies, from metallic blue to pale yellow. We looked for butterfly eggs on leaves, which were smaller than a grain of sand.
Then, our guide led us into the education centre. Glass enclosures were filled with insects, spiders, ants and other creepy crawlies in natural habitats. Each enclosure had a little sign with information about its inhabitants, and I was happy to finally put a name to several insects I recognised. By then, the kids were starting to get tired and hot, so we sat down and listened to a story. Keeping with the theme, we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but not without a quick correction to the story. As it turns out, the book depicts a chrysalis, rather than a cocoon as written.
We also learnt how to tell the difference between moths and butterflies. You simply wait for them to fall asleep and check if they fold their wings behind their bodies, or lay them out to the side. To finish off a great morning, we made butterfly hotels out of five litre water bottles. We came home with a caterpillar and a chrysalis from the insectarium, which became a butterfly a week later. I’m still not best friends with the insects around my house, but it was a fascinating experience nonetheless.
homeschooling – l’école à la maison
handful – une poignée
cockroaches – cafards
bugs – insectes
worried – inquiet
obvious – évident
praying mantis – mante religieuse
to hold – tenir
prey – proie
web – toile
grabbed – arraché
in a split second – dans une fraction de seconde
creepy crawlies – bébêtes
The Very Hungry Caterpillar – La Chenille Qui Fait Des Trous
moths – papillons de nuit
to fold – plier
wings – des ailes
to the side – sur le côté
nonetheless – néanmoins