Giant bug exhibit invades U’s arboretum

Artist Dave Rogers brings his bugs to exhibits in a large U-Haul, then spends three weeks sanding, varnishing and reassembling them.

Emily Ayshford

Normally, 18-foot bugs exist only in bad movies and nightmares.

Now they are at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen, part of the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences.

For the exhibit “Big Bugs,” 13 large, wooden bug sculptures crowd the area to show the artistic and educational side of the small creatures.

Artist Dave Rogers created the bugs after the Dallas Arboretum asked him to design an exhibit that would fit into their natural garden environment.

He decided on insects because they play such a vital role in the garden but often go unnoticed.

The bugs have been touring the United States for the past 10 years, with stops at such places as the Walt Disney Epcot Center.

“They are so unique,” said Julie Smith, public relations and marketing specialist for the Arboretum. “The craftsmanship is amazing.”

This is the bugs’ first time in Minnesota.

Smith said Rogers disassembles the bugs and fits them into one large U-Haul. After they reach their new destination, he spends two weeks sanding and varnishing them before taking a week to reassemble them.

Smith said Rogers even created a new beehive from scratch for the display.

The butterfly took the longest to create because Rogers collected plant fungi for three years to make its wings.

The largest bug is the preying mantis, which stands 18 feet tall and weighs 1,200 pounds.

Smith said the arboretum decided to host the exhibit because it was both artistic and educational.

“And it’s just to say, hey, not all bugs are bad,” she said.

Smith said kids that have visited have been excited about the bugs, and she is amazed at how many bugs they can recognize.

The arboretum will hold events all summer related to the sculptures, including the grand opening May 17 and “Dad’s Bug-Out Day” on Father’s Day, until the exhibit ends Sept. 28.

University students are admitted to the arboretum for free with their student IDs.

Emily Ayshford welcomes comments at [email protected]