“THE INTRIGUING WORLD OF INSECTS,” AT THE SAN FRANCISCO AIRPORT MUSEUM. Insects are the most diverse macroscopic organisms on the planet. Researchers have identified over 1 million species of insects and estimate that 5 million to 30 million more are waiting to be discovered. In fact, there are more species of ants than species of birds, and more species of beetles than all species of plants combined. In the United States, about 91,000 species of insects are known. Insects are everywhere — from shoreline to mountaintop, deserts to ponds, deep in the soil to the tips of the tallest redwoods, and they inhabit some of the most extreme environments on Earth. “The Intriguing World of Insects” at the San Francisco Airport Museum illuminates the extraordinary world of insects through the collection of the Essig Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Berkeley. There is so much to discover. The first insects appeared around 400 million years ago and evolved wings over 300 million years ago. Fossils of dragonfly ancestors, called griffinflies, had wingspans of over 60 centimeters. In contrast, the tiniest insects today have wingspans of less than 1 millimeter. But not all insects have wings. Some species, like silverfish, never evolved wings, while others, like camel crickets, lost them millions of years ago. Insects have three body regions: a head, thorax and abdomen — with antennae on their heads and three pairs of legs attached to their thoraxes. Insects display varying mouth parts that allow them to chew, pierce and siphon, or lap up their food. Insects, spiders, lobsters and their cousins are arthropods, meaning they have jointed legs and an external skeleton. In order to grow, arthropods must molt or shed their old exoskeleton to allow their new exoskeleton to expand. This is often accompanied by metamorphosis — a change in appearance from one life stage to another. For example, a caterpillar molts into a pupa, which molts into a butterfly. Bees, wasps, flies and beetles also go through a pupal stage. Other insects, such as cicadas and stink bugs look very similar as nymphs and adults, having no pupal stage. Insects play integral roles in ecosystems. They are important food sources for other species, and they keep plant and insect pests at bay. Insects such as termites recycle nutrients by decomposing organic wood debris on forest floors. Insects also produce wax and honey and pollinate the flowers of countless fruits and vegetables. For instance, honey bees may travel up to 60 miles in a single day, passively pollinating billions of dollars’ worth of agricultural crops in the United States each year. Want to learn more? “The Intriguing World of Insects” may be viewed at San Francisco Airport’s International Terminal, pre-security, through Jan. 5, 2020. Information about the exhibit and its downloadable Insects Education Program may be found at https://www.sfomuseum.org/exhibitions/intriguing-world-insects
MOTH LIGHT: ARTIST ASH FERLITO’S ETHEREAL VISIONS, AT INK DWELL STUDIO IN HALF MOON BAY, SATURDAY, AUG. 17. Inspired by mothing, the practice of using light to attract moths for observation, artist Ash Ferlito has produced a series of cyanotypes on lightweight fabric of the various species of moths and other insects she attracted with UV light. Remaining as faithful to their night-of arrangement as possible, the results are an ethereal constellation of activity, suspended in a cyan-blue field. For Ferlito, the project is a chance to make observations, identify species and highlight biodiversity, while producing imagery that shares the dazzling beauty of moths. The public is invited to enjoy these works at a free reception from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 17 at Ink Dwell studio, 270 Capistrano Road, No. 24, Half Moon Bay, followed by a “Mothing Adventure” at 9 p.m. For more information email Thayer Walker, firstname.lastname@example.org.