Fly in the Ointment

The Bog diorama features a fly stuck in the receptacle of one of the pitcher plants in the foreground. The original preparators, directed by Ralph Morrill, glued actual dead flies onto a plexiglass surface inside the pitcher plant as if the flies were caught in the watery liquid. Two problems with this illusion were apparent: 1. The flies would only last about 6 months before some living insect (yes, there are insects like carpet beetles living inside the dioramas.) would devour it and 2. the plexi surface was too deep inside the pitcher plant, making the fly hard to see when it still was there.

Eunice Palffy-Muhoray convinced me that it was worth it to trash the old pitcher plant to remove the plexi surface so we could reinstall it inside another plant.

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We discovered that they had put sand in the bottom to hold the plexi platform inside the plant. Eunice found another plant and put pieces of ethafoam inside to do the same thing. Actually, the fit was so good, that the lip of the plant holds the plexi surface now. We positioned it just below the upper surface.

Now for the new fly. Ray Pupedis didn’t have time to make one, so I got out my fly-tying stand, a fish hook, and some peacock herl (a long reflective feather). I bought a rubber winged insect model from the art supply store, clipped the wings and legs off, and skewered it onto the fishhook. I wound the peacock herl around the rubber body, tied on a pair of small “dumbell” eyes, and a pair of mylar wings. I made legs from size “0” black insect pins bent into shape. It’s not perfect, but it works and the viewers will be able to find it.

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Ray Pupedis, Peabody’s entomology collections manager laughed when he saw this! He promised he is going to make another one that won’t be quite as bad as this one!!! OK Ray, you’re right-now give me your best stuff!

The bend of the hook was clipped off and the fly was epoxied onto the plexi in the pitcher plant and installed in the foreground of the diorama.

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