Liverpool’s World Museum hosted the second Creepy Crawly Weekend organised by LSTM’s Vector Biology Department in cooperation with Liverpool and Chester based Well Travelled Clinic. The aim of these weekends is to increase the understanding of LSTM’s work on vector behaviour and control amongst a wider Liverpool audience.
Various interactive displays, tools and games were specifically designed to target children and their parents to explain how various vectors behave and the risks involved to humans when travelling to disease-endemic regions. LSTM scientists set up a display of three different species of mosquitoes, which included a local mosquito species to compare with the anopheline mosquitoes that spread malaria. Live mosquito larvae and egg rafts were also on display under the microscope for children to play with and investigate. The most popular part of the exhibition was when the insects were fed. Cages of mosquitoes were fed by offering up human arms and voracious tsetse flies were fed using an artificial membrane feeding system.
‘The weekend was a great success and a lot of fun’, said organiser Lee Haines of LSTM’s Vector Biology Department, ‘the children were engaged with the displays and asked a lot of good questions. They were really mesmerized by the behaviours of the mosquito larvae and how much blood pregnant tsetse flies could ingest. It was great to see their enthusiasm and how they took ideas from these insect experiences to then make their own insects in the crafts centre where we provided them with all the building material they needed.’
The LSTM affiliated Well Travelled Clinic provided a display of bite prevention items and various forms of repellents that enlightened the parents of the visiting children. A comprehensive hand-out was available for future travellers to stay safe when visiting mosquito-infested destinations around the globe. Despite the Christmas season the interactive exhibition was well attended with the Museum inviting LSTM to return in the summer for the next edition of Creepy Crawly and to contribute to a more permanent collection of insect vectors within the Bug House of the Museum.