February 20 - May 16, 2010

Leeches, mosquitoes, and other parasites invade the Delaware Museum of Natural History during Attack of the Bloodsuckers! This skin-crawling special exhibit explores the world of "sanguinivores," or creatures that eat blood, through family-friendly activities and live animal displays.

Interactive components demonstrate how bloodsuckers track down their food. Mosquitoes follow carbon dioxide trails to locate targets, for example, so visitors can measure how much of the gas is left by their own breath. Temperature is another way that mosquitoes find meals, and visitors can use an infrared thermometer to detect a warm arm - even through a shirtsleeve. Nearby, a model compound eye shows how insects can easily detect motion when viewed in multiple.

Suckers from around the world are on display, including a life-like model of a vampire bat, a preserved sea lamprey, and portraits of a vampire moth, vampire fish, and bloodsucking bird species from the Galapagos. Real leeches can be seen snacking on blood from a local slaughterhouse. Mosquitoes buzz around in containers so visitors can take up-close looks at these bloodthirsty insects.

A giant, inflating tick gives big embraces to visitors, and families can play games like a life-sized version of "Twitcher" - a buggy variation on Twister™. A matching game reveals different bloodsuckers and visitors can use a probe to find a vein in an arm as they learn about tools these creatures use to feed.

Attack of the Bloodsuckers! provides visitors with helpful hints for avoiding these sometimes annoying creatures. Simple precautions like keeping yards free of standing water, where mosquitoes breed, and checking carefully for deer ticks before they can transmit Lyme disease can go a long way toward keeping families comfortable and safe.

"Some of these insects are known disease vectors, and their increasing populations are a public health concern," Executive Director Halsey Spruance said. "As a community resource, we want to address that, but we're really more interested in the science than the fear factor of what's eating you."

Attack of the Bloodsuckers! is produced by the Environmental Exhibit Collaborative and made possible by grants from Jane's Trust, Cabot Family Charitable Trust, and the U.S. Institute for Museum and Library Services. The exhibit is presented by DuPont, with additional support from the Borkee-Hagley Foundation and Richards Paving.

Learn how we feed the leeches at the Museum:

View a video of Attack of the Bloodsuckers! from when it was on view in Ithaca, New York:

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