Bug lover turns dorm into insectarium

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For most of us, insects are merely insignificant creatures, but for some, insects represent the magic of the nature.

Zhao Yuchen records the breeding process of insects in a notebook in his dormitory. [Photo/Chutian Metropolitan Daily]

Zhao Yuchen records the breeding process of insects in a notebook in his dormitory. [Photo/Chutian Metropolitan Daily]

Zhao Yuchen is a senior student majoring in bioengineering. He has turned his dormitory into an insectarium because of his passion for the small creatures, Chutian Metropolitan Daily reported on Tuesday.

The table in Zhao's dormitory in Wuhan Institute of Bioengineering is covered with all kinds of insects, from common bugs to ones few would have seen before. Zhao points to a small green caterpillar, saying that it is the larva of Chinese yellow swallowtail, a kind of butterfly.

"Chinese yellow swallowtail can hear some syllables, such as 'bu'. If it hears such a sound, it will be startled and stick out the antler-like scent gland. It is very interesting," Zhao said, visibly excited as he talks about insects.

Zhao developed a liking for bugs in his childhood. He often brought insects home secretly to observe them. It was not until senior high school that he had to put aside his hobby and focus on his academic courses.

His interest in insects prompted Zhao to apply for a biology major in the college entrance exam and he was admitted to Wuhan Institute of Bioengineering.

After going into the college, Zhao feels like a fish in water.

He has immersed himself in the kingdom of insects and is often found in the hillside, woods or lakeside of the school, looking for and observing bugs. He has brought eggs and rare species back to his dormitory and built rooms for these little "pets".

Zhao said that most of the insects he kept were released into the wild after becoming adult because "every life should be respected."

If an insect dies, Zhao makes it into a specimen using his expertise.

"Though some insects have short lives, they still show their beauty as much as possible," he said. To keep track of the beautiful creatures, Zhao records the growth, transformation, hatching and other stages in their lives. He also publishes logs and pictures about the insects on QQ zone, a popular social media platform.

During nearly four years, Zhao has kept more than 10,000 insects in his dormitory. "I have once bought online a kilogram of yellow mealworms, which is about 5,000 of them," Zhao said.

Even people around Zhao fell in love with the bugs under his influence.

Han Shujing, one of his classmates, used to be scared of worms, but intrigued by the beautiful butterfly specimens in Zhao's room, she started exploring the world of insects. The girl developed into much of a "butterfly expert" who has kept more than 100 of them.

"It takes roughly a month for an egg to grow into a butterfly, and we take care of it three times a day. When it is time to release them, it is so hard to let them go," Han said.

To continue his study into insects, Zhao is preparing to apply for coleoptera major – which studies all kinds of beetles – in the post-graduate entrance exam. Despite his busy schedule, he still keeps several Chinese yellow swallowtails and yellow mealworms in the dormitory.

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