Natural Sciences

Natural Science Collection

Our Natural Sciences Collection originated with gifts from members of the Peoria Academy of Science, and started at Lakeview Museum. It includes a wide selection of geological and entomological specimens.

Insect Collection Highlights

Walking Leaf Insect
order: Phasmatodea
family: Phyllidae
Gift of Mrs. Harry W. Biehl, 1964

The core of the entomology collection was a gift of 5,500 insect specimens collected by Harry W. Biehl from five continents between 1929 and 1939. Among these are hundreds of species of Coleoptera (beetles) and Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths). A selection of specimens, including local examples, is rotated on view regularly in the Museum’s Discovery Center. 

Insects are invertebrate animals with a hard outer covering or exoskeleton. Their bodies consist of a head, thorax, and abdomen. They have six segmented legs. Insects are the most successful animals that have ever existed on this planet, and have been around for more than 400 million years. 

Among the most surprising insects are those that mimic or closely resemble their surroundings in order to conceal themselves from predators. One of these is the walking leaf. There are about 30 species of these flat, green insects. They remain absolutely still when threatened, but rock back and forth when walking to mimic a leaf being blown by the wind. In some species the edges of the insect’s body even have the appearance of bite marks and the discoloration of decay. Walking leaves are common in southern Asia and the East Indies.