Mr. Big Beetle Finds His Way / 2015

Meadowbrook Park

Urbana, Illinois

Debut: Lincoln Park Zoo,  Chicago,  IL 2015

The title is filled with meaning. First of all, “Mr. Big Beetle”- he’s big! You can’t help but notice him. And he’s pretty cute, not too threatening even though he’s big because he’s also pretty with his iridescent green tiles. Next, “Finds His Way”- Mr. Big Beetle finds his way through the leaf maze. The larvae of the Emerald Ash Borer make trails like these in the bark of ash trees. The leaf is the shape of an ash leaf. This beetle has found his way to our country, from Asia, by hitching a ride on wooden shipping palettes. In his native environment he had plenty of natural predators to keep his numbers in check. But here he has few so he can eat his way through our ash trees. In Chicago we’ve had to cut down hundreds of thousands of ash trees because of this beetle eating. This brings up the question, Isn’t Mr. Big Beetle just doing what he must do to survive? He needs to eat and his babies need to eat.

So, we are confronted with a dilemma. We want to save the ash trees, they provide shade, and shelter for many other creatures. But to do so we need to stop the Emerald Ash Borer and that means putting pesticides around the roots of the ash tree. Scientists are in doubt as to the safety of these products. There could be a chain reaction that affects other insects and the birds that eat those insects. What will happen to the birds? Well, you get the idea, the poison will affect the other creatures as well.

The great naturalist, John Muir, recognized this dilemma over 100 years ago. His thought: When one tugs at a single thing in nature, one finds it attached to the rest of the universe.

In our global world, products and creatures are moving around at a speed that has never been experienced before. This movement affects our daily lives in many ways.

Materials: Welded steel, stainless steel, concrete with glass mosaic Dimensions: 62” h x 106” w x 50” d