Lookout... or look-in: What would your little critters fantasy dream park look like?

As I shrink my average observational radius with some decent macro tools, the thought struck, why do wilderness parks have lookout points, but nothing of the same for macro visitors?

What would such a place look like? Guess it would depend on location. An excavated hole, perhaps for a jungle setting. An easy to access bug blind in a tree canopy? A crawlable glass tube in the middle of a coral reef?

What would you like to see in such park --or parks?

I’m going on a hunch that relatively speaking, a macro photo safari park would be far, far, less expensive to setup and maintain than a traditional one.

Future dream? Virtual reality LIVE macro jungle tours using remote controlled mini-bots that would let you see with goggles, the tiny underworlds in 3D.

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I’m not sure it would appeal to many people, but I would definitely be one of those people.
I’m thinking some sort of clear glass to view insects as if it were under a rock would work well for that.

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probably because lots of people will pay good money to see charismatic macrofauna, and few will pay money to see microfauna.

well, small and micro-organisms are everywhere. so it really could be just anywhere. for example, a garden with a lot of flowering plants that attract lots of different pollinators could be a nice place to do a lot of close-up photography of insects.

but if you’re thinking of something a little more controlled, i think you’re basically describing some version of a zoo or aquarium. barebones, it could be a room full of ecospheres and microscopes. or it could be a completely remote experience, where you can control microscopes remotely from a computer. or a completely VR experience, where you can just explore a pre-recorded micro-space with micro-organisms.

i think it depends on how you set it up and what kinds of creatures you have. but i tend to think what you’re thinking about would normally be set up as a secondary display to a larger display, such as the insect hall in the Butterfly Center (or the Butterfly Center itself) at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, or various (scorpions, hummingbirds, etc.) displays at the Desert Museum in Tuscon… that sort of thing.

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I agree with the others in this thread - I also doubt that there is much in the way of ecotourism (and all the infrastructure and facilities that come with that) geared solely to microfauna. I also agree that the closest would be things like butterfly parks etc.

Perhaps an idea would be to set up your own “park” - by creating a wildlife garden designed for insects, or contributing to creating something similar to such gardens in public urban parks, etc.

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I like this idea! Might be a great naturalist recruitment-investment project for a community conservation-centric group.

We are such visibly-biased creatures, and now that our fate relies on at least some generalized understanding that the macro world we live in depends on the micro one, I think it’s time we work harder to make this…well, clear and big. (Dang! It’s in our language.)

I think that the problem with park lookouts is that as the automobile took over our lives it’s disconnected us from natural scale connections.

What used to be a quiet contemplative, picturesque revelation of natural grandeur has now often been reduced to an almost drive-thru experience for many people.

I’m always amazed when I walk to the lakeshore parks around here (Niagara, Ontario) how many of the vehicles are parked there are full of people who never leave their cars. Or when they do, it’s too take a pic, and turn around and leave.

Perhaps the closest thing I’ve seen to this is a moth wall, which some tropical eco-lodges have. A white wall with the right sort of light, left on for parts of some nights to attract moths and other insects, which can then be observed and photographed by visitors.

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I love this idea!

Wonder if it would be possible to make a kind of ‘mini-interview’ room for night insects where you could observe and photograph without going outside again?

Like a one-way mirror on the interior side, and on the outside,a light panel separated by say, 2 or 3 inches from the inside mirror with open sides? Hmm. Excuse me,I have some scrap material boxes to look through.

My first thought was that unlike a Bruce Trail ‘view’, which remains unchanged except for seasonal variation, is that there is no guarantee that any small organisms will be there when you look for them. Insects are usually quite mobile and seasonal. If I had a dragonfly park, it would be almost useless in the fall. Unless it was set up to rear them all year round. Many invertebrate species are like this.
I assume at least parts of the Bruce Trail still get snow (especially in the ‘snow belt’), so ‘natural’ views of smaller life would be invisible. Some places, like the Wye Marsh in Midland, have some of this in their museum/visitor experience part.
It’s an interesting idea, though!

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I was thinking along the same lines. This is why you see more butterflies in a butterfly park than outdoors, even when there is ample butterfly habitat.

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i came across a freshly dead raccoon once that remained undisturbed by larger animals for several days. it was quite interesting to see the different insects that came to visit it during that time.

if you knew the local crews who pick up dead animals from the roads, you get the corpses from them and place them at different places along a trail, and then you would have a little park where you could do some macro photography of insect scavengers. you could even do some research there, too. it would be similar to a human corpse farm or forensic body farm, except with animals as your corpses. you could collect the skeletons at the end to store in a collection for research or to sell for a small revenue stream.

the other day, i was walking along a trail near a polo field where sometimes the horses go for a walk, and i found myself checking out some of the horse poop to see what creatures were there. i was hoping to get a short video of some dung beetles rolling some poop. no luck there, but there were some other beetles and crickets, etc.

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Love it! A 'Poop ‘n Snoop’ safari.

I stumbled upon this in a blog entry today by Katie LaBarbera, and it does a great job of describing the experience of appreciating smaller worlds.

"When people want a different perspective on the world, they may go to the mountains, or the ocean, or admire the endlessness of the night sky. Landscapes so vast as to approach incomprehensibility let you feel small, temporarily lifting the weight of consequence from your shoulders.

You can get a similar effect rather closer to home by seeking out the opposite: worlds so small that you become incomprehensibly vast, and therefore as irrelevant as a distant snow-crested peak."

Source: https://toughlittlebirds.com/2019/08/17/small/#more-9337

I’m picturing some cushioned benches where you can lie on your stomach, with a pair of close-focusing binoculars at one end. It’d be cool to set up a series of them, each in a different micro-habitat, and you could have little info boards with the common critters that hang out around each.

I find people are generally quite interested in the tiny world when I show them things, but don’t know to look for it themselves. And it’s not considered socially acceptable to lie on the ground in public, so they feel embarrassed.

When I was a kid I had a copy of Tom Brown’s Field Guide to the Forgotten Wilderness, and I think that’s what started me off on noticing the small things. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about how to look closely - you won’t find a lot of useful info about individual species, but the general ideas are good.

There’s no guarantee any particular small organism will be there when you look for it, but I have yet to ever pick up a handful of leaf litter that didn’t have at least one fascinating creature in it!

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