New IMAX film looks at life from a bug’s perspective

Wren Wertin
Special to the Daily/copyrighted by SK Films The Hierodula Membranacea, also known as the Green Mantis, is a large, classic-looking praying mantis that can grow up to 4 inches long.

The exclamation point in “Bugs!” seems appropriate, given the fact that some of the stars of Principal Large Format’s IMAX movie are magnified more than 250,000 times their normal size to fill the intricate screen. “Bugs!” opens June 4 at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Narrated by Judi Dench and directed by Mike Slee, the concept behind “Bugs!” is reminiscent of an enormous “Microcosms” with a Grand Dame for a narrator. Shot in the jungles of Borneo as well as in a studio in the United Kingdom, where a miniature rainforest was created, the film looks at life from a few tropical bugs’ perspectives.

Enter the itty bitty cast – most of which have big appetites. The stars of the film are a butterfly and a mantis.

nPapilio Memnon, or Great Mormon butterfly: She resembles a bird dropping when she hatches as a 2-millimeter long caterpillar, but grows to be a thick 2 inches in weeks, the equivalent of a human growing as heavy as a hippopotamus in one weekend.

nHierodula Membranacea, or Green Mantis: Found across Southeast Asia, this classic-looking praying mantis look like ants from a distance, which saves them from being eaten by birds. Roughly 200 are born at a time. Average life span is 9 to 12 months.

Support Local Journalism

Though Papilio and Hierodula command most of the screen time, the museum’s press materials promise a glimpse of more than 40 tropical bugs, such as leaf cutter ants, which consume 20 percent of the rainforest’s leaves; rhino beetles battling for the favors of a female; a trilobite beetle, hiding his tiny head under armor plating; a scale bug disguised as a ball of fluff. Scorpions, tarantulas, frogs, lizards and a colony of 3 million bats – a bug’s arch nemesis – all have a place in the jungles or Borneo.

How large a blade of grass can be.

Support Local Journalism