THE CRAWLYWOOD COLLECTION
From a single Hemispepsis wasp in Tiburon, California in 1976, California in 1976, Oliver Greer's Crawlywood collection has grown to over 8,000 insects, related arthropods and arachnids. About 1,200 were found by Ollie and his friends and associates in the Santa Fe, New Mexico area. Ollie purchased the other specimens from 19 dealers and their suppliers around the world, representing all major tropical regions.
While Crawlywood makes people aware of the different environments and variety of creatures on this plant, the buying of specimens for this collection makes a positive impact on the rain forests. The people who supply insects to dealers make a considerably better living than if they worked to clearcut forests or construct in threatened areas, and are encouraged to sustain nature instead.
Specimens are purchased unmounted, dried and fumigated to eliminate bacteria and parasites that could possibly spread and cause environmental harm. First, Ollie hydrates and relaxes them. He then uses a large array of pins, setting boards, foam strips and panels, tracing paper and forceps to carefully set each specimen, and develop the the displays shown.
One of the Crawlywood collection's distinguishing features is the aesthetics of its specimens. Large butterflies and moths are set in "natural" spreads with their wings swept back. All the beetles' legs are set straight out front to back, as are all the stick insects (Phasmidae) and katydids (Orth0ptera), and all the spiders are set with legs as straight as possible. Wherever possible, antennae are set straight across left to right. This all provides for dramatic and unique appearance, as well as accurate measurement. This method also enables multiple insects to fit together in groups like the pieces of a puzzle and form the spectacular arrangements of the large display cases.
Unique, special and large specimens are another important part of the Crawlywood collection. The world's two largest beetles, Titanus giganteus and Xixuthrus heros, are displayed together in their own custom frame. Four of the world's largest stick insects, Pharnacia, Eurycnema, Hermarchus and Phasma, are also displayed together. There is a South American whip spicer whose front legs measure over 24 inches across and a Malaysian Batocera beetle with 18 inch antennae. There is a carnivorous Schizodactylus cricket from Pakistan and a 10.5 inch Goliath birdeater tarantula from Brazil. there is an Idolomantis diabolica devil's flower mantis, the stunningly beautiful Actias chapae tailed moth from Vietnam, a huge metallic purple earwig from the island of Borneo, and many more specimens showcasing the fascinating diversity in the world of entomology.