Life on the Forest Floor

Part of Hall of North American Forests.

A diorama showing a millipede and its larvae amid plant matter, above and below the soil, all greatly magnified.

A forest floor is a busy place, full of decomposing debris and hungry bugs, beetles, and weevils. The Forest Floor Diorama combines artistry and education to show a precisely designed cross section of forest soil, enlarged to 24 times its actual size.

To create this scene, Museum artists studied specimens under a microscope and made models out of clay, wax, and other materials. For example, the acorn weevil larva is molded wax coated with shellac, petroleum jelly, and a latexlike liquid; the daddy longlegs, balsa wood and wire.