Our NatureWorks exhibit is home to a variety of insects and other animals that play big roles in our ecosystem. One group of these vital and often over-looked organisms are decomposers!
Decomposers are small organisms that break down organic matter and other decaying organisms in their environments. Think of decomposers as nature’s trash cleanup crew — like little living garbage disposals! Decomposers eat everything that decays, from plants to insects and even animals. Decomposers are usually very small and live in or on the ground.
Decomposers are an essential part of our ecosystem and if they didn’t do their job, the ground would be covered with natural garbage and disgusting matter. Thankfully, there are decomposers everywhere. They live in the swamps, forests, oceans, rivers and many other environments.
Here are some of the decomposers you might meet in NatureWorks during your visit to Orlando Science Center!
Millipedes are a group of arthropods, most are slow moving detritivores which means they feed on decaying leaves and other dead plant matter. Don’t worry if you see one; they are essentially harmless to humans! Millipedes are actually some of the oldest known land animals, even older than dinosaurs.
Another decomposer you might be familiar with is the cockroach, an insect of the order Blattodea, which also includes termites. Cockroaches are scavengers — they look for decaying matter to feast on. Cockroaches are also omnivorous, meaning they eat both plant and animal material.
Bess beetles are a family of beetles notable for their large size. There are over 500 different species of Bess beetles, and they live in tropical habitats. They process decaying wood!
These decomposers might be small, but they are mighty! We like to think of them as the heroes of nature.
Come visit NatureWorks to see these ecological heroes for yourself! And if you are interested in other superheroes, be sure to visit our Hall of Heroes traveling exhibit while you’re here.
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