Disturbing laboratory test tubes. Filled with bugs and bright not-liquid stuff. A.k.a., Jello bugs!
I needed a non-liquid alternative to colored water in test tubes for a mad-scientist display. Solution: jello.
Personal field testing revealed that regular jello will stand at room temperature (a pretty warm room) for just barely five days before it begins to get moldy. Plenty of time to gross-out small children without precipitating an unfortunate bio-hazard event.
This is terribly fun to do. Enjoy!
- Test tubes, beakers, syringes, petri dishes. We had a variety of beakers and petri dishes around, but the test tubes and syringes came from Amazon. Links below. Oh, and yes, I’m using mostly plastic since there were so many little kids around, but glass beakers look better.
- If you’re using test tubes, a test tube holder makes them look even more realistic when you display them. The picture above shows a nice wooden old-school one I found on Amazon.
- An assortment of bugs. Make sure some are narrow enough to fit into your test tubes. I used
- hideously realistic roaches from Spirit of Halloween (I had trouble touching them)
- sticky black millipedes from Dollar Tree
- tiny spiders and big spiders from Dollar Tree
- translucent glow-in-the-dark millipedes from Dollar Tree (these were harder than the black ones)
- severed fingers from Spirit of Halloween
- plastic eyeballs
- translucent glow-in-the-dark scorpions and snakes from Dollar Tree
- Some Halloween cookie/cupcake sprinkles from WalMart: small spiders, skulls, shiny dark silver dragees, black and red jimmies
- A nice variety of jellos. Personally I thought the red, green, orange, and yellow looked the best. Blue was next. The purple was too dark to see the icky stuff. I did use the Jello brand, but I’m sure the store brand would also work great.
- A little funnel
- A long, thin stick – maybe a skewer
- Space in your refrigerator
- Mini strobe lights: red, green, blue. Look online, or check Walmart. Spirit of Halloween also carried them, but they were more expensive there.
Set out your tubes and beakers and so forth and decide what colors you want in each, and what insects will go in each. You will need to do each color separately. It doesn’t take long, however.
Test tubes and beakers: Prepare your jello according to the package directions. Use your funnel or a measuring cup with a lip to pour the jello into your beakers and over your insects. Use the skewer to poke them down in.
Petri dishes: Put a little jello in each and then set your creepy crawlies on top, or scatter with Halloween jimmies. The coloring of the jimmies will start to run and make it look like there is really a culture growing in the dish. Eew! You may want to put the petri dishes in the refrigerator first, then add the jimmies, so that the dye doesn’t spread to much when you transfer the dish to the fridge.
Syringes: take out the plunger. Fill the syringe really full (red of course, looks classic). Put the little plastic tip on the bottom to avoid leaks. No plastic tip? Wrap some plastic wrap tightly around the bottom. When the jello has hardened, take off plastic tip/plastic wrap and insert the plunger. This will be hard – you’ll have to squirt out some jello and the plunger won’t go in all the way, but it looks great.
Put your creations in the refrigerator to firm up. Put the test tubes and syringes in a glass to keep them upright.
Be aware that your significant other might be freaked out when they come home and opens the fridge. Warn them in advance about this project!
You may notice that some of the lighter plastic creatures float up in the jello. If you are a stickler about this, let the jello firm up for a while, then push the severed finger or whatever deeper in. You will probably leave a mark in the jello at the top. If you’re really finicky, you can cover this after it hardens with another layer of the same color jello.
When you’re ready to put together your display, play with your strobe lights to see how they illuminate your creepies. A green strobe light flashing slowly on a green jello beaker with a translucent millipede inside looks pretty cool. Orange roaches in yellow jello with a red strobe light. Nasty! In a good way.
The whole process takes maybe an hour or so.
If you have a special someone who shares your love of the macabre, you can make special present for them. Get a holiday wine glass from Dollar Tree – they have them for birthdays, Halloween, you name it. Stick a nice millipede in it and fill with red jello. Add a bottle of wine and you’ve got a great gift!
Toxic Stickers (these are basically permanent: we have one that has been stuck to the bottom of our washing machine for two months, now. Which must mean that at some point I was wearing it. And didn’t know. Great. Just great.)