Fantastic Bug Encounters!

Category: Exhibitions

Exhibition Summary

Requires All-Access or Discovery Pass

Closes Apr 19, 2020

All ages


Requires All-Access or Discovery Pass

Closes Apr 19, 2020

All ages

About the Exhibit

Meet Earth’s smallest superheroes.

Bugs are all around us. Whether they’re flying, crawling, or digging deep below our feet, they live fascinating lives that we often don’t see.

Now, step into a larger-than-life version of their hidden world. Told from a bug’s point of view, Fantastic Bug Encounters! invites you to take a closer look at the beauty, diversity, and amazing abilities of these resourceful creatures. 

Can you outwit a jumping spider, match a dragonfly’s speed, or beat the reflexes of a mantis? Explore hands-on stations to learn about the unique superpowers of spiders and insects—their adaptations. 

Then, meet some live bugs with talents like breathing underwater and playing dead. You’ll even have the chance to hold a few of them at the Live Bug Zoo. 

Observing bugs’ special skills helps us create new technologies and solve human-sized problems. From flight to medicine to working together, there’s a lot we can learn from bugs.

The exhibition is presented in both English and Spanish. La exhibición está presentada en inglés y español.

Oversized models of honeybees huddle together in the center of a honeycombed structure. The background lighting is pink.

In one of several hands-on adaptation stations, follow the example of Japanese honeybees and work together as a swarm to defeat a menacing hornet.

Mike O’Neill © Te Papa 2016

Get ready to have a whole new appreciation for bugs.

Exhibition highlights:

  • Hands-on activities for kids, families, and all ages 
  • A peek at the latest science inspired by bugs’ abilities 
  • Colorful designs and detailed models crafted by Weta Workshop

Exhibition included with membership

Hear all the buzz Become a Member

Live Bug Zoo 

Meet—and hold!—live bugs.

With the help of museum staff, handle some friendly, laid-back bugs: a lubber grasshopper, Madagascar hissing cockroach, death feigning beetle, and patent leather beetle.

Certain bugs are available to touch or see up close daily during 30-minute periods beginning at these times:

  • 10am
  • 11am
  • 1pm
  • 2pm
  • 3pm

At other times, bugs are visible inside their enclosures. You can also take a peek at non-touchable critters like a pink-toed tarantula, emperor scorpion, and a stick mantis.

Three children and an adult crowd around a bug that a woman holds out over a light table.

Guided by Museum staff, the Live Bug Zoo is your chance to hold—or just take a close look at—some live critters.

Martin Baumgaertner

Bugs save the world—literally.

Bugs belong to the arthropod group: they have exoskeletons and no backbones. This includes six-legged insects, arachnids with eight legs like spiders, and myriapods—many-legged centipedes and millipedes.

There are over one million species of arthropods on Earth—that’s a whopping 80 percent of all known species. Our scientists travel all over the world, from New Zealand to Vietnam, to find and study these tiny experts.

Discover More At The Field