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Bug Fest

Stay tuned for details for future programs!

Academy Festival, Bug Fest, August 13 through 15

Academy Festival, Bug Fest, August 13 through 15

Bug Fest is back at the Academy this August! While this year's event will be a bit scaled back from past years, we are excited to present a hybrid version of Bug Fest with both in person activities as well as virtual programs. Join us in person August 13–15 for creepy-crawly insect displays, roach races and auditorium shows. Check the schedule below to explore virtual programs for bug lovers of all ages and don't miss the chance to meet up with our entomologists in person at the Rushton Conservation Center for some community science.

2021 Highlights

Bug Fest Presents: Bug Hub
August 13–15

A grasshopper on top of an enclosure

Celebrate all the many-legged movers and shakers of the world at the Academy’s annual Bug Fest! Discover live bug displays, excerpts from the Academy’s world-renowned entomological collection, auditorium shows featuring Academy entomologists, Roach Race 500, Bugs on the Big Screen and more!

Live Bug Displays

Take a closer look at some amazing live arthropods in our live bug displays located on the 1st floor, outside the Auditorium.

Science Live! Infestations

Watch out for one of our pop up “infestations”! Stop by for an encounter with one of our scientists or animal keepers and catch a glimpse of our unique collections, live bugs and more!

Auditorium Shows

Bugs on the Big Screen

Friday through Sunday, August 13–15, 12:30 p.m.
Friday and Sunday, August 13 and 15, 3:30 p.m.

Get a high-definition look at what makes bugs beautiful, amazing and important at this unique live animal show!

Roach Race 500

Friday through Sunday, August 13–15, 1:30 p.m.

Cheer your favorite roach as it tests its speed on different tracks and races over obstacles. The best competitors will go on to race in the finals, and you won’t want to miss it!

Ask the Scientists: Summer Buggin’

Friday through Sunday, August 13 - 15 at 10:30 a.m.

Sun, fun and ... bugs? Insects in summer do more than give itchy bites and invade your picnics. They fill a myriad of roles for the benefit of ecosystems in Philadelphia and around the globe!

During our annual Bug Fest, join us for a special Ask the Scientists to ask Academy entomologists about beneficial insects, plus bring along any other insect questions you might have.

Academy Nightcap: Bugs in Bondage
Thursday, August 5, 8:30–9:30 p.m.

Academy Nightcap, Bugs in Bondage

In celebration of the Academy’s annual Bug Fest, Nightcap will be adding a few extra legs to our virtual event this month. From spiders that survive mating through silk bondage to copulations that last for days, the world of bug sex has way more kink than you ever imagined (or maybe you have – no judgement).

Join us for this journey into the bizarre and fascinating world of insect and spider mating rituals. You’ll never look at a bug the same way again.

Academy Night Caps are a monthly late evening program that tells the more risqué stories of nature. These events are recommended for ages 18 and over.
This is a virtual event that will take place on Zoom.


Science in the Wild: Bug Night Crawl
Saturday, August 7, 7:30–9:30 p.m.

A scientist observing bugs on a white sheet at night

When the sun goes down, the bugs come out! Join our scientists as the night comes alive at Rushton Conservation Center for an exclusive outdoor opportunity to do some community science. Take a guided flashlight tour of the preserve and discover the invertebrate species that live there. Try your hand at light-trapping and learn how this awesome entomology technique helps track invertebrates of all stripes. You’ll meet real scientists and find out how research at the Academy is making the world a better place, one many-legged specimen at a time.

No experience necessary, but we do recommend wearing comfy shoes and clothes that can get dirty and bringing a flashlight to guide your way. Starting at 5:30 p.m., BYO picnic before the program to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the preserve and check out some rare specimens from the Academy’s world-renowned collection. What will you discover as night falls?

Transportation is not included to Rushton Conservation Center. Field trip waivers will be sent upon registration. All social distancing and mask measures must be adhered to during the program. This event is rain or (star)shine, as safety allows. Be prepared to fly, crawl or jump in and have some fun! Contact Mary Bailey, Youth and Family Programs Developer, for more information:

Additional parking is located at Rushton Woods Preserve and Farm: 911 Delchester Road, Newtown Square, PA.

In partnership with the Willistown Conservation Trust



Live! From the Academy: Creature Feature
August 9–15, 11 a.m. Daily

A praying mantis on a person's hand

The world would not turn without arthropods! Tune in every day at 11 a.m. to meet Academy animal program keepers and special guests.

Check out some of our live “bug” animal ambassadors, and explore the many roles insects and their relatives have in our world.

Join us on Facebook Live!

See previous Creature Features

Bug Picasso
Monday, August 9, 3 p.m.

Artist with a tarantula on the palm of their hand

Grab your sketchbook and get creative with nature artist Stephenie Koniers as she gets inspired by another special guest: live bugs, painting right before your (compound) eyes! Learn to bring your invertebrate drawings to life and explore the finer details of insects and arachnids.

Get some helpful tips for drawing or painting your favorite species, and then show off your art. Share it on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and tag us @acadnatsci.

Contact Mary Bailey, youth and family programs developer, for more information at:

Atlas Obscura’s Special Access: The Entomology Collection at the Academy of Natural Sciences
Thursday, August 12, 5 p.m.

Atlas obscura's special access with four images of insests

Join Atlas Obscura for Special Access, an online experience that brings you into some of the world's most fascinating, hidden and under-appreciated spaces. You’ll get to join in on the wondrous exploration of some of the Academy’s most popular exhibits and hidden, behind-the-scenes collection. On August 12, Senior Director of Exhibits and Public Spaces Jennifer Sontchi will take you on a live, one-hour Special Access tour of the Academy of Natural Sciences.

You'll get a closer look at the Entomology Collection in honor of the Academy’s annual Bug Fest, and you will meet the curator, Jon Gelhaus! While you won’t see all 19 million specimens in the Academy’s collection, you’ll be sure to get an insider’s look at America’s oldest natural history museum.

Academy Conversation: Insects in Decline
Saturday August 14, 3:30–4:30 p.m.

A Butterfly, a black box with the text 'Academy Conversation'

Insects rule the world, and we are just along for the ride. We rely on them for everything from our morning coffee (pollinators) to red dye in fabric and food (scale insects) to recycling (decomposers). But two frightening trends are occurring: increased global temperatures and decreased insect populations. How are these connected? What do these trends mean for us? And what can we do to improve the situation?

Join us for a live, in-person conversation or catch the live stream all about insects in decline.

Shaker of Science: Adventures in Entomology
Thursday, August 19, 5:30–6:30 p.m.

'A shaker of science, virtual happy hour' with photos of five scientists

Did you know the Academy of Natural Sciences has two insect collections? Over 3.5 million specimens are housed and studied in the Entomology Department, but there are also hundreds of LIVE insects cared for and presented by the live animal programs staff.

Learn everything you can about both during this virtual happy hour! Meet the experts and hear their stories of collecting, caring for and identifying insects all over the world and right at home at the Academy.

This is a virtual event that will take place on Zoom.

Click here for suggested science libations.

INaturalist Bug Fest Bioblitz

Bug Fest is back at the Academy, and to celebrate, we’re hosting the Academy Bug Fest Bioblitz on iNaturalist! During the month of August, make any observation of an insect and add it to the iNaturalist app or website, and it will be included in our nationwide Bug Fest bug survey! Join the Academy Bug Fest Bioblitz project page to stay up-to-date with notifications and explore what other crawly critters iNaturalist users are finding! Your observations might even be identified by an Academy scientist! 

 In addition to Bug Fest Bioblitz, you can also explore other groups of organisms like animals and plants by joining the Academy’s iNaturalist group, Academy Naturalists! We invite you to explore the world around you, whether in a nature preserve, a city park or around your own neighborhood, and share what you find with the Academy’s iNaturalist community! 

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