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Bug Fest

Saturday and Sunday
August 12–13, 2023, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

overhead view of beetle with pinchers outstretched bug fest august 12-13

Bug Fest 2023 is coming! Join us at the Academy of Natural Sciences for a wild weekend celebrating more than a few of our favorite (invertebrate) things. Enjoy scientist-guided Bug Walks on the Parkway and our famous Roach Races, or discover your love for something surprising like the unexpected insect biodiversity of your local park. Explore specimens from the Academy’s world-class Entomology Collection, including recently discovered beetles, bees and butterflies. “Ask the Experts” at scientist meet-and-greets for all ages. Talk with Academy researchers and fellow bug enthusiasts to find out how their passion for all things invertebrate impacts and shapes our communities.

Save $2 per ticket when you purchase online.

11 a.m.–4 p.m.

Stop by Dino Hall for family-friendly food and drinks for purchase. Additional seating available in the Commons on the Ground Level. 

Bug Fest 2023 Details:

Academy educators racing cockroach in the academy roach race 5000.

Auditorium Show: Roach Races Grand Prix
10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Come cheer your favorite roach as it tests its speed on different tracks and races over obstacles. The best competitors will race to six-legged glory!

Auditorium Show: Bug GrubHub
11:30 a.m.

If these critters could have their feast delivered fast, they would! Take a look at some of the fascinating insectivores that call the Academy home. This live animal show will introduce and expand on the power of predation. Join us to hear about all the ways an insect-based diet fuels these captivating creatures.

Auditorium Show: Bee Yourself
12:30 p.m.

What’s the buzz about bees? Come find out for yourself and learn all about these interesting insects. Meet urban apiarist Don Shump from the Philadelphia Bee Company and discover how bees pollinate and enhance local biodiversity.

Auditorium Show: Light Trapping Techniques and Academy Scientist AMA
2:30 p.m.

Enjoy this delightful video providing the inside scoop on one of the many ways entomologists collect specimens! Ask an Academy entomologist what it's like to work with these delicate creatures directly.

Auditorium Show: Bugs on the Big Screen
3:30 p.m.

This unique live animal show will take a high definition look at what makes bugs beautiful, amazing and important. Join us for this digital deep dive into the morphology, form and structure of insects and the two-legged vertebrates who love them.

A child looking at pinned insects in a specimen box.

Bug Walks 
11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m.

Join Academy entomologists on an expedition just outside the museum. You’ll be amazed by what you find! Space is limited. Sign up in advance in North American Hall on Level One. 

Live Invertebrate Displays

Take a closer look at some of the most misunderstood and fascinating live insects, arachnids and more!

Bug Appetit

“Entomophagy,” or eating bugs, is a common, sustainable and delicious practice all over the world. Crunch down on a sour cream and onion cricket, dive into some waxworm salsa or devour a chocolate-covered mealworm. You may just find it slimy yet satisfying! Guests with shellfish allergies should not consume insects.

Academy Collection Highlights

Enjoy a display of some of the frankly fascinating specimens from the Academy’s world-renowned Entomology Collection. These specimens are rarely displayed and number among some of the most interesting, beautiful and significant examples from the millions that hide behind the scenes.

Meet the Entomologists

Talk with entomologists from the Academy and the American Entomological Society. Find out how butterflies are preserved and why the Academy leads the way in biology, conservation and ecology. Get a closer look at some rarely displayed specimens from our collections and ask whatever insect questions are bugging you. Sign up in advance at this location for Bug Walks. Space is limited to ensure a positive experience for visitors.

Bug Enthusiasts

Explore our halls and talk with fellow bug enthusiasts and Academy partners. Learn what you can do to make your world more bug friendly.

Beauty and the Bugs

From reflective butterfly wings to the astounding plant mimicry of walking leaves, the class Insecta is full of immeasurable beauty and aesthetics. Learn about how evolutionary pressures have contributed to the formation of fantastical appearances, unparalleled diversity and how art and science combine in the bug world. You’ll never see a bug the same way again!

Science Story Time: Some Bugs, by Angela DiTerlizzi and Brendan Wenzel
11 a.m.

Have some fun with Academy educators and other young natural history fans for a very special Bug Fest science story time and a hands-on buggy craft to try.

woman and two children looking at bugs in glass displays with academy staff person

The Art, Science and Sounds of Insects at the Academy
1–4 p.m., Saturday only

Immerse yourself in pop-up displays of art, field recordings and rare books celebrating the work of Daniel Otte and other insect experts in the history of the Academy. Hear their stories from our phenomenal Library and Archives staff. Please leave food and drinks outside of the Library.

Invert Paleontology Showcase

Check out some of the Academy’s rare and wonderful fossil invertebrates in stone and amber and learn how they reflect diversity and evolution over millions of years.

Meet the Macros

From toe-biters to whirligigs to caddisflies, macroinvertebrate biodiversity is vital to understanding the health of a freshwater ecosystem. Check out some water-dwelling inverts and meet scientists from the world-famous Patrick Center for Environmental Research, right here at the Academy. Learn more about the projects they are undertaking in Philadelphia and throughout the United States. Discover what steps you can take to keep our ecosystems safe and biodiverse.

Inverts of the Ocean

While we might not think of them as bugs, the amazing arthropods that call the ocean home have at least one thing in common with land-based insects and arachnids — they are spineless survivors! Explore some sea-dwelling selections from the Academy’s renowned general invertebrates collection and meet scientists and researchers to find out how deep Bug Fest can go.

Biodiversity Champions

At this interactive education and make-and-take station, learn about the incredible diversity of insects and arachnids around the world and right in your own backyard. Test and try different adaptations to see how you would fare as a bug, practice invertebrate identification using iNaturalist and make a seed mixture to grow native plants to help local bugs survive and thrive.

Meet the BEES

Loving bugs starts young! Talk with current Drexel Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science (BEES) students working with Academy entomologists and find out about their current research projects. Listen to them describe their love for bugs and how their research might benefit the world around us.

Drexel Research Associates

Talk with scientists working alongside Academy entomologists across the region. Learn about their current research projects to find out how you can get involved with community science.

Special Exhibits 

Skin: Living Armor, Evolving Identity
Featuring Bug Fest Invertebrate Microscope Exploration

Skin — it's deeper than you might think. Discover the shape-shifting, color-changing and ever-evolving nature of this complex organ in Skin: Living Armor, Evolving Identity. Explore the fascinating roles that feathers, furs, scutes, scales, hides and hairs play for different organisms across the globe through dozens of scientific specimens. Learn how evolution has shaped our own skin sensitivity and diversity — and how much scientists have yet to uncover about its underlying genetics. Bug Fest weekend only, stop by our special tech-enabled education cart to compare the exoskeletons of the inverts we study with the skin and fur we call our own. Included with admission.

Illuminating Birds

Part gallery and part studio, Illuminating Birds celebrates the enduring appeal of drawing and writing about birds. Requiring prolonged observation and deep curiosity, drawing — in its ability to distill — contributes to creative insights and scientific understanding. Bug Fest weekend only, customize an insect-themed, pocket-sized nature journal in the Avian Art Studio using printmaking techniques on display in the gallery. Included with admission.

The Big Dig will be closed during Bug Fest weekend. We apologize for any inconvenience.