Move Over Spider-Man

Spider-Man got nothin’ on Bug Fest. The action hero may be impressing moviegoers with his latest flick, but the Academy of Natural Sciences has the real thing—live spiders and hundreds more insects.

Bug Fest, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 10 and 11, is the Academy’s annual festival of live insects, roach races, bug-tastings, goo-making, bed-bug-sniffing dogs, and Academy experts to explain the secret life of bugs. Look for an amazing variety of millipedes, centipedes, scorpions, stick insects, caterpillars, tarantulas, beetles, ants, butterflies, and, of course, spiders.

“We’ll have more than 100 species of live insects on display for our visitors to examine up close, and our knowledgeable staff will be on hand to explain what they are seeing,” said Academy invertebrate keeper and Bug Fest organizer Karen Verderame. “It’s a fun way for people of all ages to learn how important insects are in our daily life. The more we all know, the more success we’ll have for a sustainable future.”

kids and educator
Getting in on the action

Despite the more than one million insects that scientists have already identified, experts estimate there are millions more to be discovered.

Academy entomologists, who maintain an active research collection of 3.5 million insect specimens, will lead walks outside of the museum in search of insects and also show specimens from the collection. Visitors are encouraged to bring their questions about invasive species such as lanternflies and ash borer beetles, and even how Spider-Man’s powers compare to his namesake. According to Academy entomologist Isa Betancourt, the superhero’s senses are pretty close to the real thing.

“Spider-man has many of the powers that real spiders possess, but there are more! If all the spiders’ super abilities were combined, the resulting superhero would be near impossible to defeat,” said Betancourt, whose weekly BugScope attracts a large following on the Periscope app.

hercules beetle
Hercules beetle

Bug Fest is sponsored by Western Pest Services and Renewal by Andersen. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Discount tickets are available online at

Here are some activities taking place both days at Bug Fest. For a more detailed list, visit

Roach Races Grand Prix. 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 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.

A close-up look at Academy’s specimens

Bug Walks. Hourly 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Join Academy entomologists on an expedition in search of insects just outside the museum.

Bedbug-Sniffing Dog Demonstration. 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Watch as the dogs from Western Pest Services show off their unique skills with a special demonstration of what they do for a living: sniff out unwanted house guests.

Bugs on the Big Screen. Noon

This unique live animal show will take a high-definition look at what makes bugs beautiful, amazing and important.

Bee Yourself. 2 p.m.

Meet urban beekeeper and bee-beard aficionado Don Shump of the Philadelphia Bee Company, and bee amazed by these cool colonial creatures and their amazing little worlds.

Beyers scarab beetles

Goo! All day

Make and take your own slimy concoction to catch prey, move around or attract a mate, just like some bugs do.

Bug Appétit. All day while supplies last

Tempt your taste buds with some crunchy crickets and savory spiders as we cook up tasty treats with the buggiest ingredients. Chocolate “chirp” cookies and other entomophagy (“bug-eating”) samples will be offered while supplies last.

We’d love to see you at Bug Fest! To purchase tickets at a $2 discount, visit this link.

By Carolyn Belardo, Images by Mike Servedio/ANS

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