When life gives you lemons, make social distancing lemonade! We know everyone misses their favorite Bug Ambassadors …and we miss interacting with you too. So, we’re bringing the bugs to you thanks to the world wide web and Facebook Live.

Join us Mondays and Wednesdays at 1:00 PM as we go live with some of your favorite Bug Ambassadors. Tune in for each encounter, as we’ll be covering a different topic, with new critters, every time.

To catch our videos live, check out our Facebook page! Each video comes with an activity you can do at home with your family. Scroll down for archived videos and activities from past weeks.

Meet the Rosies – 3/18/20

On Wednesday 3/18/20, Bug Wrangler Brenna introduced us to the FOUR Chilean Rose Hair Tarantulas we have here at the Missoula Butterfly House & Insectarium. We learned all about the anatomy of these tarantulas and watched one eat a live cricket!

Watch the video online HERE

At-Home Activity
This at-home activity asks you to imagine that you are an arachnologist, a scientist who studies spiders and other arachnids, that has just discovered a brand new species of spider. Did you know that while there are about 50,000 known species of spiders out there in the world, scientists think that there are still 1,000’s of species of spiders that haven’t been discovered yet?!

Use this helpful guide and draw a picture of your new spider species and write a little about what makes your new spider special. Don’t forget – spiders have two main body sections with 8 legs coming out of the smaller or those two sections, the cephalothorax!

Meet Milton the Millipede – 3/20/20

On Friday 3/20/20, Museum Educator Carolyn introduced Milton the giant African millipede. We got to meet the most charismatic millipede around and learn all about his anatomy and role in the ecosystem.

Watch the video online HERE.

At-Home Activity
Our “Meet Milton the Millipede” at-home activity encourages you to use your thumbs and coloring supplies to create your own millipede. Simply put your thumbs into the ink and create a chain of thumbprints down the page. Then, use your coloring supplies to add antennae, eyes and a mouth to the first thumbprint, the head. Finally, add the correct number of legs to the rest of your thumbprints. Try using this fun guide to create a series of different types of bugs with your thumbs and coloring supplies. 

Scorpions 101 – 3/25/20

Join us as we explore the world of scorpions with Bug Wrangler Brenna! Learn about some of the similarities these arachnids share with their spider cousins and some of the differences that make them truly weird and unique animals!

Watch the video online HERE.

Scorpions are experts in the art of camouflage. Scorpions that live in the desert are typically lighter, sandier colors, while jungle scorpions are darker colors to blend in with the forests they call home. 

At-Home Activity
What colors do you think are best for the scorpion in this coloring page? First, decide where you think this scorpion lives. Then, color it in a way that will help it survive in that habitat. If you prefer, you can always show off the color they turn when under a UV light, bright turquoise blue!

Centipedes 101 – 3/27/20

Join us as Museum Educator Carolyn gives an introduction to the very cool world of centipedes! We’ll talk about anatomy, venom and more. We’ll even be feeding our hungry centipede and asking for your help in picking out a name for our centipede friend!

Watch the video online HERE.

At-Home Activity
This activity is a pretty easy one – help us name our new centipede! Watch the recording of our livestream and consider all the cool facts about centipedes you learned. If you have an idea for an appropriate name, reach out and let us know the name AND why you think it’s a good match. You can submit name suggestions by sending us an email at info@missoulabutterlfyhouse.org, sending in a name via Facebook Messenger or by commenting on the original video.

Past centipede names that are now out of the running include “Large Marge,” “Cersei,” “Johnny,” and “Sandy.”

Spider Trivia – 3/30/20

We hope you’ve brought your A-game for today’s Online Bug Encounter Facebook Live video. We’re going to be playing a few rounds of “Spider Trivia” while meeting some of the spiders that call our lab home. Join us to test out your ability to tell spider facts from fiction!

Watch the video online HERE.

At-Home Activity
Looking for more fun trivia questions? Look no further. Click HERE for more questions and answers so you can play along at home!

Spring Butterflies – 4/1/20

Seeing butterflies …on April 1st …with basically no flowers out and snow still on the ground in some places? Learn about a number of early-season butterflies and how they thrive when other butterflies, and the flowers they feed on, are still weeks away from making an appearance.

Watch the video online HERE.

At-Home Activity
Spring is a great time to be on the lookout for butterflies. As you keep your eyes peeled for butterflies, remember that they are bilaterally symmetrical. When you spot a butterfly, take a close look at their wings. They will look exactly the same on each side of their body. Be sure to keep that in mind as you color in these beautiful spring butterflies.

Creative Creatures – 4/6/20

It’s time to meet the masters of disguise that call the Missoula Butterfly House & Insectarium home. We’ll meet Vietnamese walking sticks, Australian walking sticks and even a praying mantis to learn how and why they’ve adapted to stay out of sight.

Watch the video online HERE.

At-Home Activity
Flip through the magazines you have lying around your house. Can you find any pictures of bugs in there that you can cut out? If not, you can always search the internet for cool bug pictures to print out or draw your very own bug. Once you have your bug picture, trim around the edges and glue it down to a blank sheet of paper. Take a good look at your bug. What colors do you see? What kinds of shapes? Use what you’ve noticed about your bug to design and draw a habitat for it to live in. Make sure there are places for it to hide and blend in so it can hide from predators and maybe sneak up on its own prey!

BEETLEMANIA – 4/8/20

Join Bug Wrangler Brenna for BEETLEMANIA! Learn about the beetle lifecycle and why there are SO MANY BEETLES on this planet! She’ll introduce you to some of our beetle species and provide a sneak peek into next week’s live stream.

Watch the first video online HERE
Watch the second video online HERE
(we had some slight technical difficulties so this week’s session is a two-part special!)

At-Home Activity
Once you’ve finished coloring in this beetle species coloring page we hope you’ll head out and search for bugs. The weather lately has been great for bug hunting. Do you think you’ll find any beetles out there? We bet you will!

Praying Mantis Appreciation Day – 4/13/20

Praying mantises are always a popular insect, but how much do you really know about them? Join us for today’s edition of Online Bug Encounters as we explore the magical world of praying mantises!

Wath the video online HERE

At-Home Activity
Praying mantises move their front, raptorial legs super fast to catch their prey. Haiku poetry also moves super fast! Let’s create some mantis inspired haiku poetry to celebrate these wonderful insects. Haiku poems are three lines long. The first and third lines have five syllables and the second line has seven. Haikus are often about nature, can you write a poem about a praying mantis? Use this helpful guide to get started.

BEETLEMANIA PART 2: Beetle Weaponry – 4/15/20

Join us for BEETLEMANIA part two as we discuss animal weapons! Find out why so many beetle species have evolved such impressive “horns” and what they use them for!

Watch the video online HERE.

At-Home Activity
Spice up your wardrobe by making your very own beetle weaponry headband! You can watch the last few minutes of the live stream video to hear Brenna explain the details, but the basics are pretty simple. 1) Create the band of your headband by cutting a strip of construction paper and stapling it in a circle to fit the size of your head. 2) Draw and cut out the shape of your horn and glue it to one side of your band. Need inspiration for the shape of your horns? Check out this cool slideshow from the New York Times. 3) Decorate, decorate, decorate! Add eyes! Add more color! 4) Post photos and tag us in them on social media, we’d love to see your creations!

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches – 4/20/20

Join us to learn about an insect that kids love, and adults… not always so much. Today we’ll be talking all about Madagascar hissing cockroaches!

Watch the Video HERE.

At-Home Activity
Today’s at-home activity is a simple one – check out the International Wildlife Film Festival! Any donation of $5 or more gets you a “virtual pass” to the festival. You can participate in daily live events and watch all kinds of interesting, fun and educational films, all from the comfort of your home! We’d recommend checking out Love Bugs, Detroit Hives, Bee vs Wasp, and Arthropoda, which is all about hissing cockroaches! Don’t miss this amazing festival!

Vinegaroons – 4/22/20

Join Bug Wrangler Brenna as she introduces you to some of our more alien-like arachnids; the Vinegaroons! Learn about some of the similarities they share with other arachnids, and how they have evolved unique adaptations that really set them apart!

Watch the Video HERE.

At-Home Activity
We are continuing to encourage you to check out the International Wildlife Film Festival! There are tons of amazing films to check out about all kinds of weird and wild animals, like our vinegaroon friends!

We are also looking for help naming our second vinegaroon! Have a good idea? Send it our way! Tag us on social media or email us at info@missoulabutterflyhouse.org and let us know your name choice and why you think it’s a good fit.

The “Other” Roaches – 4/27/20

Many of our visitors know all about the Madagascar hissing cockroaches, but how well do you know our OTHER roaches? Join us for this edition of Online Bug Encounters to meet three more roach species!

Watch the Video HERE.

At-Home Activity
Biomimicry is what happens when humans get ideas for new inventions by studying nature. A group of scientists at UC Berkeley in California recently studied cockroaches to improve the design of a robot they were working on. Their robot is durable and able to squeeze into tiny places, just like real cockroaches. What type of job do you think this robot has? Check out this worksheet to see photos of the robot and complete this at-home challenge. Ready for the answer? Watch this video to learn more about the robot!

Isopods, Roly-Polys, and Wood Lice, Oh my! – 4/29/20

Bug Wrangler Brenna is excited to talk about the ever-popular roly polys! These common backyard decomposers are NOT insects. Find out exactly where they fall into the taxonomic order of life and explore some of the more uncommon varieties that you probably won’t find in your garden!

Watch the Video HERE.

At-Home Activity
Today’s activity? Get outside! The weather is starting to take a turn for the better and now is a GREAT time to go looking for bugs, especially roly-polys. Do you have any medium to large-sized rocks in your yard? How about old logs or sticks? Try turning them over and seeing what you find underneath. Chances are good you’ll find some isopods under there. If you find some, take a few pictures to send our way – we’d love to see what you come across!

Amazing Aquatic Arthropods – 5/4/20

We have a special treat for you – instead of sharing with you one of our exotic Bug Ambassadors- today we’re introducing you to some of the aquatic arthropods you can find in the rivers and streams around Missoula!

Watch the Video HERE.

At-Home Activity
Aquatic arthropods play a super important role in the food web of many river systems. The Clark Fork River food web is no exception. Check out this great illustration and coloring sheet by artist Ed Jenne. Can you follow the arrows to learn “who eats who” in the waters and along the banks of the Clark Fork River?

Molting – 5/6/20

Join Bug Wrangler Brenna as she talks about the molting process, and how and why insects (and other invertebrates) do it. She has plenty of old exoskeletons to show off, and has a special surprise update on one of MBHI’s most popular bug ambassadors!

Watch the Video HERE.

At-Home Activity
Today we learned all about exoskeletons and why arthropods need to shed them from time to time. But did you know that crustaceans are arthropods too and so also need to occasionally shed their exoskeletons?! Check out this cool video from PBS about how blackback land crabs molt to regrow their legs after battling with other crabs!

Crustacean Appreciation – 5/11/20

It is Crustacean Appreciation Day here at Online Bug Encounters! Join us to meet A.J. the crayfish and learn more about how he, and crustaceans like him, fit into the wonderful world of arthropods.

Watch the Video HERE.

At-Home Activity
Crayfish come in a wide range of colors: mostly blues, reds, browns, and greens. When you use this coloring page you can choose whatever color you want! Happy coloring and Happy Crustacean Appreciation Day!

Spider Eyes – 5/13/20

Join Bug Wrangler Brenna as she explores the world of spider eyes; from the nearly-blind, to the capable hunters. You’ll get to meet some of our smaller arachnids during this live stream!

Watch the Video HERE.

At-Home Activity
Jumping spiders are a ton of fun to watch in action. Here are a few cool videos to see them strut their stuff:

  • This cool video from the BBC is narrated by the one and only David Attenborough. You’ll get to watch a jumping spider go hunting for her next meal, a larger spider! Find the video: HERE.
  • This BBC video follows along as a regal jumping spider (like the ones we have) hunts a fly! Find the video: HERE.
  • Just generally itching for more cool spider facts? Check out this video from SciShow that profiles eight unique spiders. Find the video: HERE.
  • Check out the video of our wolf spider, Karen, catching her weekly cricket. Find the video: HERE.

Blue Death Feigning Beetles – 5/18/20

Today we’re doing a deep dive to learn more about one of our most popular Bug Ambassadors, the blue death feigning beetles! We’ll learn all about how they got their name and how they’ve adapted to survive in their dry desert habitat.

Watch the Video HERE.

At-Home Activities
One of our most popular games here at the Missoula Butterfly House & Insectarium is one that gets kids and adults alike pretending to be blue death feigning beetles.

To play, one person stands on the side of the room or yard and plays the role of the spider. Everyone else crawls around on their hands and knees like a blue beetle. Every now and then the spider yells out “Watch out, here comes a SPIDER!” All the beetles need to quickly roll over and play dead, not moving a muscle. Beetles remain playing dead like this until the spider calls out “the coast is clear, the spider gave up.” The game can go back and forth like this for as long as you want it to!

If you have a lot of people or want to make it more competitive, any blue beetle players who move in any way while playing dead can be called “out” and removed from this round of the game. Once a beetle player has been removed, the coast is clear and the remaining beetles can crawl around again until another call of “SPIDER!” can be heard. The “last beetle standing” gets to be the spider in the next game.

Spider Silk – 5/20/20

Join Bug Wrangler Brenna as she continues her look into the secret lives of spiders. Learn about the different types of spider silk and the how they’ve inspired future engineering endeavors.

Watch the Video HERE.

At-Home Activity
Spider silk is a great place to get artistic inspiration. We hope you’ll try this Watercolor Webs activity at home.

  1. Use oil pastels to draw a picture of a web on watercolor paper. You can use any color you’d like but we’d encourage you to try white. You won’t see it very clearly at first, but trust us – it will look cool in the end!
  2. Paint over your web picture with watercolor paints. Make sure your brush is nice and wet. The water in the paints will be repelled by the oil in the oil pastels, and you will be able to see your web standing out against the backdrop of the paints. You can paint a natural habitat, sunset, or any kind of abstract design you can think of.

Honey Bees – 5/27/20

Join Bug Wrangler Brenna as she explores the world of everyone’s favorite pollinator: honey bees! Learn how they communicate, how they defend themselves, and what we can do to help protect their future.

Watch the Video HERE.

At-Home Activity
It can be tricky to get cameras inside beehives but leave it to the folks at National Geographic to get it done! This amazing time-lapse video follows along as bees develop from larvae to adults in just over a minute. Not to be outdone, the folks over at PBS have also created an amazing up-close look at honey bees. Their video focuses on honey bees as pollinators and you can watch it HERE.

Bess Beetles – 6/1/20

It’s a bess beetle kind of day! Time to dive into the world of these little tunnel-digging, poop-eating, community-living, sound-making beetles!

Watch the Video HERE.

At-Home Activity
Bess beetles use 14 different squeaks to communicate with each other. What types of information do you think they’re trying to communicate? We’d love to hear what you think their 14 squeaks mean. Let us know via social media or drop us a line at info@missoulabutterflyhouse.org. Do you think squeak 1 is the beetles’ way of saying “I’m hungry, we need more snacks!”? Or maybe you’re thinking that squeak 12 might be “Watch out, there’s a predator coming!” Don’t be shy, drop us a squeak to let us know what you think!

Bonus Activity: We love just about anything The Bug Chicks create, including this silly video about bess beetles from a few years back.

True Bugs – 6/3/20

All true bugs are insects, but not all insects are true bugs. What qualifies this diverse family as “true bugs” and what kinds can you find in Missoula? Join Bug Wrangler Brenna as she dives into these questions and more!

Watch the video HERE.

Hoppers, a type of true bug, are stunningly beautiful. The film Learning to See profiles photographer Robert Oelman as he works to document these amazing, and usually tiny, true bugs. We hope you’ll check out his film and his photography to get a better appreciation of these awe-inspiring arthropods.