Bugs at the Museum

Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium Programs at the Montana Natural History Center

Thanks to an exciting partnership with the Montana Natural History Center we are able to offer Insectarium field trip experiences at their location on Hickory Street, near McCormick Park. Your class can experience innovative and exciting educational programs, all paired with live Bug Ambassadors, using the MNHC classroom and exhibit space.

What’s Included?

Programs offered by MBHI:

  • Are one hour long, with extra time available to explore the exhibits at MNHC before or after the program. 
  • Can accommodate up to 30 students at a time.
  • Feature live Bug Ambassadors.

Who Can Participate?

Bugs at the Museum programs are great for a wide range of learners. Whether you’re a group of families homeschooling together, a scouting troop, or a formal classroom teacher, we’re excited to work with you and your students! We typically work with grades K – 5 but are able to adapt some programs for middle and high school level students as well.

Cost & Group Size

Programs of up to 10 students: $50

Programs of up to 20 students: $70

Programs of up to 30 students: $90

Potential Extensions with the Montana Natural History Center

In addition to visiting us for a program, why not schedule a lesson on natural history with MNHC for the same day? As partners, we are able to offer joint programming. We are happy to work with your schedule and offer breaks, time for lunch, outdoor space if needed (weather permitting), and a central learning theme. For large groups a “doubleheader” field trip is a fantastic option—one group participates in an MBHI program, while the other group participates in an MNHC program, switching afterwards.

For more information about programs being offered by the Montana Natural History Center, click here. For first grade teachers working on biomimicry in their classrooms we recommend pairing our Bug Biomimicry program with MNHC’s Seed Dispersal: Fruit Engineering Challenge!


These programs are all held at the Montana Natural History Center, 120 Hickory Street, Missoula, MT 59802.


These programs are available Tuesday – Friday between 9:30 and 4:00pm. To schedule a single or doubleheader program, reach out to Carolyn at carolyn@missoulabutterflyhouse.org. Additionally, we’re always happy to answer questions over the phone at 406-317-1211.

Payment and Cancellation Policy

Program dates are not guaranteed until total payment is received. Your payment is 100% refundable if you cancel your program at least two weeks prior to the scheduled program date. If you cancel your program less than two weeks prior to the scheduled program date, you will receive a 50% refund. A link to pay for your program will be sent once a date and time are set.

Program Descriptions

Each program description includes NGSS standards information as well as the target grade level. Many programs are designed with a specific grade level in mind but can easily be adapted for older grade levels.

Creative Creatures
What would a bug look like if it were perfectly adapted to camouflage with your schoolyard habitat? In this fun and creative program students will practice their observation skills on bugs from around the world that are experts in the art of camouflage, discussing how these traits help them to survive. The adventure wraps up with a chance to design an insect, a brand new species, using leaves and other natural elements from around your school to inspire its camouflage.
Standards: “Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals, including humans, need to survive” (NGSS: K-LS1-1)
Grade: Kindergarten, but also up to 5th grade. Great for groups with a wide age range.

Bug Biomimicry
Description: What kind of inventions can we come up with if we use the bugs around us for inspiration? During each visit students will observe Bug Ambassadors and participate in engineering challenges to prototype an invention inspired by that animal.
Standards: “Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking plant and animal structures and functions that help them survive, grow and meet their needs” (NGSS: 1-LS1-1)
Grade: 1st, but also up to 5th grade. Great for groups with a wide age range.

Powerful Pollinators
Description: Explore pollination from the perspective of the many insects that excel at the art of moving pollen around. We’ll use magnifying tools, real specimens and investigation journals to explore the structures on pollinator bodies that help them in their pollination efforts.
Standards: “Develop a simple model that mimics the structure and function of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants” (NGSS: 2-LS2-2)
Grade: 2nd, but also up to 5th.

Aquatic Arthropods
Description: During this program students will discover the fascinating world of the aquatic arthropods with which we share the local rivers and streams. These amazing animals have unique life cycles and fascinating adaptations and traits. Students will pour through bins of river water to observe and sort the nymph stages of caddisflies, stoneflies, mayflies and more.
Standards: “Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death” (NGSS: 3-LS1-1)
Grade: 3rd, but also up to 5th

Habitat Choices
Description: This program is as much about discovering the scientific method as it is about the habitat preferences of our Bug Ambassadors. Students will work together to design and conduct a simple experiment using our roly poly Bug Ambassadors.
Standards: NGSS: 4-LS1-1 and NGSS: 4-LS1-2.
Grade: 4th and 5th

Bess Beetle Lab
Description: Ever wonder just how strong beetles really are? Would your students like the chance to conduct their own experiments? This program brings in elements of math, experiment design and a chance to work with live bess beetles.
Grades: 6th –  8th

Super Spiders
Description: This is easily one of our most popular programs and it’s all about spiders! We cover everything from spider anatomy and feeding habits to how they grow and defend themselves. We’ll meet a wide range of spiders and play a trivia game to dispel some of those troublesome myths about our eight-legged friends. 
Grade: Kindergarten and first graders love this program. It’s also adaptable for older students and groups with a wide age range.

Little Things, Big Jobs
Description: Who runs the world? BUGS! During this fun, hands-on program students will get the chance to learn about three major roles arthropods have in our ecosystem. We’ll talk about the importance of pollination, the balancing act of predation, and the dirty and messy world of decomposition.
Grade: Kindergarten – 4th

Survival Skills
Description: In this fun and active program students will learn all about the special adaptations and behaviors arthropods use to survive in the wild. We’ll hold Bug Ambassadors and play movement-based games to learn about their survival adaptations. We’ll wrap up our time together with a simple craft that engages the students’ imaginations. Each student will envision a new species of arthropod that is uniquely adapted to survive in its habitat. This program is perfect for high-energy groups and those with a wide age range.
Grade: K – 8th