Come explore the amazing world of bugs with your students!

Field trips to the Missoula Butterfly House & Insectarium provide participants with a chance to learn about “the little things that run the world” as they investigate, explore, experiment, observe, build, and more. Field trips are designed with extensive input from area teachers and address grade level appropriate Montana state science standards. Curiosity and critical thinking skills are at the core of each field trip as we work to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the world of arthropods.

Program Descriptions

Grade: Kindergarten

Standard: K-LS1-1 “Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals, including humans, need to survive.”

Program Description: 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.

Grade: 1st 

Standard: 1-LS1-1 “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.”

Program Description: What kind of inventions can we come up with if we use the bugs around us for inspiration? During each visit students will discover inventions created by engineers who got their ideas from studying arthropods. Students, working in small groups, will eventually become engineers themselves, designing and testing their own prototype for a bug inspired invention.

Grade: 2nd

Standard: 2-LS2-2 “Develop a simple model that mimics the structure and function of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants.”

Program Description: Our Powerful Pollinators program offers area second graders the opportunity to interact with live Bug Ambassadors and investigate the structures of insect pollinators that aid in the distribution of pollen. The emphasis is less about identifying specific species and more about helping students develop the ability to observe, make connections, ask questions and argue from evidence, all in the context of pollination.

Grade: 3rd

Standard: 3-LS1-1 “Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.”

3-LS4-3 “Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.”

Program Description: Beetles are one of the most diverse groups of animals on the planet – they’ve adapted to survive in habitats around the world and come in a dizzying array of colors, shapes, and sizes. And yet, they all go through metamorphosis and have some basic anatomical structures in common. We’ll explore beetle biodiversity, habitat adaptations, and lifecycles while meeting living beetle Bug Ambassadors and creating new ones from our imaginations.

Grade: 3rd

Standard: 3-LS1-1 “Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.”

Program Description: During this program students will discover the fascinating world of 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.

Note: This program is only available in early fall and late spring, river and weather conditions permitting.

Grade: 4th

Standard: 4-LS1-2 “Use a model to describe that animals receive different types of information through their senses, process the information in their brain, and respond to the information in different ways.”

Program Description: During this program students conduct an experiment utilizing “habitat choice chambers” to investigate the habitat preferences of isopods (roly polys). There is a strong focus on the scientific method, specifically on how to develop a hypothesis and the basics of good experiment design. This program fosters a sense of curiosity about the world of isopods and how they sense and navigate their environment.

Grade: 5th

Standard: 5-LS2-1 “Develop and critique a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.”

Program Description: What happens when a new organism gets added to an ecosystem? How does that species impact the flow of matter and nutrients? We’ll explore case studies of food webs that have been impacted by invasive arthropods – how their introduction has changed the food web and what might be done to stop it and return balance and order to an ecosystem’s food web.

Grade: All Grades

Program 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.

Preparing For Your Field Trip


Busses can drop off students in two locations. If you’re coming down South Ave with the building on your right, pulling over (and parking if needed) on South Ave right in front of the building is an option. Alternatively, buses are welcome to pull into our parking lot off of Stephens Ave. Buses are not able to park in our lot but there is able parking in the fairgrounds and along South Ave. An MBHI educator will greet you at the main entrance at the corner of the building facing the parking lot at the corner of South and Stephens.

Name Tags & Small Groups

Our butterfly room cannot accommodate a full roster of up to 30 students at one time so we will need to break your class into three smaller groups. Your class will have 45 minutes in the exhibit area and butterfly room total. With your class broken up into three smaller groups, everyone will have 15 minutes in the butterfly room and 30 in the exhibit space. Before your visit, please send a class list with students broken into three groups, avoiding putting known troublemakers together. We will use that list to create color coded name tags to facilitate splitting up in the exhibit area when the time comes.


We prefer a ratio of no more than 1 adult to every 15 students in addition to the teacher. PARA educators or 1:1 aides are not included in this ratio. Please no more than 6 adults per field trip and no younger siblings. Each small group that goes into the butterfly room will need a school chaperone to go with them.


Please be sure to let us know if you are hoping to have lunch on site. There is plenty of space for outdoor picnics but indoor space requires a reservation and is not always available.

Resources for Getting Students Ready

  • Behavior Matrix
  • “What to Expect” Google Slides Presentation
  • You will be receiving a Teacher’s Guide, Pre and Post program activities, and more in your confirmation email once you schedule your program.
  • Field Trip Inquiry

    Let us now a little bit more about your class and we'll reach out as soon as we can!
    Feel free to contact Carolyn Taber with any questions directly: 406-317-1211 or

    Field Trip Inquiry Form

    • Knowing, roughly, when you're most interested in having your field trip is very helpful. For example saying "Anytime in April except for the week of the 11th and Friday the 27th" or "Mondays through Thursdays in the winter or early spring" is very helpful for us.