Pacific Science Center

Bringing science to life.

Welcome To The Insect Village

Welcome to the amazing world of insects. When you visit the Insect Village, the insects are all around you. You will see a giant preying Mantis that lets you look at insect body parts in detail. You will see real insects and their relative – both living and specimens. Learn what makes them insects and what makes insects amazing.

Insects have amazing powers, from carrying air with them on underwater dives, to lifting many times their weight. Come into the Insect A Side Show tent and learn about some of the most extreme.

Take a moment for a photo op on the giant caterpillar, or feast your eyes on a picnic table of insect delicacies. When you finish your visit, you might start noticing that insects are all around us – and that far from creepy, most of the insects that share our world are harmless, fascinating, and important to their environments.

If you are an educator, download our pre-visit sheet.

Living Collection

Our Insect Village has an ever-changing collection of insects and their relatives from around the world. Look for these residents all year round:

Stick Insects

Look at a cage of these camouflaged insects and you will continually find more and more. Pacific Science Center accepts public donations of stick insects. If our permits allow, we will put them on display.

  • Australian Prickly Stick (Extatosoma tiaratum)
  • Vietnamese Stick Insect (Baculum extradentatum)
  • Other species upon occasion

Cockroaches

There are many species of cockroach and most are harmless to people. We display:

  • Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches (Gromphadorhina portentosa)
  • Brazilian Cockroaches (Blaberus giganteus)
  • Domino cockroach (Therea petiveriana)

Beetles

Beetles form the largest group of animals on earth with at least 350,000 known species and probably many undiscovered. We feature just a few.

  • Blue Death-Feigning Beetle (Cryptoglossa verrucosus)
  • Water Beetle (various)
  • Darkling Beetle (various)

True Bugs

We use the word bug to mean any small critter but the True Bugs are a group of insects with shield shaped wings and piercing, sucking mouth parts for drinking juices from plants or animals.

  • White eyed assassin bugs (Platymeris biguttatus)

Bees – Apis mellifera

Our observation hive is up and running as much of the year as possible. What an amazing way to watch bees up close without any fear.

Arthropods That Aren’t Insects

  • African Giant Millipede (Archispirostreptus gigas) – Our African Giant Millipedes’ favorite food is cucumber. If you look in the tank you can see that they like to eat the soft inner section and don’t like the skins.
  • Chilean Rose Tarantula (Grammostola rosea) – Female tarantulas can have very long lifespans. We have had specimens live for thirteen years and hope to keep our current ‘Rosy’ around even longer.
  • Regal Jumping Spider (Phidippus regius) – When they hunt, jumping spiders are very active, alert, and use visual cues in ways that lead scientists to consider them capable of learning and problem solving.
  • Emperor Scorpion (Pandinus imperator)

Featured Guest Species

Giant Asian Mantis (Hierodula membranacea) – This mantis amazes us by sitting perfectly still for hours, but moving incredibly quickly when food is offered.

See specimens of many other insects in our display cases and learn how scientists group insects – and how many insects are spectacularly beautiful.

Butterflies are insects too! Don’t forget to visit our Tropical Butterfly House.

What is an Insect?

Insects are animals. That means they are multi-cellular, they need an outside source of energy (food), and they can move or at least react quickly to their environment.

Insects belong to the group of animals called Arthropods, which also includes the spiders, millipedes, crabs, and other animals with jointed external skeletons.

Arthropods are sorted into major groupings. You can usually figure out what group an arthropod is in by counting its legs.

Different classes of Arthropods

GroupExampleNumber Of LegsNotes
ArachnidsSpiders, scorpions8Almost all are carnivores
CrustaceansCrabs, lobsters10Most (not all) live in the water
MyriapodsCentipedes, millipedes10-750They have a lot of legs
InsectsButterflies, crickets6Some insects have wings

Insects range in size from tiny (.139 mm, needs a microscope to see) to much larger (56.5 cm is the longest, 71 grams for the heaviest) but still not huge. You can see specimens of one of these giant stick insects and a magnification of the tiny beetle in the Insect A Side show.

Life Cycle

Some young insects look almost exactly like their parents. They grow by shedding their skin and becoming larger versions until they are fully grown. This is called “incomplete metamorphosis.” Insects with this kind of metamorphosis can do an amazing thing. If a leg is damaged when they are young, they can partially regrow it. Each time they shed their skin, the limb is a bit bigger.

Other insect young are very different from the adult form. They eat and grow as larvae, then become pupae, and finally transform into their adult forms. This is called “complete metamorphosis.”

Some insects only live a few months and many of them live a year or less. But one insect – a queen ant – lived to be thirty years old!

Insects And The World

There are at least a million species of insect worldwide. Most of them are harmless to people and many are beneficial. Pollinators [link] help plants make seeds that will provide food. Insects are cultivated for silk, honey, dyes, resins, and are eaten as food by people and animals. Visit our picnic table for some insect recipes. Of course, there are harmful insects, too, like mosquitoes. But it is very important to find solutions to insect problems without killing the insects that we depend on.

There are insects adapted to nearly every habitat from ice caves to rain forests to deserts. Some insects can live in many environments but many have very specific needs and are threatened when their habitats are disturbed. Pesticides, habitat fragmentation, climate change, and other environmental stressors put many insects in danger – including species that have not even been discovered yet.

Some Great Insect Links

There is so much to learn about insects. This is just a start. Enjoy some of these links to learn more – then go outside and enjoy the insect life around us all, and come to Pacific Science Center to experience hands on learning about them.

Insect Identification

All About Insects

Recipes!

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