Unique and ENTO-taining educational programs for people of all ages and abilities!

Bug Zone Programs by Bruce the Bug Guy

Standard Bug Show - My standard BUG SHOW is specifically designed to teach young audiences about insects (and related arthropods) in a fun and ENTOtaining way. It's a dynamic blend of Show ‘n Tell, storytelling, interesting facts and fun hands-on activities that include LIVE critters from my arthropod zoo.

I use an assortment of attention-getting props and images, including preserved specimens (displays) of local and exotic insects and LIVE arthropods from my Critter Zoo. Other items include hand puppets, plastic insects, tasty insect snacks, and any other appropriate items to capture the interest of my audience…..and help me emphasize an idea or concept.

In short, I bring LOTS OF STUFF… so the audience will have the opportunity to experience bugs using ALL their senses!

Although I'm flexible and have adapted my program to many situations and audiences, a 45-60 minute presentation to a typical class-size group (30 students or less) is ideal. This arrangement allows me maximize the inherent hands-on, interactive nature of my program and also allows me to proceed at a comfortable pace. The show can be easily adjusted to accommodate the age and size of the audience, as well as the individual needs of each school, library, or organization. Shows can be scheduled singly or as a series.

For very young audiences (child care centers, etc.) my programs usually run around 30 minutes, shorter for smaller groups and longer for larger groups. To accommodate shorter attention spans, I prefer to perform two or more shorter (20-30 minutes) shows to smaller groups rather than perform a single longer show to a large group. By keeping the groups small and manageable (20 children or less) and having 2-3 staff available to assist with the hands-on part of the program, ALL the children will have an opportunity to participate and to be reassured that they are not going to get hurt. It also helps minimize the chances of any critters being mishandled. In summary, this combination makes the program as hands-on and interactive as possible, which translates into a truly meaningful and memorable experience for the children.

Fee: Negotiable, starting at $175 per hour, plus mileage; final cost is dictated by audience size, number of shows, format, and other factors. I do offer discounts for multiple bookings (if in same general area) and for all-day bookings. NOTE - During my hectic summer schedule (June through August), the only way I can justify the travel time for shows more than 120 miles (i.e., 2 hours) from St. Paul is to have multiple bookings in the same location, the same geographic area or along my designated route.

BUGGY Birthday Parties by Bruce the Bug Guy

If your child is fascinated with insects, he or she will be delighted with Bruce the BUG Guy’s BUGGY Birthday party program! Participants will get the unique opportunity to see, hear, and even touch and hold some amazing insects from around the world, including an assortment of LIVE critters from my Traveling Critter Zoo.

The hands-on, interactive nature of my Bug Show is ideal for small birthday party audiences (typically from 6 -12 kids). My Buggy Birthday shows are similar to my standard Show ‘n Tell show, but more personalized and even more hands-on and interactive! The show features both LIVE and preserved specimens of local and exotic insects and related arthropods. LIVE specimens from the Critter Zoo include: mouse-sized Hissing Cockroaches, foot-long Giant Millipedes, and assorted tarantulas and scorpions (and others, depending on the season and their availability). (Don’t worry! I know exactly how many I bring and make sure everything is accounted for before I leave! I have a strict “No bug left behind policy!)

Specimens in display cases include bird-sized butterflies and moths, rat-sized beetles and some truly giant walking sticks. I also have a wide assortment of large color images, hand puppets, goofy bug hats and plastic insects, anything that will capture their interest and make my point! Typically I plan about 50 minutes for the actual presentation and about 10-15 minutes for questions and an opportunity to get closer looks at things of particular interest to the students. If time permits, kids may also play with “other” extra stuff I bring along to parties. In short, I bring LOTS OF STUFF to my show, which allows me to be flexible and helps me customize the performance.

Cost - The fee for my standard BUGGY Birthday party program generally ranges from $125 - $200 for the 1-hour program + mileage. Final cost will depend on the payment option you choose and where you’re located. Rates outside the TC Metro area are slightly higher to account for additional travel time and costs. For an additional charge, you can “add on” either a “Bug Safari” for “Buggy craft activity (see below).”

What you’ll need to do to prepare for my arrival:

Possible Birthday Party add-ons - In addition to the standard 1-hour program, you also have the option of adding either a Bug Safari OR a fun, hands-on craft activity to your party event. However, the type of activity we’re able to do really depends on (1) what you your son or daughter would prefer and (2) what’s possible, based on time of year, access to good insect habitats, weather etc.).

Bug Safari - This is by far the most popular “add-on” activity, which involves taking youngsters on an actual Bug Hunt so they can catch their “own” bugs. Note: Naturally, this depends on time of year (anytime from mid-May through early October), weather and the availability of good insect collecting sites (e.g., any wild, “undisturbed” areas). If all these things come together, you can't miss with a Bug Hunt! Besides having a great time, the kids learn how to do something that they can do on their own throughout the summer! I bring enough collecting equipment (nets, collecting jars, small containers, Bug spray, etc.) for up to 12 kids. If they’d like to buy any materials, they may be able to purchase them directly from me or I’ll provide a list of vendors, including several local vendors (also see the “EQUIPMENT SUPPLIERS” section on my RESOURCES button). Cost for a 1-hr Bug Hunt is $135.

Hands-on Buggy Craft Activity - Hands-on craft activities include making bug magnets using die-cut bugs (decorations include wiggly eyes, beads, pom poms, chenille stems, etc.), creating their own bug scenes with insect stamping kits, or making their own bug hat (I provide the hat and all decorating materials). Another fun option involves tying balloons into bug shapes (such as bees, dragonflies, spiders, etc. Cost for a 1-hour Buggy Craft activity session is $135 - $150.

** Please note that it works best if all (or most) of the materials needed of the craft activity can be arranged on tables BEFORE the start of the first, main show. Also note that making bug hats will cost more than the bug magnets or stamping activity. Providing caps and decorating materials for each child amounts to about $15 per child for a typical party for 10-12 children.

Presentations at School Assemblies

Although I make every effort to give audience members as many close-up, hands-on encounters as possible with various LIVE members of my Bug Zoo, the size of my audience will definitely affect how much of this I can do. For example, with large audiences (150 or more people), from a logistical standpoint, it’s just not possible to bring enough LIVE bugs to pass around or to get them circulated and then rounded up in a timely manner. For this reason, my presentation to large groups typically involves a brief introduction to the world of bugs (i.e., insects and related arthropods), followed by a brief description of LIVE members of my arthropod zoo. My Bug Zoo typically consists of an assortment of insects, giant millipedes, tarantulas and scorpions. To give the audience a close up view of my live bugs, I have anywhere from 5-15 “assistants” circulate these bugs (in clear critter cages) through the audience. Depending on the size of the audience (and the logistics involved), audience members may or may not get the opportunity to actually “touch,” much less hold, any live critters. For smaller assemblies (100 students or less), students often get the opportunity to “touch” certain critters….especially if there are plenty of adult helpers available to circulate the LIVE critters among the students AND to help manage the students (who can get rather excitable around some of these unusually large, somewhat scary-looking critters!). Occasionally I’ll do a combination slide show and Show & Tell with LIVE arthropods. Other times, I’ll just do a straight slide show presentation.

Fee: Negotiable, starting at $300 plus mileage; discounts for multiple bookings at the same location or nearby locations.

Buggy Enrichment classes
(single program or series of programs)

Enrichment class series - What follows is a brief description of 6 possible activities/programs for enrichment classes. All are 50-60 minutes long. All require at least 20 minutes of set up time, craft activities typically take longer.

Note - although you can certainly pick any session or sessions that may interest you; if you would like to do a series of programs, it’s natural to kickoff the series with Session 1, followed by Session 2).

Session 1 - Close Encounters of the Buggy Kind! This is my standard hands-on, interactive Bug Show with LIVE critters! (See enclosed 1-page summary for a description of what students will “experience” using ALL of their senses). Yes, this program includes “real” Bug Snacks so students can even use their sense of taste! Of course, this part is optional for those that just can’t “stomach” bugs!

Session 2 - Creature Features: Insect or NOT?! In this session, students will make some close up inspections of insects and related arthropods to see what makes them similar and what sets them apart. They’ll get to see a wide assortment of wild & wacky critters (through color posters as well as LIVE and preserved specimens). Students will observe unique features and special adaptations to gain insight into how and where a particular critter lives, what it is likely to eat (plant, animal or “other disgusting stuff”) and any special survival skills it may have (camouflage, physical & chemical defenses, etc.).

Session 3 - Show Offs and Masters of Disguise – Some of the most fascinating arthropods (insects, spiders, etc.) are those with bright and wild color patterns or colors and structures that blend in beautifully with their surroundings. Students will see a variety of arthropods (through color enlargements and beautifully displayed specimens) that exhibit either warning coloration or camouflage. Time permitting, they will have the option of playing “Hide the Moth”, a hands-on game where students use their observational skill to find “hidden moths” either on a patterned background or “hiding” around the room. Remaining time and room characteristics will dictate which option is likely to work best.

Session 4 - Designer Bugs: Create your own Bug. Drawing on what they learned about Creature Features and their imaginations, students will be able to design their own Bugs, using an assortment of “building” materials (styro balls, chenille stems (pipe cleaners), wiggle eyes, egg cartons, and whatever else I can collect!). As a backup to “starting from scratch”, I will also have on material for other hands-on craft activities, where students can make their own:

  • Bug magnets
  • Egg carton caterpillars
  • Paper plate ladybugs

Session 5 - Insect Senses - A fun, hands-on program about Insect Senses that uses live critters and other fun props (45 minutes). Wrap up activity, which could include a short Q & A session about favorite insects, etc.

Session 6 - Incredible Edible Bugs - When it comes to eating bugs or entomophagy, for most Americans this is considered an aberration; something that belongs more in FEAR FACTOR than on the table! At best, it’s considered a novelty. But in many other parts of the world, eating bugs is not that unusual. I’ll talk about why people eat bugs, what kinds they eat, and the variety of ways they areserved. I use many colorful, attention-getting images and even provide some healthy, nutritious bug snacks for the kids to try! For all the bugs that may have bitten them, here’s their chance to bit ‘em back!

Budget: My standard rate is $175/hour + a possible material cost (for some of the more involved craft activity classes).

Buggy Display Booth at Fairs & Festivals

For large, multi-hour events attended by 400 or more people (e.g., Science Fairs, Environmental Fairs, Halloween events, outdoor festivals, etc.), I like to use my large colorful attention-getting tabletop display unit. The display is lighted and features a variety of close-up, larger-than-life images of weird, wacky bugs as well as several giant inflatable bugs. This display is flanked by large tables featuring a wide assortment of beautifully displayed exotic specimens, LIVE specimens and other related materials relevant to the event.

BUG Safaris

Another extremely popular activity involves taking youngsters on an actual bug hunt (these can vary from 30-minute mini-hunts to more involved 1.5-hour Bug hunts, depending on the age of the group, collecting habitat and weather conditions. If the collecting site is located conveniently nearby, 45-minutes is usually enough time for most groups....although most kids would like MORE time!).

Besides selecting a site with diverse habitats, several other factors that determine the success of a Bug Hunt are (1) the time of year and (2) weather conditions. Typically, the best collecting sites have a variety of habitats (woods, grassland/prairie, wetland, aquatic or any wild, undisturbed area; patches of wild flowers and prairie-type habitats tend to be particularly productive sites). Best times are mid-June through mid-September on warm, sunny days. If all these things come together, you can't miss with a Bug Hunt! Students have a delightful time discovering the "hidden world of insects" (plus they learn how to do something they can do on their own throughout the entire summer)!

Buggy Training Sessions

I regularly present training workshops, primarily to K-5 teachers and naturalists. As with my other programs, I strive to make these training sessions as hands-on and interactive as possible. Topics covered include:

Bug Basics - What are Insects? Why are they so important?

Insects: Champions of diversity - Insects exhibit an incredible variety of shapes, sizes, colors and behaviors

Observing and collecting insects - Where and when to find insects and how to observe them; Collecting Tools (Traps, Nets & Cages);

Organizing and grouping Insects (Classification) - Looking at creature features and classification keys. Distinguishing between insects and other arthropods. Using (picture) keys and field guides (observing key similarities & differences).

Resources, Vendors & Organizations - Books, lesson plans, web sites, stores, live & dead bugs, collecting & raising supplies, and more!

Workshop Fee: Starting at $300/hour. Final cost depends on size and length or session(s), prep time, materials used, etc.

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