WARNING: If you have any sort of bug phobia, arachnophobia, or a distain for all things reptilian…turn back now. We are going forward, even past the point of comfort for ordinary folk. This winter my mom and I went on an overnight road trip to Philadelphia and back passing through some places of interest in New Jersey. My mom was the chaperone for our class trip to Philly when I was a kid, so this brought back a lot of fun memories. This time around we skipped the liberty bell and went for more off the beaten path attractions. It was two jam packed days of bugs, birds, and bizarre sights. The first stop of our trip was the Insectarium [8046 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19136] and it set the perfect mood for the trip.
Located in a quieter part of the city we easily found street parking and got our tickets just as the place was opening. It was great to be early because it’s a small space, we had it all to ourselves. There are three floors, the bug room, the reptile room, and the gift shop. We made our way to the top to check out the bugs first.
On first glance I thought, did we really just pay $9 a piece for this? It was small and seemed a bit outdated. We walked around looking at a really cool assortment of bugs, amphibians, spiders, and all sorts of creepy crawlers. I loved reading the information labeled on the enclosures and learning strange tidbits about the creatures.
What really brought this place to life was Dimitri, one of the museums employees. He walked around with us and fed some of the hungry buggers.
He had a great wealth of knowledge and was happy to share it with us. We got to the hissing cockroaches our guide went above and beyond when I asked, ‘do they really hiss?’ Some might have been repulsed, but I was delighted when Dimitri reached his hand into the cage and scooped one out to answer my question.
A gentle tap on the back and voila! An adorable little hiss was revealed. I asked if there was anything I could hold and the floodgate was opened. Dimitri showed us the Blue Death Feigning Beetle’s trick to escape predators,
but when we held the little guy all he wanted to do was crawl around. One story I always remember my mom telling me was about a walking stick she saw in the woods as a kid at camp.
Who would have thought we’d be holding them together all these years later? Oh the memories you can make at the Insectarium! These bugs were totally within my comfort zone. When Dimitri took this bug out, I got a little bugged out. I wanted to push myself though, so I went for it and he seemed like a nice guy.
Well, he didn’t use the pointy spear of a tail or intimidating pincers on me, so we’re cool. My parents had a pet tarantula before I was born, but I myself had never held one. Not going to lie, it was slightly out of my comfort level once again. I got a flashback to a small changing room in Costa Rica. Cramped, I accidentally knocked over a bench and BLAMO! A huge tarantula had been hanging out by my feet the entire time! What fun, back to reality – Dimitri reminded me to be extra careful holding this creature because a drop would be detrimental. I steeled up my nerves and was so happy I did. What a delicate, beautiful, soft being.
We had so much fun on the top floor, thanks to Dimitri. A family appeared so we decided to let them have the area and went downstairs.
Once again at first glance I really wasn’t impressed. There were a few reptiles, a bug collection (not live), and a few different displays. Upon closer investigation I discovered that the information down here was pretty interesting. I loved learning about a popular and beloved bug, the ladybug.
It was cool to put a name to the face of the milkweed bug, which I always see around town and never knew about before my visit.
My mom called me over to check out the fluorescent scorpion tank which I had casually walked by.
So neat! After a few minutes Dimitri popped in on us and asked if we wanted to hold the lizards.
Um, yeah! So we had more fun learning about these guys (did you know they have a third eye?!), cuddling with them, and petting them. It brought my mom and I back to the days when we had pet chameleons. So after a whole lot of fun and insanity, we bid Dimitri farewell and took a quick gander in the gift shop before hitting the road. There are great disgusting bug items for your frenemies and also pretty bug jewelry and decorations if you feel like being a bit nicer!
Overall we had a really great time at the Insectarium and made some memories we won’t soon forget.