Buggin’ Out: Places to Take Your Little Bug Lover

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From noshing on a wax moth larvae taco to exploring a tiny house completely covered in butterflies, if your little one loves creepy crawlies of all shapes and sizes, then this list is for you! There are loads of spots from SF down to Pacific Grove where you can get up close and personal with bees, butterflies, beetles and more. Learn all about these amazing invertebrates and how they keep our plants growing and planet healthy. Read of for all the creepy, crawly details!

Photo: Oakland Museum of California

East Bay

Oakland Museum of California
Learn more about honeybees and the role they play in our ecosystem at OMCA’s Gallery of California Natural Sciences where you can check out the Bees: Tiny Insect, Big Impact exhibit through October 22. Make sure you stop by the bee hotel in the OMCA garden and plan your own bee-friendly garden. You can also help with the research on this fascinating animal by becoming a citizen scientist and counting the honeybees in your backyard.

Online: museumca.org

Bay Area Children’s Theatre – Berkeley Center
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show will be on stage in Berkeley from September 1 – October 29 to the delight of fans of this beloved Eric Carle book. Puppets galore will bring to life this story that’s perfect for bug lovers of all ages.

Online: bactheatre.org/shows/HungryCaterpillar

Coyote Hills Regional Park – Fremont
Right next to the visitor center is a beautiful bird and butterfly nectar garden that’s open to the public Wednesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. While the best time of year to view a butterfly is the winter, you can usually spot a few of these winged beauties throughout the year.

Online: ebparks.org/parks/coyote_hills

Lindsay Wildlife Experience – Walnut Creek
There are tons of bugs to examine up-close at Lindsay Wildlife. One of the most popular exhibits is Hive Alive! – a beehive fully-enclosed in plexiglass and connected to the outside world by a bee corridor. This fully visible hive is a constantly changing window into the life and work of thousands of bees and their queen. Also, enjoy Critter Cab every hour where animals like dessert millipedes and Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are brought out for everyone to enjoy.

Online: lindsaywildlife.org

Photo: Ron W. via Yelp

San Francisco

Don Bugito – Various locations
Step out of your comfort zone at Don Bugito where bugs aren’t just for admiring from a distance, they are for eating! At their Ferry Building stand you can try a wax moth larvae taco, salted cricket tostadita or toffee-covered mealworms over vanilla ice cream. You can even grab a bag of crickets to up your school lunch game and your kid’s protein intake.

Online: donbugito.com

Conservatory of Flowers
Get eye-to-eye with over 20 species of butterflies at the Butterflies and Blooms exhibition in Golden Gate Park. The Butterfly Bungalow at the entrance of the gallery lets you observe the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. You might be lucky enough to catch the moment when one of these transformed and winged beauties emerges. Open through January 7, 2018.

Online: conservatoryofflowers.org

Photo: CuriOdyssey


CuriOdyssey – San Mateo
This science and wildlife center at Coyote Point is home to some very unique invertebrates like a Bay Area Blonde Tarantula and a Rose Hair Tarantula (don’t they sound friendly?). Learn fun bug facts like how the Giant Vinegaroon excretes acetic acid that smells like vinegar when it is threatened.

Online: curiodyssey.org

Bug Club at Portola Valley Library
Join Beetlelady for this free one-hour class that meets on select Thursdays from 3:30-4:30 p.m. The topics range from metamorphosis to insect mouthparts to how bugs defend themselves. Each class includes a craft. Check the schedule here for upcoming classes.

Online: beetlelady.com

Photo: Kate Loweth

South Bay and Beyond

Hidden Villa – Los Altos Hills
Kids of all ages will enjoy learning about bees, how they survive and what they do inside and outside of the hive at the monthly class offered on the farm called the Big Buzz About Bees. See the innards of a real, working bee hive and taste the fruits of the bees’ labor.

Upcoming classes: September 24, October 15
Cost: $20/adult and child pair, $10/additional person
Online: hiddenvilla.org/programs/calendar-of-events

Photo: California State Parks

Monarch Preserve – Natural Bridges State Beach – Santa Cruz
Thousands of Monarch Butterflies make their winter home at Natural Bridges State Beach and you can visit these beautiful winged creatures from October through February. Celebrate their arrival with Welcome Back Monarchs Day on October 6 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. This annual festival includes crafts, music and monarch (pumpkin) ice cream.

Online: parks.ca.gov

Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary – Pacific Grove
Nicknamed “Butterfly Town, U.S.A.”, this town near Monterey hosts thousands of overwintering Monarch Butterflies each year. In an effort to protect these creatures, the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary was opened and you can visit to learn all about the monarch life cycle and why they cluster together on trees.

While you are in Pacific Grove, swing by the P.G. Butterfly House—so named as one of its owners decorated every surface of the colorful house with butterflies as a gesture of love for his wife who was going blind. Location: 9th Ave. and Laurel Street.

Online: cityofpacificgrove.org

Where do you go to get your bug fix? Share the buzz below!

–Kate Loweth

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