Insectropolis, the “bug museum”, adds new interactive invasive pest activity station
By Phil Stilton
New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher this week unveiled an invasive pest activity station at Insectropolis, an insect learning center in Toms River, as part of the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Pest Outreach Survey Program’s efforts to educate people about invasive pests that can damage trees and forests.
The interactive educational resource, consisting of a computer screen set inside a fabricated tree trunk, is meant to teach people more about invasive pests, what they should look for, how they impact the ecology and environment, and steps to take to prevent them from spreading. It also points out the differences between damaging invasive pests and beneficial invasives. “Insectropolis offers a terrific venue to reach large numbers of people who can act as scouts for these damaging and dangerous forest pests,” said Secretary Fisher. “The faster we know of an infestation, the better chance we have of preventing tree damage.”
The activity station was a cooperative effort between the Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal Plant Health Inspection Service Plant Pest Quarantine and Insectropolis.
Insectropolis, a great place for kids.
The interactive invasive pest activity station compliments the existing activities already at the museum. If you’re into bugs or just looking for something different to do on the next rainy day, or sunny day for that mattter, you might want to try out Insectropolis, a bug museum located on Route 9 in Toms River, NJ. The museum is owned and operated, oddly enough, by Ozane, a pest control company. A trip to the ‘bug museum’ as my daughter affectionately refers to Insectropolis is a great way to pass time indoors if your day trip plan gets rained out.
Insectropolis offers both self guided and guided tours of their exhibits, starting off with an exhibit that introduces children to basic insect anatomy. Head, thorax and abdomens and continues through an educational introduction to the worlds of insects. Many thousands of specimens are on display including beetles, moths and butterflies, including large exotic species.
There are computer kiosks with bug laden learning games that tests the children’s abilities to identify bugs and challenge their ability to retain what they learn throughout the tour. There is a bug penitentiary where the most criminal of bugs are on display for all to see, including mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and other disease carrying specimens that have plagued humanity through the years.
As you progress through the winding rooms of countless insects on display, you will eventually reach the ant tunnels, a carpeted play area where children can crawl through the tunnels just like the ants in the huge ant farm nearby. Dozens of different arachnids are on display in the spider room and you can watch each in their artificial ‘natural’ habitat as they spin webs, devour prey or just mill around their tanks.
Insectropolis is also home to a working glass beehive where children can watch the bees at work building their hive, storing their honey and caring for their larva. It’s truly an amazing site to sit and watch bees at work, just inches away with an inside viewing that you won’t get on National Geographic.
As the tour winds down there is a hands on station where children can hold hissing cockroaches, glowing scorpions and millipedes in which I was told “feels like daddy’s beard in the morning”. Insectropolis may not fill your entire day, but on a rainy day, it sure beats the local mall or waiting for the rain to stop. Their gift shop is also chock full of insect themed toys, plushies, puzzles, butterfly farms, ant farms and they even have edible insect delights. If you want to munch down some meal worms or suck on a lollipop with a scorpion filled center, it’s all at Insectropolis.
Insectropolis opened six years ago and has about 25,000 visitors a year. The family-run bug museum is designed to inspire visitors to look more closely at nature and insects. It is a destination for families, school field trips, and Boy and Girl Scout activities.
“Insectropolis offers a terrific venue to reach large numbers of people who can act as scouts for these damaging and dangerous forest pests,” said Secretary Fisher. “The faster we know of an infestation, the better chance we have of preventing tree damage.”
Visit www.insectropolis.com for more information.
Video: A child from Jackson Township visits Insectropolis and is given a personal one on one hands on experience with spiders, cockroaches and scorpions by owner Chris Koerner.
About the Author
Phil Stilton is the managing editor for JTOWN Magazine, Toms River Magazine and GoKids New Jersey. Since 2004, Go Kids NJ has been featuring New Jersey based tourism and family destinations. With over 3,000,000 readers per year, GoKids NJ is one of New Jersey’s top online family tourism and destination hot spots. Phil is a lifelong resident of Ocean County. Visit www.gokidsnj.com for more information.