Some kids see an insect and run away screaming, others move in closer to get a better look. These little bugheads are fascinated by squiggly wigglies, creepy crawlies and buzzy bees–and they want to know more about them then you can probably answer (even with Siri’s help). Here are six ways to amuse and educate these future entomologists.
Get up close and personal with bugs of all kinds at this unique zoo on the second floor of the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. Yes, kids are allowed to touch a lot of them, as long as they’re gentle. Itsy bitsy spider fans will especially love the tarantula feedings (Tuesday through Friday 10:30 AM, 11:30 AM, and 1:30 PM; Saturdays and Sundays 11:30 AM, 12:30 AM, and 1:30 PM). While you’re at the museum, stop in at the “Objects of Wonder” exhibit, which includes an astonishingly colorful collection of beetles (on display through 2019). Free. Open 10 AM-5:30 PM daily; closed Christmas.
10th St. & Constitution Ave., NW; 202-633-1000.
Every year in Brookside Gardens South Conservatory, thousands of magnificent metamorphoses take place. Ultimately, the air is full of swooping and soaring butterflies from North America, Costa Rica, Africa, and Asia. Learn all about the transformation process and how to create a butterfly-friendly habitat in your own backyard. Free ages 0-2, $5 ages 3-12, $8 ages 13 and up. Open through September 17, 10 AM-4 PM daily.
1500 Glenallan Ave.; Wheaton; 301-962-1400.
Embedded in a wall overlooking the park, an observation hive buzzes away. Kids can peer through the plexiglass to hunt for the queen and watch the worker bees bringing in pollen. Other displays focus on beetles and butterflies. Free. Open 9 AM-5 PM Wednesday through Sunday; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Years Day.
5200 Glover Rd., NW; 202-0895-6070.
At least once a year, the garden hosts a Pollinator Party featuring live insect releases, a cutaway beehive display, and lectures about butterflies and bees (The next one is June 23, 11-11:45 AM; free). During the spring through early fall, visit the Butterfly Garden, which is packed with yellow coneflowers, balloon plants, and other varietals that attract the winged wonders. Free. Open 10 AM-5 PM daily.
100 Maryland Ave., SW; 202-225-8333.
Overseen by the Entomological Society of Washington, these little bug fans, ages 5 and up, meet monthly to undertake fun scientific projects–like mapping spider webs by dusting them with cornstarch – go on field trips and show off their insect collections. To find out the details of the next meet up, contact the group’s organizer, David Adamski, at email@example.com.
If your pint-sized bughead loves Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern as much as they love insects, consider this their ideal meal. At chef José Andrés’ Mexican outpost in Penn Quarter, chapulines–better known as grasshoppers north of the border–take a starring turn in a taco. Show your kid the meaning of bravery by eating one first. $5.
401 7th St., NW; 202-628-1005.