Something is buzzing at the Phoenix Zoo. And it’s big. Really big.
The Zoo’s latest can’t-miss animatronic exhibit.
Twenty-one gigantic bugs that you really need to see to believe,
and tons of activities for the entire family. 

  • 😃Exhibit Info
  • 🐞The Real Bugs
  • 💥Bug Infographics
  • 🌐Resources
  • 🏅Unsung Heroes
  • 📍Bugs Pass
  • 🎊Bug-tastic Activities!
  • 📸Exhibit Photos

Now – April 28
Opens at 9 a.m. (8:30 a.m. for Members)
Last Entry at 4:30 p.m. 

Pricing: $4 Member, $5 General (admission to the Zoo required)


Beautifully detailed, the bugs are made from a combination of steel, fiberglass and skin material made from a special urethane compound that protects them against sun, rain and snow, making them perfect to display in their natural environment. Like our dinosaurs, the realistic movements on our bugs are powered by a pneumatic system that enables smoother and finer movements.

Special Thanks to our Sponsors

Pheropsophus verticalis 

The Australian bombardier beetle is just one of several hundred bombardier beetle species found worldwide. They are found on every continent except Antarctica, with over 40 species in the United States alone.

Diet: insects

Habitat: woodlands, grasslands, riparian areas

Length: .5 – .7 in

Lasius niger

Black garden ants have unique relationships with aphids. The ants will herd and protect the tiny insects, and in return they feed on honeydew — a sugary substance the aphids excrete.

Diet: nectar, fruits, small insects, honeydew  

Habitat: forests, meadows, rocky areas, yards

Length: .19 – .35 in

Aeshna multicolor 

Dragonflies have eyes that make up almost their entire heads, so it’s no surprise that they can see in all directions at the same time. Their incredible vision also allows them to see things that humans can’t, like ultraviolet light.  

Diet: flying insects, water bugs, larvae, tadpoles, small fish 

Habitat: lakes, ponds, streams, marshes 

Length: 2.5 – 2.75 in 

Idolomantis diabolica

The devil’s flower mantis uses its antennae to detect chemical cues, movement and odors. The male’s antennae are more developed in order to help him find females from a distance.

Diet: flying insects

Habitat: forests, grasslands

Length: 4 – 5 in

Pandinus imperator

Emperor scorpions are a social species that performs an elaborate courtship dance. If the dance goes well, about nine months later the female gives live birth to 9 – 32 scorplings that she will feed and protect as they mature.

Diet: mice, lizards, insects (especially termites)

Habitat: tropical forests

Length: 6 – 8 in



Madagascan sunset moths lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves of toxic Omphalea plants. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the plant, storing the toxins as a chemical defense for the rest of their lives.

Diet: leaves, nectar

Habitat: forests

Wingspan: 2.8 – 4.3 in

Chorthippus parallelus

Meadow grasshoppers can be green, brown, pinkish-purple and even striped. These variations can be due to differences in genetics, habitat, altitude, age and sex.

Diet: plants

Habitat: grasslands

Length: .4 – .9 in

Brachypelma smithi

Like most tarantulas, this species has a long lifespan. While males typically live about five years, females can live up to 30!

Diet: invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, birds

Habitat: forests, deserts, scrublands

Weight: .5 – .6 oz

Araneidae sp.

The Araneidae, also known as orb weaver spiders, is a family that includes over 4,000 known species. Effective insect predators, some of the larger species have also been observed consuming frogs and hummingbirds that became ensnared in their webs.  

Diet: insects, small animals 

Habitat: forests, deserts, grasslands, wetlands 

Length: .12 – 1.18 in

Bombus lapidaries

A bumblebee gathers nectar by shooting its stretchy tongue in and out of its favorite flowers. When flying, it keeps its tongue folded under its head and protected by a hard sheath.

Habitat: open woodlands, farmlands, grasslands, coastal areas

Diet: nectar, pollen, honey

Size: .43 – .86 in

Pyractomena angulata

In 2018, the Say’s firefly became the state insect of Indiana. There are about 175 firefly species in the United States, and over 2,000 found worldwide.

Diet: snails, slugs

Habitat: forests, marshes, streams, grasslands

Length: .27 – .6 in

Coccinella septempunctata

The seven-spotted ladybug, also called a ladybird, is actually a species of beetle native to Europe. Starting in the 1950s, it was introduced to the United States to control aphids and eventually established permanent populations.

Diet: small insects

Habitat: grasslands, marshes, gardens, forests

Length: .2 – .3 in

Papilio Troilus

This species commonly lays its eggs on the underside of spicebush leaves. Other host plants include sassafras, sweetbay and camphor trees.

Diet: leaves

Habitat: woodlands, grasslands, swamps

Length: 1 – 2.17 in

Lucanus cervus

Stag beetles spend up to seven years as larvae, living and feeding on rotting wood. Once they emerge as adults their diet switches to fruit and sap, and they only live for a few more months.   

Diet: decaying wood, fruits, sap

Habitat: forests

Length: 1.2 – 3.5 in


Check out the incredible “Super Powers” of bugs below!

Bugs are the superheroes of the natural world. Every superhero needs a sidekick, and since insects alone make up about 80 percent of all animal species, we need a lot of sidekicks. This is where YOU come in!

We’re placing a call to help bugs through our everyday actions. Just like Batman and Robin, bugs and humans together make a stronger team. We’ll provide the tools — you provide the ACTION!

Take action: Help Save Energy!

Electricity powers our lives and much of our electricity is powered by the burning of fuels such as coal, oil and gas. When we burn these fuels, we release CO2 into the atmosphere which forms a thick blanket around the Earth and contributes to temperature increases that are harmful for the planet. YOU can help out by taking some simple steps to reduce your energy usage.

Stop Energy Vampires

Appliances that still use energy even when they are turned off are called Energy Vampires. Here are some common Energy Vampires in your home.

  • Computers, modems and routers
  • LED, LCD and rear-projection TVs
  • Cable or satellite TV boxes
  • Cell phone chargers

How to identify Energy Vampires

Look for electronics around you that have one of these characteristics:

  • An external power supply
  • A remote control
  • A continuous display (including an LED), such as a clock
  • Charges batteries

How to reduce Energy Vampires

  • Consider unplugging electronic devices when they are not in use.
  • Use a smart power strip to control TVs, gaming consoles and other electronic devices.
  • If the device has a sleep mode, make sure you use it.

Check out this fun video to learn more!

Additional Resources

Cool Wisely

In Arizona the cost to cool your home can range from 40% to 70% of total home expenses depending on the time of year. Here are some ways to conserve energy and save money.

  • Service your AC unit yearly to ensure its efficiency
  • Use a ceiling fan and raise the thermostat a few degrees (the fan uses less energy)
  • Turn your home thermostat up a few degrees when you are not home
  • Plant low-water shade trees near south, east, or west facing windows to keep the home from heating up
  • Change your AC air filters monthly

Learn more about cooling your home wisely:


The word itself elicits a natural, visceral and divisive reaction from most humans.

But why?

Maybe it’s because from a young age we’re conditioned to think bugs are nasty, disease-carrying, fear-inducing pests destined to be smushed. Or, maybe we simply fear the misunderstood? Whatever the reason, one fact remains: Insects make up nearly 80 percent of all animal species on Earth. Without them, our lives would be remarkably different. In that spirit, rather than view bugs as annoyances, perhaps we should instead look at them as beautiful, unique, and most importantly, necessary.

In many ways, bugs (we are using the term ‘bugs’ loosely here to include all insects, arachnids, and other arthropods and their kin, not just the true bugs in the order Hemiptera) are greatly underappreciated in our world today. Through pollination, the recycling of plant material and their central role in the food web, these tiny species play a huge part in a much larger picture.

“Insects are key components of biological communities and play numerous, critically important roles,” said Drew Foster, Animal Curator for the Phoenix Zoo. “They contribute greatly to nutrient cycling, the trophic web, as both predator and prey, and successful reproduction of flora through pollination, a process crucial to all life as we know it. The survival of most plant and animal species truly depends upon insects, either directly or indirectly.”

Indeed, bugs are the lone source of food for countless mammals, reptiles and birds. Without this vital food chain, numerous species would cease to exist. Furthermore, bugs such as bees and beetles are responsible for pollinating nearly 90 percent of the world’s plants. Thanks to this extraordinary process, humans are able to enjoy a plethora of fruits, vegetables and flowers.

The world’s ecosystems need bugs to thrive, not just survive. Insects are adept decomposers and help to clean our environment as they break down waste, dead animals, trees and plants. Through the intricate balance of nature, insects also help control other “predatory” bugs from destroying crops and other food sources for both humans and animals.

To celebrate these unsung heroes, the Phoenix Zoo has announced a one-of-a-kind exhibit premiering in October 2018: Bugs. BIG BUGS! We’re pleased to once again be working with the acclaimed team at Billings Productions, Inc., who also designed the record-breaking Dinosaurs in the Desert exhibit recently displayed at the Zoo.

Bugs. BIG BUGS! will showcase the superhero qualities of insects and why they are so important to life on Earth. All larger-than-life species of bugs in our exhibit (including a red-tailed bumble bee, devil’s flower mantis, emperor scorpion and Mexican red-knee tarantula) have been meticulously created based on extensive research.

Beautifully detailed, the bugs are constructed with a combination of steel, fiberglass and skin material made from a special urethane compound that protects them against sun and rain – making them ideal for the gorgeous Phoenix weather in the fall and spring.

Each animatronic bug features realistic movements powered by a pneumatic system that enables smoother and finer bug-like maneuvers. As you spend time meeting the bugs in our exhibit, you’ll also learn more about the essential role each one plays in our ecosystem. Guests will be invited to become superhero sidekicks to these amazing insects by participating in activities and events throughout the run of this bug-tastic showcase.

Plus, each ticket purchased to Bugs. BIG BUGS! allows the Zoo to continue providing experiences that inspire people and motivate them to care for the natural world – no matter how big or small.

Have you heard the buzz? A swarm of larger-than-life insects has invaded the Phoenix Zoo!

Gigantic animatronic bugs — some as tall as 15-feet high and 24-feet wide — will shed light on creatures that are often feared and avoided. 

As a Zoo member, you and your family will also enjoy 12 months of cost-saving benefits like unlimited FREE daytime admission to more than 3,000 animals and 125 acres of adventure, early entry to the Zoo, discounts on special events and activities, merchandise, programs and much more.

Become a Member Today!

Current members – renew by using the above button.

Exclusive Member Bugs Pass! 

For an additional $39 you can add a Bugs Pass to your membership. The Bugs Pass allows you and anyone listed on your membership card unlimited access to the Bugs, BIG BUGS! exhibit.  The Bugs Pass is automatically included in Supporting and Guardian Conservation Society memberships!

Bugs Pass is valid for exhibit admission during daytime hours, ZooLights and select special events only. Bugs Pass covers only individuals listed on the membership card; named individuals on the card must show valid ID.  Bugs Pass is non-refundable.

Sidekick Headquarters (on the “Bugs Trail”)

  • Learn how to be a Superhero Sidekick


Live Bugs on Exhibit

  • Be sure to check out these locations for live bug viewing
    • Arizona Trail
    • Forest of Uco
    • Small Wonders Exhibit (Children’s Trail)


  • Earth Day | April 13
  • Dia del Nino | April 28

Bug Discovery Stations

  • Keep an eye out for opportunities to see live bugs up close and maybe even touch some!
  • Bug Discovery Stations can be near the front entrance or at the Sidekick Headquarters on the Bugs Trail