TOMS RIVER — Founded by the family behind local bug-killers Ozane Termite and Pest Control, Insectropolis is a colorful, unintimidating "bug zoo" designed to educate children and adults alike.

Curator Jesse Herdman said the Koerner family wanted to bring attention to the "cool bugs" while ensuring their business took care of the bad ones.

This time of year, summer camps are colonizing the building after it played host to school groups during the academic year, because as Herdman simply put it, kids love bugs.

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"They're not yet conditioned in the way that we 'big people' are, to have bad experiences with insects in our home," he said. "Kids just kind of see them as part of nature and as these fascinating, small beings."

Photo courtesy of Jesse Herdman

What can visitors find at Insectropolis? Every kind of critter from fossilized arthropods to big, live bugs like millipedes, scorpions, hermit crabs, and yes, tarantulas.

Some of those play starring roles in one of the "bugseum"'s most popular offerings, a touch presentation. Here, those who are curious can pet the species on display, or just look if they so choose.

"Most visitors are most excited about the touch presentation because there aren't that many places you can pet a tarantula or a giant millipede," Herdman said.

Photo courtesy of Jesse Herdman

Herdman is especially enthused about Insectropolis' variety of exotic, worldly species, as he said bugs tend to get bigger and more colorful in the tropics.

Additionally, there is an observation area to watch an actual honeybee colony at work.

Kids are even given the opportunity to tunnel around and act like insects themselves, among other games and activities available at the museum.

For more information, visit

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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