Explore the amazing world of insects and spiders!
Bugs Alive! includes over 100 species of live insects and spiders, thousands of specimens from the museum's collection, giant models and exciting interactive exhibits.
Included with museum entry.
MV Members receive FREE museum entry.
Hi Enis, Christmas Beetles feed on gum leaves and their chewing causes a characteristic zig-zag hole in the leaves. Young Christmas Beetles, called Curl Grubs, live in the soil and feed on plant roots and organic matter. You can feed adult beetles with small branches of gum leaves placed in a jar of water to keep them fresh. Spray the beetles with clean water once a day and change the gum when it no longer looks fresh.
Because of their different food needs, adult beetles and grubs are found in different habitats – gum trees for the adults and pasture for the grubs. They are therefore most common in suburban parklands or the edges of farmland.
Adult beetles have stout mouthparts but don’t bite, but their strong claws can get a firm grip on your hand if you let them.
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Hi Alex, thank you for your offer of centipedes. A centipede display currently exists in Bugs Alive, in the section that deals with venoms (opposite the screen playing bug horror movies). We also have Ethmostigmus rubripes in our collection but, as we have only one place to display centipedes, this species rotates on display with species of desert centipedes.
The Discovery Centre has received many enquiries over the last few weeks about swarms of beetles in suburban gardens in and around Melbourne; they are Plague Soldier Beetles, Chauliognathus lugubris.
Take a look at our recent 'Question of the week blog' on these beetles to see if yours are the same please note that for homeowners who may be hosting huge numbers of this colourful species, don't be too concerned, following the mating swarm the beetles tend to disperse.
If these are not the same as the beetles at your house the Discovery Centre does offer an identification service
Before submitting your identification request, please read our guidelines for using our identification service.
Follow this link to our on-line form and scroll to the end to submit identification requests photographs are compulsory.
Hi Robert,We forwarded your enquiry to Museum Victoria’s Live Exhibits team, the Museum’s animal keepers, who responded with the following information:
Giant Burrowing Cockroaches feed on dead gum leaves in the wild, collecting them from the forest floor and dragging them into their burrows as stored food. In captivity, they will also readily feed on finely chopped apple, as well as carrot and cucumber.
They are definitely handleable but can be easily overhandled. Opinions differ on this subject, but there is anecdotal evidence that too much handling can shorten their lives. If they are taken out of their enclosure and handled more than once a day, we suspect it will have a detrimental effect.
Hi Kade, antlions are relatively easy to look after but are not particularly exciting pets as they are invisible most of the time. You need fairly loose, dry sand and a good supply of ants. The antlions will set up their own pits if the sand is right, and they’ll require a spray of water every day or so.
Small ants are preferable, and it’s best to keep adding ants at regular intervals so there is a steady supply. When fully fed, the antlions will pupate at the base of the pit and emerge some time later, the time taken depending on the species.
If you’re willing to drop some spiny stick insects to the Museum, we’re always happy to add them to our collection.
Hi Liam, No, Museum Victoria does not have a colony of Fire Ants. We only have native ants in our live collection.
This species was named by Jack Hasenpusch whose home at Innisfail was devastated by Cyclone Larry in 2006. Much of the surrounding rainforest was also devastated, and many stick insects were collected (including new species) as they escaped from trees that were destroyed.
Yes photography is allowed in Bugs Alive!
Saunder's Case Moth (Metura enlongatus) caterpillars grow within their case until finished feeding, then seal the bag and transform into a pupa (chrysalis). They feed on a range of Eucalyptus, Acacia, cypress and Cotoneaster, as well as other native and ornamental plants. The best strategy is to collect small branches of the plants where the caterpillar was found, put them in its enclosure and observe what it eats.
The timing of the life cycle depends a lot on the temperature it's kept at and, as you mentioned, how old it was when found. After pupating, an adult male or female will emerge. The male is orange and black and furry, and leaves the case to fly off in search of a mate. The female is wingless and remains in the case until she dies, waiting for a male to arrive. You'll know when it pupates as it will stop moving around and feeding, and will seal up the case.
Hi Sarah - our Live Exhibits experts say:
If you've found a Cyclone Larry Stick Insect (Sipyloidea larryi), it means you found it in North Queensland. If you bought it, were given it or found it elsewhere, it is probably a different species. Cyclone Larry Stick Insects are easy to look after and feed on a range of plant species, including gum trees, Acacias, Callistemon and even rose bushes and blackberry bushes. They should be kept in an enclosure about three times the body length, and sprayed daily with clean water.
Hi Sarah, Stick insect legs and antennae are segmented and designed to break off between segments under pressure. The remaining segment quickly heals over with no further damage or stress to the insect. Young insects will regrow segments in the next moult, but adults just live without the missing part.
Hi Callum, we checked with one of our experts from the Live Exhibits crew, and he says that assuming you're referring to nuptial flights of bullants or similar, they fly in late summer and are particularly prominent on top of Mount Dandenong where enormous balls of writhing bullants fall from the sky when the female can no longer carry the weight of the courting males.
Hi Sarah, there are quite a few sites online suggesting various remedies. It can sometimes be confusing as what we call the Harlequin Bug, Dindymus versicolor is a different species to what the Americans call the Harlequin Bug. The information below is on the ABC show Gardening Australia website from 2006 on how to get rid of Dindymus versicolor.
The answer is to get the cheapest possible detergent and make a strong solution with water. Spray it on the clusters in the morning when they're out in the sun. It gets into their breathing tubes at the sides of their body, blocks them up, and they are so brilliantly dead.
We have checked the museum displays and report that only the Giant Millipedes from Queensland is currently on display. You will find these live specimens in “Bugs Alive” within the section “Bugs live almost everywhere”.
We hope you find this information useful, and should you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact the Discovery Centre.
The Spiny Leaf insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) will grow to 150mm long feeding on plant foliage. It prefers fresh (changed twice a week) greenery from wattle, eucalypt, rose and blackberry plants and will feed mostly at night. Interestingly if they are feed Native Mulberry they may change their colour from brown to green.
The Rainforest Mantid (Hierodula majuscula) you saw was mating with a male. He approaches her very cautiously because, if she's hungry and not in the mood for mating, she will often consider him prey. Mating can take 24 hours or more (so luckily you didn't wait until the end). If the male stays attached for too long, she may turn around and eat his head, and he also takes a while to plan his escape as she may grab him as soon as he lets go. Studies have shown that males often perform better after she has eaten his head, because the removal of his brain also removes an inhibitor that reduces his performance. Consuming the male also provides extra protein for egg production. The female will lay an ootheca (egg sac) a couple of weeks after mating.
Thanks for the question! The time of year that we Australians see these insects along the East coast of Australian is the reason for their common name. In summer they are commonly are found eating eucalyptus leaves. You may be interested to read more at the following CSIRO websites here and here.
The most recent theory suggests the lichen form of Spiny Stick Insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) is a developmental response to plant defoliation rather than being genetic. When nymphs find themselves on a plant that’s becoming defoliated from overcrowding, they moult into the ‘lichen form’ with patchwork colouring and larger gaps between the flanges on the legs and abdomen, making them harder to spot amongst the remaining twigs and leaf remnants. The nymphs also rest with their legs held more tightly around a branch and with the abdomen in the air, increasing the effect of the camouflage. Trials in North Queensland suggest the nymphs do this in response to increasing light levels as the trees lose leaves. They generally revert to the normal colouration upon reaching adulthood, although a few adults retain the lichen form. Under these conditions females also seem to produce pale-coloured eggs and revert to the darker variety when plant growth returns the light levels to normal.
Thank you for your feedback. The beetles are Flower Beetles (Dilochrosis balteata) and come from North Queensland rainforest. Despite being the most successful group of animals on earth, beetles spend a great deal of time on their back in the wild and, other than the time being spent this way rather than feeding or mating, it doesn’t seem to bother them to much. The dead beetles you saw are likely to be live beetles resting with their legs held against the body, waiting for a passing beetle to grab onto. The display currently holds almost 300 beetles, so it doesn’t take long for this to happen. Museum staff check regularly through the day for dead specimens and in general the upside-down beetles quickly right themselves.
I am unable to attend on the day i bought the ticket for, is it possible to change the day as we would love to still see the exhibition.
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This is a self-guided exhibtion. There will be a natural flow from room to room that leads visitors through the exhibition.