Bugs Alive!

Now Showing

Harlequin bug
Harlequin bug
Source: Museum Victoria
Photographer: Alan Henderson

Explore the amazing world of insects and spiders!

Bugs Alive! is closed 26–27 March 2015 for maintenance.

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.


Event Type: Permanent Exhibition

Daily, Now Showing
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Science and Life Gallery

Included with museum entry.
MV Members receive FREE museum entry.

Comments (71)

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Greer 3 March, 2015 16:11
Hi, I found a female children's stick insect which was crushed in the recent storms. It has died. I'd really like to see a male and a female pair who are alive. Do you have then in the Bugs Alive display?
Discovery Centre 9 March, 2015 11:27
Hello Greer - Children's Stick Insects Tropidoderus childreni can be seen almost all the time in the stick insect display in Bugs Alive. There are usually quite a few other species in there as well, so finding the ones you're interested in may require patience.
Jan Tarlinton 26 February, 2015 09:55
Do you have any live butterflies?
Discovery Centre 26 February, 2015 14:43
Hi Jan, unfortunately we don't have any live butterflies at present in Bugs Alive! You may already know but the Melbourne Zoo has a butterfly house. 
sarah 3 February, 2015 14:31
how many eggs does the average spiny leaf stick insect lay? mine's layed 9 so far.
Discovery Centre 9 February, 2015 13:36
Hi Sarah, we checked with our Live Exhibits team, and they have said that over its lifetime, a female Spiny Stick Insect Extatosoma tiaratum can produce more than 1000 eggs, so yours has a long way to go!
NL 5 January, 2015 13:56
Don't worry i found out it is a purple-winged mantis and i'll try to fix up the email.
sarah 23 December, 2014 12:00
my spiny leaf stick insect molted today, what will I do with it now? I have left it alone and haven't touched it in case it dies or something but I don't know what to do with it.
NL 23 December, 2014 11:46
I have found a praying mantid which i can't identify, can you help: - It is pale brown with a dark brown line down the abdomen its eyes are a turquoise - green colour. It is very slender. Do you know what species it is? Thanks
Discovery Centre 24 December, 2014 11:40
Hi NL - Our entomologist will need a photo to make the identification. We have tried emailing you, but the address bounced. Feel free to contact us with photos at discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au
sarah 21 December, 2014 15:46
What do spiny leaf stick insects eat?
Discovery Centre 30 December, 2014 13:37

Hi Sarah,

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.

NL 23 December, 2014 11:50
eucalyptus leaves (gum leaves) or Acacia leaves
Beth Pert 8 December, 2014 22:18
Hi, I'm doing my Grade 4 project at school about Invertebrates. I've chosen the Desert Millipede and wondered if there are any on display in the museum? Thanks Beth
Discovery Centre 17 December, 2014 13:17

Hi Beth,

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.

Sarah 29 September, 2014 16:52
The dreaded harlequin bug - Is there any advice on natural methods of controlling Dindymus versicolour plagues? Companion plants, stinging nettle spray, vinegar, anything at all?
Discovery Centre 2 October, 2014 11:34

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.

Callum Hopkins 30 August, 2014 11:45
Hi, I was wandering when the nuptial flights are in ringwood or Melbourne?
Discovery Centre 5 September, 2014 11:03

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.

Samuel 21 July, 2014 09:52
My names Samuel and I like snails, I am doing a project on bugs and I want to know what colours snails can be? Any help will be greatly appreciated Yours truly Samuel
sarah 23 December, 2014 12:06
There are red and black snails but I don't know where you can get them from.
Alex mason 28 July, 2014 09:43
Is it ok to eat snails? Iv seen people farm them in Japan for this reason and I was wanting to farm them my self. What would I have to do to go about this?
H 24 July, 2014 09:44
I also like snails
sarah 12 July, 2014 20:43
Okay, my stick insect lost an antennae, because someone knocked the box over and it's in shock. Will anything happen to it? Will it die?
Discovery Centre 14 July, 2014 10:52

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.

sarah 1 July, 2014 09:39
sarah 30 June, 2014 12:59
Do they eat guava tree leaves?
Discovery Centre 30 June, 2014 17:05
Hi Sarah, the Cyclone Larry Stick Insect (Sipyloidea larryi), does eat guava tree leaves.
sarah 27 June, 2014 17:23
i have found a cyclone larry stick insect, how do i care for it? is it like other stick insects? i am in a rush. i am keeping it with my katydid, i have a lot of insects at home.
Discovery Centre 28 June, 2014 14:12

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.

Lilllie 25 June, 2014 17:17
What is the most poison butterfly called at the museum
Discovery Centre 30 June, 2014 13:42
Hi Lillie, one of the interesting butterflies at the Museum that is toxic is the Wanderer or Monarch Butterfly. This species only arrived in Australia around 1871 but is well known for its amazing migratory flights in North America that involve millions of individuals. This beautiful butterfly also feeds on particular plants from which it stores substances that make all stages of the butterfly from caterpillar to adult unpalatable to predators such as birds, lizards and frogs. Interestingly according to the Australian Musuem a number of bird species in Australian have been seen feeding on the butterfly.
Rebecca 6 June, 2014 20:41
Hi, I am a kinder teacher and really enjoy helping the children enjoy studying bugs of all sorts. Recently we were lucky enough to find a case moth larvae. We have it in a tank with sticks and native foliage including correas. We spray some water in for moisture and he moves about a lot lugging his case. Is there anything in particular we should know about looking after it properly? I know they can live for 2 years in this state but of course we don't know how old it is. Are there any plants in particular we should provide it with? Also, how long will it stay in the case as it becomes a moth? Kind regards, Rebecca...
Discovery Centre 9 June, 2014 09:24

Hi Rebecca,

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.

Kusdi Putro 5 June, 2014 21:01
Is this possible take photo of the insects?? Because I love Macro photography specialy with insects. Thnk's
Discovery Centre 8 June, 2014 10:16

Hi Kusdi,

Yes photography is allowed in Bugs Alive!

Natina Brennan 24 March, 2014 16:55
Hi, how long is the Bugs Alive! exhibit showing for?
Discovery Centre 29 March, 2014 13:31
Hi Natina - Bugs Alive! is a permanent exhibition, so you can expect to see it buzzing around for some time yet.
Kathy stubberfield 16 March, 2014 18:25
I would like to set up some permanent public insect displays. Can you help me? Or point me in the right direction.
Grace Martinez 12 February, 2014 20:11
We are wondering how to keep soldier beetles alive in our bug viewer long enough to observe them at close quarters (before releasing)? Our children are fascinated by them. What do soldier beetles eat? Do they have temp requirements? Thank you :-)
Discovery Centre 21 February, 2014 13:00
Hi Grace! Adult Soldier Beetles are attracted to many flowering plants. They love sunflowers and milkweeds. They eat nectar, pollen, secretions from damaged trees and also smaller insects such as aphids and other small pests. Temperature ranges found in our local gardens are fine. A suitable habitat should include an area with moist mulch.
Callum 11 January, 2014 17:31
Do you know when the nuptial flights for any species are in Ringwood, Victoria?
Paul Seymour 11 December, 2013 15:38
I'm currently trying to find some Harlequin Bugs that I can use in my short film. Not to be harmed of course, purely to capture shots of them on film. Where should I start looking to find or buy some? Thoughts?
duke bermingham 2 September, 2013 19:43
hi what do devil spiders eat and do you have any at melbourne museum?
Discovery Centre 10 September, 2013 13:10
Hi Duke, the term devil spider seems to apply to a number of spiders that people consider frightening. Did you have a particular species of spider you were interested in?  
Olivia Hill 10 April, 2013 15:10
Why are Sipyloidea larryi also known as the Hurricane Larry Stick Insect?
Discovery Centre 14 April, 2013 11:48

Hi Olivia,

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.

Katrina 30 December, 2012 17:21
Hi, I have an unusual spider on my front porch that I've never seen before and can't identify on any of the websites I've looked at. I have photos. How can I go about identifying it? Thanks.
Discovery Centre 31 December, 2012 09:14
Hi Katrina! Send us a photo and message through our Ask the Experts page, or if you have several photos, email us at discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au - we look forward to helping you out!
Wai-Hong 28 November, 2012 22:29
We have a stick insect population boom. May I please drop some by the Museum?
Discovery Centre 9 December, 2012 12:21
Hi Wai-Hong, apologies for the delay in replying to your message. Can you tell us what species of stick insects you have surplus?
Liam 8 August, 2012 18:46
Do you have a Fire Ant Colony?
Discovery Centre 10 August, 2012 13:04

Hi Liam, No, Museum Victoria does not have a colony of Fire Ants. We only have native ants in our live collection.

kade 14 June, 2012 17:05
its me again i also want to know how to look after antlion and antlion facts and for the museum i have some baby spiny leaf insect
Discovery Centre 29 June, 2012 10:16

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.

kade 14 June, 2012 08:39
what dose the australian wood scorpion eat?thank you
Discovery Centre 15 June, 2012 14:24
Hi Kade, the wood scorpion, Cercophonius squama feeds on small invertebrates generally less than 10 mm in body length. You can find out more at this link.
robert 25 May, 2012 22:03
What do you guys feed your giant burrowing roaches and are they handable for educational purposes?
Discovery Centre 27 May, 2012 15:02

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.


finn robinsen 21 April, 2012 08:42
hi if im right you have a green headed ant/Rhytidoponera metallica colony and was wondering how to get a queen or when their nuptial fly t is
Discovery Centre 22 April, 2012 11:12
Hi Finn, We don't have a Green Headed Ant colony at Melbourne Museum - we have Green Tree Ants, Meat Ants, Jumping Jacks and Bullants. We can't find any records for the precise timing of nuptial flights for this species, but it is most likely early spring. If you know the location of current nests, the best bet for obtaining a queen is to search for queens returning from their flights on warm spring afternoons.
Carol 14 January, 2012 13:52
I have searched the Internet to find a beetle that is in plague proportions in our Eycalypts. Millions of them. They have: six legs; grass green bodies; a small band of orange at the tail; a small band of orange below the head and they are orange underneath? Can anyone tell me what they are and should I be worried? If they are a problem, what should I do? Thanks
Discovery Centre 15 January, 2012 11:35

Hello Carol,

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.

Alex Ferguson 6 January, 2012 22:01
One thing I noticed may be lacking in the exhibit are some live centipedes. I could donate an Ethmostigmus rubripes some time, nice large specimen that would look good on display.
Discovery Centre 29 January, 2012 16:49

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.

tahlia 21 December, 2011 23:05
hi im the bug freak of my school same with animals but im more focussed at bugs right now the flowers were out a while ago matis nyphs everywhere! i got the name bug girl for a obvious reason . i've read every bug book in my library . my fave bugs are matids and rino beetles. my fav thing to do is catch centipedes at my uncles farm even though i've been bitten 2wice
Elizabeth Walsh 30 November, 2011 11:02
As a member of the local Friends of Native Wildlife in Bayside, our bushland crew have seen on two occasions at the beach recently a wasp spider. Suggested it is an import. What would be the best place to investigate this for our local knowledge please.
Discovery Centre 30 November, 2011 11:11
Hi Elizabeth, the Museum does have a free identification service. Please feel free to have a look at the guidelines here.
Enis Besirevic 8 December, 2010 09:48
I have a chistmas beetle!!! What do I feed it? Whats is it's habitat? Dose it bite hard?
Discovery Centre 8 December, 2010 16:53

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.

Matthew Nicolici 11 September, 2010 11:40
You should get a Camponotus sp colony in the bugs alive Exhibition. Just thinking out loud.