Giant Bug Encounter at Long Island Aquarium, New York

Looking for fun nature activities in Long Island? For $10 extra, a trip to Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead can feel like a walk in the an exotic jungle.

There are about 6 - 10 million species of insect in the world, however, we are most familiar with local varieties we see near our home.

Our trip to Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, New York brought us face to face with several exotic bugs from far away places we normally would never encounter.

Jeff, their entomologist, met us at the entrance and brought us to a back room inside the butterfly exhibit and for one hour, we had the opportunity to handle and learn about some if the most amazing critters in nature.


The first specimen was the Giant Malaysian Stick Insect which was the length of Isla "Nature Treasure Hunter"'s torso. He was very docile and endured the handling quite well. Besides his size, nothing was frightening about him.


Next up, we met the Giant Malaysian Leaf Insect that mimics a leaf in order to hide from predators. The resemblance is uncanny down to the brown edges and a true site to behold, especially, as she swayed back and forth crawling on our arms, she looked just like leaf blowing in the wind.

There are 50 species of leaf insect and this Filipino Leaf Insect is a smaller version. The difference between them can be subtle but Jeff assured us he can tell the difference.


We didn’t get to hold all the insects he brought out because some are just too dangerous like this Hell Fire Widow from Thailand. We did get to peep inside the container where she was kept guarding her three yellow egg sacs each with 300 eggs.


Prior to this eye opening visit, we only knew to stay away from scorpions. Who would have thought you can actually handle the largest scorpion from West Africa, Emperor Scorpion.


As scary as this arachnid looks, he’s actually harmless. He’s a Whip Spider from Tanzania and uses his front two thin legs to whip around and use as sensor. He can hear, smell, taste and feel with them. Apparently whip spiders can be found all around the world but often not this big so don’t worry.

The Thorny Devil Stick is yet another giant insect with a scary name that meant no harm. Apparently the male version is much more aggressive and have large spines on their hind legs, which would not be pleasant to hold.

This gentle Giant African Millipede was a bit ticklish. The feeling is like nothing else when their 300+ legs are crawling on your arm. He was longer then Isla “Nature Treasure Hunter” hand.


Anyone with a cockroach phobia would not have liked this part when we were handed this gigantic Large Peppered Cockroach. We were assured they are actually not dirty creatures and only a few species are considered pests. None the less, if you don’t feel like handling any of the bugs you don’t have to.

There were a couple more insects we were shown some friendlier then others. Jeff was incredibly knowledgeable and his enthusiasm for the collection they house made the encounter even more rewarding. We were limited to only 10 people per viewing session because the space is rather tight but the intimacy meant more one on one time with the bugs and any questions you have answered immediately. For only $10 more to general admission, we couldn’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon then at the Long Island Aquarium hanging out with some of the largest bugs on the planet.

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