Insect Festival of Arkansas

Butterflies in Glass HousesThrough the Looking GlassMicroscopic InspectionFlight of the Bumble BeeCockroach RacesThe bees are a buzzin'It's an Insect Musical!

Butterflies in Glass Houses

live Monarch butterflies in different stages of development

Through the Looking Glass

faculty entomologist helping observer see tiny insects on plants

Microscopic Inspection

staff entomologist teaching children to use microscope to see fine details of insects

Flight of the Bumble Bee

children play a game of beehive behavior

Cockroach Races

Hissing Madagascar cockroaches racing for the win

The bees are a buzzin'

Observers get a look inside a live beehive

It's an Insect Musical!

giant bugs dance and sing about insect behavior

Mark your calendars. The next festival will be October 11, 2018.

FREE and open to the public. No tickets needed. Everyone of all ages is invited. This event takes place 9:00AM-4:00PM at the Whitaker Animal Science Center. Come join the entomologists of Arkansas for a day of fun, festivities, and education about the incredible diversity, importance, and beauty of insects. There is something for everyone.

About the Insect Festival of Arkansas

The Festival educates and entertains Arkansans of all ages about the beauty, value, and interest of insects and other arthropods. The first Festival was held in 1993. The one-day event typically draws 3,000 to 4,000 people.  It takes most people about 1-2 hours to travel through the festival grounds and all the activities. There are many educational exhibits with expert entomologists to answer your questions. 

The full list of displays and activities:

  •  Insect museum
  • Arthropod zoo
  • Butterfly house
  • Cockroach races
  • Honey bee display
  • Insect musical theater
  • Insects and ticks of medical and veterinary importance
  • Microscope display
  • Cotton patch
  • Insect crafts
  • Scientific displays
  • Insects in forests
  • Master Naturalists
  • Master Gardeners

School Groups

Bus Route and Parking Map - There is ample parking for buses and cars adjacent to the arena.

In the interest of trying to keep the attendance at any one time balanced and provide the best experience possible, we would like you to let us know how many people you will be in your group, and what time you will be bringing your class. Time slots that are best for groups are:

  • 9 - 11 a.m. 
  • 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
  • 1 - 3 p.m. (If you are not operating on standard school hours, please consider this time slot.)

Please respond by email and let us know the following: 

  1. Your name, phone number, email address
  2. School and grade you teach
  3. Number of people in your visiting group
  4. Time slot you prefer
By Sara Cato, U of A System Division of Agriculture

The Department of Entomology at the University of Arkansas’s Fayetteville campus began the insect festival as a way to introduce students and others to see, touch and learn about insects and the study of entomology. The Arkansas Insect Festival typically draws about 3,000 students, teachers and others.  

“We have a zoo of living arthropods from tarantulas, to giant walking sticks, to giant cockroaches and all kinds of other insects,” said Donald Steinkraus, professor of Entomology for the Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “The visitors can hold some of these living arthropods as well as talk to the experts about them.

“We have a glassed-in small house full of live monarchs and other butterflies,” Steinkraus said. “We a have race track for cockroaches and visitors can cheer on their favorite cockroach as they run down the track. We’ll also have an insect musical theater where actors and musicians wear giant bug costumes and put on skits about insect life cycles and biology.”

In the 2016 festival, Hillary Fischer, a Ph.D. student for the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, was one of the lucky graduate students roped into dressing in an oversized costume and performing in the skits.

“I was a spider and I used Silly String to trap another grad student dressed as a fly in my web,” Fischer said. “It was a fun and silly way to teach the kids about biology and insect lifestyles.”

Ph.D. student Austin Jones said he sticks with leading the cockroach races.

“We set up six tracks and have a Madagascar hissing cockroach in each lane and the students yell and pound on the table, trying to coach their favorite cockroach to win,” said Austin Jones, Ph.D. student for the department. “It’s one of the more popular events. They all want to see the cockroaches race and scurry down the track.”

The festival is always a hit and never fails to highlight the beauty and importance of entomology.

“First, visitors will have a lot of fun,” Steinkraus said. “The cockroach races, the musical theater, and crafts are very fun. Second, they will learn about insect diversity and the important role insects play in agriculture, nature, and ecosystems. Third, they will find that many insects are beautiful. Fourth, they will be able to closely examine insects and touch living ones in the zoo as well as look at them through microscopes.”

“I hope visitors will leave with a greater appreciation of insects and their interactions with humans, plants birds, agriculture and health,” Steinkraus said. “In fact, we have been having the festival since 1993 and people come to me, now adults, and tell me they went to the festivals as children and have never forgotten them.”