family backyard science



Are you looking for something scientific to observe this summer as a family? Let me show you one of my favorite things to do AND you can do this in your own backyard!


Insects are everywhere BUT we are only seeing half the picture during the day. The other half comes out at night. Animals that are active at night are referred to as “NOCTURNAL.” And many nocturnal insects are attracted to lights. The reason they are attracted to lights is that many insects use the moon to navigate at night and artificial lights confuse them. Specifically, they are attracted to Ultraviolet light also known as BLACK LIGHT.

I’m going to save you some time here and let you know that the best black lights to use are either fluorescent or LED. Incandescent blacklights don’t work very well. You can find black lights at most party supply stores or if you are in the Milwaukee/Chicago area a good place is American Science and Surplus stores.

I use this light that I got off of Amazon and it is a 50w LED. IF YOU’RE WATCHING THIS ON YOUTUBE, I’ll share the link down in the description for you. But a great science experiment would be to experiment with different lights and see what lights work best and try to figure out why – and you can record your observations in your MY SCIENCE DIARY (ALSO AVAILABLE ON AMAZON)


The setup is simple. Besides a light, you will need a white sheet. One that has been washed in detergent works best because detergent helps to reflect the UV light and they “fluoresce.” The sheets serve two purposes: one is to act as a giant reflector for your black light and the other is contrast. Once the insects come in, you can see them when they land on the sheet. There are two ways to set up your sheets, one is to hang them like a wall and the other is to lay them flat on the ground. OR you can do both. There is no right or wrong, just a matter of preference. This is how I set things up.

Once you have your sheets set, you will need a power source for your light. If you are doing this at home, that’s easy. If you are not at home, I use a car or lawnmower battery with a power inverter. LEDs do not use a lot of power so they should last for quite a few hours.

So, what do you do next? Grab a chair and some snacks and wait for all the cool nocturnal insets to come to you.


Different insects fly at different times of the night. Depending on the area you live in, from Mid-May to Mid-June all the cool giant silk moths like Luna, Polyphemus and Cecropia are out. Typically, they do not start flying until 11 pm. Another thing you will observe is that all summer long the insects that you will see will change. But hey! Don’t take my word for it. Go get your science diary and record your own observations! BlackLighting for insects is a great backyard family activity. Remember to record all your observations in your My Science Diary and compare your notes to the same dates next year! If you liked this video and would like to see more videos, be sure to like and subscribe and share this video.

I am entomologist and science evangelist Antonio Gustin, and this has been a My Science Diary Moment.


Are You Secretly a Scorpion?


Do you glow under UV light? You might be a scorpion!

Take this Quiz to Find Out! 

We all have a secret scorpion nature. It’s true! However, it’s entirely possible that you are an actual scorpion. You might even be three scorpions in a trench coat. So exciting! This fun and simple quiz was crafted by the expert Quiz Design Professionals at creepycrawlyzoo.com to help you discover if you are indeed a scorpion. You might not be a scorpion, but there’s no way to know unless you take the quiz. Ready? Let’s go!

Q1: On a scale of one to five, how voracious are you?

  1.   Not very voracious. 
  2.   Somewhat voracious. 
  3.   Voracious is a good word to describe me.
  4.   Sorry, I didn’t hear the question. I was too busy being voracious. 

Q2: On a scale from one to four, how venomous are you?

  1. Uh, not venomous at all, I think. 
  2. I could maybe envenom, like, a small lizard.
  3. Do not tempt me, or I shall rain crippling pain down upon you.
  4. I’m from Australia, so…

Q3: Would you describe yourself as…

  1. A featherless biped with broad, flat nails?
  2. A venomous, nocturnal arachnid?
  3. Having a body that is divided into two sections (the cephalothorax and abdomen), eight legs, grasping pincers, and a segmented tail (metasoma) with a stinger?

Q4: Do you glow under UV light?

  1. No
  2. I’ve never checked. Hang on, brb. No.
  3. Yes

Q5: Thinking about food, do you prefer to eat…

  1. Hamburgers, pizza, salads, noodles… stuff like that?
  2. Lizards and small mammals?
  3. Worms, insects, spiders, and sometimes other scorpions?

Q6: How many pairs of book lungs do you have?

  1. What’s a book lung?
  2. 2
  3. 4

Are You a Scorpion? 

6-10 Points: Sorry, you’re not a scorpion. Keep trying! Maybe you’ll be a scorpion one day.

11-15 Points: You might be a scorpion. You might not be a scorpion. If you think you really are a scorpion, take the quiz again and make your answers more scorpion-y.

15+ Points: You are totally a scorpion! Go you! But what kind of scorpion are you? There are over 3,000 kinds of scorpions in the world (that we know of). If we had to guess, you are an Emperor Scorpion, a Giant Desert Hairy Scorpion, or an Arizona Bark Scorpion. Keep going to find out what kind of scorpion you really are.

Emperor Scorpion

If you live in the rainforest and/or the savannah in West Africa, and if you are one of the largest scorpions in the world, and if you have large, dark red pincers, and if you can sense vibrations through the hairs on your tail, congratulations! You are an Emperor Scorpion or Pandinus imperator. Your venom isn’t all that toxic, at least not to people. Do what you will with that information.

Giant Desert Hairy Scorpion

If you live in the Sonoran and Mojave deserts and dig big, complicated burrows, and if you are the largest scorpion in North America, and if you love to eat insects and spiders, and if you have a yellow-ish body and your body is covered in brown hairs, congratulations! You are a Giant Desert Hairy Scorpion or Hadrurus arizonensis. Your venom is also not all that toxic, at least not to people. 


Arizona Bark Scorpion

If you also live in the Sonoran Desert but are smaller, light brown, and prefer to hide under rocks and logs rather than dig burrows (so much effort!), and if you are one of a handful of scorpions that can climb trees and walls, congratulations! You are an Arizona Bark Scorpion or Centruroides sculpturatus. Your venom is toxic to humans, though it’s not usually fatal. 

Today is a great day! You’ve discovered that you’re a scorpion. Even better, you’ve found out what kind of scorpion you are. Go celebrate!



And while you’re here, please donate and help make Tony’s Creepy World a reality.



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Earlier this week we sent out an email asking for your help with our mission to build our permanent location. (SEE DETAILS HERE) If you didn’t get that email, well, you may wish to check your spam folder… or click here. 
This is a summary of what we are asking of you. Some of which take absolutely no effort on your part but truly help us.


We are in need of grant writers, graphic designers, photographers, video production assistants, bloggers, salespeople, web designers, etc etc.  Have a skill to share we haven’t mentioned? – that’s fine too.  Have spare time? We can help you with that.


Be the first to fill out and submit the form below and you win!



Earlier this week we sent out an email asking for your help with our mission to build our permanent location. (SEE DETAILS HERE) If you didn’t get that email, well, you may wish to check your spam folder… or click here. 
This is a summary of what we are asking of you. Some of which take absolutely no effort on your part but truly help us.


We are in need of grant writers, graphic designers, photographers, video production assistants, bloggers, salespeople, web designers, etc etc.  Have a skill to share we haven’t mentioned? – that’s fine too.  Have spare time? We can help you with that.


Be the first to fill out and submit the form below and you win!


Whip it! Whip it good!

Acid spraying nightmares!  Well, no, not really. The whip scorpions and tailless whip scorpions are like something out of a sci-fi movie.  In fact, many sci-fi aliens have been modeled after them. Like most arachnids they are carnivorous.  What do they eat? Anything smaller than they are!

Whip scorpions and tailless whip scorpions are not scorpions and they have no venom.  Other common names are whip spiders and vinegaroons. They are arachnids; they have 8 legs and two main body parts. They are unusual among arachnids in that they only walk on 6 legs.  Arachnids do not have antennae. In both groups, the front pair of legs have evolved to long “whip” like appendages that they use just like antennae. Hence the name “whip.”

While whip scorpions and tailless whip scorpions look similar, they are related only by both being arachnids.  The whip scorpion (aka vinegaroon) belong to an order known as Uropygi (Greek for “tail rump”). The most common of the vinegaroons is the Thelyphonida (Greek for “murderous female” – I don’t make up the names).  Mostly a tropical arachnid, here in the United States, we have the giant vinegaroon, which is found in arid regions.

The vinegaroons get their name because of a gland on the end of their tail or Flagellum.  This gland can secrete a solution of 80% acetic acid.  Vinegar is only 3-5% acetic acid.  When disturbed they can spray it up to two feet with fairly decent accuracy, leaving the air and some unfortunate soul reeking of vinegar.


Tailless whip scorpions are in the order called Amblypygi, (Greek for “blunt rump”).  This refers to their lack of flagellum (tail). Amblypygids are harmless to humans.  They have no silk or venom glands. Occasionally, when annoyed they can grab a finger with their raptorial pedipalps.  Like the vinegaroons, they have extremely elongated front legs that act as sensory organs.


Amblypygids are an ancient order with fossilized specimens dating back to the Carboniferous period. They have a flat, crab-like, posture, and are truly alien in appearance.  Ever see the movie Lost in Space? You may recognize the metallic alien monsters, Amblypygids.

So, that’s the technical stuff.  Want to hold one?  Come to the May 11th show at Discovery World

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Earlier this week we sent out an email asking for your help with our mission to build our permanent location. (SEE DETAILS HERE) If you didn’t get that email, well, you may wish to check your spam folder… or click here. 
This is a summary of what we are asking of you. Some of which take absolutely no effort on your part but truly help us.


We are in need of grant writers, graphic designers, photographers, video production assistants, bloggers, salespeople, web designers, etc etc.  Have a skill to share we haven’t mentioned? – that’s fine too.  Have spare time? We can help you with that.


Be the first to fill out and submit the form below and you win!


This week is another chance to win a free t-shirt. It took some time and tweaking but we finally have our T-shirt shop directly on our website.  You can now view all our collections and different designs. Many new designs and products will be up as the year progresses. As a “Thank You,” for subscribing to our newsletter, you can use this code CREEPYFRIEND for %15 off your entire first order.  Share the code with friends if you like and feel free to share our products on social media.  We appreciate it.




Quick! Someone call Rikki-Tikki-Tavi! April’s bug of the month are the Mambo and White-spotted African assassin bugs! This insect is famous for its two spots and infamous for its powerful venom. A neurotoxic venom similar in potency to that of a cobra AND it can spit its venom like a cobra as well! A venom so powerful that it can cause temporary blindness in humans and knock down crickets from 12 inches away.   I don’t think anyone will be holding these but we will do a public feeding. They are merciless voracious hunters and it will be a scene sure to be reminiscent of the Colosseum.

Assassin bugs are everywhere and are considered beneficial. They are pretty much like a spider with one fang or as it’s known in the insect world a “proboscis.” While many insects have a proboscis with two sides, one for injecting and one for sucking, Assassin bugs just have one chamber.  This allows them to deliver a massive dose of their venom which liquifies their prey and then suck it up quickly.

It has been recently discovered that assassin bugs have two kinds of venom, one for prey and one for defense.  They will bite to defend themselves and it is considered more painful than a bee sting.

Assassin bugs are of the order Hemiptera (true bugs) and have many famous members of their family, the family Reduviidae that is. One smooching member you may have heard of is the kissing bug.  This nasty little member of the Reduviidae family will sneak up on you while you sleep and bite you on the lips. Their bite can deliver a protozoan parasite named trypanosoma cruzi. This causes a disease known as Chagas disease. A disease with a whole list of wonderful nasty symptoms one of which is sudden death, if left untreated.

Good times…. Good times!

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Want to see the feeding frenzy? Then come to our next show, April 13th @ Discovery World!

Ladybird is back! … kind of.

Many of you have asked about Ladybird, the Burgandy Goliath Birdeater tarantula (theraphosa Stirmi).  She was gone the last couple of shows because she was going through a molt. Well, she molted and now besides being even bigger than before – “she” turned out to be a “he!”

Yes, Ladybird is a dude.  Not that there is anything wrong with that but we needed a new name.  I was going to put it up for a vote on the book of faces BUT I had a name I wanted to use, Paul.  In honor of one of my favorite Bugs Bunny episodes with Witch Hazel.

So, Paul, Paul is back!

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Next slide


Earlier this week we sent out an email asking for your help with our mission to build our permanent location. (SEE DETAILS HERE) If you didn’t get that email, well, you may wish to check your spam folder… or click here. 
This is a summary of what we are asking of you. Some of which take absolutely no effort on your part but truly help us.


We are in need of grant writers, graphic designers, photographers, video production assistants, bloggers, salespeople, web designers, etc etc.  Have a skill to share we haven’t mentioned? – that’s fine too.  Have spare time? We can help you with that.


This week is another chance to win a free t-shirt. It took some time and tweaking but we finally have our T-shirt shop directly on our website.  You can now view all our collections and different designs. Many new designs and products will be up as the year progresses. As a “Thank You,” for subscribing to our newsletter, you can use this code CREEPYFRIEND for %15 off your entire first order.  Share the code with friends if you like and feel free to share our products on social media.  We appreciate it.


Be the first to fill out and submit the form below and you win!

This is Charlie. Her grandmother won in January and she chose the Ultraviolet Scorpion T.



Blog: Pets Not Pests!

Pests? How About Pets!

Hello all! It is I, your friendly neighborhood guest blogger, Monarch Lady!  I am so very glad to have the chance to spend some time with all of you once again!


As you may have noticed, winter has arrived in Wisconsin with a vengeance! This is the time of year, when we are buried under mounds of frozen snow and it looks outside like Spring will never come, that I start missing the insects in a big, big way. (Or is it a bug bug way? HA!)

Anyway, every winter that comes and goes seems longer and harder than the one before, at least when it comes to my longing for all things creepy-crawly. I spend many hours pouring over all the pictures of insects that I took on my summer bug-hunting ventures, and obsessively clean my Monarch Butterfly raising gear just awaiting their fluttery return.

I also, much to the consternation of my dear family, start appearing at the dinner table covered in cobwebs and dust after I have spent the afternoon on my knees crawling around in the basement and attic in search of spiders to bring into my bug room to care for.

I. Need. Bugs.

I am happiest when I get to rear little bugs into bigger bugs, when I can watch them feeding or digging or building or whatever it is they do best. The best part, really, is how very easy it is to care for many of them. Which is when it occurred to me: insects make great pets!

For those of you reading this blog, I am assuming you also love bugs. If you can’t help but watch closely all the insects you come across outside, if you come to Tony’s Creepy Crawly Zoo shows just to have the chance to hold and interact with bugs, you too don’t have to suffer all winter long waiting for bugs!

So let’s talk about insects as pets!


Keeping insects does not have to be difficult, and it does not have to involve spending a lot of money. Meet Pider! Pider is the spider I found this year in the basement. When I found Pider, Pider was tiny. Pider is not tiny anymore. I captured Pider in a jar and brought him upstairs to my bug room and put him in a bug box, where he has lived ever since.

All Pider really needs in a piece of wood to hide behind, and a few sticks to make his web on. I also have some woodchips on the bottom of the box for being pretty. I got all thst stuff from my very own yard. Once a day, I spritz Piders habitat with a little water, and shake in a few fruit flies for his dinner. You can get jars of fruit flies at a number of pet supply stores, and they are not terribly expensive. They also last a long time.

Meet Tick and Tock! Tick and Tock are Blue Death Feigning Beetles. Native to the deserts of Arizona and such, they are adorable little blue beetles that pretend to be dead when they get frightened. They are extremely docile, and very easy to care for. They get all their water from the foods they eat, and they eat just about anything. Scavengers in the wild, I feed them carrot, lettuce, dried oat meal, blueberries, barley, and the occasional freshly dead bug.

If we lived in Arizona we could just go outisde and roll over a log and find these guys everywhere. Alas, we do not reside in Arizona. So, these two I did purchase online for a very inexpensive sum. They live in a bigger bug box with sand and a place to hide and a branch to climb and are very comfy and content. So content, in fact, that they recently became parents, so I am hoping for baby Blue Death Feigning Beetles very soon. Congratulations Tick and Tock!

Meet Larry! Larry is part of a trio of Vietnamese Stick Insects that were given to me by a friend. (Only bug people give each other insects the way other people trade Poke Mon). But, there are many, many varieties of stick insects out there for sale for a not very high price, and they are extremely easy to care for. 

These particular stick bugs (Larry, Curly, and Moe) live in a large mesh box with a number of sticks and branches of fake leaves for them to blend into. Every day, I spritz their entire enclosure, and every other day I take out their old Romaine lettuce leaves and give them fresh ones. That’s it. They are super fun to watch, easily handled (with care), and very low-maintenance.

My friends here, Larry and Tick/Tock and Pider, are literally just the tip of the easy-to-care for insects you can own. You can get butterflies and lady bugs and so many kinds of beetles and mantids and spiders and all of them are entirely enjoyable to be with, and do not require walking on even the coldest days.

Owning insects as companions and pets is also a FANTASTIC way to introduce kids to science! Taking care of bugs is completely different than taking care of mammals (our usual pets) and requires a bit of research to truly understand their unique care requirements. Learning what you need to do for a mantid verses a beetle opens you up to a whole world of science you may never otherwise get to experience. There are many long-lived insects out there, but many are not. Which means you also get to have more companions over all, and learn more each time you do.

If you want the chance to meet some very cool, friendly insects for yourself, you know what to do! Come to Tony’s show this Saturday, February 2nd, at Discovery World and see for yourself how fascinating and satisfying interacting with insects can be! and, as always, spread the word! Help Tony and all of his team bring these experiences to everyone through the Gateway Science Center!


2019 promises to be a year of big – BIG change. This is the year we will begin fundraising for our permanent location… somewhere in the area of Waukesha.  If you’re not familiar with our vision please click here to watch our videos.

If you want to help our vision become a reality, here is what you can do:

    • SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel.  In July we will release a new series of videos in the Tales from the Bug Whisperer series. Right now you can watch our award-winning pilot episode, Who Wants to be an Entomologist? For free.
    • Tell your schools about our live show.  While we don’t have our science park yet, we do have a spectacular outreach program!  For 2019 we will have new animals every month! SHARE the below promo video.

  • Volunteer: If you want to help let us know.  We can always use new talent. Bloggers, fundraisers, grant writers, photographers, videographers, graphic designers, and just enthusiastic science lovers welcome.

As a nonprofit, we depend on you.  You can donate by clicking the “DONATE” button or purchase something from our Shopify store.  We have some of the most spectacular t-shirts, hoodies and more.

We look forward to seeing you!

Did you win a T-shirt?  Well, if you’re the first person to respond to this newsletter (you must be subscribed) then yes, you did!  I will announce the winner on Facebook. Hurry! bugwhisperer@creepycrawlyzoo.com


As always, thanks for visiting the website, and for letting me hang out with you. See you soon!

August 2018 Newsletter – Creepy Crawly Zoo

Greetings all you bug lovers out there and welcome to the latest Creepy Crawly Newsletter! We’ve got lots to share with you today including new friends, old friends, and chances for you to catch Tony and his buggy menagerie, so let’s dive in!


We are thrilled to announce a new sponsor, partner, and Bug BFF, Animal House Pet Supplies! I, your intrepid Bloggess and finder of all things bug-tastically fun, visited the shop and owner, Dan (pictured here sweet talking a cranky sugar glider) to get the scoop on our new pal and his mission.

You guys. Go visit Dan! Dan grew up around lots of animals and got his start as a small animal expert with birds. He has since branched out to reptiles, amphibians, insects, arachnids, and small mammals. After spending some time doing trade shows for reptile supplies, he decided what he really wanted to do was own his own shop that catered to small animal and creepy crawly lovers eveywhere.

And cater it does! At any given time you might find inside the many tidy cages and tanks sugar gliders, hedge hogs, gerbils, hamsters, tarantulas, millipedes, beetles, orchid mantises, roaches, dart frogs, iguanas, geckos, and dragons, just to name a few of his furry and scaly friends!

Don’t see the small companion your heart longs for? No problem! Dan’s many years cultivating relationships with trusted suppliers means he can procure for you any number of exotic and domestic small animals buddies. He likes to keep his stock interesting and often carries new and unusual critters, as well as breeding many himself.

As an avid animal supply shopper (you didn’t really think all I housed were butterflies, did you?) I can attest first hand to Dan’s excellent stock and really great prices. he has things on his shelves that I would otherwise have had to order, and you can’t put a price on his friendly demeanor and thorough knowledge.

Wait! Did I mention that he offers small animal boarding as well? If you are leaving town and your dear relatives or neighbors balk at caring for your millipede/boa constrictor/hamster, Dan will take care of them for you. For an incredibly reasonable fee, you can rest easy that your slithery/hoppy/burrowing family members will be as well cared for as if they were home with you. Probably better. Dan’s an expert.

You can visit Dan for yourself at his lovely store at 100 Fox Street in Mukwonago, or like him on Facebook, here. We look forward to partnering with Dan for a long time to come!


As summer draws to a close, you still have one chance for this season to see Tony’s Creepy Crawly Zoo at Discovery World TOMORROW! Saturday, August 18th, join Tony and all his creepy crawly companions for one last Discovery World hurrah!

But wait! You can’t make it tomorrow, you say? You want nothing more than to spend time with Tony and his incredible insects but can’t possibly shirk your responsibilities to go play with bugs? Well, first off, just come out and play with the bugs. You know you want to. Secondly, DISCOVERY WORLD AND THE CREEPY CRAWLY ZOO WILL BE WORKING TOGETHER FOR ANOTHER YEAR!!! YAAAAAY!

That’s right! Starting in October, you will still be able to catch Tony’s show and zoo at Discovery World for another fabulous year! We are thrilled to keep working with such an incredible institution and so many great people.

You should still totally come to the show tomorrow, though.


Aagh! Did I just say that summer was ending?!? I did, but that doesn’t mean the Creepy Crawly Zoo can’t keep educating and entertaining through the long winter months! Back-to-School is actually a great opportunity to have Tony’s show visit your school or classroom! As we all know, the Creepy Crawly Zoo and the Gateway Science Tour are a great way to get kids fired up about science and learning! Spread the word to your kids’ teachers and any educators that you may know that Tony would love to bring his show and Zoo to your school!


Last, but certainly not least, The Bug Whisperer will be live and in person at this year’s BUG DAY at the Wehr Nature Center!

Sunday, September 16th, from 1-4pm, come to the Wehr Nature Center to celebrate all things bug! From Tony’s show at 1:30, to eating bugs with Chef Emily’s Creepy Crawly Cuisine, from the Bug Discovery Walk to the chance to see one of the largest butterfly collections in Wisconsin, it promises to be a thoroughly wonderful insect-filled afternoon. You can find all the details here, and be sure to put the date on your calendars!

As always, thank you for spending time with us here at www.creepycrawlyzoo.com. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog, news updates, and, as always, spread the word to friends and family about the continuing progress on The Gateway Science Center. Info for sharing can be found here, and donations can be made here. Until next time!

Gateway Science Project Receives Half Million Dollar Donation… In Insects!

May, 2018 Discovery World Science Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
By Lindsay Maruszewski (Guest Blogger)

Can bonding with bugs inspire the next Einstein? Two entomologists think a half million dollars worth of insects should do the trick. Together, they are on the verge of realizing a dream 25 years in the making: a permanent center serving as a gateway to science exploration for curious youngsters.

In 1994, then entomology student, Antonio Gustin (Tony) had an idea to start a traveling live insect exhibit for kids. The problem was, he didn’t know how to do that. Fortunately, there were those that did and offered help. One of those was world-renowned insect collector, Dan Capps. Capps has, what was once, the world’s largest private insect collection. “I knew of him and that he traveled to exhibit his collection. I called him up and half expected him to be less than receptive. Some collectors can be… unapproachable, and this was “The Dan Capps.” But instead he invited me over for a beer. He showed me how to connect with schools and how to put together a brochure. He literally helped me get the Creepy Crawly Zoo show on the road.” said Gustin.

Twenty-five years later, Gustin and Capps are still friends. Gustin and his Creepy Crawly Zoo went on to travel the country for the next two decades and excited, inspired and terrified over a million kids – and parents. In 2007, he produced a pilot episode to a series called Tales from the Bug Whisperer, which received five international film festival awards. “The last 25 years have been an adventure to say the least.” Gustin, the ‘Bug Whisperer,’ said. “It’s crazy to me how kids I visited early on are now coming to my shows with their kids,”

After seeing the sparkle in hundreds of thousands of kids’ eyes while holding a scorpion or hearing the hiss of a cockroach, in 2017, Gustin decided to actively pursue an idea he had been developing for years – the creation of an insect-themed natural science park he calls, The Gateway Science Project. The idea is to use kids’ natural fascination and curiosity for insects as a gateway into science exploration. The project is an indoor insect and reptile zoo, where budding knowledge seekers can touch, feed, and interact with live animals. What separates it from other such endeavors is that it will have acres of botanically designed areas outdoors, with shallow ponds where kids can run, explore and catch bugs, frogs, tadpoles, turtles and just experience the natural world via play. A place where a kid will hear, “Here’s a net, here is a jar, now go explore and have fun!

Gustin has created several videos on his website (www.creepycrawlyzoo.com) to explain the elaborate vision. It is a community science center that is designed to light a fire of scientific curiosity. There is one overall theme: “Here, we science.” At the Gateway Science Center, science is a verb, an attitude and a way of life. “It is the starship Enterprise, and all who visit are its crew!” laughs Gustin. Even the trails are based on the Fibonacci sequence. Gustin’s goal isn’t to get them interested in science as subjects but science as a way of thinking. “The very foundation of science is observation skills. Before kids go out to explore we tell them we need their help to find out what is here and what they are doing. Then kids do what kids do naturally, they play, they explore, and they ask questions. That my friends, is how science starts.”

“While insects are my tool of choice to connect with kids, my true love is science more broadly! There is a recurring theme from COSMOS that has always inspired me. When you look at the scientists who made the influential discoveries shaping our understanding of the universe and ourselves, most of them got their start when a single stranger inspired them to better themselves with science. While we are fortunate to now stand on the shoulders of their discoveries, these children could have easily missed this opportunity if it had not been for that nudge.”

“Whenever I do my show, I look at the excited faces before me. I often wonder to myself, which one of these little nosepickers is going to change the world because of what I do here today? Which one is the next Newton, Faraday, Einstein, Lamarr, Leavitt, Curie?” Gustin said.

Gustin has observed children’s reactions to and interactions with insects for decades. “Children are born scientists. They are naturally, insanely, curious about their world and over the last 25 years I’ve learned how perfect insects are to reach them. Insects are everywhere and affect everything. They are the most dominant life form on the planet. They are exciting, mysterious, alien and abundantly available to kids. Insects are almost every child’s first fascination with the natural world. No child has to do anything more than step outside to find them. Once they are introduced to them, curiosity and questions follow effortlessly. That is the very foundation of what science is – curiosity. Insects are so diverse in their form and functions that the questions kids ask about insects can lead to every science you can think of. Entomology IS a gateway science.” Gustin said.

Antonio Gustin & Dan Capps

Capps agrees. He agrees so wholeheartedly and thinks the concept is so powerful that he has offered to donate his collection, valued at nearly half a million dollars, to the Gateway Science Project!

When asked why he is donating his collection Capps said, “I have spent my entire life creating this collection. I was obsessed with insects when I was young. I was passionate about nature in general, but insects were the most fascinating thing to me. I did not amass this collection to horde specimens. I collected insects because I was passionate about them. I wanted to share my passion with the world. A lifetime of collecting and learning about all these fascinating creatures has led me to pay attention to my world in a way that would have never happened without them. I mean, what good would all this do if it just sat in my basement?”

“Tony and I met over 20 years ago when he had this idea to start a traveling live insect exhibit for kids. He was an entomology student in college and came to me for advice. What he did with that idea was amazing! Have you ever seen his show for kids? He lights them on fire! Our mutual passions have kept us friends ever since. It is my fondest wish that my collection be seen by the public. I can’t take it with me. I don’t know if you’re familiar with what Tony is out to create, but the Gateway Science Project is an unbelievably wonderful concept. A concept that I have personally witnessed in my own life. I wish something like this had been around when I was a kid. Entomology IS a gateway science and I can think of no better way for my collection to be used than to inspire generations of new scientists.”

When asked how he reacted to this, Gustin said, “I am absolutely beyond words. This was an act of faith in me that I am terrified to live up to. The Gateway Science Project just went from a dream to a full-blown reality with one selfless gesture. Now, I just need a Gateway Science facility to put it all in.”

The Capps exhibit was once one of the largest private collections in the world and can has been described as absolutely breathtaking. Capps himself, is a very unassuming retired mechanic from Oscar Meyer who enjoys riding his Harley (another of his passions). He only collected insects as a hobby. A hobby he started in 1958 at the ripe old age of …8. The young Capps developed a passionate fascination with insects. A passionate fascination that continues to this day and has led him to lead an extraordinary life.

That very simple childhood curiosity has led Capps all over the planet in pursuit of insects. His incredible expeditions have taken him to Australia, Cuba, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, and Jamaica just to name a few. He is respected throughout the entomology community and has given hundreds of lectures. His vast collection has been featured at events all around the country, most notably Disney World’s Epcot Center, Chicago’s Museum of Science and industry, The Detroit Science Center and Purdue’s Bug Bowl. An interesting side note, Capps even holds a Guinness World’s Record for “cricket spitting” and discovered himself on a Trivial Pursuit card because of it.

So, what do two friends who share a mutual childhood passion do when they grow up? They join forces to light the world on fire and inspire new generations of scientists to find their passion! While the Gateway Science Project is still a project in the making, there is no better place for kids to science than Discovery World Children’s Science Center, in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Tony’s Creepy Crawly Zoo and Discovery World have had a long-standing partnership and share a mutual mission of inspiring kids to science. On May 12th, 2018 that is exactly where Gustin and Capps will be, exhibiting together, for the first time in 25 years! “I am absolutely thrilled that Dan will be joining me at Discovery World. In all my years of doing this show, I have never ever seen anything like his collection. It is not just some pinned specimens; Dan’s collection is a work of art! It is the culmination of a lifelong passion for entomology. Milwaukee is in for a really awesome experience.” Gustin exclaimed.

For more information about the Gateway Science Project and Discovery World shows, visit: www.creepycrawlyzoo.com! 

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Hello everyone and welcome to our February newsletter.  Much is happening in the way of the Gateway Science Tour.  While it may seem that little has progressed toward our goal, nothing could be farther from the truth. While the really big news will have to wait a little while longer, the Gateway Science Center is on it’s way to nonprofit status.  This is long overdue but will greatly speed up our progress.

Many of you have marveled at the display cases featured at my show.  That’s nuthin.  Yesterday, I was gifted with 6 new display cases from world-renowned collector Dan Capps.  They are absolutely STUNNING!


Last summer I began filming a new series for YouTube.  To those of you who have never filmed anything outdoors in Wisconsin this may not seem like that big of a deal.  I want you to think about our weather, clouds, wind and sun. No two days are the same and getting video from one day to match the next is a pain.  BUT I did manage to get some things done. Then it sat on my computer for 6 months. Well the good news is that I have finally started all the editing and it is coming together very nicely.  

My favorite piece I’m working on is on Dung beetles.  One of my very good friends took me to an exotic animal sanctuary and said, “You want dung?  I’ll show you dung.”  It was probably the most fun I’ve ever had filming and made lots of new animal friends.  They weren’t always cooperative but still a very good day of filming.

Gateway Science Center Project

As many of you know, the whole reason the Creepy Crawly Zoo is on tour again is because of the Gateway Science Center. Many of you have asked how you can help to make this place a reality. While monetary donations are always appreciated, the following is a list of things you can do. Most of these suggestions do not require much effort on your part, but they are of enormous help to me and the Gateway Science Center mission.

  • · Tell a friend, teacher or librarian about the Gateway Science Center, our live show, T-shirt store, Discovery World shows and YouTube channel! If you tell two friends and they tell two friends and so on and so on – well, you get the idea. You can tell someone in conversation or spread the word on social media. When posting about it please include a few words of endorsement. That makes a big difference.

Over the last two decades with the live show, 95% of my business has always been word of mouth. You, the people, have always been the reason this show endured.

 Our goal is to reach 1000 subscribers.

  • · Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter
  • · Write a blog. If you or anyone you know has some creative writing skills, a blog about the Gateway Science Center project would be of enormous value. So valuable that we have offered our customers a $75 discount off a live show for this.
  • · Become a sponsor. If you have a business and would like to become a sponsor, please message me and I will send you information about what I can do for you. While the Creepy Crawly Zoo is currently not a non-profit organization most of our clients are. You can make a donation to a school or schools for our visit. This helps out schools and you or your donation is tax-deductible.

If you have any other suggestions I am always willing to listen.

Congratulations Dawn Hudnell!  You are this month’s t-shirt winner!