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Top DC Museums To Learn About Bugs

Locals and tourists in Washington, DC, can always agree on one thing – our city’s museums are some of the best in the country!

We have comprehensive, interactive, and educational museums dedicated to just about anything you can think of, including aeronautics, history, science, culture, journalism, historic events, and more. We even have a museum that houses an insect zoo and a butterfly pavilion. It’s the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and we at DC Mosquito Squad recommend a visit.

Here’s what you need to know to plan your trip to learn about insects at the O. Orkin Insect Zoo and the Butterfly Pavilion!

Hours & Ticketing

  • The NMNH is open every day from 10 am to 5:30 pm, except on December 25th. There are also extended hours on certain dates.

  • Admission is free, and tickets are not required!

  • The museum does not have designated parking. You can either take public transportation (get off at the Smithsonian station) or find street parking or a commercial parking lot.
  • There are several security rules to keep in mind during your visit. They can be found here. Most notably, photography is permitted (but no tripods) and bag lunches may not be eaten inside the museum.

Exploring the Museum

It would take several visits to absorb every single aspect of the massive museum, so you’ll need to use your time wisely. You can check out the museum map in advance online to plan out which exhibits you want to see. The website lays out a few must-see exhibits, including the Hope Diamond, the live coral reef, and some impressive mammals. The insect zoo and butterfly pavilions are also on the list!

The O. Orkin Insect Zoo

Located on the second floor of the museum, the insect zoo is a place where visitors can observe live insects and their environments. Some of these fascinating critters include termites, water-loving bugs, mosquitoes, bees, and many more. Tarantula feedings take place daily, so be sure to catch one of those. You can also touch and hold live insects in the demonstration area.

Butterflies & Plants Exhibition

Inside this hall, there are two exhibits all about insects. The first, “Partners in Evolution”, gives visitors a look at “how natural selection has shaped animals and plants together through their ancient and persistent dependencies, and defense with one another.”

The second is the Butterfly Pavilion, where you can walk amongst live butterflies and exotic plants. It feels like a tropical oasis and gives you a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with a variety of butterflies from around the world. Separate tickets are required for the pavilion and can be purchased here, however, on Tuesdays they offer free tickets.

If you plan to get tickets (particularly on Tuesdays), we recommend going straight to the Butterfly Pavilion box office and doing that first thing, upon arrival at the museum. That way you can secure your time slot and then have the leisure to peruse the museum until your timed-ticket entry.

Even if you’ve already visited the National Museum of National History’s bug exhibits, there’s always a reason to go back and discover something new!