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Bug Zoo Readies for Field Trips and Festival
Monday, April 22, 2024


The Sawtooth Botanical Garden will host its fun and educational Bug Zoo again in mid-May.

The fun educational event will allow youngsters—and adults—to get up close and personal with geckos, walking stick insects and other critters.

Scheduled classroom visits run May 15-17 and the Bug Zoo Festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18.

“After way too long a hiatus during the pandemic, we were able to host the Bug Zoo again in 2023,” said executive director Jen Smith. “It’s so fun to have all the kids back to the Garden exploring different aspects of the natural world around them and learning about our own region’s unique flora and fauna. This years’ festivities include learning about the water cycle and its crucial role in everyone’s ability to thrive here on Earth.”

The Bug Zoo—the Sawtooth Botanical Garden’s longest running children’s educational event--began in the late 1990s shortly after the garden was established in 1995 as a nonprofit public botanical garden. Some of those who visited the Bug Zoo in its early days are now bringing their own children to check out the zoo full of eight-legged tarantulas and other insects.

Children will get to touch, feel smell and hear a variety of critters, including Madagascar hissing cockroaches, crested geckos, death-feigning beetles and a red-knee Mexican tarantula. It’s possible they may even be able to hear a toad that has made the greenhouse its residence for the past two years.

Ashton Wilson and others from the Environmental Resource Center will join other local educator naturalists to point out the bugs’ special attributes to attendees.

They’ll learn, for instance, that the Hissing Cockroach makes its hissing sound by expelling air through its breathing pores. Or that a dragon fly carries her eggs to still water following birth. Or, that the ladybug is actually pink the first few hours of its life as it waits for its shell to harden.

Teachers, including those in homeschool situations, should contact the garden’s community outreach coordinator Racheal Gutierrez at or 208-726-9358 to schedule a classroom visit.  Wanna-be volunteers may also contact Guiterrez.

School field trips cost $3 per students. The Festival costs $10 for adults and $5 for children. It’s free for those 3 and under.

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