Inside the Insectarium

With more than 5,000 square feet of exhibits showcasing thousands of different species of insects both alive and mounted, it’s ironic the Insectarium started as an exterminator business.

Ida Steer, one of the tour guides agrees and says, “We kill them down here and we keep them alive up there.”

Steve Kanya created the Insectarium in Holmesburg. The owner of the exterminator business would bring home “the catch of the day” from various jobs he went on.  He would put these bugs on display in the front window of his business, where they caught the attention of many people walking and driving by.  People’s great interest in the bugs in the window led to Kanya’s vision of educating and entertaining children and adults about the world of arthropod insects.  His collection has vastly grown since then and includes bugs from all over the world.

There is something to be said about the relationship between kids and bugs. Steer says the kids get so excited when they’re here.  Busloads of kids come every week.

“The add requesting for tour guides simply said ‘must love children, it didn’t say anything about bugs,’” Steer says.  “I’ve learned to love bugs along the way, but not in my house.”

Nicole Dalrymple is a reporter for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, the publication of Temple University’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.

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