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Max’s Corner: Up close with insects

Star editor Melissa Komar’s column about all things “mommy” in the River Ward

Max observes butterflies feeding at the butterfly pavilion.

By Melissa Komar

I vaguely remember going to the insect exhibit at Steve’s Bug Off and Insectarium on Frankford Avenue in Northeast Philly when I was little.

Not much sticks out, but I do know there are bugs and I thought it was cool.

Many years have passed, but I always remember feeling a small wave of nostalgia rush over me any time I drove by the yellow window panels with bold black letters.

When Max was born in May 2015, I made a mental list of places I wanted to take him, trying to include spots that I had visited to establish a tradition of sorts.

Steve’s was always on that list.

And with the grand opening of the butterfly pavilion and enhanced exhibits in February, we had the perfect excuse to finally go.

Sure, the name changed, but the concept was still the same: a one-of-a-kind experience with insects galore.

Mamas to little, busy hands be advised: There are hundreds of live butterflies that will land on your shoulder, backpack or directly in your walking path at any moment.

But, oh, is the hand-holding to restrain your little one from crushing one worth it.

Max was absolutely infatuated with the butterflies, practically diving into the dish of citrus fruit they fed on.

If you’re looking for a sensory experience, this is definitely one to check out — minus the no-touching aspect.

And dress for the occasion.

The butterfly pavilion is always kept at 80 degrees.

Although Max was more interested in chasing the butterflies, it’s a great opportunity for older kids. Guests are given species guides to identify the butterflies in the exhibit and a front-row seat to see the various stages of metamorphosis with the Chrysalis Chamber.

Beyond the bright colors and balmy atmosphere of the butterfly pavilion are two floors of insects, fish, reptiles, arachnids and amphibians.

Staff pop up sporadically, with iguanas draped around their shoulders — no Max, you can’t rip the spines off him — or offering up-close-and-personal encounters with various species of cockroaches.

There’s also a play area complete with a see-through slide above various habitats for your little explorers.

Up on the third floor are fish, arachnids and stick bugs of all sorts. Keep your eyes peeled. A lot of these insects are camouflage professionals.

If you’re looking to take the fun home with you, there’s a gift shop on the first floor with everything from insect-inspired coloring books to butterfly nets, and you can even host your child’s next birthday party at the Insectarium.

Max and Mommy recommend you take flight and enjoy this gem of a creepy, crawly adventure just a hop outside of the River Wards.

Admission to the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion, 8046 Frankford Ave., is $16 for adults and $14 for children. Kids under 2 are free. You can “love bugs” all seven days of the week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more details, check out phillybutterflypavilion.com.

Eskimo kisses,

Mommy and Max

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