An old office in the University’s Biology Research Building holds a lot of unlikely guests.
The walls are lined with glass tanks, plastic tubs and humidifiers. Inside the tanks live 11 different species of insects, a tarantula, millipedes, stick bugs and more. What used to be an ordinary office space is now a jungle escape filled with beautiful and mildly terrifying creatures.
These insects once lived at the Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium on Front Street before the location closed, so the University offered a temporary home to the many-legged friends stuck in limbo. The Butterfly House has broken ground on a new location on the Missoula Fairgrounds, where the insects will return in the future.
The Missoula Butterfly House puts on various events to educate and inspire Missoulians on insects and the natural world. It often brings the insects to these events, allowing people of all ages to hold and learn about the various insects in their care.
Until then, they are cared for in the office space by bug care interns, like Hallee Olsen. Olsen is a junior at the University of Montana studying wildlife biology. She has been working with the bugs since May, when she found the unique opportunity online. Every day she reaches in one of the tanks and confidently picks up a Vietnamese walking stick, which lives in a colony of clones. The stick bugs are all females, cloned from one another and therefore sharing the same genetic makeup.