Bug toys — and in particular, moving bug toys — are the best compromise for satisfying a young insect enthusiast’s interest when you don’t want them playing with the real thing. If you have a kid who can’t stop talking about bugs, can’t stop touching bugs, and/or can’t stop bringing bugs into your home (bleh), consider this a support group. We see you. We’re here to tell you that it’s okay to prefer that real-life insects stay outside, and even then you stock up on various forms of insect repellents. But unfortunately, your budding entomologist probably has other plans. (And you thought the Baby Shark phase was annoying …)
Plastic bug toys may not be as squirmy and slimy as real insects (or as pretty… shout out to those colorful butterflies), but they do offer loads of fun and can still scare the shit out of you if placed the exact right (wrong) location—but you don’t need to tell your kids that. So, we rounded up the best bug toys the internet has to offer so you can help your child explore their love of insects, from alarmingly real-looking bug toys to ones that move to real-life insect habitats.
Maybe your child’s interest in insects is a phase, maybe it’ll be a life-long hobby, or maybe your little love bug will actually become an entomologist. Either way, have fun browsing through our list of bug toys that you’ll likely have no interest in buying but will do it anyway for your kid because that’s just the kind of kick-ass parent you are. And by the way: We’ll keep your little secret about how the “fairy mist” you spritz on them before going out to play is actually bug spray.
Best Bug Toys
The ultimate kit for kids ages 3 to 12 who love exploring and catching bugs. In it, you’ll find binoculars, a compass, a flashlight, a butterfly net, a magnifying glass, a backyard exploration critter case, a whistle, tweezers, and bug containers. Plus, it comes with an adorable safari hat and a backpack to keep all the gear in one spot.
Every entomophile (try teaching that word to your kid!) needs a massive pack of fake bugs. All 43 of the bugs in this pack are detailed and relatively realistic-looking. It’s a great way for kids to learn about different types of insects while being able to identify them outside. They also make for a fun scavenger hunt!
Sure, hands work for catching bugs, but a bug catcher vacuum with an LED laser light is way more fun. Plus, the light helps kids get a clearer view of the insects. Both the vacuum and habitat container have a built-in magnifier so kids can see the up-close-and-personal details of their critter friends. This set is designed for kids ages 3 and up.
Do bugs really need a full-blown playground? Probably not. But it sure is interesting to watch them explore and play in their super fun habitat. Designed for kids ages 7 and up, the kit comes with one bug-catching tool and one bug keeper. The idea is to catch a bug, put it in the habitat, observe it for a few hours, then release it back into the wild. Then repeat with the next bug.
This educational set comes with 15 marbles with real (dead) insects inside and a magnifying glass for close inspection. Insects include honey bees, beetles, true bugs, stink bugs, scorpions, orb-weaver spiders, ants, and ladybugs. The marbles are choking hazards for younger explorers and are strictly not recommended for kids under 6 years old.
National Geographic nailed it with this kit, which comes with three real insect specimens that have been perfectly preserved. Using the included tools, kids can dig to uncover the insects and can observe them closer with a magnifying glass. The recommended age range is 6 to 15. Amazon reviewer Ms. Science had a great time using the kit with her son. She wrote, “Because my son is only 5, we opted to use a spray bottle to make the excavation easier. He loved reading about the different specimens. The book also included lots of basic facts about arthropods, what they are, and specifics about insects, arachnids, and lifecycles.”
A fun bug-catching game from Learning Resources that consists of colorful bugs, tweezers, dice, and a storage bucket. Two to four players can play at a time, and the game builds fine motor skills and helps kids practice counting, color identification, sorting, and more. There are multiple game-play options, and each game takes about 10 minutes to complete. It’s designed for kids ages 3 and up.
This super fun Creepy Crawly Sticker Activity Book from National Geographic comes with over 1,000 insect stickers—everything from spiders to bugs to bats. The activity book is jam-packed with mazes, drawing activities, spelling, and pattern games. This one is meant for ages 4 to 8.
This Insect and Butterfly Habitat is definitely more of a learning experience than a toy, but watching a caterpillar go through metamorphosis is something your kids will always remember. The habitat is made of mesh netting, which provides healthy air flow for caterpillars, butterflies, and any other insects. It’s large enough to fit potted milk weed with plenty of room for the butterflies to spend their first few moments before being released.
KiwiCo’s Metamorphosing Butterfly toy gives kids the opportunity to explore the life cycle of a butterfly. It’s a cute plushie that transforms from a caterpillar into a butterfly. The set also comes with a matching game for a deeper dive into caterpillars, butterflies, and moths.
Best Moving Bug Toys
The only thing better than realistic-looking plastic bugs are realistic-looking plastic bugs that move. This 6-pack of battery-powered bugs is perfect for any kid who loves playing practical jokes. They’re less perfect for the recipients of the practical jokes, but sometimes you have to just take one for the team. The set is recommended for ages 5 and up. (It’s important to note that there’s no maximum age limit, though. Hint, hint.)
OK, parents. Purchase this one at your own risk. This remote-controlled tarantula is as creepy as you’d imagine it to be. But for a kid who freaking loves spiders, it’s legendary. All eight of this creepy crawler’s legs are movable, and it looks and crawls like a real spider. It can scurry in all directions, and its LED-lit eyes really seal the deal on its creepy factor.
It may seem like it, but we’re really not trying to kill you. But every insect-loving kid needs a battery-powered cockroach, right? This pack comes with two cockroaches, you know, just in case someone accidentally/on purpose smashes the first one with a newspaper. The little guy can scuttle across the floor quickly, which makes it look freakishly real. Batteries are included, so at least there’s that.
Here’s a build-your-own sensory toy that comes with over 130 pieces, including HEXBUG Nanos that walk along the track. HEXBUG Nanos are micro robotic creatures that behave like real bugs. The toy is designed for kids ages 3 and up, but little ones will likely need help setting it up. Luckily, this set is so cool, you won’t mind lending a hand.