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‘Love Bugs’ all the buzz this Valentine’s

‘Love Bugs’ all the buzz this Valentine’s

Julia Deans with Goliath Stick Insect

Bugs are at the heart of a special R18 Valentine’s evening at Auckland Zoo on 14 February where lovers of their fellow humans and wildlife will be wined, dined, entertained – and the Zoo hopes, will fall in love with these genius stars of nature.

‘Love Bugs’ (7pm until late) has been inspired by the magical blockbuster science exhibition Bug Lab, the co-creation of Te Papa and Weta Workshop, now showing at the Zoo.

The evening, which is to support all the conservation work of Auckland Zoo, features a five-course degustation menu, live performances by bug lover and one of New Zealand’s most talented singer-song writers – Julia Deans, exclusive entry to Bug Lab, and the opportunity to check out one of New Zealand’s most intriguing giant bugs.

"I’ve always been fascinated by bugs and spiders,” says Julia. “These intricate, tiny creatures and their alien lives fill vital roles in our world, and their value and beauty is often undervalued. But don't get me wrong, I’m bloody glad they're not bigger!"

The evening will also feature special guest, Te Papa’s irrepressible ‘bug man,’ Dr Phil Sirvid, one of the scientists behind Bug Lab, who will sharing his guide to the love lives of some of the world’s most extraordinary bugs.

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“We humans think we know about the art of love, but bugs have been at it for over 400 million years,” says Phil. “Music, dance, scent and impressing with gifts are all part of bug seduction. Bugs offer plenty of examples of how to succeed in the mating game, but some of it you most definitely should not try at home!”

In addition, an Auckland Zoo bug expert will talk about the Zoo’s love-affair with one of Aotearoa’s most threatened bugs, the wētāpunga, for which it is leading a successful recovery programme.

As well seeing and hearing about bugs and exploring the magical and highly interactive Bug Lab exhibition, bugs – one of nature’s greatest, most sustainable and increasingly popular super foods, will feature on the five-course degustation menu. To please all palates, guests will also have vegetarian options to choose from.

“Bugs are simply another food source that people have consumed for centuries, and in New Zealand there’s now a growing number of bug foods and bug-derived ingredients (like cricket flour) for sale and on menus in cafes and restaurants,” says Auckland Zoo’s Retail and Commercial Partnerships manager, Angela Clarke.

“We’re simply reflecting this and are excited to be giving Love Bug guests the opportunity to treat their taste buds to some of these extremely tasty and sustainable foods.

“We’re also very keen to make people aware that bugs require significantly less resources to grow, so they’re much kinder to the environment, than traditional livestock. Bugs that are not in any way threatened, that are farmed sustainably and treated humanely, just as we’d treat any other animal we might choose to eat (cows, chicken, crayfish, prawns, etc), are a very good and valuable food source,” explains Angela.

TICKETS: Love Bugs is an R18 event where everyone from couples to friends and family or work colleague groups are welcome. Tickets are $170 per person (maximum 120 guests). For full details, including the menu, and to book your tickets, visit


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