Orkin and the Smithsonian Institution: A Partnership for Education

Since 1990, Orkin and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., have worked together to provide engaging insect education. Two major education initiatives include the O. Orkin Insect Zoo and the O. Orkin Insect Safari.

O. Orkin Insect Zoo

orkin insect zoo
Orkin and the Smithsonian Institution have partnered together to provide engaging insect education through the O. Orkin Insect Zoo and the O. Orkin Insect Safari.

In 1990, Orkin sponsored an insect zoo interactive computer for the Smithsonian Institution. Located in the museum’s rotunda, this computer offered millions of visitors a glimpse of insect life.

In 1993, Orkin became the first corporate sponsor of a Smithsonian Institution exhibit, when the company funded the renovation of the insect zoo at the museum. Renamed the O. Orkin Insect Zoo, the permanent exhibit attracts more than 1 million visitors each year. It features more than 300 live insects and replicas of a variety of habitats in which they thrive, including a living bee tree, a mangrove swamp and a tropical rain forest.

The exhibit also showcases insects that are found a little closer to the average U.S. home. In the large 3-D “Our House, Their House” display, visitors learn where to look for common household pests, such as fleas, roaches, carpenter ants and silverfish. Other exhibits include a replica of an African termite mound, through which visitors can crawl, and videos that explain termite behavior.

O. Orkin Insect Safari

In 2001 and 2002, Orkin and the Smithsonian Institution took their show on the road. They celebrated Orkin’s 100-year anniversary with the O. Orkin Insect Safari, a traveling insect exhibit that brought fun bug facts to towns across the U.S. and Canada. The exhibit included four learning areas inside a 53-foot tractor-trailer. To enter the trailer, visitors walked through a long tunnel that looked like a giant hornworm caterpillar. Once inside, visitors enjoyed cartoons, videos and interactive displays about the lives of insects, the role they play in the ecosystem and their interactions with humans.