Welcome to Insect Safari

Over 20 Years of Entomological Explorations!

This new site is currently under construction, lots of exciting new content coming soon!

Welcome to the wild world of Arthropods! On this site you will find information about the educational progams available and a description of their content, a look at the collection, information about these incredible creatures, as well as find everything you need to know to enter into the hobby, career or simply follow the pursuit of an insatiable curiosity!

Contact Don Ehlen For Events and Educational Programs

Phone: (206) 329-7141 (NO TEXTS-Landline)

Email: donehlen@theinsectsafari.com

Insect Safari

Insect Safari is an independently owned and operated educational program that has been operating in Western Washington since 1994.

The program is content-dense, focuses on the taxonomy of arthropods and has been shaped by Washington State Academic Guidelines and the curriculum based needs of students.

The method used is Socratic and attempts to engage all the students. The level of complexity of content is adjusted so as to be appropriate for each grade level. The program can be adapted to a particular focus of study in addition to or in place of taxonomy.

The basic program takes one hour with each class of around 30 students.

Please contact me directly for pricing and scheduling.

Bug Day at the Burke

How Does Insect Safari Work?

First, the students are assembled in a group on the floor for a discussion of taxonomy. Vertebrate and invertebrate classification are touched on and lead to a detailed comparison of the different classes of Arthropods. The students are asked questions to engage them in participation. After this the students are invited to view the collection of preserved specimens which are displayed on four, six foot tables. They are free to wander among the display and encouraged to ask questions. With about 20 minutes left, the students are seated in a circle on the floor and the living specimens are brought around the circle so that each student can view the bug up close.

Finally, information about each specimen, such as the country of origin and diet is given and the students continue to ask questions. The living specimens include various stick insects, giant cockroaches and scorpions. Other species are displayed as they become available seasonally.


Don has been interested in and studying insects since the age of five. He spent his childhood in Minnesota collecting specimens and reading every book about bugs that he could find. He took up serious collecting as a young adult while attending the University of Minnesota in 1981. After relocating to New Mexico in 1982 his collection grew dramatically. Don studied entomology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and traveled around the Southwest searching for new and interesting specimens. Don moved to Washington State in 1989 and soon after began voluntarily showing his collection to school children. Don started Insect Safari in 1994 responding to the encouragement of teachers that such a program was much needed to support insect study in elementary curriculum.

Don continues his education through independent study as well as working as a volunteer in the insect collections of major universities and museums. While the majority of the presentations are for elementary schools, Don regularly does presentations at The Burke Museum at UW as well as Library Summer Reading Programs throughout western Washington, Scout pack meetings, retirement homes, day care, home schools, birthday parties, coffee shops...Anywhere people might like to get together and look at an amazing collection of beautiful insects.