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Gift Ideas for Bug Lovers and Invertebrate Admirers

By Kailee Slusser and Xerces Society Staff on 30. December 2023
Kailee Slusser and Xerces Society Staff

There’s nothing quite like the joy of finding that perfect gift for a friend or family member. A thoughtful gift brings joy to any occasion and says, “I care.” 

With so many occasions that can call for a gift — birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, housewarmings, graduations, retirements, holidays, and more — you’re not alone if you run out of ideas sometimes. It can be especially hard to think of gifts for those closest to you, to whom you’ve given so many gifts before. 

If you’re brainstorming gift ideas for a bug lover, invertebrate admirer, environmentalist, conservationist, or entomologist, the Xerces Society has you covered. We have gift ideas for kids and adults of all ages, whether they love bees, butterflies, spiders, grasshoppers, snails, mussels or something else without a spine. We’ve got last-minute and punctual ideas. We’ve got modest and ambitious options. We polled the whole Xerces Society staff to bring you the brainstorming power of a team of invertebrate-obsessed experts. 

And if you’re a bug lover or invertebrate admirer yourself, save your loved ones some trouble and share this link! 

 

 

Experience Gifts

Travel and Lodging for Sightseeing  

Bug and invertebrate lovers tend to enjoy observing and photographing them in the wild. But if your recipient doesn’t live in the native range of their favorite species, they might feel like they are missing out. Travel and lodging will allow them to spot and record new species in new environments. For example, they could see overwintering monarchs for the first time in coastal California. 

 

Scholarship or Event Registration

Cover the cost of a course, conference, training or event that relates to invertebrates and your loved one’s particular interests. Possibilities are endless. You can browse Xerces events for ideas, though many of ours are free. 

 

Xerces Membership 

The Xerces Society is the largest invertebrate conservation organization in the world. Gifting a Xerces membership is a perfect gesture for anyone who cares about these creatures. Gift memberships can be found in Xerces' online gift center. This one-year membership includes a welcome packet with our member magazine, Wings, and an entire year of supporting insects and other invertebrates through the work of Xerces.

 

Insect Collection Tour

Universities and museums often have insects cataloged for research and preservation purposes. These educational institutions may host guests for viewings. Allow your bug lover to see how insects are cataloged, why they are being preserved, and the diversity of invertebrates across time and space. Check for viewing opportunities being advertised at nearby institutions. And if you are able to arrange a private tour, you will surely make someone feel special! 

 

A variety of pinned insects in an insect collection
The gift of touring a diverse insect collection makes for a beautiful sight. (Photo: Barta IV, Flickr.)

 

Garden Tour, Tickets, or Membership

Diverse gardens are often hot spots for invertebrate life. Tickets or passes to a nearby botanical garden with a conservation focus will give your friend or family member a great place to search for and find bugs. You can also consider gifting a personally guided tour of your favorite garden or hiking area. Search for organized garden tours in your area to see if anyone is offering tours on private land.

 

Zoo, Insectarium, or Museum Tickets or Membership 

Similar to gardens, zoos and museums can be a great place to see invertebrates that you don’t normally see at home. One option is to find an accredited nonprofit zoo with a mission for conservation. Some zoos have pollinator gardens or invertebrates on exhibit that would guarantee sightings. 

There are also a handful of zoos specific to live invertebrates and insects! They might be referred to as insectariums, butterfly pavilions, or insect zoos. 

Museums can have invertebrate exhibits too, and some entire museums specialize in insects and other spineless creatures. 


 

Pink katydid
Pink katydid at the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium (Photo: Audubon Nature Institute.)

 

Park Passes

Great places to see a variety of wild invertebrates are local, state, and national parks. Some of these parks require entrance fees and some offer annual passes for unlimited entry in a year. The money generally supports the conservation of those natural places, ensuring that this will remain a great gift for years to come. 

 

Physical Gifts 

Pollinator Habitat Sign 

Xerces offers pollinator habitat yard signs in English and Spanish to officially designate any area as a pollinator safe haven. A proud marker is a perfect gift  for any lover of blooms and buzzing bees!

Our yard signs can be acquired through the online gift center and come with a one year membership to Xerces. The membership is not transferable, but the sign can be mailed as a gift to any address in the U.S. or Canada. You can also gift it in person, of course!

 

Leave the Leaves Sign 

Xerces also offers a yard sign that invites passersby to leave the leaves. Leaves are not litter. They are food and shelter for butterflies, beetles, bees, moths, and more. Leaving the leaves over winter and displaying this sign is a great way to spread the word about protecting these creatures. Your invertebrate admirer will appreciate it. 

Our yard signs can be ordered through our online gift center and come with a one year membership to Xerces. The membership is not transferable, but the sign can be mailed as a gift to any address in the U.S. or Canada. You can also gift it in person, of course! 


 

Sign that says "Leave the Leaves" hanging in front of trees in autumn
A “leave the leaves” sign tells the whole neighbor why leaving nature alone in the colder months is good for invertebrates. (Photo: Kailee Slusser/Xerces Society.)

 

Native Plants or Seeds 

One of the best things anyone can do for invertebrates and insects is to provide them with their native habitat, which has often declined in natural areas due to human behavior. Creating diverse native habitat will attract invertebrates, which will delight the enthusiast in your life. Xerces offers several resources to help you find regionally native seeds and invertebrate-safe plants for sale: 

Another option is to ask friends and neighbors to propagate their native plants. Collecting seeds, splitting plants, or otherwise multiplying the species gives you a great gift for your special someone. 

If you aren’t sure what seeds or plants to get, a gift card to a nearby nursery gives your recipient the option to choose which plants to grow. Just make sure they sell native plants and limit pesticides. 

 

Gardening Tools 

The best gardens attract invertebrates! Often on developed properties today, you have to build it before they will come. We call this restoring native habitat. Gift some garden tools for starting or maintaining a native habitat garden. We’re talking shovels, trowels, gloves, soil knives, pruners, ball weeders, garden forks, wheelbarrows, watering tools, and more. 

 

Bee Nesting Habitat 

Part of providing habitat for invertebrates is providing nesting space. 30% of native bees nest in small cavities or tunnels. Some of those species, such as leafcutter and mason bees, might use man-made nesting blocks or cut pieces of bamboo for nesting when better natural habitat is not available. Bumble bees may use artificial nests as well. You can make artificial bee nests for your bug fanatic, which are sometimes called bee hotels or bee houses. Careful maintenance is required to limit the spread of disease and harmful mites in these artificial nests, so please include maintenance instructions

Even better than artificial nesting habitat is natural habitat for native bees. For tunnel-nesters, the stems of certain plants provide natural tunnels when stems are saved over winter rather than cut back. Plants like hyssop, echinacea, sunflowers, blazing star, goldenrods, asters, raspberries, brambles, sumac, and elderberry would make a great gift for anyone wanting to give the bees a place to nest, since their stems are commonly used by bees. 
 

Bees flying around artificial nest boxes
Artificial bee nesting blocks. (Photo: Emily May.)

 

A Log 

We promise this is a real suggestion, albeit unusual. A log’s dead woody material provides an abundance of habitat for all sorts of wildlife and it will bring a bug lover joy to observe through the various stages of decay. This is an especially affordable and appropriate gift for beetle and bee enthusiasts. It can come in handy for a last-minute gift, too.

 

X Kids Activity Booklet 

If your loved one has a child in their life to share their love of bugs with, or if they are a kiddo themselves, then the Xerces X Kids activity booklet is a great fit. This educational workbook was created for kids from 3rd to 5th grade, but all are welcome to participate. The hands-on activities are meant for weather warm enough to be outside and observe a variety of invertebrates. No one has to know it was free! 

 

Bee and Butterfly Mask Crafts

Another gift for young and family-focused invertebrate lovers are these pollinator mask crafts. Your gift recipient can cut, color, and wear these masks as they learn about and appreciate invertebrates. Xerces offers bumble bee masks, monarch butterfly masks, and Xerces blue butterfly masks, modeled after the extinct butterfly which is the Xerces Society's namesake. 

 

Magnifying Tools 

Invertebrates tend to be small creatures that can be hard to study with the naked eye. For better viewing up close, gift tools like a magnifying glass, loupe, hand lens, or light-up pocket macroscope. Binoculars can also help your gift recipient watch butterflies and other insects from afar without disturbing them or scaring them off. 

 

Macro Camera Lens 

A macro lens will help the invertebrate admirer in your life get more detailed pictures of these tiny creatures. Quality photos can help with research, better facilitate species identification, be cherished as keepsakes, and allow someone to share their observations with others. Macro lens attachments are made for both cell phone cameras and digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras. 

 

Close detailed view of a bumble bee on a flower
A macro lens allows for close up photos of insects and other invertebrates. (Photo: Nancy Lee Adamson.)

 


Invertebrate-Friendly Lights

Some insects are active in the dark, like certain moths and fireflies. Artificial light at night can disrupt these animals. Many fireflies need darkness to communicate using light patterns of their own. Help a bug lover decrease unnecessary light pollution with firefly-friendly lighting.

Similarly, a red or blue-lighted headlamp will allow an enthusiast to observe fireflies in the dark without disturbing them.

 

Invertebrate Books

Even invertebrate experts still have room to learn more! Xerces has produced several original books including 100 Plants to Feed the Monarchs, 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies, Attracting Native Pollinators, Farming with Native Beneficial Insects, and more. These books can be found in bookstores or online.

Xerces books can also be acquired through our online gift center, in which case they come with a one year membership to Xerces. The membership is not transferable, but the books can be mailed as a gift to any address in the U.S. or Canada. You can also gift it in person, of course! 

 

Field and Pocket Guides 

Field guides will help invertebrate seekers identify their observations in the wild. Pocket guides provide similar but abbreviated information. Xerces offers field and pocket guides for bumble bees, migratory dragonflies, and more


 

Pocket guide opened to a spread showing photos of bumble bees and describing body parts to look for while attempting identification
A bumble bee pocket guide helps identify bees on the go. (Photo: Kailee Slusser/Xerces Society) 

 

Invertebrate Artwork 

Art can speak in ways that words cannot. Search for art that makes a statement about invertebrates or features a favorite species.

 

Invertebrate Clothing 

Whether it’s a catchy t-shirt or an elegantly patterned garment, themed clothing is one of the best ways for expressing one’s interests and starting conversations. If your invertebrate enthusiast has a favorite species, search from there. If they work professionally with spineless critters, business attire with tasteful invertebrate themes is especially appropriate. 

 

Invertebrate Puzzle or Board Game 

A thematic board game or puzzle is a fun way to celebrate your invertebrate fanatic’s interests and get others talking about these creatures. 


Service Gifts

Curated List of Pollinator-Safe Nurseries

It can be tricky to find nurseries offering native plants that are safe for pollinators. The reason many folks want native flowering plants is to provide or restore habitat for native invertebrates and other wildlife. But when those plants are contaminated with harmful pesticides, they can do more harm than good. Researching nearby nurseries can be a labor of love that will save your invertebrate enthusiast time and effort. Xerces offers a directory of plant nurseries, seed retailers, and related services that will give you a good starting point. Xerces also shares guidance for identifying pollinator-safe nurseries in your area and what to do when you have trouble finding them. The gift’s recipient will be so proud to hear about your conversations with nearby nurseries and how you urged them to carry pollinator-safe plants. 


 

Flowering pants sitting on tables at a nursery
The right nursery will bring a pollinator supporter joy. (Photo: Nancy Kennedy, iStock.)

 

Curated Video Playlist

Finding the right information takes time and effort. Curate a playlist of videos that align with your loved one’s invertebrate interests. A high quality watch list prevents wasting time. Xerces has dozens of educational videos on our YouTube channel to give you a head start. 

 

Pollinator Garden Design and Planting

Research is time-consuming work! Gift a pollinator garden design personalized for your gift recipient’s space, desired invertebrate neighbors, and personal style. Xerces offers resources to help you pick the right place, plants, and process for the perfect pollinator garden

In addition or instead, you can offer to help plant a garden design. That could mean organizing a planting party or dedicating your own time and labor to making someone’s garden dreams come true. 

 

Fundraiser for Xerces 

Raising funds for the Xerces Society is a great way to contribute to a cause that an invertebrate fanatic cares about. You can host a personal fundraiser for Xerces online. Once you have it set up, share the link to your fundraiser on social media, through email, or directly. Surprise your invertebrate admirer with the total raised or involve them in the process. 

 

Donation to Xerces 

A direct donation to Xerces is another great way to show your bug enthusiast that you care about them and their interests! You can officially dedicate a donation to someone on our giving form. A tribute gift can include a heartfelt email from Xerces to let someone know a donation was made in their honor.

 

Authors
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Kailee joined Xerces from Ohio in the summer of 2022, after several years working in marketing and communications for small businesses, nonprofits, and a university. She holds degrees in visual communications management and graphic design, while her other strengths include interactive user experience and audience research.

Kailee was drawn to Xerces because her dream job has always been to amplify environmental and wildlife protection through her creative skills. Her role includes work on the website, social media channels, and various designs.

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