Where Do Movies Get Their Insects? A Look Inside Bugs Are My Business

Spiders and meal worms and bees—oh my

Every year around Halloween I take friends on a bus tour in search of the season’s spookiest spots. We’ve ventured inside an abandoned institution, a factory that produces lifelike robots, and numerous special-effects workshops. This year we visited the art studio of Drew Struzan, known for his incredible sci-fi posters; surrealist Victorian photo artist Stephen Berkman; and Alterian, Inc., where Chucky is among the more genteel creations.

There was some creepy stuff there for sure, but the stop that caused the most squealing (especially from your terrified columnist) was the studio of Steven Kutcher of Bugs Are My Business.

Steven Kutcher in his studio with bug art

Photo by Forest Casey

Steven Kutcher’s butterfly collection

Photo by Forest Casey

Kutcher does bug effects for movies (you can find a full list of his credits includes everything from Exorcist II to We Bought a Zoo), is an expert witness for infestation cases, and has collaborated with his creatures on a series of artworks in which Kutcher places his critters near paint and allows them to create paths on canvas. On my visit, he invited his colleague Diana Terranova, who is equally in love with the insect world, to join us.

Diana Terranova among her menagerie

Photo by Forest Casey

bugs for movies los angeles
Texas Yellowjacket millipede goin’ for a ride

Forest Casey

The duo waxed poetic about their infatuation with beetles and tarantulas, and then Terranova started plucking her living specimens from their homes and attaching them to the party guests. Oh geez! 

Diana Terranova lets her scorpion loose on your columnist’s head

Photo by Nancy Kruse

Photo by Forest Casey

You can see how I reacted to having a Mastigoproctus Giganteus crawling through my hair. The group went wild when spiderweb-clad horror actress/entomologist plunged her hands into a bin filled with Froot Loops to extract her Zophoba superworms, Texas Yellowjacket Millipedes, and horn worm caterpillars, which will someday transform into the type of moth seen in Silence of the Lambs.

Millipedes and super worms that turn into black beetles live in Froot Loops

Photo by Forest Casey

A Giant Asian Mantis visiting with guests

Photo by Forest Casey

Why cereal? “You need to put them on some sort of substrate like wheat bran or oatmeal so they can snack, and to keep them dry when they pee all over each other,” says Terranova. “It looks cute, gives them a fruity aromatic smell and the small dose of sugar is a nice treat for them. Also Froot Loops are fortified with vitamins and minerals.” I love L.A.

RELATED: Get Spooked With the Best Halloween Events in L.A.

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