Big Bugs lead

Big Bugs logo

JUNE 18-OCT. 2

A 1,200 pound praying mantis, a dragonfly with a 17-foot wingspan, three giant ants, each 10-foot high, are "normal" bugs in the vivid imagination of sculptor David Rogers, the creator of Big Bugs.

Using combinations of whole trees, cut green saplings, dry branches and other sustainable forest materials, Rogers channels the inherent uniqueness of the materials, their different shapes, colors and textures to provide his sculptures with their character, definition and a sense of motion. The effect is a role reversal of dimension and perception that will delight visitors of any age.

The Big Bugs exhibit at the Arboretum features a grasshopper, three ants, dragonfly and damselfly, assassin bug, praying mantis, a spider on a web, and a Daddy Longlegs. Each is placed in an interesting and complimentary landscape setting throughout the grounds, hand-picked by David and event managers to show off the bugs in the best way possible.

Big Bugs first appeared at the Arboretum in 2003. Each year, Rogers changes, updates and renovates his traveling exhibits so they remain fresh, vital and engaging.


David RogersAs a young teenager on Long Island, David Rogers learned to weld using salvaged car parts and scrap materials. By the time he was 15, he was experimenting with found forest materials. Using dry branches and rope-lashing techniques, he made different abstract structures. He soon graduated to a steel-welded dragonfly and a housefly, a sure indication of his future work.

For the next few years, he apprenticed with a wooden sailboat and cabinet builder, then worked as a house carpenter, cabdriver, magician's assistant, actor and sailboat crew member.

In love with rustic design and natural materials, he visited a cousin's farm in Vermont's Green Mountains in 1990. He encountered a maple sapling bent over from the previous winter's ice storm. "There was something about the curvature and posture of this particularly ravaged tree, a backbone to a large beast,perhaps, that suggested a new life for the tree. Using dried branches and different varieties of tree saplings, a "dinosaur" sculpture emerged in 12 inspired days, David said. It was a transformative experience.

In 1991, he conceptualized what would become Big Bugs. He started building the show in 1993 and came up with 10 sculptures. His first show was in 1994 and since then, he's exhibited in 40 states. Big Bugs first came to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in 2003. There are now 40 sculptures in the Big Bugs collection. When David retires a sculpture, he puts it on the roof of his home on Long Island. "The neighbors hate me but the kids love me,'' he said.

The shows are a huge enterprise. They must be carefully packed and shipped from a warehouse to the location, where they are unpacked and sited in the spots that David and the show curators picked for each one. After the show is over, the sculptures are inspected for damage or wear, then packed and shipped back to the warehouse for restoration and repair. Then the process starts all over again.


Create a bug, a carnivorous plant or something super-sized this summer using eco-friendly YOXO toy building materials. Bee inspired by Savage Gardens, Big Bugs summer exhibits or the wonders of nature.

Themes include conservation of plant and animal species, how they adapt to changing environments and sustainability practices as they create their own sculptures. YOXO toys are manufactured from recycled wood pulp in the company's Minnesota workshop. Learn more at to win a YOXO building kit.

Community Builds dates:
June 11 and 25, July 9 and 23, August 6 and 20
10 a.m. to noon at the Sensory Garden Pavilion on the July 23 at Ordway Shelter
No registration required, just drop in! Then explore the huge insects and bugs of Big Bugs and the cool plant sculptures and interactive kid stations for Savage Gardens. All free with gate admission.

Community Builds are generously sponsored by Park Dental, with special thanks to YOXO community partner.

Park Dental                    Yoxo


view all Big Bugs Programs

Live Insect Safari

Saturdays and Wednesdays: June 15 - Sept 30
Drop-in anytime between Noon - 2:00 p.m.
Teaching Garden outside level 2 of Visitor Center

PlantMaker Studio: Milkweed for Monarchs
Saturdays and Sundays, August 6 - September 25
Drop-in anytime between Noon - 4 p.m.
Learning Center

One Hour Enrichment Experience: Savage Plants &
Big Bugs Oh My! (ages 6-13)

Multiple dates available for individuals or groups

Petals and Pollen Day Camp (ages 5-7)
Tuesday - Thursday, July 26-28, 9 a.m.- noon.

Eco-Adventures Day Camp: Pollinator Super Power! (ages 7-12)
Monday - Friday, August 1 - 5, 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Botanical Drawing Class: Pollinators in Colored Pencil
Saturday, August 6, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

"Bee" Healthy...with Honey
Saturday, August 13, 9 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Pollinator Summit
Thursday, August 18, 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Walks With Matt: Sights, Sounds & Songs of the Prairie

Saturday, August 20, 9 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Bee Lawns: How to Have an Insect Haven in your Lawn
Saturday, August 27, 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Photographing Butterflies and Bees
Thursday, August 25, 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Saturday, August 27, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.SOLD OUT

Graphite: Drawing the Honeybee
Saturday, September 24, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Colored Pencil: Drawing the Honeybee
Saturday, September 24, 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.



Park Dental C.H. Robinson
Wagners Plunketts