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Missoula insect lovers are in luck, as a new interactive insectarium opens its downtown Missoula doors tomorrow.

"The little things that run the world" -- that's the motto of Missoula's new insectarium. A place for people of all ages, the space encourages interaction with different insect species.

"We would like people to gain a better appreciation of the important role that these animals have in their lives," says executive director Jen Marangelo, who founded the organization in 2009 -- and says seeing her vision of bringing that motto to the Missoula community is unparalleled.

"I'm just so excited -- this has been a project that we've been working on for quite some time, so it's exciting to see it coming to life."

Carolyn Wiley runs the classroom aspect of the insectarium, in which she says she often witnesses a transformation in students.

"I love watching the kids who start out not wanting to touch any of the animals. We'll bring in something like a blue death feigning beetle or a millipede and some of the kids are like, no I am not touching that, I am not interested, thank you, crazy bug lady. And by the end they're like, 'I'll touch it,' and sometimes they'll hold it."

Marangelo encourages visitors to come see the 20 different species of live arthropods that the insectarium features, and hopes people leave with a new understanding of how things we may not notice impact our environment.

"It's a really fun way to learn about these animals and the role that they play.”

The insectarium director's ultimate dream: a greenhouse filled with butterflies large enough for visitors to walk through -- but that's a project for another day, a reality she hopes to achieve within five years.

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