First look inside five-acre bug zoo - and you can take a creepy crawly home

Bugz UK at Lenwade, just outside Norwich, claims to host the largest array of insects and creepy-crawlies under one roof

Bugz UK at Lenwade, just outside Norwich, claims to host the largest array of insects and creepy-crawlies under one roof - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

In just two weeks' time an insect park boasting 200 different species of minibeasts will throw open its doors to the public.

Martin French launched BugzUK more than 20 years ago in a shed in his garden and now has a five-acre tropical invertebrate park to his name.

Martin French, fouder of Bugz UK.

BugzUK founder Martin French with a giant snail at his Lenwade park, which opens on May 28 - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

A quarter of the park is in use and Mr French has plans to develop the Nowhere Lane site - the home of the former Norfolk Wildlife Park in Lenwade - over the next decade.

The refurb so far has cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, with estimations that a total of £4million will be spent over the next 10 years.

Bugz UK, at Lenwade, is one of the biggest bug attractions in the UK.

BugzUK will provide a hands-on experience to visitors - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

"Keeping insects is a great way to teach children about life and death," he explained.

Bugz UK, at Lenwade, is one of the biggest bug attractions in the UK.

Martin French of BugzUK shows off a praying mantis at BugzUK - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

He said: "25 years ago I had a dream to build a zoo.

"I started off with six praying mantis. I've been doing stuff since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.

Bugz UK, at Lenwade, is one of the biggest bug attractions in the UK.

BugzUK is home to more than 200 live species of insects - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

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"We want to educate kids more than anything else.

"With bees and butterflies on the decline, our mission is getting people interested in something they probably never have been before.

Martin French, fouder of Bugz UK.

Martin French, founder of Bugz UK - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

"Conservation is also part of what we do. We're going to especially work on bees and what visitors can do to slow their disappearance.

"There are more arthropods in the world than any other thing, yet we're one of the only parks solely dedicated to them."

Bugz UK, at Lenwade, is one of the biggest bug attractions in the UK.

BugzUK in Lenwade has more than 1,000 butterflies on display - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

As well as the 200 live species in the park, Martin's collection boasts more than 1,000 taxidermy butterflies.

And those captivated by the creatures can even take an insect home. 

There's a dedicated section of the gift shop where visitors can pick their critter and all necessary foods and equipment, or orders can be placed via BugzUK's website.

Bugz UK, at Lenwade, is one of the biggest bug attractions in the UK.

Martin French of BugzUK with a stick insect - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

One of the main attractions is the ant colony, kitted out with a liana - or climbing vine - and plastic tubes so visitors can watch the tiny insects in action.

Mr French added: "The colony started off with around 3,000 ants, and needs to get to about half a million before we open it up on May 28."

Bugz UK, at Lenwade, is one of the biggest bug attractions in the UK.

More than 250,000 ants will climb up and down the liana vine at BugzUK - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

The up-and-coming trend of eating creepy crawlies

Entomophagy - humans eating insects - is a practice that goes back tens of thousands of years, and many cultures still actively eat bugs as part of their diets.

But the convention is growing in popularity in the Western world as a way to tackle the climate crisis.

Bugz UK, at Lenwade, is one of the biggest bug attractions in the UK.

BugzUK houses insects from all continents - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

Packed full of proteins, they can also alleviate malnutrition and ease food insecurity.

Martin said: "Entomophagy is a big thing in other countries but not so much here.

"But you can create far more protein from growing bugs than you can from farming beef and cattle.

"I've eaten them myself, and they're usually seasoned with different flavourings."

Bugz UK, at Lenwade, is one of the biggest bug attractions in the UK.

BugzUK is set to expand over the next 10 years - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

The UN says that consuming the right kinds of critters can help address the pressing issues of food security and the growing human population, which is set to hit 9.8 billion by 2050.