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Steven R. Kutcher

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Steven R Kutcher
PseudonymThe Bug Man of Hollywood
Born(1944-01-09)January 9, 1944
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Live appearances
GenresBug wrangling, bug art
Notable works and rolesArachnophobia, Jurassic Park, Spider-Man (2002)

Steven R. Kutcher (born January 9, 1944) is an American entomologist who has worked as a "wrangler" of insects and other arthropods in the entertainment industry.[1][2] He has gained media attention as "The Bug Man of Hollywood."[3][4] In recent years, Kutcher has attracted additional notice[5] by using insects as "living brushes" to create "Bug Art," while continuing his work as a naturalist and educator.

Background, education, and training[edit]

Born in Manhattan, New York, a young Steven R. Kutcher collected fireflies in the Catskill Mountains. Kutcher continued to collect insects after his family moved to a suburb of Los Angeles, California, this time in the Santa Monica Mountains. At 19, Kutcher traveled 3000 miles around Mexico, exploring desert to tropical ecosystems.

Kutcher received a bachelors degree in entomology from the University of California, Davis, in 1968; and a Master of Science degree in biology from the California State University, Long Beach, in 1975. His formal studies focused on insect behavior — in particular the aggregating behavior of the milkweed bug, Oncopeltus fasciitis[6] — observed via time-lapse cinematography under experimental conditions.

In 1970, Kutcher began his work in the entertainment industry as "Larry J. Felix" in The Stein and Illes Radio Show, a comedy show on KUSC, in Southern California; James R. Stein and Robert Illes would both become Emmy Award–winning TV writers and producers. Kutcher received comedic training from Bill Cosby and once had Robin Williams as an audience.[2]

"The Bug Man of Hollywood"[edit]

Since 1977, Kutcher has manipulated the instinctive behaviors of arthropods, and the instinctive reactions of audiences, mostly in the horror, thriller, fantasy, and comedy genres. He has worked with insects on over 100 feature films, including Spider-Man (2002), Jurassic Park, and Arachnophobia. Kutcher has also worked on numerous popular television shows—including CSI: NY, MacGyver, and The X-Files – as well as TV commercials and online advertising for Fortune 500 corporations.

As "The Bug Man of Hollywood," Kutcher has himself been the subject of numerous interviews. He has appeared on TV talk shows, including The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Late Night with David Letterman. In 1992, Kutcher appeared as a guest on the Emmy-nominated "Spider Episode"[7] of the TV talk show parody The Larry Sanders Show, starring Garry Shandling. In 1998, Kutcher appeared on the British TV children's show The Scoop, which won a BAFTA award.[8]

Manipulating insect behavior[edit]

Applying his expertise on arthropod behaviors, Kutcher manipulates instinctive responses such as positive or negative sensitivity to light, air pressure, or gravity to make bugs perform scripted tricks on cue,[2] such as:

  • A live wasp flies harmlessly into the mouth of actor Roddy McDowell.
  • A cockroach runs across the floor and then, "hitting its mark", flips over on its back.
  • A spider crawls across a room and then into a slipper.
  • A cockroach crawls out of a shoe, walks up a bag of snack food and onto a surfing magazine, and then stops upon a picture of a surfboard.
  • A praying mantis, a scorpion, and beetles power-up a cell phone as part of a "Bug Circus" in online ad[9] (a la a traditional flea circus).
  • Hundreds of bees or thousands of locusts swarm on camera as called for in the script.

"Bug Art"[edit]

In the 1980s, for a Steven Spielberg television project, Steven Kutcher made a fly walk through ink and leave footprints as directed.[10] Since 2000, Steven Kutcher has been creating "Bug Art," using various arthropods as "living brushes" to apply gouache and other nontoxic paints on watercolor paper.[11] "I use water-based, nontoxic paints that easily wash off", he says. "I have to take good care of them. After all, they are artists!"[5] The abstract to surrealistic compositions are shaped by Kutcher's methods of manipulating insect movements, and are often influenced by the works of Impressionist and other master painters.[12]

Contributions as scientist, naturalist, and educator[edit]

Steven Kutcher has given talks and live-insect demonstrations at hundreds of film festivals, seminars, workshops, museums, libraries, and schools (pre-K through post-graduate level).[2] Kutcher has been instrumental in creating annual insect fairs, as at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History and Los Angeles County Arboretum, which have been attended by more than 100,000 children and adults. Kutcher also served as a consultant in the development of the interactive insect exhibits at the Kidspace Children's Museum,[13] in Pasadena, California.

Kutcher has taught outdoor education workshops for such environmental organizations as the Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, and Tree People. With a milkweed butterfly garden of his own, Kutcher is on the board of the Monarch Program[14] Kutcher has consulted on the biology and control of arthropods for major corporations and government agencies, such as the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District.

For over 30 years, Kutcher has taught entomology, zoology, and biology courses at West Lost Angeles College, Culver City, but has also taught for four other community colleges.[2]

Partial Filmography[edit]

Theatrical films[edit]

In addition to serving as "bug wrangler" or entomology consultant for numerous student and independent films, Kutcher has worked on many feature films from major studios and production companies:[1][2]

Film Year Featured "bugs"
We Bought a Zoo 2011 Swarm of honey bees
G-Force 2009 Tarantula, cockroach (test shots for animation)
National Treasure: Book of Secrets 2007 Beetles etc.
The Hitcher 2007 Spiders, scorpion
Antwone Fisher 2002 Grasshoppers
Spider-Man 2002 Spiders (wrangled live spiders and consulted on cgi spiders, as "The Spider Man Behind Spider-Man"[15])
Wild Wild West 1998 Tarantula
Lost Highway 1997 Spider, moths
Mimic 1997 Ants, termites
Alien: Resurrection 1997 Spider (with web)
L.A. Confidential 1996 Maggots (on body under house)
D3: The Mighty Ducks 1996 Ants
Jack 1996 Monarch butterflies
James and the Giant Peach 1996 Dwarf tarantulas (in costume)
A Very Brady Sequel 1996 Tarantula
Copycat 1995 Carpenter ants (covering Sigourney Weaver)
Matilda 1995 Cockroach (and newt)
A Walk in the Clouds 1995 Butterflies
Leprechaun 2 1994 Cockroaches (green) and tarantulas
Jurassic Park 1993 Mosquitoes (live and "prehistoric," simulated by crane fly in "amber")
The Temp 1993 Wasps, scorpions, cockroaches
Meet the Applegates 1991 Praying mantis, tarantula
Arachnophobia 1990 Spiders, crickets, etc.
Back to the Future Part II 1989 Various insects (pinned etc. in displays)
The 'Burbs 1989 Bees
Fright Night II 1989 Mealworms etc.
Police Academy 6: City Under Siege 1989 Cabbage white butterflies (as "moths")
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors 1987 Dragonfly, fly
The Golden Child 1986 Monarch butterfly
The Goonies 1985 Leech (scene cut)
Exorcist II: The Heretic 1977 Locusts (grasshoppers)

TV movies and series[2][edit]

TV production Year Featured "bugs"
An Inconvenient Woman c. 1991 Fly
Bernie Mac Show, The 2003 Mealworm beetles
Boy Meets World c. 1997, 1999 Snails, bees
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century c. 1980 Dragonflies
Chicago Hope 2000 Tarantula
Criminal Minds 2012, 2013, 2013 Maggots, flies, waxworms, praying mantis
CSI: NY 2006 Mealworms
Family Matters c. 1995 Giant mealworms
Kung Fu: The Movie 1986 Grasshopper
Larry Sanders Show, the (Emmy-nominated "The Spider Episode") 1996 Tarantulas
Laverne and Shirley Reunion 2002 Cockroaches etc.
Life with Bonnie (The Bonnie Hunt Show) 2004 Honey bee
MacGyver 1991 Cockroaches
Mentalist, The 2013
Monk 2005 Bees
Power Rangers 1994 Praying mantis, cockroaches
Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo 1977 Tarantulas
Women of Brewster Place, The 1989 Cockroach
Wonder Woman 1978 Ants
The X-Files 1999, 2005 Flies, moths
The Young and the Restless 1991 Ants

Music videos[2][edit]

Artist Project Year Featured "bugs"
Paula Abdul Butterflies (in display case)
Christina Aguilera "Fighter" 2002 Moths
Alice Cooper Welcome to My Nightmare Scorpions, mealworms
Godsmack "I Stand Alone" 2002 Scorpion
M.C. Hammer 1992 Butterflies
Billy Idol "L.A. Woman" 1990 Cockroach, mealworm
Janet Jackson "Together Again" (Deeper Remix) 1997 Butterfly
Michael Jackson "Stranger in Moscow" 1996 Wasp
Korn 1996 Cockroaches
No Doubt Don't Speak 1996 Fly, mealworms

TV and online commercials[2][edit]

Market segment Brands Featured "bugs"
Automobiles Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Honda, Hyundai, Jeep, Kia, Lexus, Mini Cooper, Mitsubishi, Peugeot, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen Bees, beetles, butterflies, dragonflies, flies, grasshoppers, ladybugs, scorpions, spider webs
Consumer electronics Apple, Dell, Goldstar, Hewlett Packard, Hitachi, Kodak, Nintendo Game Boy, Panasonic, Polaroid, Sega, Sony, TDK, VCR Plus Ants, bees, butterflies, flies, moths, praying mantids, snails
Consumer goods (misc.) Adidas, All, Anderson Windows, Avia, Dial Soap, Dockers, Evinrude, Galoop Toys, Gladlock, Hallmark, K-Mart, Kleenex, Levi Strauss, Lowes, Nike, Northern Bathroom Tissue, Omega Watch, Revlon, Sears, Snuggles, Standard Brands Paint, Stainmaster, Sunlight Detergent, Swatch Bees, beetles, butterflies, caterpillars, cockroaches, flies, ladybugs, mosquitoes, moths, spiders
Energy Chevron, Florida Power and Light, Mobil, Sempra Ants, beetles, butterflies, flies, ladybugs, spider webs
Entertainment Cartoon Network, PGA, Virginia Lottery, WCW Ants, beetles, cockroaches, flies, mealworms
Fast food and other restaurants Applebee's, Carl's Jr., Dunkin' Donuts, KFC, McDonald's, Seven-Eleven, Souplantation, Taco Bell Bees, butterflies, moth cocoons, praying mantids
Finance and insurance Blue Cross, Capital One, Chase, Fuji Bank, Hartford Insurance, Interstate Bank, Premier Insurance, Tri-County Health, Barclay's Bees, butterflies, caterpillars, ladybugs, millipedes, walkingsticks
Food and beverages Gerber's, Bud Light, Dr. Pepper, Dryer's, Gallo, Jolly Rancher, Mauna Loa, Michelob, Milk Advisory Board ("Got Milk?"), Moet, Orida potatoes, Pepsi, Planter's, Reese's Pieces, Rath Blackhawk bacon, Smith's Markets, Snickers, Zima Ants, bees, butterflies, caterpillars, flies, Jerusalem crickets, moths, tarantulas and other spiders, wasps
Industrial and commodities Alcoa, Georgia Pacific, Monsanto Ants, butterflies, moths, spider webs
Pest control Combat, Orkin, Ortho, Scott's Ants, butterflies, cockroaches, grubs, termites
Public service announcements (PSAs) AD Council, Partnership for a Drug-Free America Bugs (misc.), leeches
Telecom AT&T, Atlantic Bell, Bell Canada, Qualcomm, Telecom Italia, Verizon Bees, beetles, butterflies, cockroaches, mealworms, mosquitoes, praying mantids, scorpions, tarantulas

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Steven R. Kutcher in IMDB
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bugs Are My Business
  3. ^ Bug Man of Hollywood Shares Tips on How to Train Bugs for the Big Screen, KCAL/KCBS TV.
  4. ^ NPR Staff (8 March 2014). "Hollywood Bug Man Understands How Cockroaches Think". Weekend Edition Saturday. NPR.
  5. ^ a b Thomas, Nick (19 August 2007). "He Lets Creepy-Crawlies Get Their Feet Wet as Painters". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ Kutcher, Steven (1971). "Two Types of Aggregation Grouping in the Large Milkweed Bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus (Hemiptera: Lygaeidae)". Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences. 70 (2): 85–90.
  7. ^ "The Larry Sanders Show (TV Series) The Spider Episode (1992)". IMDb.
  8. ^ 1998 BAFTA Award for Children's Factual production
  9. ^ "Snapdragon Apresenta - The Bug Circus Generator". YouTube.
  10. ^ Bug Art by Steven, official Web site
  11. ^ Bug Art video on YouTube
  12. ^ Thomas, Nick (28 November 2007). "Exhibit Reviewed: The art of arthropods". Nature. 450 (7170): 613. doi:10.1038/450613a. S2CID 4350804.
  13. ^ "Kidspace Children's Museum".
  14. ^ Kutcher, Steven (2002). "Two Incredible Journeys". The Monarch Quarterly. XII (2): 3.
  15. ^ Trivedi, Bijal P. (2 May 2002). "The Spider Man Behind Spider-man". National Geographic Today. Archived from the original on August 9, 2002.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  • Wired Magazine. May 2012. p. 113. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Le Republica (Italy). July 2009. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Velvet Magazine (Italy). July 2009. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Muy Interesante. November 2008. pp. 112–115. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Pasadena Star News (Earth Day Supplement). 22 April 2008. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Washington Post. 19 August 2007. p. N01. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Nature. 29 November 2007. p. 613. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • ÇA M'Interesse (France). June 2007. p. 106. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • K Club (Germany). August 2004. p. 36. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • The Santa Fe New Mexican ("Steven Hutcher" [sic]). 6 December 2002. p. B-1. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Current Science. 25 October 2002. p. Front Page. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • The Beach Review (California State University, Long Beach). Fall 2002. p. 29. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Los Angeles Business Journal. 30 September 2002. p. 23. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Cineflex. July 2002. pp. 29–31. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • National Enquirer. 11 June 2002. p. 39. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • West Australian. 6 June 2002. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Popular Science. June 2002. p. 76. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • New York Times. May 2002. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Sydney Herald. May 2002. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Chicago Sun Times. May 2002. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Sunday Mirror. May 2002. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Press Telegram (Long Beach, California). 11 May 2002. p. Front Page. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Teen Newsweek. 6 May 2002. pp. 5–6. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • National Geographic World. May 2002. pp. 26–27. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Neüe Zurcher Zeitung, NZZ Folio. July 2001. pp. 50–53. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Wall Street Journal. 29 March 2001. p. Front Page. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Newsweek. 8 January 2001. p. 9. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Boys' Life. 12 October 1998. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • San Jose Mercury News (Silicon Valley Life). 11 October 1998. p. 1. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • San Francisco Chronicle. 5 May 1998. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Los Angeles Times Magazine. 4 April 1998. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Los Angeles Business Journal. 4 April 1998. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Los Angeles Times (San Fernando Valley Weekend). 28 August 1997. p. 7. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Boston Herald (Life Styles). 30 May 1997. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • National Enquirer. 31 December 1996. p. 39. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Los Angeles Times (San Gabriel Valley Weekly). September 1996. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Various Newspapers (via Associated Press). June 1996. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • U.C., Davis Magazine. Spring 1996. pp. 24–25. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Telegraph (Sydney, Australia). 7 May 1995. p. 43. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Los Angeles Magazine. August 1995. pp. 60–67. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Scholastic Math Power. February 1993. pp. 8–9. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Boys' Life. April 1992. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Disney Adventures Magazine. February 1992. pp. 40–43. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Press Telegram (Long Beach, California). 23 October 1991. p. D-1. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Los Angeles Times (L.A. Times Magazine). 29 September 1991. p. 8. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Science World (Cover Article). 8 March 1991. pp. 4–7. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Los Angeles Times. 23 March 1991. p. B-3. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Woman's Day. 30 October 1990. p. 152. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Variety. 8 October 1990. p. N-1. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Pest Control Technology. September 1990. pp. 36–37. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Expressen Fredag. 28 September 1990. p. 6. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Weekly Reader. 14 September 1990. p. 7. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • L.A. Weekly. 31 August 1990. p. 41. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderddale, Florida). 7 August 1990. p. 1–E. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • New Hampshire Sunday News. 5 August 1990. p. 5–E. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • The Yuma Daily Sun. 29 July 1990. p. 25. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Entertainment Weekly. 27 July 1990. p. 37. {{cite magazine}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer. 22 July 1990. p. H-1. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Los Angeles Times (Calendar). 18 July 1990. p. F-6. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Wall Street Journal. 12 December 1989. p. Front Page. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Sky (Delta Air Lines). September 1989. p. 20. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Premiere. June 1989. p. 46. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Katso (Finland). May 1989. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Los Angeles Business Journal. 7 November 1988. p. 19. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Los Angeles Times. 14 February 1988. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Piccolo (Sweden). c. 1989. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • 3-2-1 Contact. November 1986. pp. 10–13. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Los Angeles Magazine. May 1986. p. 21. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Herald Examiner (California Living). 13 April 1986. p. 15. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Los Angeles Times. 22 December 1985. p. 4:27. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Huntington Beach Independent (Orange County News). 22 February 1979. p. 23. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Los Angeles Times. 9 April 1978. p. 7. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • El Vaquero (Glendale Community College). 5 November 1976. p. 4. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)

Journals and books[edit]

  • Baron, Angela (2010). Squirrely Over Nuts (caterpillar footprints).
  • Berenbaum, May (1995). Bugs in the System. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 9780201624991.
  • Bhagwat, Abha (2012). Who We Are 'Olkha Aamhi Kon?' (ant footprints).
  • Dale, N. (1986). Flowering Plants: The Santa Monica Mountains Coastal and Chaparral Regions of Southern California.
  • Gerani, Garry (1995). Death Ship (cover, by Cliff Nielsen).
  • Gordon, D. (1996). The Complete Cockroach.
  • Gordon, D. (1998). The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook.
  • Guinness Book of Records. 2009.
  • Hogue, Charles (1987). "Cultural Entomology". Annual Review of Entomology. 32: 181–199. doi:10.1146/annurev.en.32.010187.001145.
  • Hogue, Charles (1993). Insects of the Los Angeles Basin.
  • Jackson, Donna (2002). The Bug Scientists. Houghton Mifflin and Company. pp. 87–90.
  • Mertins, James (1986). "Arthropods on the Screen". Bulletin of the Entomological Society of America. 32 (Summer): 85–90. doi:10.1093/besa/32.2.85.
  • Pallenberg, Barbara (1977). The Making of The Exorcist II: The Heretic.
  • Rothstein, Barry; Rothstein, Betsy (2011). Eye-Popping 3-D Bugs.
  • Ripley's Believe It or Not. Prepared to be Shocked!. 2008. p. 21.
  • Starcher, A. (1995). Good Bugs for Your Garden.
  • Tekulsy, M. (1985). The Butterfly Garden.
  • Time for Kids. Big Book of How. 2011. p. 19.
  • Cotta Vaz, Mark (2002). Behind the Mask of Spider-Man. Del Rey, Ballantine Publishing Group. pp. 48–50. ISBN 9780345450043.