Why Bug Fest at the El Paso Zoo has become a favorite of mine


June 1, 2023


KTSM’s Monica Cortez stands in front of a Truly Nolen vehicle during the event. PHOTO: TRULY NOLEN

Most people outside of the pest control industry spend their summers trying to avoid a pest invasion, but for the community in El Paso, Texas, they were focusing on just the opposite.

In May, the Borderland embraced the world of bugs at the El Paso Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Annual Bug Fest 2023 sponsored by Truly Nolen Pest Control. Our company hosted this event for the third time and worked with the Zoo’s marketing specialist, Sarah Borrego, to make sure that this year’s event was bigger, and buggier, than ever before. Bug Fest is an interactive experience where the community can have up close and personal bug encounters — and even bug tastings!

The crowd got to walk through the Zoo’s Bug Room, which featured insects and arthropods from North and South America, Africa and Asia. Zoo representatives were on-site to educate the community about each bug’s nature, makeup, and lifestyle. After touring the Bug Room, guests headed over to the Wildlife Amphitheater for the “Great Bug Cook-Off: Battle of the Bugs!” Here, Truly Nolen Business Manager Robert Muñoz had a heated cooking competition against KTSM NBC 9 El Paso’s Chief Meteorologist Monica Cortez. The pair battled in the kitchen to see who could create the tastiest Grasshopper Tacos. Volunteers from the audience were pulled to be the judges and determine who had the most delicious creation. It was a stiff competition on the first day of the event this year and the judges were torn, ultimately ending in a tie between Muñoz and Cortez. The second day of the event featured a cook-off between Truly Nolen Operations Manager Carlos Cruz and Service Coordinator Erika Castañeda Dorado, where Castañeda Dorado won by a landslide with her cheesy grasshopper tacos dorados.


Eddie Guzman, the El Paso Zoo’s graphic designer and theater coordinator, dresses as a cockroach for the 2023 Bug Fest. PHOTO: TRULY NOLEN

After the cook-off, guests enjoyed samples of other buggy delicacies such as scorpion micheladas, chocolate chip cricket cookies, watermelon with chapulines, and donuts with dragon fruit crickets. The Zoo’s executive chef, Albert Vasquez, whipped up all of the samples for the crowd, and each year his menu seems to get more and more creative! In past years there have been samples of crisped rice cereal treats with chocolate ganache and black ants; kettle potato chips with crickets, lime and hot sauce; cotton candy with crickets in the middle; and even iced coffee rimmed with chocolate crickets. Definitely not what you would find at your local Starbucks!

I cannot personally bring myself to sink my teeth into a beetle burrito but the crowd seems to get braver every year. The Zoo’s director, Joe Montisano, does a great job of encouraging the crowd to dig in and it always seems that children are the most willing to try all of the crunchy creations.

This educational event sells out every year and we always have a great time engaging with the community and sharing our love for all things creepy and crawly. The El Paso Truly Nolen Pest Control team is already looking forward to Bug Fest 2024 and our continued partnership with the El Paso Zoo & Botanical Gardens.


Members of the Truly Nolen and KTSM crews. PHOTO: TRULY NOLEN



Eddie Guzman, the El Paso Zoo’s graphic designer and theater coordinator, and Ray Rico, Truly Nolen’s community relations and event coordinator. PHOTO: TRULY NOLEN



KTSM’s Monica Cortez and Robert Munoz of Truly Nolen stand in front of the Bug Fest 2023 sign at the zoo. PHOTO: TRULY NOLEN



Robert Munoz, of Truly Nolen, makes food at El Paso Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Annual Bug Fest 2023. PHOTO: TRULY NOLEN



Truly Nolen cars on display outside of the El Paso Zoo & Botanical Garden. PHOTO: TRULY NOLEN


About the Author

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Emily Cruz is the Truly Nolen Area Manager for West Texas and New Mexico and has been with the company since 2010. She can be seen once a month on KTSM NBC 9’s Facebook Live “Tips From Yours Truly” Segment with Chief Meteorologist Monica Cortez and can be reached at Emily.Cruz@trulynolen.com.

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