Hollywood Bug Merchant Andy Miller Is Sure to Give a Movie Legs—and Audiences the Creeps

updated 08/06/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/06/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

It was a casting call even the William Morris Agency couldn't fill. For one guaranteed-to-make-your-skin-crawl scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, director Steven Spielberg wanted the floor of a cave to come alive. Enter bug broker Andy Miller, 33, Hollywood's No. 1 supplier of scorpions, tarantulas, centipedes and cockroaches and the owner of a North Hollywood market that is sort of the A&P of the insect world. For $5,000, Miller provided Spielberg with 50,000 crickets, 5,000 cockroaches, 12 long-horned beetles and 10 centipedes. "It's my job," says Miller, "to pick the right bug for the right job."

Miller is serious about his bugs. For 10 years he has supplied six-and eight-legged guest stars to CHiPs, The Rockford Files, General Hospital and numerous other TV shows and movies. (In Iceman, John Lone ate realistic milk-chocolate crickets molded by Miller.) Last month he filled a rush request from director Michael {Coma) Crichton, who needed 12 live tomato hornworms and six rubber ones, as well as a few dried beetles, dispatched to Moses Lake, Wash, for a new Tom Selleck movie, The Runaway.

"An arachnid collector first, a businessman second," Miller, together with his understanding wife, Nancy, takes off on frequent summer gathering expeditions to the deserts of California and Arizona and occasionally the jungles of Costa Rica. Tarantulas, which Miller says make great pets, are hunted in dry, grassy areas at dusk; scorpions are best trapped at night, when "they glow a bright green" under ultraviolet black light. Miller and his wife pick them up with tweezers, "unless we feel frisky and pick them up with our fingers." Miller, who has been stung often, hastens to add that he uses his fingers only on the larger, nonfatal Hadrurus scorpion. Exceptional specimens may wind up mounted on the walls of Miller's Canyon Country home northeast of L.A. Others face an uncertain future, though, like convicts, some will reap the benefits of good behavior. After the Indiana Jones scene was completed at the Lucas film studio north of San Francisco, many of the 50,000 crickets were set free. Next from Steven Spielberg: The Crickets That Ate Marin County?

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