Insects

In summer, insects can be found almost everywhere. Some people are afraid of insects and miss out on lots of outdoor fun because of their fear. Don't let fear of insects ruin your summer, instead, make insects part of your summer fun. Here are a few ideas. Go bug watching. Pick an area outdoors and see how many insects you can find. Pretend you have on a disguise which makes you look like a plant. Move slowly and quietly and just watch insects. What are they doing? Watch them and find out. What do they eat? How do they meet other life needs like water, air, shelter, and protection from predators? How do they reproduce? The Michigan Entomological Society's Entomology Notes give some ideas of interesting insects to look for.

Look up some of the insects you find. Try to classify them by order. Is it a beetle (Coleoptera), a fly (Diptera), a butterfly, moth or skipper (Lepidoptera), true bug (Hemiptera), or wasp, bee or ant (Hymenoptera)? What do these names mean? What other orders of insects are there? See also the Bugbios, Gordon's Insect World and the O. Orkin Insect Zoo websites. How do you know if something is an insect? Visit Entomology for Beginners for basic information about the life stages of insects.

Choose an insect of the week. Find out everything you can about it. Look it up in library references, or, better yet, watch it and find things out for yourself. Unless you know what it eats and can give it food, don't catch it and keep it in a jar, watch it in its real habitat, outdoors. Visit different areas, a field, a woodland, a vegetable garden, a pond, a stream. Do you find different insects? Why? How do conditions in these areas differ? What does this mean for insects there? 

Look for insect eggs. Bring them in on a piece of the plant you find them on and see if they will hatch. Draw what they look like and what hatches out of them. Do the young look a lot like an adult insect (meaning they are nymphs which go through incomplete metamorphism) or do they look like a worm (meaning they are larvae which will go through complete metamorphism)? How do incomplete and complete metamorphism differ? Let the young go after they hatch unless you are sure how to give them all they need to grow up.

Keep track of how insects are mentioned on TV. Are they shown as an important part of the environment? Are they shown as just something to get rid of? Why? 

Keep a journal or diary of what you learn about insects.

Sugar for moths. Make a thick, sticky mixture of sugar and overripe fruit. Use an old paintbrush to smear some of the mixture on the trunks of trees at twilight. Return several times during the evening to see what has been attracted. Use a flashlight and hold a jar below the painted spot. Insects will drop into the jar, giving you a chance to look at them before letting them go.

Listen for insects. How many do you hear? Keep a list. Add to your list as the summer goes on. When do you first hear cicadas? When do you first hear crickets? When do you first hear katydids? 

Make a list of the ways insects are important or helpful, and a list of the ways insects cause problems for people. Which list is longer?
View text-based website