More Summer Science: Backyard Bugs

Last year we had the incredible opportunity to watch 2 little baby robins go from pink and wrinkly to fluffy and flying. Every day we checked the next and too another picture of our little friends.

That was one of the coolest natural science observations we’ve been able to do yet.

This year…

…well, I don’t like bugs.

But I do like my kids and they like bugs, so I guess we’ll keep our little critters for awhile still.

All of our specimens were found on the river trail just a few miles from our house. We came prepared with fish nets (for catching the bugs) and little empty 4 oz plastic milk bottles I hoarded after my youngest spent a few weeks in the NICU a few years ago. I figured those little bottles would come in handy someday. IMG_1574IMG_1581IMG_1586IMG_1597

We collected an assortment of grasshoppers (which are outlawed from being released into my backyard! Even though it’s pretty meager, I would like to maintain somewhat of a garden), Box Elder Beetles (currently all dead), two American Dagger Caterpillars (both of which have cocooned already!) and our newest addition is a wolf spider – sick!

The spider was found in our basement.

Double sick!!

We did have a praying mantis but it died. Such is the life of bugs in jars – no matter how consistently you feed them and how many holes you poke in the lid. Taking care of their bugs, for some reason, is one job the kids are really good at. They never complain when I remind them it’s time to clean the bug jars and get clean and fresh food for their little guys. Maybe it helps that I lay it on thick EVERY SINGLE TIME that these are living creatures and living things come first. You can’t just ignore or neglect LIFE, even if it is a totally sicko wolf spider.

So far we’ve learned how to tell a male caterpillar apart from a female, what different foods the various bugs like to eat, what in the world an American Dagger Caterpillar even is, that the AD Caterpillar is actually poisonous (!!!), and that grasshoppers eat and poop A LOT and really like to hang out on sticks.

This is maybe not the most scientific study ever, but with school starting tomorrow, I think I am going to take advantage of this and start the kids out with their new nature journals by sketching and taking notes on their bugs. The power of nature journals is in observation, right? (This is my first ever attempt at nature journaling.) And what better way to observe little bugs than when they are trapped against their will in stifling, cramped little glass jars?

I have to say, it is kind of cute watching the grasshoppers chomp on their lettuce leaves.

Kind of.

Not cute enough to make me sad to see them go when the time comes. It would be nice to have my kitchen counter tops back again. 🙂 Probably just in time for us to collect something else, right?

Such is the life of the homeschooling family.

But it’s a pretty good life.

(Certainly better than what those poor little bugs have! “SAVE US!!!”)