Exploring the wild doesn’t need to involve a safari to a far off place. You can discover all kinds of amazing creatures right in your own backyard! Insects are the most diverse group of animal species on the planet; it’s estimated that there are at least over one million different kinds of insects yet to be discovered by scientists! In some tropical places like the Amazon rainforest a single tree can have up to 10,000 different kinds of insects – in a single tree! Get to know some of this incredible insect diversity by setting off on a bugtastic adventure.
The first thing you’ll need to go bug collecting is a tool kit. You can buy one or customize your own by finding or making the items. Here’s what’s in our bug kit:
- Net: For catching flying insects like butterflies you can either buy one or try making one.
- Notebook: Grab a paper and pen or pencils to describe and draw pictures of the insects you find.
- Camera: Taking a picture of an insect is a great way to ‘keep’ a piece of them forever without harming them.
- Flashlight: If you are going out bug collecting at night remember to bring a flashlight.
- Container: Different sized empty and clean plastic containers make great temporary homes for insects … but remember to put holes in the containers so the little critters can breathe. You can also make the container more insect-friendly by adding some leaves and twigs from around the area where you found the bug.
- Magnifying glass: A magnifying glass will help you spot those tiny bugs while on your bugtastic adventure.
- Field guide: Look online, the library or your local book store for a bug identification guide that will help you figure out who is who. You might try Bug Facts or San Diego Zoo . Before you head out look up what bugs live in your area and take note of any insects that you shouldn’t touch. Remember to stay away from stinging bugs like bees and wasps.
Pick some locations that would be fun and safe for searching for insects. Think about where you might find species like beetles, butterflies or caterpillars, grasshoppers, dragonflies and ants. Areas that are great insect hangouts include:
- Under rotting logs or leaves
- The underside of a leaf
- Among flowers
- On trees
- In brush beside a river or pond
- In the grass
- In your own insect habitat, bring the bugs to you by planting a butterfly garden
Now that you have your bug collecting kit in hand and your local hot spots picked, it’s time to find some insects! Once you have spotted a bug use the magnifying glass, camera and notepad to watch, track and discover all kinds of interesting things about it. If you are worried the bug will jump, fly or crawl away before you can get a good look, use the net to gently put the bug into your container (remember to put air holes in the container). Watch the bug and take note of how it moves, what colour it is, what does its body look like, does it have wings, how many legs does it have, are they eating, if so, what? Use your field guide to help you identify the species or write down some fun facts about them, draw a picture or take a snapshot with your camera.
Once you’ve had a few moments to observe your bug, release it back where you found it so the little guy can continue on its way. Bugs may look like they’re just sitting or flying around but they are always doing something important so it is best to not keep it in your container for longer than a few minutes. To keep a memory of them forever take your drawing or photograph and write on it what you discovered about the insect. You can hang these bug profiles up in your room, or even make a scrapbook. Check out one of our bug profiles of an insect we found near the Earth Rangers Centre.
My Bug Profile
Nickname: Gerbert the Jumping Greenie
Where I found it: By the edge of the pond on a big leaf
Description: I only got a quick look at this grasshopper before it hopped away! For his size this bug can jump really high and far.
Leave a comment to share what bugs you’ve discovered!
Earth Rangers is a non-profit organization that works to inspire and educate children about the environment. At EarthRangers.com kids can play games, discover amazing facts, meet animal ambassadors and fundraise to protect biodiversity.