There are few things that naturally say creepy crawly like bugs. Bugs are all around us. As a kid bugs are fascinating. Giant mutated bugs have filled the big screen for years. Some bugs can kill us with poison, other bugs can heal us as a medicine, and other bugs even feed some. Plus, bugs are all around us. I remember Honey, I Shrunk the Kids where the kids have to avoid the seemingly giant bugs and the lawn mower. By this time of the year, after a full summer, we all have had our fair share of summer bugs. It seems to be a good opportunity to teach kids about bugs while making a somewhat spooky Halloween decoration. I always wished someone had taken a little extra time to really show me what a Brown Recluse looks like. Black Widows are always easy to spot, but I was never sure if I was seeing a brown recluse.
I remember an experience when I was younger where I had worked myself through some thick underbrush and briars behind my house. It was getting dark and I felt that it was probably faster to go forward to a small dirt road and go the long way around to get back to my house than to go back the way I came. However, to go forward I had to walk through some small streams because there wasn't a place to walk. After testing out the water for a short distance and finding it not feel too full of foreign objects I came face to face with a giant spider and web that spanned the whole stream I was walking down. I grabbed a stick to try to move it out of my way. One thing to worry about when using a stick to poke a spider web is to make sure the spider doesn't run straight up the stick to your arm. However, I was able to get the spider out of my way without too much of a problem and trudge out of the water and up to the dirt rode in time to run home before it got completely dark. That experience was seared into my memory because of that giant spider. There is just something about giant bugs that grab your attention.
I found Orkin's Ecologist website to be informative and generally easy enough for kids to understand. It explains interesting and informative facts about what bugs and pests do, how bugs are used, and what to do about bugs and pests. One of Orkin's pages explains the history of forensic entomology; which is essentially using bugs to help solve crimes. One of my favorite shows is Bones in which one character, Dr. Jack Hodgins, is always excited to use bugs in his detective work. It is interesting to see what he has been able to accomplish with bugs. Most of what he does seems plausible, and I'm not sure why they would make some of the random bug facts up.
In the last few years I have noticed a several articles addressing a drop in the health of bee populations that help pollinate plants, including food crops. However, many different bugs, including beetles pollinate plants according to Orkin's ecologist. Additionally I found interesting webpages by Orkin about bugs that live off of humans and about how increasing global temperatures will lead increasing global insect populations.
The project that Jack and I did involved buying little bug toys from Wal-Mart. We found a bag of realistic looking bugs from Wal-Mart. There were ten bugs for about two dollars. I took the time to try to look up what types of bugs were in my bag, and I tried to figure out which parts of the world those bugs live in. I found out the some bugs, like a fly, live anywhere humans live, so I found where the largest fly lives. Which I believe is in India. It wasn't easy to figure out what types of bugs were in my bag by simply searching for general physical descriptions. I found a name or a name for something similar for all of the bugs. One of the more interesting bugs is a Japanese beetle that people breed and pit against one another to be bet on. One bug is a pest that eats flour and wheat supplies. One bug I pegged as a mouse spider. Apparently, it got its name from the belief that the spider burrowed like a rat.
I drew a world map on a foam board. I allowed my little boy to 'decorate' it with his fine crayon masterpieces. I tried to let him paint, but he just grabbed the end of it and then grabbed his clothes. I painted the continents with some extra paint I had and some left-over small foam brushes. I then used some yarn to point from different spots on the map towards the edges of the board to where I would glue my bugs. I then used a hot glue gun to glue my yarn and bugs. My son pulled one off, but it only took a few seconds to glue it right back on.