Saturday, October 22, 2011

Budget Bug Cage for Backyard Nature Study

Are you on a budget but still want to house captured insects for further examination by the kiddos?

Grab a berry box out of the recycling bin and upcycle it into a bug box! Berry boxes already have built-in airholes, and since they're clear on all sides, your little scientists can even view the underside of the bugs in question, which is sometimes a hard view to get otherwise.

We found not one, not two, but three grasshoppers in the raspberry-mint bed today, and Jackson got to see up-close view of a little green guy as well a mature gray bird grasshopper (which I believe is the largest insect native to Southern California). He was very gentle with the bug cage, which is to say that he stopped shaking it as soon as I explained that it was a living creature that we should be gentle with. He also decided when the grasshopper should be let "out." He came away from the experience knowing the word "hopper," and having heard about antennae and the six legs common to insects. (FWIW, the other major new word he gained today was "taco.")

This little green fellow is a gray bird grasshopper in the nymph stage

This is a full-grown gray bird grasshopper; we found a second one a while later but let him be.

The two grasshoppers back in the "wild"; the mature specimen is in the dried-grass mulch on the left and the little greenie is clinging to one of the trellis wires on the right side.
On a personal note, I was thrilled to find these guys in my yard, since it means I'm not completely failing in my pursuit of an ecologically dense backyard! (We currently have much more lawn and concrete than would be my personal preference.) If these fairly demanding insects are here, it means they must be finding something fairly substantial in the way of food and shelter in our garden beds, which means that we haven't eradicated too many other microorganisms from the garden. Yay!

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