Monday, November 26, 2012

Doodle Bugs Hate Concrete

Insects are so much fun to teach.  This year we focused on three interesting insects;  the ant lion, the mealworm, and the cricket.  We studied their life cycles and habits as well as their unique anatomy.

Ant lions are my favorite!  We have "gobs" of them living in the dirt in our shed.  My husband has been threatening to concrete the floor. Can you imagine the cruelty?  He hates getting out of his car and walking on dirt.  I on the other hand can't bear the thought of sealing under concrete these beautiful helpless little creations... Before the concrete truck comes, you can be sure I am going to capture every last one of these beautiful little guys and save them from impending doom.
 They make perfectly round little pits in the sand to catch any unsuspecting ants for a delicious meal. 

Students had fun finding them and then holding them in their hands.  By the way, they walk backwards!  

Here is an antlion cocoon that one of my students brought back.  What a great way to see life cycles up close. 

Another interesting insect we learned about is the cricket.  Can you tell which of these wings belong to the male cricket?  My students can!

Can you see the tiny little cricket eggs here?  Some of my students are hatching out crickets at home as they learn about their incomplete life cycle.  

We put the crickets through a grueling light/dark experiment to see which side they preferred.  I hope animal control doesn't shut me down. 
Mealworms are a treat for any self-respecting reptile.  They are cheap and easy to raise.  Here is my mealworm farm purchased from dollar general. 

The bottom drawer contains the larval stage mealworms.  The middle drawer contains the pupa forms of the insect.  Finally, the top drawer is for the mating adult forms of the insect.  After the eggs are laid by the adult beetles and the hatched worms get big enough, I have one of the students pluck them out with tweezers and send them back down to the bottom drawer.  We use oatmeal or crushed cereal as a substrate.  A small piece of carrot once a week gives them something to eat and adds enough moisture for them to survive and thrive. 

Arthur is so happy when we teach insects.  All the students get a chance to feed him if they  like.  He has a huge 6 inch long gray tongue.  The further they hold out the insect, the longer the tongue gets.  

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