If you’re the parent of a budding entomologist, you can understand the frustration of finding various bugs — both living and dead — inside your home. Kids love bugs, and they’re bound to find a few they want to tote home for show and tell. However, if starting a suburban-based insect menagerie isn’t your idea of a good time, there are plenty of ways to dissuade your kids from bringing their six-legged friends inside — without discouraging their curiosity in natural sciences.
- Here are six fun facts to share with your kids. Did you know:
- Butterflies taste with their feet!
- Only female mosquitos bite. They need protein to produce eggs.
- Queen ants can live up to 30 years, while female workers live 1-3.
- Cockroaches can survive several weeks without their heads.
- Only male crickets chirp.
- Centipedes and Millipedes can regenerate lost body parts.
Provide Opportunities to Observe
Since children love to observe insects in their natural environment, a bug hunt is a great way to spend an afternoon with your kids! Pack a specimen jar, magnifying glass, plastic tweezers, sketchbook, pencils, and an insect field guide (or an internet enabled smartphone).
Start with a quick lesson on which insects might bite or sting — safety first! As you explore, feel free to help children by turning over rocks and tree branches, but try to let them discover insects on their own.
Gently pick up insects with plastic tweezers and place them in the specimen jar. Observe them in detail with the magnifying glass. Use the field guide (or internet) to teach your children about the different types of insects you find, and what purpose they serve nature. Have your children draw pictures of the insects as they see them.
Once they’ve finished, talk about why it’s important to leave their insect friends in their natural environment, rather than taking them home. Together, release the bugs back and carry on hunting!
Bring your children’s love for bugs inside by presenting fun toys and activities that will expand their understanding of insects without creating the need to call pest control.
There are multiple crafts projects for all ages that will appeal to any insect enthusiast, including:
- Bugs on a Branch Craft
- Magazine Page Butterflies
- Rock Bees
- Dragonfly Crafts
- Bowtie Noodle Butterflies
- Playdough Ant Hill
If you feel safe bringing certain insects in the house, there are some awesome ways to do so. Create a wormery to show your children earthworms’ important role in our ecosystem. You can also build your own ant farm and watch as they created an intricate system of tunnels. If you have a garden, consider assembling an outdoor ladybug habitat — they’re not only fun to watch, they’re incredibly helpful in getting rid of aphids.
The most important thing to remember is that even if you find insects to be less than appealing, continue encouraging your children’s fascination with them. Scientific understanding helps children comprehend the world around them and teaches them to make observations, collect information, and use logical thinking to draw a conclusion. These skills will continue to be important in almost every aspect of their lives.