Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wonderful World of Insects, a BEEP Unit

On Tuesday I taught the insect unit of Brukner Nature Center's BEEP (Brukner Environmental Education Program). This is one of my favorite volunteer activites. The students discussed  the noticable parts of insects, namely the Head, Thorax and Abdomen along with wings and six legs and antennnae. One student put on the Generic Insect costume.

In the photo above, students are wearing some of the unusual mouths of insects. One is wearing a mask featuring antennae and compound eyes. From left to right here are the special features.

1. an uncoiling and  siphoning  mouth part.  If you look closely at a butterfly nectaring at a flower you can see it using a mouth like this.
2.  a  sponge-like mouth for sopping up soggy crumbs,  That is a the kind of mouth a House Fly has.
3. a typical insect mask showing antennae and compound eyes,
4. a generic insect with head, thorax and abdomen, two pairs of wings, and six legs
5. a piercing and sucking mouth like mosquitos have (and True Bugs).  Do you know that all True Bugs are insects but all insects are not True Bugs?  These fifth graders do.
6. a chewing mouth in which the jaws move from side to side rather than up and down as mammal mouths do.  Dragonflies have mouths like this.

Inside the net covered box is an Insect Predator. Deb Oxeman, Executive Director of the nature center, took time from her busy day to show the group a Big Brown Bat that was brought to the center as a pup. Deb raised the pup which will stay at the center as a Wildlife Ambassador to teach visitors about bats. She told us that bats are no more likely to carry rabies than any other animal. Bats are important because they help to maintain the balance of nature.

After learning a few characteristics of seven of the most noticable groups of insects, the students walked to the meadow where they swept with nets for insects.

Plastic peanut butter jars were good for catching insects, too. The day was perfect for catching insects because the temperature was about seventy degrees, warm enough for the insects to be moving around but cool enough so they were not moving fast. The warmer the day the faster an insect moves because its body temperature fluctuates with the air temperature.

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