Children, adults catch the bug about insects

Playing with bugs can be fascinating, according to some children and adults who recently attended an insect identification event.

The program offered at the Nature Conservancy's Carpenter Ranch east of Hayden on Friday, gave participants a chance to get up close to all sorts of creepy crawlies.

After a slide show presentation and some insect research, participants headed out-of-doors to test their knowledge.

Finding a black and tan leaf beetle was a first for Jimmy Howe, a student entering the sixth grade at Craig Intermediate School.

"I've never seen that before," he said, swooshing a net back and forth in the tall grass lining the riverbank.

"It's my first time using a net," he said. "I want to do it again."

Attending the event was an opportunity for Hayden teacher Margaret Berglund to bank some teaching ideas to present to students in the upcoming year. The time spent learning how to catch, identify, and then kill insects to pin on a board for future study offered her some "good ideas."

"I'd like to do some sort of insect project next year," she said.

In past years, educational activities at the Carpenter Ranch have included learning about fish, small animals, cows or birds in their own habitat.

The extended classroom is a good way to get children and adults excited by learning about creatures in their natural environment, said Betsy Blakeslee, the outreach coordinator for the Nature Conservancy.

"I love seeing kids out and playing and learning in their own backyard," she said. "This is how they learn to love learning."

Because the workshop wasn't mandatory, it posed a guaranteed good time, Blakeslee said.

At least Calla Manzanares, who was completing a project for her 4-H, agreed.

Her favorite find of the day was a wasp.

"I learned that if (an insect) has two wings it's a fly and if it has four wings, then it's not," she said, holding up a cone-shaped net crawling with various insects.

A sixth-grader at Hayden School, Manzanares will display her bug collection on exhibit day next week as her 4-H project.

As a culmination of the event and the work of resident entomologist Clark Pearson, the Nature Conservancy house should have by next summer an entire display of insects available for the public to peruse.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or by email at ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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