What Backyard Bug am I? July 26 2014 by Rhyan Arthur, comments
A backyard bug hunt is a fantastic summer learning activity - it gets the kids outside, requires next to zero planning, and offers several opportunities for further learning. Armed with nets, a plastic container, and the iPad, my kids and I set out to capture a few of our local bugs. After catching the bugs we took pictures and went to www.insectsofalberta.com to try and identify them.
This little brown beauty was very easy to catch, and quite pretty once you got close enough for a good look. We tentatively identified it as an Inornate Ringlet - a common butterfly species found throughout North America. My son was tickled that it sat long enough on his finger for me to take a picture (not all bugs were this cooperative).
We found this little guy munching on our neighbours' elm trees. Large caterpillars like this are a rare sight in our yard so this was an exciting catch. With the spines and red patches on its back we thought it looked like a Mourning Cloak Caterpillar. Mourning Cloaks are found throughout the world, and grow up to be large, striking black butterflies with bright blue wing spots.
These large red dragonflies are a common sight in our yard. We thought this may have been a Cherry-Faced Meadowhawk, which is common in Alberta, but it's difficult to be sure with a quick visual inspection. We learned that nearly all of a dragonfly's head is eye, and they can see in every direction except directly behind them. Apparently in the Paleozoic era dragonflies grew to a monster size because of the high oxygen content in the atmosphere. Yikes!
Our bug hunt was a lot of fun and we ALL learned something new about insects. I don't expect the kids to remember the names of the bugs we identified, but I hope they do remember how easy and interesting it is to dig-deeper into the things we see in our everyday environment.