Woods are great places to go insect watching. Trees offer food and shelter from the weather, so they are an ideal habitat for insects. The number of insects you find may depend on the season. In the spring, wild flowers bloom and attract insects. In the summer, the woods offer insects sunny clearing and cool shade. Choose a large tree and make a survey of all the insects you can find on a single branch. Make a tree trap to catch insects active at night.
Many insects depend on plants, but many plants depend on insects too. Insects help to pollinate plants by carrying pollen from the same plant to another of its species. Many plants have pink, red or orange flowers, because these are the colors that butterflies see well. Other flowers have special markings called nectar guides, leading from the base of the petals. Some show up only in ultraviolet light. Insects such as bees have eyes that are sensitive to this light, and they follow these guides to the middle of the flower.
MAKE A TREE TRAP
YOU WILL NEED
Scissors, small plastic bottle, strong tape, string, ham, magnifying glass, field guide, notebook, pen or pencil.
Using a pair of sharp scissors carefully cut the plastic bottle in half width ways. Ask an adult to help you to do this, if you find it too difficult.
Turn the neck half of the bottle around and push it inside the bottom half. Now tape the two halves of the bottle together using strong tape.
Cut a long piece of string. Loop the string around the open end of the trap, and tie it into a knot. Place a small piece of ham inside the trap to act as insect bait.
Carefully tie the trap along the branch of a tree, or hang the trap down underneath the branch. Leave the trap out overnight. Go back the next morning to check it.
Use your field guide to identify the insects that you have caught. Record your findings in a notebook. Release the insects when you have identified them.
LIFE ON A BRANCH
YOU WILL NEED
Old white sheet, collecting jars, paintbrush, magnifying glass, field guide, notebook, pen or pencil, colored pencils.
Spread out the white sheet below a branch to dislodge the insects onto the sheet. If the branch is high, tap it with a stick. Be sure not to damage the tree.
Sweep the insects that drop onto the sheet into collecting jars for you to study. Use a paintbrush to carefully transfer the insects without harming them.
Use a field guide to identify the insects. Try surveying another type of tree. Make a chart, as above, to show the different species found on the different trees.
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