Students Sweeping for Bugs

This morning we were visited by Ecole Saint Augustin from North Rustico, PEI. We left the staff house at Dalvay and drove to a separate section of Prince Edward Island National Park, Cavendish, where we set up a few learning stations at Cavendish Grove. We had a few things for the kids to do that morning. At one station we had the insect boxes out and Graham was there to tell the kids about interesting insect facts. Another station included a tour of the BIOBus and a small tutorial of how to use a microscope, lead by Katelyn, and I handled the sweep net station. At my station I took children and teachers out to a nearby field and taught them how to properly sweep a field of tall grass. You would be surprised at how many insects one could find just by sweeping a net over tall grass. We caught ichneumonid wasps, lady bugs, damsel flies, moths, click beetles, bees, spiders, ants, leaf hoppers, grass hoppers, caterpillars, and more flies then you could count. The students were more than thrilled when I turned out their nets and showed them what they caught.

Martin Zlatkin showing the children from Ecole Saint Augustin the insects they caught at Cavendish Grove, Prince Edward Island National Park.
Martin Zlatkin showing the children from Ecole Saint Augustin the insects they caught at Cavendish Grove, Prince Edward Island National Park.

Of course the children were thrilled but I was equally excited because I got to show of all my insect knowledge! The children were surprised to find out that lady bugs are beetles which gave me a chance to give the kids a small taxonomy lesson. The click beetles were definitely the most popular catch of the day. Click beetles are aptly named because they can click! When click beetles are turned upside down they can right themselves using a “click mechanism.” This mechanism involves a peg that pops out of a peghold on the underside of the prothorax. This pop makes a loud “click” sound and tosses the beetle in to the air. This is not only an escape mechanism but a scare tactic because predators don’t expect the loud click. I like to think I inspired a few new biologists today.

-Martin

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