I rarely see grasshoppers on my hikes, so I was surprised to find these sitting along a railing at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. After research, I believe these are differential grasshoppers. Read here to learn more.
Joro spiders, an invasive species from Eastern Asia, made their appearance in Georgia in 2014. Adult females lay egg sacs containing hundreds of eggs between September and November and then die with the onset of freezing temperatures. Although the spiderlings hatch in the spring, they reach their mature size (three to four inches) by fall.
Their multi-dimensional webs weave the branches of the woodlands together.
One or more male Joro spiders may join the larger, more colorful female in her web.
Happened upon a Southern green stink bug on a hike. Brown marmorated stink bugs are common in Georgia, but I was unfamiliar with this handsome species. Stink bugs are an invasive pest, cause severe damage to food crops, and can invade homes to keep warm during winter months. They were first observed in the United States during the 1990s. Learn more about stink bugs here. Read about the green stink bug here.
Notice how the raindrop magnifies the design on the shield. Go here for a related post.
Animals have defense mechanisms to protect themselves from predators. Go here to view this informative video full screen. What other animals excrete an odor from their bodies for protection?
“Vocabulary is not only a tool for communication but also a tool for comprehension and knowledge acquisition.” (Oxford Learning) Considerable research indicates a powerful correlation between the early acquisition of vocabulary and success in school.
I do love picture books, and The Keeper of Wild Words is my new favorite! The author, Brooke Smith, was inspired to write her bock when she discovered that over 100 words from the natural world, such as blackberries, minnows, and acorn, were removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary because the publishers no longer felt the words were relevant for today’s children.
The sweet relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter is celebrated as they search for wild words together.
Let’s help preserve these words! Go for a walk with your family or students and identify the natural things you find or create a scavenger hunt with specific living and nonliving things to identify outdoors. Take photos and assemble a book with labels.
Go here to view this delightful story about the power of words full screen.
Go here to watch a story that addresses the challenges some children encounter with reading.
Reading to your children from a very young age is an important way to introduce new vocabulary. Time for read alouds in classrooms should never be sacrificed for other activities. It is paramount that children hear the rhythm and structure of language.
It has been my intention over the last month to capture photos of caterpillars, and August and September are the best months to do just that. I was rewarded with a cornucopia of finds! My daughter thinks I am a caterpillar whisperer.
Be cautious handling any caterpillar! Some can cause serious infections and rashes. Especially warn children not to handle fuzzy caterpillars with bristles. I believe this caterpillar is the venomous American dagger caterpillar. There are five projecting black barbs.
Caterpillars are the larval stage of butterflies and moths. This stage usually last two weeks to one month.
After spending their days eating and growing, a butterfly caterpillar will form a chrysalis and a moth caterpillar a cocoon. (Yes, they really are very hungry caterpillars!)
Six small eyes arranged in a semicircle are on each side of its head.
Well-developed jaws (mandibles) allow them to easily tear off leaves and chop them into small pieces.
Setae and antennae help the caterpillar sense its surroundings.
A caterpillar has six true legs on its thorax. Prolegs or false legs are on the abdomen and help them grasp objects.
As they grow and exoskeletons become too tight, they will molt.
Spiracles, breathing pores, are on each side of their bodies.
Caterpillars utilize camouflage, mimicry, venomous hairs, or a bright warning color to protect themselves from predators.
A flaming sunset, a crimson fall tree, or morning mist rising from a pond easily grab our attention, but there are many “tiny, perfect things” around us that aren’t as obvious. With closer inspection, you will be amazing at the patterns and complexity. After watching the video for inspiration, encourage your young scientists to discover the splendor in the small living things around you. Take photos and make your own book or slideshow. What do you notice and wonder?
Feathers are science treasures that catch my eye as I hike near the woodlands or stroll through my backyard. However, did you know that it is illegal (with a few exceptions) to collect feathers? Therefore, I capture their beauty in photos and leave them where I find them. Go here to read the law.
We think and communicate in words, so learning vocabulary is a critical component of any lesson when you teach young scientists. Use this opportunity to call attention to labels on a diagram. Note the downy feathers which keep the bird warm near the bottom of this contour feather. I purchased feathers for classroom use from Nasco.
For a previous post about how ducks waterproof their feathers, go here.
For a simple cutting activity that introduces symmetry, ask children to fold a piece of paper and draw half a feather from the top of the crease to the bottom. For my youngest scientists, I placed dots to indicate where to start and stop on the fold. After opening their feathers, students cut snips (barbs) along the feather edges.
Are the words bug and insect synonyms? According to scientists, the two terms are not interchangeable. Let’s learn the difference between them. True bugs belong to the insect order Hemiptera.
The specialized piercing mouthparts bugs use for sucking is the primary difference between insects and bugs. Also, all bugs (and some insects) move through incomplete metamorphosis (egg, nymph, adult) during their life cycle, rather than complete metamorphosis (egg, larva, pupa, and adult). So, a bug is a type of insect. All bugs are insects, but not all insects are bugs.
The diversity in the world of bugs and insects is displayed through the accurate and colorful illustrations in the informational book, Bugs are Insects.
Recently, I’ve come across several true bugs – cicadas and aphids. Stink bugs are also true bugs.
The sound of cicadas reminds me of hot Atlanta summers and their forgotten exoskeletons that cling to the trunks of trees. Go here for a previous post about cicadas and here for to learn more about a cicada killing wasp.
I discovered two species of aphids on my plants this summer, not a pest a gardener wants to find! I hoped the ladybugs I purchased, a natural predator, would eliminate them. Go here for a previous post about ladybugs. Neem oil, a naturally occurring pesticide, is another alternative to rid your plants of aphids.
The yellow oleander aphids, native to the Mediterranean, blanketed the top of my milkweed plants. I cut off the branch, and they have not returned.