National Insect Week returns in 2020
This time of year is perfect for getting children out doing minibeast hunt, creepy-crawly hunts, bug walks, insect safaris and invertebrate surveys. Call them whatever you like, basically, they all involve getting up close and personal with invertebrates.
I particularly love helping teachers do invertebrate hunts because they can be done in almost all school grounds, they can be tailored to suit groups of all ages, and the most important equipment is the children’s eyes.
Sure, a container is helpful to put things in, and a magnifying glass can show off more detail, and you can buy expensive sweep nets, pooters, beating frames, all manner of traps. But, I’ve run some really enjoyable sessions with just some yoghurt pots and a class of enthusiastic children who have been prepared to ‘grub about’ amongst grass and leaf litter to find invertebrates.
thing many group leaders struggle with though is trying to identify the things that have been found, which is why OPAL developed the Bugs Count Survey Pocket ID guide. This guide can be downloaded free from the OPAL website and gives information about many of the most common groups of invertebrates that are encountered during surveys.
My top tip is to print the guide out, cut out the pages and laminate them so that it stays waterproof – great if you end up grubbing about in the rain!
There are lots of contenders here – possibly the pretty red and blue rove beetle Paederus – very, very tiny amounts of its poison have been used to cure chronic ulceration in people. Ladybirds are pretty poisonous (and pretty) and can bleed foul-tasting poisonous brightly coloured blood from their knees.