Bug safari: an activity for children of all ages. Whenever someone thinks of bugs, we usually think of the ones that are bad: aphids, grasshoppers, earwigs…. However, according to Molly Keck, Board Certified Entomologist, “only 5% percent of all insects are bad. That means that 95% of all insects are either good or neutral. A neutral insect is one that isn’t beneficial, but also doesn’t cause any harm.” Because there are so many bugs that are beneficial (or neutral), it’s important to know who is good and who is bad before trying to eliminate any and all bugs. In this activity, children will learn that not all bugs are bad and that it’s important to learn about them before eliminating them.
- For younger children (ages 4-8): Read the book Bug Safari by Bob Barner.
- For older children (ages 8-12): Study a resource about good and bad bugs. You can find one online called, The Bug Book: A Garden Field Guide by Southside Community Land Trust or a book called, Good Bug, Bad Bug: Who’s Who, What They Do, and How to Manage Them Organically by Jessica Walliser.
- After learning about the different bugs, determine which ones are common in your area by going on safari through your garden (or park). Examine leaves, especially the undersides, closely.
- Collect the insects as desired. Please use caution if handling insects as many of them will bite!
- Document your findings.
- Investigate each insect found more thoroughly. Document each insect on a separate page or make identification cards for each bug containing all pertinent information.
- If you find bad bugs, manage them organically (as instructed per the resources above) and keep notes on what you did and if it solved the problem on each insects’ separate page or card.
- Slide these pages in protectors and place them in the garden notebook for reference. If cards were made, laminate or cover the card with clear self-sticking shelf paper and then trim around the edges of the card. Punch a hole in the top left corner and keep together with the metal ring or ribbon. Simply add more cards to your guide as desired.