Five Reasons to Eat Bugs

Already love bugs? Take a peep at our bug-themed Easter basket and our popular bug soap.

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Does the thought of eating bugs creep you out? It still does for me, even though I just ate several varieties as recently as last night. I’m not sure what it is, maybe their creepy crawly ways or knowing insects themselves are usually found in dirty spaces eating icky things or maybe the way they’re portrayed on shows like Fear Factor and Survivor, but bugs tend to creep me out. Continue reading

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Easter Basket Idea : Bugs!

I’m so excited about this post! It may leave some of you squirming in your seats, but this sort of themed gift with unexpected items makes me so happy.

If you’ve been following us for a little while, you know that the boys in my house are really into bugs (and any animal, really).  They like looking at them, holding them, talking, and reading about them. Our boys are 2 and 4, so I geared this basket theme for that age, but I do think this basket could easily be scaled up or down depending upon the books you choose.

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The basket above looks innocent enough, right? Look closer, and you’ll see the edible insects!

When I saw packs edible of insects at our local nature center, I was so excited to pick up a few boxes for the boys! And since Easter’s right around the corner, I realized that they would make perfect crazy treats for their baskets.

I love the idea of introducing them to edible insects at this age because they are adventurous eaters… they already think that they’re eating worms when they eat long pieces of pork in the fried rice from our local restaurant. (We’re either awesome or horrible parents.) Anyway, I’m hoping these edible insects will be well-received and lead to conversations about eating bugs and how people in different parts of the world eat bugs every day. And, it’ll also give me a good excuse to show them some of Sarah’s photos from the Thai markets!

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Teachable Moments : Bugs!

I’m starting a new series on the blog to share some of the education adventures that the boys and I go on; you can read my introductory post here.

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Mamas and Papas, I’ve decided that fall through spring is the perfect time to investigate bugs!

You’re confused, I know, but hear me out : I spend those seasons vacuuming up all sorts of insects in our house. There are stink bugs, green lacewings, some wasps, flies, and sometimes lady bugs. So, rather than toss the dead bugs in the trash, they are the perfect specimens for learning.

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Have your kiddos collect a bunch of bugs, and then start asking them probing questions that get them observing.

  • You could start with an open-ended : What do the bugs look like?
  • And then get more specific : What color are they?
  • How many legs do they have?
  • How many wings?
  • If you’ve found more than one variety : How are the bugs different or the same?
  • And then you could build curiosity: How did they get in the house?

I try not to hammer them with questions. Instead, I like to sit back and let them explore, but the questions can help to get them thinking and/or they’re just handy to have in mind if you’re having a conversation about the insects and want to keep it going.

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Introduce your kids to scientific tools. We have a few magnifying glasses and the kids’ microscope that you see in the photo above. We also happened upon a super easy trick – use a macro lens on your phone to shoot a zoom-in photo of the insects. If your kids are like mine, they will be amazed at the detail! While they love using their tools, I’ve found that the tools don’t come with the strongest lenses and it can be hard for shaky/excited hands to keep everything in focus. Using the macro photograph is one of the easiest ways to expand your kids’ awe and curiosity about bugs – they can’t believe all of the details that are on the bug sitting there on the table (the fuzzy hairs, the patterns that just looked like stripes now are something else, etc.).

For better or worse, seeing the bugs magnified to this level makes it easier to anthropomorphize the insects, which can lead to some awesome learning conversations. My guys like to talk about the bugs families, what the different members of the family do, where they get their food, etc. And then this can lead to more detailed discussions about the social structure of some bugs, their lifecycle, the predator/prey relationships, and on and on.

When it comes to bug-related tools, we also have a bug box that’s handy when we’re catching and analyzing live insects.

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We also like to pull out the insect field guides to look up the insects we’ve found. The first time I pulled out this book, Alex went bonkers! He couldn’t believe all of the different insects that were in the book. So, I gave him plenty of time to just browse the book. Then we narrowed in on the insects we had, once we were on the right page, I had him find the specific insect, and then we read about them.

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My goal is for us to do activities like this over and over again whenever the interest arises, with the intent to increase the boys’ depth of knowledge each time. Some examples include teaching them the correct names of insect parts, the lifecycle of the insect, their role in the ecosystem. And here are a few other simple ideas for extending this activity:

  • draw pictures of the insects
  • discuss and paint a picture of their habitat
  • visit the insect exhibits at your local natural history museum
  • during the summer, we like to start by catching some bugs in the garden! This is one of the easiest ways to discuss the insects’ role in the ecosystem, their preferred habitat, and food. We don’t kill them, but we are still able to carry out a variety of the activities above, and this is where having the bug box is key to keeping your live specimens in one place.

If you’re a bug lover, a parent, or just someone with an idea, I’d love to hear from you! Do you have any other ideas for introducing kids to insects? Do you have any favorite insect facts?

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Mad About Moths

It’s National Moth Week! Learn about the differences between moths and butterflies or learn how to keep clothes moths away from your precious wool sweaters.

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Yesterday we took a little moment away from moths to whip up some lemon curd a.k.a summer in a jar, but today we’re back with some moth madness!  Originally I intended to show you how to attract moths, but I apparently moths hate me.  I hung up a white sheet yesterday and today and NADA. I’m blaming it on the late evening rains we had because I promise you I did everything that I was advised. You can try that activity for yourself and let me know how it goes, hopefully better than it went for me ;). Fear not faithful readers, I searched the web far and wide for some fun moth links sure to delight the moth lover in you.

I might need to add more nectar plants to my yard to attract moths in greater numbers.

Raise a little moth lover of your own with this cute and colorful caterpillar sleeping bag for kids.

I think this fabric moth sculpture is pretty rad.

This moth halloween costume is so cute that I may make an adult version this year!

The Moth actually has very little to do with moths.  It’s true stories told live, and most of them are amazing. Read about how The Moth got its name here.

This watercolor painting of a Luna Moth is absolutely gorgeous. Have you had the pleasure of seeing a live Luna Moth? Thankfully I have and even though it was a decade ago, it’s something I won’t forget.

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I love this moth watercolor too. I wish I could paint!

The woman behind The Butterfly Babe Gallery has an amazing story and lovely photos.

The internet is amazing. Remember when you would search for the perfect piece of clipart all computer class long?! Well now you can easily search and find what you need, like this pretty moth vector.

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A few years ago, I was living in Thailand and visiting plenty of night markets. I came across a stall that was basically a rummage sale and I found a framed Atlas Moth.  The stall owner was nowhere to be found, but I waited there for ten minutes until they returned so I could purchase it, for $5, which is hella expensive in Thailand, but crazy cheap (in my opinion) for the largest moth in the world! At the time, I had no idea it was the largest moth, I just really, really like framed insects, now it’s one of my most prized possessions.

We’re not trying to make this a competition, but ever since I made the venn diagram and wrote ‘moths typically have drab-colored wings,’ I’ve felt pretty bad about it. So here are twenty beautiful moths for you to feast your eyes on and to ease my guilt. #sorrymoths

photos: me/2/3

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Clothes Moths : Our Common Household Pest

Today we mention the use of essential oils to deter moths. If you’re interested in more essential oil posts, check out our archive. It’s also National Moth Week! Want to know the difference between moths and butterflies?

While we love moths and try to live in harmony with nature, there’s something we just can’t come to peace with, and that’s moths eating our clothes (and yarn!). Since it’s moth week, it’s the perfect time to discuss the ugly underbelly of the moth world, as we like to think of them, and offer suggestions for keeping your house free of these pests.

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If you’ve never suffered through infestations from these moths, count your blessings. On the other hand, if you have had the displeasure of trying to eradicate these moths from your house, we’re here to commiserate, and to share our strategies for keeping our closets moth-free.

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Moths and Butterflies

Dudes! It’s National Moth Week! We’re treating this week as an opportunity to educate ourselves and others (you!) about the wonderful world of moths.  I hope you’ll read along this week and spread the news.  National Moth Week is a celebration of one of the most diverse and successful organisms on earth.  Scientists estimate there are anywhere from 150,000-500,000 moths on earth.  If I could do one thing to celebrate National Moth Week, it would be to trek into the rainforest, set up a white sheet, shine a spotlight on it and watch them flock to it, but unfortunately my rain forest moth-ing dreams must wait.  I am going to try to make time to do that aforementioned activity in my backyard though.  National Moth Week is a great time to become a citizen scientist and collect data.  I might not get a glimpse of an Atlas Moth, but maybe I’ll see a Luna.

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Making a Space for Native Bees

Happy Earth Day (again)! We’re excited to check in this afternoon with a second post, especially one about making a space for native bees in your backyard!

You may not be aware, but the honey bees that we all know and love for the pollination services and delicious honey are not native to North America. The bees arrived in North America by Europeans in the 17th century, and they are such efficient pollinators that over time our agriculture became dependent upon the insects. This dependency is due in part to honey bees living in such large colonies that we are able to easily move from field to field in portable hives. I love the idea of fostering different habitats in our backyard for a variety of animals from birds to insects to mammals; especially since observing these animals in our backyard is such a simple way to introduce and connect Alex and Luc to nature. As such, one day I would love to have a colony of honeybees in my backyard, but I know that requires time that I don’t have right now to learn about their care and monitor the hives throughout the year, not to mention the work that would be required to collect the honey. Meanwhile, our native bees are really interesting insects that receive relatively little attention yet are the perfect guests for a low maintenance backyard! Knowing that, we thought Earth Day was the perfect time to encourage everyone to invite these gentle creatures into your yard!

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Today when discussing native bees, we’re referring specifically to Mason Bees, of which, there are over 100 species in North America. Unlike honey bees that live in large colonies, Mason bees are solitary insects and they do not produce honey. Another difference between the two types of bees is that Mason bees do not sting unless squeezed or stepped on. For that reason and for their interesting nesting habits (read more below!), they are a great bee to encourage to nest in your backyard; kids will enjoy watching them create their nests without the threat of being stung!

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Creative Corner: Artist Connie Zamorano

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Last week I had the pleasure of spending an hour in the studio with Connie Zamorano, a young artist originally from Texas, who is currently completing her Masters of Fine Arts program at the University of North Carolina. While wandering around Connie’s studio, I immediately noticed her love of nature and insects, specifically the cicada. Her thesis is entitled UPROOT and the exhibition is going on right now (March 31- April 5) in The John and June Allcott Gallery at the Hanes Art Center, see the details at the bottom of this post.  I didn’t want to take up too much of Connie’s time since she was only a couple days away from the big show, but I did get to ask her about her creative past, current inspiration, and the process of creating works for UPROOT.

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