Posts Tagged ‘insects’

How to Make an Ice Cream Ant

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

ice-cream-ant

Have you ever thought of making an ice cream ant? This is a great way to teach your children about insects.

I started by scooping out three vanilla ice cream scoops for the three parts of the body: head, thorax, and abdomen. The children stabbed in six pretzel sticks for legs, all coming out of the thorax, of course. Two more pretzels were poked into the head for antennae. (You had to almost hold on to the ice cream to jab those pretzels in!) I quickly poured a chocolate magic hardening shell on top, for the exoskeleton. I was originally going to use almond bark, which I’ve discovered, is great for making frozen chocolate bananas. But when I tried it, the chocolate ice cream ant looked like a giant had stepped on it! It was a mess. It was probably due to the boiling hot chocolate being poured on ice cream.

fun-with-ice-cream

My husband said there was an easier way, and off he went to the grocery store. He found the magic shell stuff around the place where you find Hershey’s syrup. I wish I had memorized the name of the thing, but it has the word “magic” in it, and “hardens” was another key word. It might have been Smuckers.

Anyway, since there are six people in our family, we made two ants, and each person ate an ant segment. All my kids fought over the thorax, for some odd reason, maybe because they wanted to get more pretzels. It was a fun project. If you decide to do this project with your kids, just remember not to use almond bark, or you’ll get a big gooey mess. I’ve included a photo so that you can point and laugh.

ice-cream-fail

Insect Trap

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

insect-trapMy children are starting insect collections of their own, and they’ve been running around with jars and butterfly nets, trying to catch insects. One of my sons decided to dig a hole and put an open plastic jar in it. He packed dirt around it, placing four rocks, and then a bridge of wood across it. He said he read about the insect trap in a book and wanted to try it out.

So far we haven’t caught any insects with it. But I don’t think he left it out long enough. After a few days, he wanted the jar for something else, since plastic jars are insect-trap-2in short supply. We have glass jars, but the children aren’t allowed to carry them around, since we’ve broken several glass jars over the years. The children can make insect habitats in the glass jars, making the jars into mini-terrariums for the insects they catch. When the insects eventually die, they are taken out and put into an insect collection.

Insects, Insects Everywhere!

Monday, May 24th, 2010

insects-in-Guatemala Insects in Guatemala were not in short supply. I remember one night at my house, going downstairs to the refrigerator to get water, and a cockroach flew down at me from the top of the fridge, landing on my shoulder. Needless to say, my shrill scream woke up everybody in the house. And I’d rather not mention the time that I was eating malt balls, and one of them was a cockroach! I spit out everything in my mouth in a wild panic, not even waiting to reach the bathroom sink.

When I was at boarding school, our science teacher assigned us a project involving a collection of insects. We made butterfly nets out of wire coat hangers and netting. I caught several butterflies because there were so many flying around. I felt a little bit sad to have the butterflies in my insect collection because they were so beautiful, but we were told that they had a very short life span anyway. Moths could easily be found at night around the lights on the porch outside our dorm.

I never caught a lightning bug, even though they came out every night after dark. They were magical as they lit up, almost like twinkling stars that were close enough to touch. The boys caught them and showed us how psychedelic their bodies were. I just wanted the boys to leave them alone. There weren’t that many lighting bugs (as opposed to other insects, which were profuse), and I didn’t want the magic to go away.

During the month of June, June bugs were everywhere. You could not walk on the ground without stepping on some. I’m not kidding. The entire ground was a mass of black, round balls, crawling around, making the ground look like it was moving. It was like one of the plagues of Ancient Egypt. Even walking on tiptoes caused a few June bugs to be crunched.

Mosquito season was even worse. I would go to bed at night, only to hear, “Zzzzzzz,” in my ear. Knowing how itchy I would be in the morning if I didn’t kill it, I would turn on the light (risking a spanking from the dorm mother), hunt it down and kill it. Then I would hop back into bed, only to hear another, “Zzzzzz…” Again, I got up and hunted it down. One night I killed seven mosquitoes in my room.

I had a huge insect collection by the end of the year. Each one was labeled neatly, and I had learned a lot about insect identification.

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