Sunday, September 26, 2010

One budding entomologist begets another.....and another......and another....

I've mentioned before that my 11 year old is a budding entomologist. He became interested in insects when he was around 4 or 5, I think.  His interest has been fed with lots of reference books and any other information we can get our hands on.  A year or so ago, he wanted all bug collection paraphernalia for his birthday...which I thoroughly enjoyed shopping for... I so love educational gifts.  When buying most any science related items, I use Home Science Tools:   Their catalog is great...  mine usually ends up dog eared, tattered, and torn by the time the updated one arrives in the mail.  Anyway, so we bought him pins, a pining block, a spreading board, a killing jar, ethyl acetate, an insect net, and an Audubon Field Guide.  We also purchased a shadow box at Hobby Lobby.  (As a side note, the first box we bought was just the frame, glass, and backing.  We removed the backing and used a piece of foam board cut to fit to push the pins through.  It was cheaper and we figured it would work just as well.  In hindsight, it's not such a good idea...the pins push through the back so that if you pick up the box, your fingers get, you have to take the back off to add more insects.  Since then, we have only purchased boxes that the top comes off OR they are hinged ...allowing the top lid to open up... can't tell you how much easier it makes insect pining.)
At any rate, I don't recall ever being much of an insect person.  I've for sure never been fond of spiders...  okay, so that's putting it mildly...  truth is, they totally give me the creeps...totally.  It all started when I was in elementary school.  We had a wood stove...which = wood, which = wood spiders....which are really big, if you must know.  Well, one morning I was attempting to put my shoes on to go to school, and horror of horrors ~ a wood spider was coming OUT OF MY SHOE!!  It reached it's very long, very hairy legs out and placed two of them on my finger...  I saw my young life flash before my eyes...there it was...riding my bike, climbing trees, riding my bike, climbing trees, riding my...oh, I've already said that, haven't I?  Okay, so anyway, that's when my abhorrence began.  However, since Malachi's keen fascination with insects, I have become very aware of them all around me.  The many shapes, sizes, colors, variations....they are truly amazing.
I can no longer walk by a caterpillar without checking it out.  I can no longer hear a buzzing and merely swat at it.  My child has taught me an awareness and an appreciation for the insect world.  I can't tell you the time I've spent with him looking them up in books, on the internet, and even taking them to the local science center to see if someone there could verify what we thought a certain larvae was.  It's been bonding.  The process has made our entire family more aware.
There are numerous jars sitting on my breakfast table with a living thing in them.  :)  We have several with caterpillars, several with cocoons, a few chrysalises in a box, a jar with a snail, and one containing an ant farm.  In the spirit of a true entomologist, Malachi sits there and eats his breakfast...the rest of us decline to dine there currently.  :D
Here are a couple of pictures of his insect collections:

 Pretty cool, huh?  And there are very few, if any, that he cannot accurately identify.  :)

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