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Insect Investigation

In this activity, students investigate insects in their own neighbourhood. Studetns make an insect-friendly device, known as an insect pooter, to help them temporarily house insects so that they can get a closer look at them. This device is a tool that will enable students to learn from their own experience and exploration.

Looking at the diversity of insects is a great way to understand the diversity of urban environments. With an insect pooter, it is possible to harmlessly catch small insects before they scurry away. Once the insects are in the container, students can use hand lenses to get a closer look.

An insect pooter is only a temporary home for the insects. Because they have no food and limited air, it is important to release the insects back into the environment that they were found after they have been examined up close.

Objectives

  • Create an insect catcher to observe insects up close.
    Observe the biodiversity in local insects

Materials

  • Per student:
    1 clear container (yogurt-type container) with lid
    2 straws
    A 2 x 2 cm piece of nylon stocking
    2 small pieces of plasticine

    Per class:
    Hole puncher(s)
    Tape
    Scissors
    A cup or so of uncooked rice

Key Questions

  • How should you treat an insect that you collect? What kind of insects are you interested in collecting? Where should you release your caught insects? How big of an insect can you catch with the insect pooter? What do you expect to find? Did you find something you have never seen before?

What To Do

  1. Have students take the lid off the container.
  2. Then, have them punch one hole in the lid of the container and punch another hole on the side of the container. Then they can put the lid back on the container.
  3. Next, have students poke one straw into the top hole, with the longer part being outside the container. Next, they can poke the other straw into the side hole keeping the majority of the straw outside the container.
  4. Have them seal gaps between the holes and the straws with plasticine placed on the outside of the container.
  5. Next, have them take off the lid. Using tape, have them attach the piece of nylon to the straw that goes through the lid. The nylon should be taped over the end of the straw that will remain inside when the lid is back on the container.
  6. Next, have students trim the other (non-nylon) end of the straw down to about 8 cm from the bend.
  7. Students can now collect small insects by placing the longer, wider straw just above the insect and sucking gently from the shorter (“nylon-ended”) straw. 
  8. Before you go outside to investigate insects, have students practice sucking up bugs using rice to act like the insects.

Extensions

  • Compare your findings with a classmate Research your favourite insect and create a poster on it Create a bar graph on on the types of insects your classmates found

Other Resources

Science World Resources | Full Unit | Backyard Biodiversity
Science World at TELUS World of Science | Ken Spencer Science Park