Insects & Spiders


Insect Safari/Hunt                                                 

Take a trip outside to catch and discover the variety of insects in your backyard or local park.  Use this site to identify the bug’s name and interesting information about the critter.  Remember to release all critters when done studying them.

Build a Bug                                                               

Use miscellaneous craft items from around your house and build your very own bug.  Include three body parts, two antennae and six legs.  Explain what your bug uses each of its body parts for and how it survives.

Ant Hill Experiment                                                

Find an ant hill.  Place around the ant hill a variety of different foods, i.e. flour, sugar, salt, syrup or marshmallow.  Put these samples about 1 yard from the ant hill.  Take a prediction of which sample the ants will congregate around and a prediction of how long it will take the ants to find the food.  Notice how the ants tell one and another about the food.

Bee Dance                                                                 

One-way bees communicate is by dancing. Bees do two different dances; the circular dance and the wag-tail dance.  The circular dance tells the bees that food is close to the hive.  For the circular dance, the scout bee dances in a circle, while the other bees watch to learn the direction of the food source.  The wag-tail dance is done when the food is a long distance away.  When the scout bee does the wag-tail dance they trace a figure eight and then wag their abdomen in the directions of the food source.  Dance and “talk” like a bee to tell others in your hive where the food is.

 Make your own bug Net                             

Gather a clothes hanger, grocery sack and duct tape and you have the makings for your very own bug catchin’ net.  Have fun catchin’ critters!

Cricket Math                                                

The temperature can be calculated by listening to the chirp of one cricket.  Count the number of chirps in 14 seconds and add 40.  Now check the temperature gauge and see if the formula worked.                     

Firefly talk                                      

Talk like a firefly by using the flashlights in this activity bag.  How many can you get to come close to your light?  Have fun catching and releasing them in the summer.

There are many places where you’ll see fireflies (also called “lightnin’ bugs”). You can get one to come to you by watching for its flash, counting 2 seconds, and then blinking a penlight for a half-second. No, really, it works. You need to be consistent, since any error will scare off your bug. They speak “light” fluently.

Moth Walk

Mix overripe fruit, stale beer or wine and sweetener (honey, sugar, or molasses) in a blender and then go outside at sunset and smear the mixture on a half a dozen trees or unpainted wood.  Go back after dark and see what you have lured.  Depending on the season, you can find moths, ants, insects and earwigs.

Hidden Universe

Find a piece of scrap wood and place it over a patch of bare dirt.  Come back in a day or two and lift the board to see what types of insects and other creatures have made a home under the board.  Use the online field guides to identify them.  Come back once a month to discover who is new.

Butterfly Migration Route Restoration

Help restore butterfly migration routes by planting indigenous pollinating plants that provide nectar, roosting, and food for caterpillars.  Milkweed works well for monarchs.  See this site for an international database for host plants for butterflies.

Raise Butterflies

The website for Chicago’s Leave No Child Inside initiative tells how to raise a butterfly from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to emerging monarch.  Visit here for more information.

Books and Information

  1. The Icky Bug Counting Book (Ages 3-8)
  2. The Icky Bug Alphabet Book  (Ages 3-8)
  3. Are You A Ladybug  (Ages 5-8)
  4. Where Butterflies Grow (Ages 4-7)
  5. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spider
  6. Insects, a Golden Guide
  7. Peterson First Guide to Bugs and Moths (Ages 7-adult)
  8. Pet Bugs
  9. City of North Liberty Green Spaces Map
  10. Iowa Insects and Other Invertebrates Iowa Association of Naturalists

Insect Related Board Games


March of the Ants


Google Translate