This week we will be taking time to read about and look for two different insects that seem to go hand in hand. I know in our garden if I see a ladybug, I will many times, if I look carefully, see some aphids too. Aphids are pretty small but if you get out your hand lens you may find you can see these insects in your flower garden. Look under the leaves.
“Aphids seem to be born to serve as food for other creatures-they are simply little machines for making sap into honeydew, which they produce from the alimentary canal for the delectation of ants; they are, in fact, merely little animated drops of sap on legs.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 352Wow, that pretty much spells it out. I know that I have read somewhere that ants actually “farm” the aphids and “milk” them for food.
Here are some aphids that I photographed way back last fall. These are rose leaves from my yard and they were really eating them up.
Here are the same aphids above along with an ant so you can compare the size.
These aphids I photographed last February on the back of a blackberry leaf. I didn't eve realize they were there until I zoomed in on them when I got home. I was actually taking a photo of the thorns on the back of the leaf.
Ladybugs are always a welcome sight in our garden and I have learned over the years how beneficial they are.
“The ladybird is a beetle. Its young are very different from the adult in appearance, and feed upon plant lice.”
Have fun this week and remember your overall focus is on insects so if you don’t see any ladybugs and aphids, post your blog entry about what insects you did discover. I look at these challenges as a way to make a community of families who are interested in nature. We all learn from each other. Believe it or not, I feel as if I learn just as much from all your posts as I do from doing the research to come up with the challenges.
Outdoor Hour Challenge #26
Focus on Insects-Ladybugs and Aphids
1. This week read about ladybugs and aphids in the Handbook of Nature Study, pages 364-366 and pages 351-354. Remember our focus right now is on insects so if you don’t find either of these insects to observe, you can always look for other insects to study. If you do your reading, you will be prepared when you next come across these insects.
2. Your 15-20 minutes of outdoor time this week can be spent looking for insects. I know it is still very hot for most of us but if you get out early, even before breakfast, you might be able to enjoy the morning air and a few insects too.
3. Give the opportunity for a nature journal entry. If you need ideas for alternative nature journal activities, please see challenge 2 and challenge 3. You might want to draw the ladybug life cycle or show how ants benefit from aphids by providing them with food. Encourage your child to draw something that interested them from your nature time. When my children were young, I considered a drawing, a date, and a label as a successful nature journal. There are free Insect Study notebook pages in the Ant Study.
Make sure to pull out the Handbook of Nature Study to see if any insects you find are listed and you can read more about it there. If you are keeping a running list of insects you have observed during this focus period, add the insect’s name to the list.
Post an entry on your blog sharing your experiences. You can link up by clicking the carnival button or you can send them directly to me: firstname.lastname@example.org.