I think most children are fascinated by insects, worms, spiders and the like. In my experience, those who are fearful or disgusted by these creatures have been taught to do so.
Having walking stick insects in our science area has given us the opportunity to study these insects up close on a regular basis. We have experienced their entire life cycle from egg to adult. We’ve watched them hatch and seen them grow each time they moult.
They have provided a chance for even the most timid amongst us to view insect life. These are not a species that is native to our part of the world so we keep them safely contained.
I will admit that I do not like all creepy crawlies – centipedes for example will have me moving very quickly in the opposite direction. If I do stay put I realize that they are moving quickly away from me too.
I make it a goal to ensure that I learn something about each new creature I meet and I encourage the children to do the same. Bugguide.net has been a tremendous resource for us when we find something new.
Even if we are fearful or disturbed by them we try not harm them. Instead, we discover their purpose and if we don’t like them we learn how to avoid them or discourage them from being in our part of the environment.
There are a few insects and spiders that I like to handle but mostly I prefer to just observe them. However, some of the children seek out these critters and enjoy all contact with them.
Others prefer to keep their distance and choose to simply watch the others interact. Eventually even these apprehensive children may attempt to overcome their fear and willingly venture forward.
Together we determine which ones are the ‘good bugs’ – the ones we want to have near by. We learn ways to dissuade those that are harmful and attract those that are beneficial. This year the addition of several native prairie plants has provided an enticing habitat for many bees and butterflies that we welcome in our garden.
No matter how small we learn to understand differences, acknowledge values, and work together and find ways to co-exist peacefully in the world we share.