Bug spotting for beginners
As we move into the summer months and your green fingered little adventurers are looking for ways to keep themselves occupied, why not try your hands at a spot of bug watching?
Wildflower spaces are brimming with life - and spotting exactly which creatures your flowers have attracted is not only exciting for smaller children, but can serve as an educational activity too.
Not sure where to start? We’ve put together some handy tips to help get you going on your bug spotting escapades.
Study the charts
Examining specific bug charts is a great place to begin, especially for the rookies among us. Firstly, you’ll want to get to grips with a Pollinator Identification Chart. This handy reference guide will help you to identify and learn more about pollinating creatures such as bumblebees, beetles, butterflies and moths.
Next, it’s a good idea to take a look at a Bug Identification Chart. If possible, print your chosen guide off and use for reference when you’re out in your garden actively spotting bugs. This will not only help you identify the bug you have found, but it will also show you where it fits within the wider animal kingdom.
Prepare a bug hunting kit
Although you don’t need any special equipment to go on a bug hunt, the items below might help if your children want to get a closer look at the creepy crawlies they find.
- Speciality bug boxes or clear tupperware containers may be useful for holding your critters while you study them against your bug charts.
- A spoon or small paintbrush may be handy to gently scoop up your finds into your box or container in order to examine them closer.
- Lastly, having a magnifying glass on hand is great for getting a really good look at all the tiny details.
Know where to look
Critters and creepy crawlies live in many different habitats. Most prefer dark, damp spots in gardens and woodlands, so these would be the best places to start your bug spotting.
Encourage your little ones to use their best detective and investigative skills to track creatures down. Prompt them to check under large stones and logs, and peek into the cracks of tree bark and deadwood - millipedes, beetles and spiders are just some of the creatures you may find in these areas.
Although most of us don’t particularly like rain, it’s the key climate to spot slugs, snails and worms. Shortly after the rain stops is the best time to spot these little animals, so be sure to keep your eye on the weather.
Lastly, make sure your children are closely checking tree leaves as caterpillars and ladybugs can often be so small, they’d be easily missed on first look.
Remember – bugs are small and delicate, so be careful if you decide to pick them up and make sure you always put them back where you found them.
Taking pictures of the bugs and critters you discover is a great way to keep track of all the animals your children have found in and around your garden. However you may find that most of the mini beasts you come across are very small and hard to photograph.
Using a portrait or macro mode on your phone or camera is a good place to start. These functions allow your camera to focus on items sometimes as close as 1cm – perfect for getting shots of those little creatures that are hard to see.
The weather is another factor in how your pictures might turn out. A bright and sunny day may actually work against you, as the camera could bleach out colours and detail. Go for a cloudy or overcast day to get the best results.
Lastly, using auto focus is a great way to capture the entirety of the creature without unwanted blurring – this is especially good for those little bugs that won’t always stay still.
Have you or your family ever been on a bug hunt? We’d love to see images of any critters or creepy crawlies you’ve come across. Come and join the conversation over on social media at @MillerHomesUK.