By Guest Blogger Sandy Harper

Bugs and arachnids! Often not something moms want willingly brought into their homes. Yet, what do you do when you have an insect loving kid?

We can foster our kid’s interest and love by learning more about bugs ourselves. Start by showing an honest interest in their (insects) tiny lives and recognize how important they are to the environment. For me, I had to change my mindset completely. I used to consider bugs a nuisance. I was wrong to think that way. We (humans) must see these creatures as an important part of our planet and ecosystem. The roles they play are essential to many aspects of our lives. They help our gardens, pollinate and are a vital link to the food chain.

Once you start viewing them as helpers, it becomes slighter easier to get “closer” to them. Well, at least you won’t feel the need to smush them the moment they cross your path.

So how do you start learning and helping foster your child’s love and interest of bugs? Start with the basics, like knowing which bugs are safe and not safe to handle. Then you need to know where to locate bugs.  Finally, learn how to collect them safely.

Safest Bugs to Handle

Many common bugs are safe for catching with our bare hands. They do not bite or sting. Your biggest concern with these particular bugs should be you don’t hurt them. Here are a few popular, kid-friendly critters.

~ Butterflies/Moths (Important note – Do not touch their wings! They are very delicate and the oils on our skin can damage their wings.)
~ Crickets and Grasshoppers
~ Beetles and ladybugs
~ Daddy longlegs
~ Dragonflies
~ Worms
~ Roly-Poly/Pill bugs
~ Fireflies/Lightning bugs

Keep in mind, if you are not sure what a bug is, leave it alone. I suggest studying it from a distance and take a photo. Then you can later go back and research more about it. Once I came across a beautiful, large red velvet ant-like bug. I took its picture and Googled it. My research lead me to find its name is the red velvet ant (AKA the cow killer). Yet, it is actually a wingless, female wasp, with a horrible sting. Glad I left it alone! Nevertheless, it was beautiful.

Bugs to View from a Distance and Avoid Handling

That last story brings me to the next list, bugs that bite or sting. Avoid handling these bugs/arachnids.

~ Spiders
~ Wasps
~ Bumblebees
~ Ants

These critters are intriguing and deserve our studying and understanding. There are multiple ways to do this without actually handling them. My son and I have used binoculars and magnifying glasses. In addition, he likes looking up bug videos on YouTube. The library has an abundance of books on all types of insects.

Where to find the Best Bugs

During these warm months, it isn’t hard to spot a bug the moment you step outdoors. Yet, it is good to know where to find bugs. Bugs often like shady, cool, and hidden spots. The list below is where you will most often find a crawly friend.

~ Rotting wood, like logs
~ Decaying leaves
~ Flowers
~ Soil/dirt
~ Ponds and streams

How to Capture and Collect Bugs

When collecting bugs you can gently pick them up either with your hands or with a tool. Listed below are tools you can use to collect and store your little bug friends.

~ Nets (great for winged insects)
~ Jars
~ Pans
~ Traps
~ Sifter pans

Remember to put air holes in the top of lids and covers. Also, add some of their natural environment into their temporary home. This could be dirt, water or sticks. Keep in mind that even if you capture a bug, you should always return it back to its habitat.

The old saying is true. They are more afraid of you than you are of them. If one lands on you or your kid, stay calm and quiet. You can gently brush or blow it away from you. Screaming or slapping at a bug could cause them to bite or sting. Sadly, hurting the bug would be the most likely outcome.

My hope for anyone reading this is a change in prospective, even just a little. Kids can easily pick-up on our fears and avoidances. If we show them that we think bugs are insignificant and less worthy of life, they will likely think the same. This is what really caused my mind-shift. It hurt me to think that my kids would view any living thing as unimportant. So come on mommas, let us lead our little ones toward knowledge, respect and possibly even love for all our little bug friends.

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