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Hunting with an Umbrella

This activity is a result of preparing for another experiment. It began as an experiment with insects, but it was getting too long, so I chopped it in half. (The experiment, not the insect.) This time we will look at the amazing variety of insects that can be found almost everywhere, and in interesting way to collect them.

You will need:

  • an umbrella
  • some shrubs or bushes
  • a magnifying glass (optional)

The first thing to do is to carefully examine the bushes. You want to be sure not to disturb a nest of wasps or bees. Also check for bird nests. Since this experiment is not about the birds and the bees, we want to be sure that we don't bother them and they don't bother us.

Next, open the umbrella. Hold it upside down, so that it hangs down from your hand instead of being over your head. Hold the umbrella under one side of the bush. With your other hand, grab the bush and give it a good shake. Now you know why we checked for bees. It is hard to do science experiments while you are running from an angry bee. The bowl shape of the upside down umbrella makes a perfect way to catch falling creatures. After a few good shakes, you should have some leaves, but you should also have quite a few other things. Place the umbrella on the ground and grab your magnifying glass.

Depending on where you live, what the season is and which bush you picked, you probably got several kinds of insects. I say insects, not bugs, because while bugs are insects, not all insects are bugs. Bugs are a specific group. Their mouth is a long, sharp tube, like a drinking straw. Most of them feed on plant juices, so you probably have some bugs in your umbrella, but you probably have insects from other groups too.

You may also have collected spiders, lizards, frogs, or other creatures. Examine them carefully. We don't want to hurt them, and we don't want to disturb any that might bite you. As you examine your catch, you may want to write down notes, draw pictures or take photographs to help you keep track of what you found.

When you are done, tip the umbrella over the bush to put them back where they belong. Then move to another bush and try it. You will find that the insects and other creatures will vary from bush to bush. Different kinds of bushes are eaten by different kinds of insects. Even with the same kind of bush, location makes a difference. You will probably get different things from a bush in the sun than you do from a bush in the shade.

When you are finished, be sure to tip the creatures back into their bush. If you put them on the wrong bush, they might not find anything to eat. If you forget to put them back, the next time it rains, you may get quite a surprise when you open your umbrella.