Friday, July 16, 2010

Invasion of the Insects!

Anderson Pest Solutions brought their Insect Zoo for our visitors to investigate last week. "The Insect Zoo has developed quite a following with our visitors, having first visited in November of 2009," stated Margaret Hanly, Associate Director of Programs for DCM. "We had 305 adults and children at last week's event," she added. Both children and their parents and caregivers showed a variety of emotions from curiosity to disdain, for these fascinating bugs. And what better way to learn about them: up close and personal and from the pest experts themselves!

How do you feel about bugs? Most of us are either squeamish or enthralled (sometimes both at the same time!). At around age 3, children begin to center their play on make-believe. Playtime consists of imaginary scenarios, mixing what they know with elements of make-believe. During this time, an ant on the sidewalk could be an alien monster. Fears may develop as children go back and forth between figuring out what is real and what is imagined. A natural response of parents is to talk their children out of their fear of the bug. Children, however, respond by cranking up their imagination. Now that little ant might rise up and eat them!

The best way to confront fears is to find ways to play with nonthreatening versions of them. Adults and children alike were able to look at, touch and hear about some very interesting bugs. Fun questions being asked or answers being told were overheard. Do insects have teeth? What do they eat? Where do they live? How do bugs talk to each other? We found out that the hissing cockroach in the picture above lives far away from here, in Madagascar, and communicates by forcing air through breathing tubes that produce hissing sounds. Will the hissing cockroach eat us? No way! He eats only vegetation, mostly decaying fruit.

Children investigated bugs further by looking at books and trying on insect costumes.

Next bug invasion is Tuesday, August 24th. Check the Museum calendar for further information.

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