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Bugs Don’t Bug Me January 14, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Gardening, Teaching.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,


I’ve always been fascinated by six and eight-legged creatures. Yeah, that’s me as a kid holding a jar with one of my insect friends.  On a hot humid day in Nebraska, there were bugs aplenty.  I spent a lot of time punching air holes in the tops of jars and stalking grasshoppers out by the tomato plants. I remember watching them “spit tobacco” and especially how my hands smelled after I’d handled them.

After I read Charlotte’s Web, I was all about spiders.  I can’t think of a better way to spend one’s time than to watch a spider spinning its web (though I have yet to see one write a cryptic message).  Did you know that most spiders take down their web every day only to spin a new one the next?   I relate to spiders.  Some days, I, too, feel like I’m back at Square One.

I’m always surprised when a student’s first impulse when they see a bug is to want to kill it.  At my old school, lots of nature wandered (or should I say crawled) into our classroom, as it was on the ground floor.  One of the most coveted class jobs was “Creature Comfort.” Job Description: “Gently return animal visitors to their natural habitat.”  

I hung a stuffed purple spider (with those wiggly eyes that make everything look cute) from the ceiling.  On the counter beneath it were the Tools of the Trade – a clear plastic cup and an index card.  I demonstrated how to put the cup over the insect and then slide the card beneath it.

By mid-year, I’d hear a student shriek then shout, “Creature Comfort!”   I didn’t let any of the girls, some who thought bugs were oh so yucky, off the hook either.  We’d set the cup on the back table and gather round to observe the bug. After a while, my students could identify most common bugs, and we kept a log of the number of “visitors” to our classroom. The bug was then returned to its “natural habitat” – a patch of weeds surrounding one very sad looking tree just outside our door.

I will admit that after living in New York City for 11 years, there’s no love lost between me and cockroaches (See Cockroach Confidential).   And I’m upfront with students about ants in the classroom.  When you see one, it’s the tip of iceberg.  That’s what shoes are for.  

I love to tell students how some indigenous people in South America wore live jewel-like beetles in their hair for decoration.  Bug barrettes but not so French.  How cool is that?  

My friend and fellow blogger, Catherine Sherman (who’s on my Blogroll) shares my interest in creepy crawly creatures and turned me on to Bug Girl’s Blog

According to her About Me page, “Bug Girl has a PhD in Entomology. Her bug research involves using pheromones to try to control insect populations without pesticides. Essentially, she makes male bugs horny, and then prevents them from mating. (Please don’t extrapolate from that more that is warranted.)”  

I have a feeling that Bug Girl has lots of jars with holes punched in the tops and also knows what your hands smell like after you’ve handled grasshoppers.  I’m hoping I just might run into her out by the tomato plants.


1. Bug Girl - January 14, 2009

Awwww, Thanks! *blush*

And I do rear at least 2 or 3 tomato hornworms each year for show and tell 😀


2. Catherine Sherman - January 14, 2009

When I was reading this wonderful post and saw “tomato plants,” I thought about tomato hornworms, which literally make me shiver…..and not with delight. So now I see that Bug Girl actually raises them! Yikes!

I’m growing to appreciate caterpillars and learning to identify them but am having a hard time loving those hornworms on my tomatoes. At Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas (www.MonarchWatch.org — I plug them every chance I get), they raise all sorts of butterfly caterpillars, some even look like birdshit (how clever!) There was one tomato plant in the Monarch Watch screenhouse with some hornworms — on purpose, just like Bug Girl. Horrors! The hornworms turn into hawkmoths, which from a distance look like hummingbirds (to people with bad eyesight).

Why can’t I be short and sweet like bug girl in my comment? 😉


3. Bev from England - January 18, 2009

Bugs dont bug me either..well the ones that make us ill do ! but not these kinds of bugs… i DONT like massive quantities of bugs tho, that is too creepy…. I have a great pic of my hand holding a spider with a leg span as big as my palm. I was rescuing him from my bath before someone else splattered him.

However, ants , except for my son, i tread on IF they come inside cos more will follow if u let them live 😉 and slugs and snails i massacre with fiendish pleasure, how very dare they eat all my garden !!!!!! In this instance im a mass murderer….



4. The Zen of Gardening « planetjan - April 13, 2009

[…] getting my hands dirty and watching the bugs and worms scuttle off when I overturned a rock. (See Bugs Don’t Bug Me.)  Rabid do-it-yourselfers, my husband and I broke out the concrete patio, then meticulously reset […]


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