Monday, June 29, 2009

Little Entomologists


I was cleaning out my freezer the other day and realized that quite a significant area of one of the shelves was being taken by jars and bags of frozen insects. Yep - bugs in the freezer. It's not that I didn't know they were there. But I decided it was time to reoccupy my freezer space with food. So we gathered the supplies together for a pinning session.

I recognize that this may gross some people out. But I have been exposed to these kinds of things my entire life. I have early memories of my brother's insect collection in our "science closet." For those of you that have visited my childhood home - you know that we had a long hallway lined with closets. The decorating closet, the art closet, the desk closet, the toy closet, the fabric closet and the science closet. This last closet smelled like moth balls and formaldehyde and was filled with birds nests, rocks, shells, collecting jars with frogs and fishes, insect nets, identification charts and a shelf full of National Geographic magazines. This was one of my favorite places when I was kid - so much to explore and so much to discover!

My personal introduction to insect collecting began in high school when in preparation for Mr. Webb's zoology class (check out other Mr. Webb posts HERE) - Rachel and I spent a summer hunting June beetles after dark at the BYU bell tower and driving along the fields by Utah lake with our nets out the car window. I even had a couple of specimens that I brought back from France! I meticulously pinned each insect making sure that each antennae, wing and leg were in place exactly. And we had to identify each insect with its scientific name and the location where it was found - like this:

I loved this zoology class and always took pride in my insect collection. We had to collect something like 150 insects - do you remember how many exactly Rachel? Since Weston took this same class a few years before me - he also had an insect collection and when we got married - we combined the two. As our kids have grown older we have encouraged them to start their own. So here we go!









Now we just have to identify them! Now where did I put that dichotomous key?...

11 comments:

ktb said...

Check out these activities @ mlbean.byu.edu

Nature Experienceships (Aug 8), Wildlife Adventures (July 21&23). Saturday Safari(oh it was last Saturday).

Bring them on into the Bean. I bet they'll know more than any of the other kids!

Rachel said...

Yes, this brings back fun memories! I remember catching a Jerusalem cricket with you in St. George and begging the hotel clerks to put it in their freezer. Ah, no, they said.

Bug collecting is such a great way to get involved with the natural world up close. Those are respectable collections the kids have started! I think I turned my over to Brian Jones back in the day...

Kip said...

This is the kind of thing that makes me wonder if I really belong in the Clark family, or if I was switched at birth. I love nature and everything, but I'm too squeamish to touch a dead insect (or a live one, for that matter). I don't know why all the nature experiences didn't take with me. I wonder where I was when the rest of the family was pinning insects (I was there but probably in the background). I wonder if I would have loved having Merrill Web as a teacher or if I would have been freaked out. As I say, I love nature, but it's more from afar than right up close. But I'm glad that there are people like you and your kids. :-)

oodlesofoversons said...

That is SO cool!!!

Anna said...

Can you please take my kids in for the summer. They would love that. I wouldn't even know how to start going about doing something that cool. Well done. Your kids are so lucky to have such an amazing mom!!!

Diana Beck McCarty said...

A-MAZING!! Makes me think of the grandfather I never met.

Elisabeth said...

So well written and photographed - I know this is something Shawn loved to do, but never something I grew up with. Looking at your family working together, I think we should send Miles and Micaela out there for an experience like this. Fabulous work, Mommy!

Julie said...

Fun! Your kids are very fortunate, and they are great entomologists as well. I admire your teaching-in-the-real-world talents. I believe this is the best way to learn. Hands on.

Shawn said...

Thanks for caring on the wonderful traditions of the Clark family. I remember giving our butterfly nets a real beating hanging out the car window at night the way you did, that is, if I wasn't using them to snag wild pigeons in the Provo Tabernacle steeple at midnight.

brooke said...

I remember opening up your freezer in California and seeing all the bugs in there!

sheryl said...

Love it! My children have been into the bugs too, but I made them put them back. They did make a deal with there dad, if they cooked up a grasshopper, he would eat it. They did just that and he ate it. So much for naming them. Jessica gives names to all the flies in our house. Makes it a little harder to kill a fly with a name given to it.