'TIS THE SEASON - Planning Springtime Science Learning
PERSONAL STORY WARNING: Years ago, when my kids were two and four, I was really sick for months, unable to walk, and couldn’t get out of bed. My Mother-In-Law saved the day and came to stay with us for a couple months, but eventually she had to go home and we hired a nanny to help out while I recovered. To make what could be a very long story short (shorter), the first nanny was terrified of all creepy crawlies and by the time I was walking and moving again with the kids, my curious and brave 2 year old was now screaming at all things that wiggled and trying to stomp them to death. Sob. I have always wished that instead of becoming a Registered Nurse (which I also loved), I had become an entomologist, and so this broke my heart.
Cue the Praying Mantis rearing and (fake) National-Save-the-Worms-Day. In trying to reverse Cadence’s new phobias, we started catching, photographing and learning about every local creepy crawly that we could find. We rescued hundreds of worms from storms in the spring.
We accidently held Blister Beetles (oops! #momfail). We overwintered 25 ladybugs in an aquarium (23 survived!). We transported snails back from BC and kept them as pets for 10 months. And we started possibly one of my favourite family traditions ever: hatching Praying Mantis every spring and releasing them. Creating the proper habitat and keeping the egg case at optimum conditions was educational (and easy), and watching hundreds of them hatch in minutes, handling them all, and letting each of the kids find the perfect place to let them go was amazing. For both them and ME! Over the years we have found many Mantis months later. They are gentle, really fascinating and so very big! Huge bonus? Our ladybug population hasn’t been damaged (I expected it would be), but we no longer have Mosquito overgrowth in our yard. Maybe mosquitos are more delicious. Works for me!
This is a little video of hatching day a couple of springs ago:
Normally I have ordered them from Costco each year, but I have since discovered that there is a small local business that carries so many neat year round learning projects. It’s time to order if you want to join us on this amazing adventure this year. This is the place I ordered them from HERE. I will talk you through all of the steps if you want to join in our annual adventure, or if you simply want to invest in all natural pest control for your yard.
We also ordered a Painted Lady Larvae Kit (if you want to join us in this you will also need a flight cage), and we thought that we would try Triassic Triops this year too (you might also know them as Sea Monkeys). If you want to join us in any of these springtime projects too, now is a great time to order them. I will walk you through the steps. Mine are set to arrive all together at the end of April. I ordered everything here from the same site as the Praying Mantis egg cases. They also have some really neat Ant Colony projects, but with our house being re-listed to sell soon, I though that possibly an aquarium full of Ants might be pushing my luck.
If you are interested in growing Praying Mantis alongside our bug-loving family, over the next month you will need to gather a couple of things:
Bug catching container with snap on lid (I got mine from Dollarama. These ones work really well for so much summer exploring fun).
Small piece of netting, tulle, cheesecloth or other fine mesh fabric (I already had some but most dollar stores will carry cheesecloth in the cooking section). 6” x 10” is more than enough.
Clean spray bottle (also got mine from Dollarama in the haircare section).
Praying Mantis egg case (as above I chose to order mine from BUTTERFLLY WINGS AND WISHES INC. , a really neat small business, but Costco also carries them online too)
If you order some and they arrive prior to the end of April, I would suggest putting them in the fridge until then. This will stop them from hatching too early. Do not put them in a plastic bag, just unwrap them from their shipping package, leave them in the mesh bag they arrived in and pop them into a paper bag so that they don’t get moldy.
Can’t wait to hatch these fascinating creatures with you. I will update you as soon as mine arrive with the next steps, but if yours arrive sooner and you have any questions, just message me or comment on this blog post and I will help you out.
Let’s get dirty and teach our kiddos to keep curious!