This is another wonderful post from Marta*. I asked her to share with us her fascinating bug collection. These are definitely a great asset to teaching children about the parts of bugs as well as helping overcome a fear of bugs. So here it is, a step by step tutorial on how to make a bug collection of your own!
The full bug collection, in all its glory on Z-man’s wall.
DIY Bug Collection:
- In our house, we only “collect” dead bugs. Take your Bug Observation Station with you on walks just in case you observe a live bug or if you find a dead bug you can safely transport it home.
- The actual bug collection is cardboard egg cartons cut in half with bugs secured to the “peaks” to showcase them.
- Cut the egg carton in half, lengthwise, so that you have 12 “peaks” on the bottom. Depending on the type of carton, you might have to cut the inside “peaks” or the carton will not lay flat against the wall.
- Using sewing pins (specifically purchased for the bug collection and not your good sewing pins!) with colored tips (just for safety), secure bug to a peak. For beetles and other hard-shelled bugs, sticking the needle into the bug is a “crunching” experience; however, a gentle but firm push will pierce the bug and secure it to the cardboard. For other bugs (especially softer bugs like centipedes and bees), you may find that you have to use 2 needles to support the bug properly.
- Note: Bugs come in all shapes and sizes. For small bugs such as roly-polys, small spiders, meal worms, mosquitos, etc. you can either (1) put them on a small piece of scotch tape and pin the tape to the carton or (2) cut small pieces of thin cardboard into tabbed strips and glue the bug to that, securing the cardboard to the carton. For larger bugs, such as centipedes, you may have to use 2 peaks to properly support it.
- We also have used small gift boxes with a piece of Styrofoam cut to fit the inside to display “parts” of bugs such as wings and legs.
- Another note: my son loves to collect any dead bug we find, even if we already have one of that kind. In this case, we allow him to have up to 3 of each kind: one that is pinned with legs down, one pinned belly up, and one from a side view. This way we do not have to remove the bugs in order to examine them. We just take the carton off the wall, use our magnifying glasses and we have 3 views already to go.
- Make sure to display your collection away from direct sunlight, moisture, and air movement (i.e., air-conditioning). Bug Collection Supplies: (1) empty cardboard egg carton; (2) sewing pins; and (3) tacks to secure egg carton to wall
Step 1: cut egg carton in half, lengthwise
Finished carton – ready for bugs!
Here is an example of Z-man’s Proof Book portion of his collection. It is simply a dollar store photo album that we use to store and display the photos of bugs that we have seen/observed/captured/etc. It counts as part of his bug collection because it “proves” we could have had that bug in the collection but we don’t kill bugs just to collect them. We write the name of the bug and date we found it on the back of the photo.
Example of grouping bugs in the collection so they are displayed by “kind.”
Close up of wings we have collected and displayed on Styrofoam pieces in small gift boxes.
Example of using thin cardboard “tabs” to secure small bugs in the collection.
Example of having to use 2 pins to secure certain bugs. The mantis cast (shed exoskeleton) if fragile and we didn’t want to risk it breaking in half.
Example of using 2 “peaks” to secure the long centipede.
I am the proud mother of 2 small-ish boys; one of which has been a bug-lover since the tender age of 3. I work part-time as a geologist for a small environmental firm in Albuquerque, NM. I am so blessed that I am able to do the majority of my work from a home office which has allowed me to stay home with my precious boys.
Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are copyrighted to Marta Wood. Please do not use the photos in any other manner, unless you contact me for permissions first (firstname.lastname@example.org).
And please remember that bugs are an integral part of our ecosystems – Z-man and I beg you not to kill bugs unnecessarily. Proof Books are a sufficient and amazing collection. Also please remember that many bugs can cause painful bites, even if they are not poisonous. Please treat them with respect and see a physician should you suspect you have been bitten and it isn’t healing.