Many kids are fearless when it comes to termites, roaches and other creepy crawlies, but as they get older, they may become more afraid! The fact is, many bugs are vital to the food chain. Parents can help educate their children on bugs and their place in our world.
You’ll need a parent, guardian, or teacher who isn’t afraid of bugs to help kids learn – hands-on is the best way for young children to grasp ideas. The first step in teaching children about insects is to make them aware of different types of insects in the world. Ask them to name the bugs they know or make a list, and think about printing off photos of common bugs, like termites, flies, and ants, to show them what the bugs look like. Make sure you discuss the purpose of wings, antennae, and body coloring.
Take children outside to find and identify common bugs. Encourage them to study and draw the bugs they find and note where they found them. They should also note the color of the insects and the parts that appear on them (give them small magnifying glasses to help them see the bugs more clearly.)
After they have done their buggy investigation, discuss what they found. This is also a great time to discuss each type of insect and the danger or help they give to humans. For instance, termites cause billions of dollars of damage to homes every year, and bees can cause allergic reactions in some people. Make sure to mention poisonous bugs and what you should do if you’re bitten or stung by one.
It’s important to emphasize that bugs aren’t normally harmful, and are nothing to be scared of. Although children should approach bugs with some caution, they are normally not harmful to humans at all.
Here are some common bugs and facts that parents can share with their little ones to help them understand why bugs exist.
- Termites have been around for millions of years – and lived with the dinosaurs!
- Termites are super-hungry characters; termite colonies eat non-stop, never resting. It’s a 24/7 job for these tiny little creatures!
- Termites can live for a long time. Some bug experts say certain groups of termites can live to be 100 years old!
- In some places in the world, termites are used for medicine to cure bronchitis, coughing, dog bites, and the flu.
- Ants are strong – super-hero strong! An ant can lift 20 times its own body weight.
- Ants don’t have ears! They use vibrations from the ground to “hear”.
- Ants don’t have lungs, either. Oxygen and carbon dioxide enter and leave through tiny holes all over an ant’s body.
- Queen ants can live for many years and lay millions of eggs.
- There are more than 20,000 different species of bees in the world.
- Bees see all colors except for the color red, which helps them see the bright flowers from which they collect pollen.
- There are three types of bees that live in each colony: the queen, the drone, and the worker bees. The queen lays the eggs and the drone mates with the queen; these jobs are the only jobs for each. Worker bees do everything else.
- Beekeepers use smoke to calm bees while they are collecting honey.