Lovable Unhuggables

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Lovable Unhuggables

Lovable Unhuggables

Aims and Goals

To discover the anatomy, behavior, and habitats of insects and their relatives by collecting

specimens in bug boxes and sweep nets and going on a micro hike.

Information

What good are insects, arachnids, and invertebrates? We find them ugly and scary and some

of them even bite! Although many people think of them as undesirable pests, arthropods and

their kin do far more good than harm. In fact, our world could not exist without them. Bees and

ants collect nectar and pollen while pollinating plants. Ladybugs eat aphids, which cause

damage to plants. Some insects provide commercial products like honey, wax, and silk.

Spiders eat harmful pests, like insects that are not good for plants. Both insects and arachnids

provide food for birds, fish, and countless other animals.

By examining arthropods, invertebrates, and mollusks in their habitat, students can learn to

appreciate their role in nature. Insects have three body segments: the head, the thorax, and the

abdomen. They have six legs and a skeleton on the outside, or exoskeleton. On the head,

there is usually a pair of compound eyes, the antennae, and the mouthparts. The thorax bears

three pairs of legs and two pairs of wings (in flying insects).

Arachnids can be found in the same habitat as insects. Arachnids have two body segments, at

least eight legs, and a skeleton on the outside. They lack antennae and wings. The head, or

cephalothorax, contains the simple eyes, mouthparts, and limbs in pairs.

Worms, snails, centipedes, and millipedes are invertebrates that also live in the soil. A worm has

no eyes and no ears. A snail has eyes at the tip of its tentacles and glides on a mucus trail.

Centipedes have claws that are poisonous and they eat small insects. Millipedes eat plants and

they like to curl up in a ball under logs.

Words to Know

insect, arachnid, arthropod, invertebrate, mollusk, nectar, pollen, pollinate, honey, head, thorax,

abdomen, compound eye, antennae, legs, wings, simple eye, cephalothorax, exoskeleton

Tools

Provided: posters of common insects, arachnids, and invertebrates, Discovery Scope handheld

microscopes, sweep nets, cord

How

1. Ask students how they feel about insects, arachnids, and invertebrates. Do they like or hate

them? Why? Sit in a circle, have students close their eyes while imagining insects, spiders,

and snails. Spread out the posters inside the circle. Have them open their eyes and look at

the drawings. Afterward, discuss why they are beneficial. Ask volunteers to complete the

sentence, “I like insects/arachnids/ invertebrates because...”

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2. Insect/Arachnid/Invertebrate Anatomy. Group the children so that each group has one

poster.

For younger students - have each group point out the main body parts. Parent-chaperones

can help read the stories found on the back of the posters.

For older students - have each group describe the main body parts and read the story on the

back of the poster.

3. Divide students into three groups, the “Under Loggers,” the “Micro-Detectives” and the

“Sweep Netters.” Explain that groups will rotate every 10 minutes. Walk down the Java Trail

towards the beach. The parent-leader calls time and blows the whistle to regroup. Switch

tools and show favorite bugs. Set boundaries before you start! Assign a parent-chaperone

to each group.

• Under Loggers - Pass out Discovery Scope handheld microscopes. Parent-chaperone

leads group along the Java Trail looking for logs. Once a log is spotted halt! Kneel down

and examine the log. Look under the bark, the log and surrounding leaf litter. Collect

insects to share with the group.

• Micro Detectives - Pass out Discovery Scope handheld microscopes and cord. Parentchaperone

leads group on the Java Trail. Have students place their cords on the ground

a few feet off the trail. Take a “micro-hike,” crawling alongside their cord with collection

jars in hand. Collect insects to share with the group.

• Sweep Netters - Pass out one sweep net and Discovery Scope handheld microscope for

each pair of students. Parent-chaperone leads group along the Java Trail toward the

marsh. Stop at the first patch of open grass. Have students swing the net gently and

collect insects to share with the group.

4. Between each rotation, allow time to share collections with other groups. Can students

identify their findings? How many legs and body parts do they have? Do they have wings

and antennae? How do they move? Do they make noises? What is their role in the forest?

Be sure to let insects go before switching equipment. Discuss why it’s important to return

insects.

Wrap Up

1. Have each student share one amazing discovery.

2. Has their impression of bugs changed after observing them in their natural habitat?

3. Are bugs really scary?

4. Why are they important in nature? Bees and ants collect nectar and pollen while

pollinating plants. Some insects provide commercial products like honey, wax, and

silk.

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5. What do they eat? Ladybugs eat aphids, which cause damage to plants. Spiders eat

harmful pests, like insects that are not good for plants. Centipedes eat small insects.

Millipedes eat plants and they like to curl up in a ball under logs.

6. What eats them? Both insects and arachnids provide food for birds, fish, and

countless other animals.

7. What would we do without these insects?

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