Family Science

Hunting Minibeasts

by rockprogram on Aug. 1st, 2013 No Comments

Ladybird Larva c2004 Joyce Gross
Have you ever heard of minibeasts? You’ll find them in Africa and all around the world. You’ve probably seen them outside your home and maybe even in your home! Slugs, snails, spiders, butterflies, bees and beetles are all minibeasts. They don’t have backbones and you don’t need a microscope to see them, though you often have to look closely in order to find them. This month we are suggesting that you go on a minibeast hunt at home, in the park or in Tusher African Hall. If you like them, we even have a way for you to create your own minibeast habitat at home.

Hunt in Africa
Did you know that we display minibeasts in our dioramas in Tusher African Hall? Ask your children to try to find the insects on display during your next visit. There are five different species. To help you out, they are:

Next Steps
After you hunt minibeasts you can ask your children: “What was your favorite minibeast and why?” You can brainstorm how to make more habitats for that minibeast. If you have a little bit of space in your yard or balcony, you can make a home for one or more types of minibeast. Here’s one how-to. Here at the Academy, we used the guide to make a minibeast habitat in the Academy garden! In it we’ve found: milipedes, centipedes, worms, snails, slugs, spiders, and wood lice ( also known as roly-polies)!

Hunt near Home
Sticking close to home, you can start your hunt for minibeasts. After you introduce minibeasts to your children, ask them to suggest places to look for minibeasts. You can take this handy minibeast key with you, to help you identify them. Great places to look are under objects resting on the ground, such as twigs, rocks and leaves. Also look for flowering plants, as those flowers are often designed to attract flying minibeasts. A crack in the pavement, with a bit of soil and a few small plants, can be a minibeast refuge. One woman in the UK videos the minibeasts that she finds in her town. Can you find the ladybird larva in the video? Your children could digitally capture the minibeasts that they find. Are your minibeasts like the ones in the UK?

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