Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kathy the Entomologist

Kathy showing us some butterfly specimens

When we want to learn about something, there are many things we can do. We can ask our teacher and parents, to see if they know, we can check in books, we can search online, or we can find someone who is an expert on the topic and ask them. That's what we did today!

We had a Skype session with Kathy, who's an entomologist in Queensland. She knows lots and lots about insects. She taught us all sorts of amazing things and answered a lot of questions that we had. Kathy showed us her pet stick insect, who lives on a gum tree branch in her office and she also showed us some specimens of lots of other insects too.

Some of the things we learned are:
  • all insects have 6 legs when they're adults
  • baby ladybirds are tiny red and black lavae that might be mistaken for caterpillars
  • all spiders have some venom because they use it to break down food to make it easier for them to eat
  • there is a butterfly that looks exactly like a leaf
  • there is a beetle in Africa that is as big as your hand
  • some butterflies are poisonous when they're eaten by birds and other animals
  • butterflies have a long curly mouthpart and they use it to suck nectar from flowers to eat
  • ants are very organised and have separate rooms in their ant nests for different jobs (eg. a room to store food, one for the queen to lay her eggs, one for the larvae to live in and one for rubbish and waste to be kept in)
  • bees, wasps and ants bite or sting because they're trying to protect their homes
  • grasshoppers have special muscles in their legs to help them hop
  • some insects only live for a day, while others can live for years
  • only female mosquitoes bite and they need blood to feed the eggs that are inside their bodies
  • slaters curl into balls so they can protect themselves from predators
  • some insects are red because it's a "danger!" colour and warns predators that it wouldn't be a good idea to eat them
We really enjoyed our chat with Kathy. She was really, really nice and was very happy to answer anything we asked. We made her thankyou cards this afternoon, with special drawings of insects on the front.

Love from The Smarties and Mrs N

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