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What's 'Bugging' You?

Mosquitoes got you down this summer? Ticks? Roaches? Now is a great time to challenge students to learn more about the fascinating world of bugs! Try some of these activities and check out some informative sites. 

They're in your grass and in the air. They're in your house and in your pool. They're in your bed and on your pets! They're everywhere! Bugs!

And at no time of year are bugs more plentiful than they are during the summer months! This is the perfect time of year to "get the bug" and to challenge your amateur entomologists to get outdoors and do some investigating.

Bugs Are Amazing Critters!

The world is full of bugs. Some experts estimate that there might be as many as ten million different species of bugs!

If you gathered together all the world's bugs in one place and weighed them, those bugs would weigh more than all the world's people and animals put together!

If you gathered together in one place all the world's ants, it would take a long time to count them -- all ten thousand trillion of them!

And did you know that in some parts of the world insects are an important part of people's diets? Insect eaters say that termites taste like pineapple and bees have a nutty flavor.

Following are a handful of activities and a swarm of Internet connections that you might use to motivate and challenge your students to learn more about what's bugging them. Ready? Set? Go buggy!

Activities for Insect Study


  • Spider Math. Did you know that a spider can eat its own weight in food each day. Do you eat your own weight each day? Invite students to calculate how many quarter-pound hamburgers they would have to eat today in order to eat their own weight!


  • Hands-On Science: An Insect's Senses. Many insects use their antennae to feel their surroundings. Invite students to choose a partner. One partner blindfolds the other and hands that person two straws. Then the partner without the blindfold places an object on a table (for example, a book, a box of tissue, or a thermos). The blindfolded partner must try to use the straw "feelers" to determine whcat the object is.


  • Persuasive Essay - Bug Them! The United States has a National Bird (the bald eagle) but it doesn't have a National Insect. If you could choose one insect to be the National Insect, which insect would you choose? Invite students to write an essay in support of their choice. The more good reasons for choosing that insect, the better! Then invite students to share their essays with their classmates. Who made the most convincing argument? Which insect would the students choose to be the National Insect?


  • Make a Book of Bug Riddles and Jokes. Bugs might not be a laughing matter--but there are tons of jokes about bugs. Invite students to share their favorite bug jokes. Create a book of the jokes, one joke per page with an illustration. Here are a few jokes to get you going!


    1. What do you get if you cross a mosquito with a sheep?
      Bah, humbug!


    2. What do you call a bee that is born in the month of May?
      A May-bee!


    3. What's an ant's favorite song?
      The National Ant-them!


    4. What kind of bee has no stinger and no wings?
      A fris-bee!


    5. Where can a spider always find a fly, even during the winter?
      In Web-ster's Dictionary!


    6. What's the biggest ant in the world?


    7. What's a mosquito's favorite sport?
      Skin diving!


  • Cooperative Group Activity. Divide the class into cooperative groups. Challenge each group to work together to create a list of insects---as many as they can name in five minutes. (For older students, with dictionaries handy, spelling counts!) Then bring the groups together. Create a class list. Which group seemed to come up with the largest number of uncommon insects?


  • Pick a Bug/Gather the Facts. Invite each student to choose a bug from the list generated in the previous activity. Challenge students to learn more about the bugs they chose. Every student should gather five interesting facts about his/her bug to share with the class.


  • Just for Fun--Bug Bingo! Create a Bingo game board with 16 squares. Invite students to write the word "FREE" in one square. In each of the other squares, in any order, students should write the name of another insect. (Use the class list from the previous activity.) While they're doing that, you can write the name of each insect from the list on a small slip of paper. Then place the slips in a container and draw insect names, one at a time, from the container. The first person to call "BUG BINGO!" is the winner.


  • Science -- Insect or Spider? What's the difference? Invite students to find out. Have students complete a chart that will show the differences between insects and spiders.
Question Insects Spiders
How many legs? 6 8
How many body parts? 3 2
Does it have antennae? Yes No

Related Sites:

Entomology, the study of insects, is the subject of hundreds of Web sites. I've narrowed that list down to a dozen or so sites described here.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor in Chief
Copyright © 2003 Education World



Links last updated 07/03/11