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Bug Lab for Kids

Bug Lab for Kids: Family-Friendly Activities for Exploring the Amazing World of Beetles, Butterflies, Spiders, and Other Arthropods

John W. Guyton
Quarry Books,
144 pp.
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How do you measure a beetle’s strength or the speed of a centipede? Bug Lab for Kids, by entomologist John Guyton, reveals the answers to these questions, among others.

The book is divided into nine well-organized units, each containing several lab exercises. An introductory section provides helpful advice regarding appropriate attire for fieldwork, first aid treatment for bites and stings, and the importance of keeping a field notebook. Another unit offers a straightforward primer on the scientific method.

Would-be entomologists start by learning how to make and use a collection net, as well as how to care for live critters. More sophisticated collection techniques, such as the use of an aspirator to capture very tiny insects, are also covered. Readers can then embark on a variety of activities to observe insects in their natural habitat.

Other labs include a spiderweb search, a papier-mâché wasp’s nest construction project, a multiweek butterfly-rearing operation, and a taste test of edible insect “treats” (not for the faint of heart!). Although special equipment such as a blacklight is required for some experiments, many of the necessary tools can be constructed from household materials or purchased inexpensively.

Interspersed throughout the book are fun and surprising snippets of bug trivia: Moths navigate by the moon, bees “dance” to communicate with other bees, and horned dung beetles can pull 1000 times their own weight. These tidbits bolster Guyton’s message that although bugs may not be cute or cuddly, they are indeed fascinating.

About the author

The reviewer is a lead content production editor at Science.