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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Beetle Queen Conquers Peace Patch

For those who haven't seen Jessica Oreck's incredible documentary on the Japanese love of insects, Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo, I have the trailer posted above. The film explores how in Japan the interest in insect ranges from kids collecting insects on family vacations to businessmen spending thousands to tens of thousands for these impressive stag beetles. Some of these beetles cost more than a VW Beetle! But at any rate what we see is a culture where attention to ones environment, and the living things within it, is cherished through childhood and into adulthood. It is a sort of evidence for E.O. Wilson's idea of Biophilia, the innate curiosity and bond between humans and other living things. 

Here in the Peace Patch there is no shortage of Biophilia, especially when it comes to insects. our sizable population of rolly-pollies (woodlouses or terrestrial isopods for you technical folk out there) has been of particular interest to the Kids. I have often in past classes had to drag kids away from their collecting to focus on the plants; I must sympathize with them though as I found most plants to be SO boring when I was in first grade, especially compared to insects. This time however, our roles switched from keeping the kids focused to keeping them from grabbing at them too much (we did have a few rolly-pollie casualties). The kids learned that an insects body has a head, a thorax, an abdomen, 6 legs, 2 antennae and wings! We also worked on reading out loud the names of these insect body parts, some of which like thorax are kinda hard to say and remember! We then showed them a few of the different types of insects in the garden, as well as some critters like rolly-pollies and spiders that look like bugs but aren't! One of the kids and my favorite bugs was a little white weevil (most likely Artipus floridanus) that I found and that the the kids could hold and let crawl on their hands. This was one of my favorite lessons thus far!

As someone who spent a lot of time catching and raising bugs as a kid, and who still has a pair of hibernating hercules beetles in his refrigerator and a jar of caterpillars munching away on his desk, it really makes me really excited to see the excitement that these kids get from bugs, and that i am in a position to support and nurture that love and curiosity. Most kids in America aren't like me, and by the time they are in college don't really care about bugs or even despise them. I can only hope that a few of these awesome kids will hold onto this love of nature and living things as they grow up. I hope that we as a community can support this bond and between kids and insects and that America can become a place where kids and adults alike can keep exploring and growing upon this relationship with our fellow living beings!

- Noah Schlager

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