An entomology encounter

Back to the Trees for Survival newsletter

Amanda Besley reports on Bugtastic, an exercise in getting up close and personal with some invertebrates:

For many, an encounter with bugs is often irritating (mossies), painful (bees) or frightening (spiders).  For adventurers lost in the bush a writhing critter may feature as a small but ghastly protein snack.

However late last year students at Maungatapu Primary, with teacher Diana Price, took an integrated learning approach to studying New Zealand invertebrates. Prior learning in the classroom included stories, games, reading, sketching and observation. Wrapping around the theme of invertebrates was the concept of biodiversity, and how growing and planting native trees supports our native wildlife.

Window decals made to prevent bird strike

An invertebrate jig saw activity

Playing a matching game

Enthusiastic about a day out in the wild and keen to show their citizenship, a planting session followed by bug hunt was planned. Tauranga Rotary kindly provided a bus for the two classes to travel to Carmichael Reserve in Bethlehem, the restored wetland planting area in the heart of an urban setting managed by Tauranga City Council.

Around 100 good looking flax, cabbage trees, coprosma and manuka were soon planted amongst previous Trees for Survival plants.  Being a wetland, it is a fairly muddy site but flat, so relatively easy work and fun too.

Armed with nets for the flighty and paint brushes for the delicate or bitey, the students were very keen to get themselves immersed, literally, amongst the fledgling forest to see what they could find.  It wasn’t long before the sounds of discovery began to ring. Being such a young and species limited area of bush, the discoveries were relatively limited.  Nevertheless plenty of tiny spiders, a weta and an assortment of six-legged oddities were found, intensely observed and released.

Peering through magnifiers

... even more closely!

An Australian spider called, imaginatively, the two spined spider

Following the field trip I revisited the class to add another strand. One of the perils of birds in our urban areas is window strike. Thinking about the wildlife they had seen, the students painted animals on plastic sheets (recycled from old documents), then displayed them on their classroom windows to warn the birds.

Overall, it was an encounter with the environment that had us all motivated to do more again in 2015.

Back to the Trees for Survival newsletter