Eek, A Bug! Handling Insect Encounters with Your Kids

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From collecting grasshoppers on the playground to their first bee sting, bugs are a fascinating part of life for children. Some parents are reluctant to indulge in their child’s squirmy interest, while others are dealing with a case of childhood insectophobia. Whether your little one is a junior entomologist or runs screaming from anything with more than four legs, these tips can help your family navigate the creepy-crawly world of insects.

Help Your Child Explore

Although tiny, the world of insects can be intimidating to beginners. Guide your children’s interest by showing them where to locate different creatures. Encourage children to ask questions and discuss topics like how bees pollinate flowers and the difference between true insects and bugs. If your child fears these creepy-crawlies, help them learn to observe and gently handle less-frightening species, such as grasshoppers, ladybugs and butterflies.

Take Photos, Not Bugs

Although it might be tempting to take insect pets home in a jar or cage, they are a very important part of the natural environment. Bugs are a source of food for larger animals, and many species, such as ladybugs and spiders, provide natural pest control. Taking them away from nature can negatively impact the ecosystem, so teach your children to leave their tiny friends where they found them and take photos instead.

Use a Book or App to Identify Species

Turn your child’s love of bugs into a learning opportunity by using a species identification book or app for your phone or tablet. Your children can learn the common names, scientific names, habitat and dietary requirements of their favorite insects and bugs. Encourage older children to make their own local field guide with fun facts and photos or drawings of the creatures they find. You can even self-publish it online and sell copies to friends and family.

Practice Bug Safety

From disease-spreading mosquitoes to venomous spiders and stinging wasps, some insects and bugs can be dangerous. It’s important to teach your children how to identify potentially harmful species and to avoid handling them. If your bug-hunting adventure takes your family into areas with ticks, chiggers or mosquitos, remember to use a kid-safe bug spray to prevent itchy bites.

Now it’s time to put your creepy-crawly knowledge into practice by taking your kids on an insect adventure in your backyard or at your local park. Grab your phone, magnifying glass, field guide and sunscreen. Hunting bugs is not only fun and educational; it’s great exercise too.

Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her three-year-old husky, Snowball. She recommends Abc pest for your pest control needs. You can find her on Twitter @LizzieWeakley.

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