Page 1

Insect Experiments


Index Camouflage

3

Cricket Anatomy

4

Cricket Grooming

5

Cricket Jumping Contest

6

Crickets and Colors

7

Crickets and Colors Worksheet

8

Crickets’ Preferred Environments

9

Crickets’ Preferred Environments Worksheet

10

Insect Communication

11

Supply List

12

References

13

Children’s Literature

14

Notes

16


Camouflage

Index

Many insects are protected from predators because they blend into their surroundings. Colors and/ or patterns that hide objects by matching their surroundings are called camouflage. Predators have difficulty finding insects that are camouflaged... you might, too.

Materials

Eight 12 inch Pipe Cleaners of different colors, including green and brown Scissors Timer Outside option Yardstick 4 pencils String Inside option 5ft by 5ft (1.5m by 1.5 m) Square of green turf carpet

What To Do

1. Cut each pipe cleaner into 1⁄2 inch sections, to make 24 pieces of each color. 2. Prepare the grass area: Inside option, spread out the turf carpet. Outside option, in an area with short grass measure a square with 5 ft (1.5m) sides and place a pencil in the ground to mark each corner. Wrap the string around the pencils to outline the square. 3. While at least one person in the group is not looking, spread out the pieces of pipe cleaner evenly over the entire grass area. 4. Using the timer, ask the person who did not see you spread out the pipe cleaners to collect as many of them as possible in 45 seconds. 5. Count the number of each color found. There were 24 pieces of each color, so you can calculate the number of each color not found. 6. Spread the pipe cleaners out in the grass area again and let another group member try to collect them. Count the number of each color they find in 45 seconds.

Questions

1. Were all 24 pieces of any color found? 2. What colors were easiest to find? (For which colors were the most pieces found?) 3. Which ones were hardest to find? Why? 4. Would it be easier to find all the colors if a different background were used? What color background would make it easiest to find all the colors? 5. Can you think of examples of animals that use camouflage?

Summary

Colors that blend in with the grass and the soil, like green and brown, are difficult to find, while bright colors are easy to see. We expect red and orange to be easiest to find since they contrast the background color and are bright. Colors, like blue, that are different than the background, but are dark, might not be found as easily as the red, but should be seen more readily than the green. Many insects and animals use camouflage to hide from their predators by blending in with their surrounding. Examples of camouflage in nature include the tigers (their stripes help them blend into their surroundings), walking sticks (insects that look like twigs), artic fox (turns white in winter to blend in with the snow).Humans have learned how to use camouflage, too. Can you think of any examples?

Source

“Janice Van Cleave’s Insects and Spiders,” Janice Van Cleave, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York, 1998. ISBN 0-471-16369-1 © S. Olesik, WOW Project, Ohio State University, 2002.


Cricket Anatomy

Index

Crickets have very different anatomy than humans. Humans have an internal skeleton surrounded by muscles. Crickets have the opposite, they have a hard exoskeleton on the outside and all of their muscles are on the inside. This activity involves taking a closer look at cricket anatomy.

Materials

Several crickets in prepared cages Cricket diagrams

What To Do

First, discuss the anatomy of the cricket with the students. The main features of the exoskeleton are the three main body regions: head, thorax and abdomen. The head is the main sensory structure and contains the antennae, which are used for smell and are used as feelers, and the compound eyes, as well as the mouthparts, or palps, which are used for the sense of taste. The thorax is the mobility section of the cricket’s body, although it involves some sensory structures. It is where the legs and wings are attached and it contains all the muscles that move them. The tympanum, the auditory structure that lets crickets hear, is located on the first pair of legs near the “elbow” or “knee” joint. The abdomen contains most of the “guts.” The cerci, which are used primarily for the sense of touch, are found extending from the back of the abdomen. The reproductive structures are also located in the abdomen. The female’s ovipositor, which is used to lay fertilized eggs, extends from the back of the abdomen between the cerci. Observe the live crickets and try to identify all of the parts listed above. Label the cricket diagram with all the parts of the live crickets you were able to identify.

Questions

1. What do cricket bodies and human bodies have in common? What differences are there between cricket and human bodies? 2. What advantages are there to having an exoskeleton rather than an endoskeleton like ours?

Sources

“Cricketology.” Michael Elsohn Ross. Carolrhoda Books, Inc.: Minneapolis, 1996. ISBN 0-87614-900-x “Fundamentals of Entomology, 5th Ed.” Richard J. Elzinga. Prentice-Hall, Inc.: Upper Saddle River, 2000. ISBN 0-13-011493-6 © S. Olesik, WOW Project, Ohio State University, 2002.


Cricket Grooming

Index

Crickets detect the world around them using sensory structures. Since they live in a dirty world their sensory structures get coated with debris that must be routinely removed by grooming.

Materials

Crickets (in prepared cages) Plastic bags Cornstarch

What To Do

Place a small amount of cornstarch (about 1 tablespoon) in a plastic bag. Place a cricket in the bag and gently move the bag around so that the cricket becomes lightly powdered with the cornstarch. Replace the cricket in the cage and observe its grooming behavior.

Questions

What part did the cricket clean first? Why do you think that part was the first to be cleaned? Was the same method used to clean all body parts?

Summary

Crickets need their sensory organs to understand the world around them. Crickets taste, smell, and feel with the hairs that cover their bodies. Sensory hairs on the antennae, cerci, mouthparts and other body parts have holes in them to allow molecules to enter (odor, taste) and contact nerves that send the signal to the brain. If the holes get covered then they cannot taste or smell. Crickets also use other hairs to tell them when they touch something, which are very helpful to the crickets, which are often active at night. These hairs bend when touched. Crickets use their compound eyes to see, but their eyes do not have lids to keep them clean. Often crickets rub their eyes with their “feet” to wipe them off so they can see. The order of structures they cleaned first may be an indication of what sensory structures are the most important.

Source

http://insected.arizona.edu Glen Needham, Associate Professor of Entomology, The Ohio State University. © S. Olesik, WOW Project, Ohio State University, 2002.


Cricket Jumping Contest

Index

Crickets have wings, but most crickets do not fly. Instead, to get around they use their very strong hind legs to jump. Crickets are very good jumpers!

Materials

Crickets Large, dark-colored paper Corn starch Plastic bag Ruler or tape measure

What To Do

Place the paper on the floor. Measure the length of a cricket from the tip of its head to the end of its abdomen. Record this length. Place a small amount of cornstarch (about 1 tablespoon) in the plastic bag. Gently place the cricket in the bag and shake it gently to cover the cricket in cornstarch. Place the cricket in the center of the paper and watch it jump. The cornstarch will leave a mark on the paper where the cricket begins and ends its jumps. Measure how far the cricket jumped. Gently return the cricket to the cage. Measure and record a student’s height from head to toe. Ask the student to jump as far as he or she can. Measure and record the distance. Calculate the ratio of jump length to body length for the cricket and for the student. Compare the results.

Questions

Who jumped further, the student or the cricket? Who had the better jump length to body length ratio? If the cricket was the same size as the students and still had the same jump length to body length ratio, how far would it jump?

Source

Š S. Olesik, WOW Project, Ohio State University, 2002.


Crickets and Colors

Index

Do Crickets Have a Favorite Color? Camouflage helps many creatures stay safe in nature. Animals that blend into their surroundings are difficult for predators to see. Do camouflaged animals choose their surroundings based on how well they will blend in? Let�s see if crickets choose colors similar to their own.

Materials

Several crickets Cricket Cage with neutral color bedding, such as sand Blocks, all same size, variety of colors

What To Do

Place the blocks in the cricket cage with the sand bedding, making sure that none of the blocks touch the walls of the cage and that all the blocks are spaced evenly. Gently take 4 or 5 crickets from their home cage and place them in the cage with the colored blocks. Watch carefully to see which blocks the crickets like to climb. Make observations every 2 minutes for a half hour. Each time count the number of crickets on or touching each colored block and record the numbers on the worksheet. At the end of the class time count up the numbers in each column to see if you can tell which color the crickets liked best. In classes that are doing a number of activities in rotating groups, have each group make observations for about 10 minutes and record them. As a class at the end of the session tally all results and discuss conclusions together.

Questions

1. Did the crickets have a favorite colored block? What color? 2. Did the crickets choose a color similar to their own? 3. In nature would the color choice the crickets made help protect them from predators?

Summary

In our trials the crickets spent most of their time in the sand. However, when they did choose to climb on the blocks they climbed on the brown, natural wood, and yellow colored blocks more often than they climbed on blocks with colors starkly different than their own. Nature seems to help the crickets understand that they are safer on colors like theirs. Try the experiment many ways, changing the colors of the blocks, changing the positions of the blocks, to see if you find the same results.

Source

“Nature Close-Up, Crickets and Grasshoppers.”Elaine Pascoe. Blackbirch Press, Inc.: Woodbridge, Connecticut, 1999. ISBN 1-56711-176-9 © S. Olesik, WOW Project, Ohio State University, 2003.


Crickets and Colors Worksheet

Index

Every 2 minutes count and record how many crickets are on or touching each colored block. At the end of the class period add up the numbers in each column to decide what color the crickets liked best. Then, remember to return the crickets to their regular homes.


Crickets’ Preferred Environments

Index

Crickets make their homes in many different types of areas, but they may favor one kind of environment. By observing crickets in living spaces that provide options we can learn more about what types of environments they prefer.

Materials

Cricket cage Sand Potting soil Leaves Mulch or pebbles 3-4 crickets

What To Do

Prepare the cricket cage by placing the four different natural materials in the four corners of the cage. Do not put food or water in the cage. Gently take the crickets from their home cage and put them in the varied environment cage. Watch the crickets as they explore their new surroundings. Observe their position every 2 minutes for a half hour. At each two-minute interval count and record the number of crickets in each environment. Can you tell if they like one environment more than the others? In classes that are doing a number of activities in rotating groups, have each group make observations for about 10 minutes and record them. As a class at the end of the session tally all results and discuss conclusions together.

Questions

1. Did the crickets spend more time in one area? Which one? 2. What characteristics do crickets seem to find important in choosing a home?

Summary

Crickets can be found in nature in a variety of environments, but presented with a choice, crickets may prefer one type of environment over another. In experimental trials using sand, pebbles, soil and grass the crickets all spent more time in the grass and soil areas than in the sand and pebble areas. Try it out with your crickets, do your crickets have the same preferences? Try it with other natural materials, can you find something they like better than grass?

Source

“Nature Close-Up: Crickets and Grasshoppers.” Elaine Pascoe, Blackbirch Press, Inc., Woodbridge, Connecticut, 1999. ISBN 1-56711-176-9 © S. Olesik, WOW Project, Ohio State University, 2003.


Crickets’ Preferred Environments Worksheet

Index


Insect Communication

Index

How do insects communicate? Since many insects do not see very well they locate others of their species, including their mates, and host plants, etc. by odors and other senses. Insects use chemicals called pheromones to communicate, as well as some special movements and behavior. In this activity students can practice communicating as insects do.

Materials

Film containers Paper towels A variety of strong scents such as vanilla extract, coffee grounds, garlic, soap, or vinegar

What To Do

Place a small piece of paper towel in each film canister. Wet the paper towels with the scented material, making a pair of containers with each scent. Cap the containers tightly. Distribute the containers so each student has one. Tell the students that someone else in the class has the same scent they do. Instruct the students to find their scent partner without talking. This is similar to how insects communicate.

Questions

1. Were you able to find your scent partner? How? 2. Would this type of communication work if you had a cold?

Summary

Insects communicate in different ways than humans. One common way for insects to communicate is by scent and smell. Insects can use their sense of smell to determine if another insect belongs to the same species or if it is male or female. The antennae and the cerci are the cricket parts used to smell. There are tiny holes in these appendages through which air can flow. Molecules in the air come into contact with nerve receptor sites that send sensory information to the brain. Insects gain a great deal of information about the world around through smell.

Source

http://insected.arizona.edu Glen Needham, Associate Professor of Entomology, The Ohio State University. Š S. Olesik, WOW Project, Ohio State University, 2002.


Supply List Cricket Anatomy

Crickets (5-10 in a prepared cage) Cricket diagram

Cricket Grooming

Crickets (in prepared cages) Plastic bags Cornstarch

Cricket Jumping Contest Crickets Large, dark-colored paper Corn starch Plastic bag Ruler or tape measure

Insect Communication

Film containers Paper towels A variety of strong scents such as vanilla extract, coffee grounds, garlic, soap, or vinegar

Index


References

Index

http://insected.arizona.edu Glen Needham, Associate Professor of Entomology, The Ohio State University.


Children’s Literature

Index

Are You a Dragonfly?” By Judy Allen. Illustrated by Tudor Humphries. Kingfisher: New York, 2001. ISBN 0-7534-5346-0. “Chirping Crickets.” By Melvin Berger. Illustrated by Megan Lloyd. HarperCollins Publishers: New York, 1998. ISBN 0-06-024962-5. “Insects.” By Robin Bernard. National Geographic Society: Washington, D.C., 1999. ISBN 0-7922-6670-6. “The Very Busy Spider.” By Eric Carle. Illustrated by the author. Philomel Books: New York, 1984. ISBN 0-399-22919-1. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” By Eric Carle. Illustrated by the author. Philomel Books: New York, 1987. ISBN 0-399-22690-7. “The Very Lonely Firefly.” By Eric Carle. Illustrated by the author. Philomel Books: New York, 1995. ISBN 0-399-23427-6. “The Very Quiet Cricket.” By Eric Carle. Illustrated by the author. Philomel Books: New York, 1990. ISBN 0-399-22684-2. “The Cricket Warrior: A Chinese Tale.” By Margaret and Raymond Chang. Illustrated by Warwick Hutton. Margaret K. McElderry Books: New York, 1994. ISBN 0-689-50605-8. “The Little Ant and the Great Big Crumb: A Mexican Fable.” By Shirley Climo. Illustrated by Francisco X. Mora. Clarion Books: New York, 1995. ISBN 0-395-70732-3. “The Magic School Bus Inside a Beehive.” By Joanna Cole. Illustrated by Bruce Degan. Scholastic, Inc.: New York, 1996. ISBN 0-590-44684-3. “The Cricket’s Cage: A Chinese Folktale.” By Stefan Czernecki. Illustrated by the author. Hyperion Books For Children: New York, 1997. ISBN 0-7868-2234-1. “Ant Cities.” By Arthur Dorros. Illustrated by the author. Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc.: New York, 1987. ISBN 0-690-04570-0. “Inside an Ant Colony.” By Allan Fowler. Children’s Press: New York, 1998. ISBN 0-516-26365-X. “What’s That Bug? Everyday Insects and Their Really Cool Cousins.” By Nan Froman. Illustrated by Julian Mulock. Madison Press Book produced for Little, Brown and Company: New York, 2001. ISBN 0-316-29692-9. “The Honey Makers.” By Gale Gibbons. Illustrated by the author. Morrow Junior Books: New York, 1997. ISBN 0-688-11387-7. “Butterfly Story.” By Anca Hariton. Illustrated by the author. Dutton Children’s Books: New York, 1995. ISBN 0-525-45212-5. “From Caterpillar to Butterfly.” By Deborah Heiligman. Illustrated by Bari Weissman. HarperCollins Publishers: New York, 1996. ISBN 0-06-024268-X. “I Wonder What It’s Like to Be a Butterfly.” By Erin Hovanec. PowerKids Press: New York, 2000. ISBN 0-8239-5451-X.


“I Wonder What It’s Like to Be an Ant.” By Erin Hovanec. PowerKids Press: New York, 2000. ISBN 0-8239-5449-8. “Spider Spins a Story: Fourteen Legends From Native America.” By Jill Max. Illustrated by Robert Annesley, Benjamin Harjo, Michael Lacapa, S.D. Nelson, Redwing T. Nez, and Baje Whitethorne. Northland Publishing: Flagstaff, 1997. ISBN 0-87358-611-5. “The Girl Who Loved Caterpillars.” By Jean Merrill. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Philomel Books: New York, 1992. ISBN 0-399-21871-8. View summary “The Life and Times of the Honeybee.” By Charles Mucucci. Ticknor and Fields: New York, 1995. ISBN 0-395-65968-X. “Bugs Are Insects.” By Anne Rockwell. Illustrated by Steve Jenkins. HarperCollins Publishers: New York, 2001. ISBN 0-06-028569-9. “Caterpillarology.” By Michael Elsohn Ross. Photographs by Brian Grogan. Illustrations by Darren Erickson. Carolrholda Books: Minneapolis, 1997. ISBN 1-57505-055-2. “Cricketology.” By Michael Elsohn Ross. Photographs by Brian Grogan. Illustrations by Darren Erickson. Carolrholda Books: Minneapolis, 1996. ISBN 0-87614- 900-X. “Rolypolyology.” By Michael Elsohn Ross. Photographs by Brian Grogan. Illustrations by Darren Erickson. Carolrholda Books: Minneapolis, 1996. ISBN 0-87614-862-3. View summary “Butterfly.” By Stephen Savage. Illustrated by Andre Boos. Raintree Steck-Vaughn Publishers: Austin, 1995. ISBN 0-8172-4892-7. “The Magic School Bus Spins a Web About Spiders.” By Tracy West. Illustrated by Jim Durk. Book adaptation of an episode of the animated TV series The Magic School Bus, based on the series by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degan. Scholastic, Inc.: New York, 1997. ISBN 0-590-92234-3. “Cockroach Cooties.” By Laurence Yep. Hyperion Paperbacks for Children: New York, 2000. ISBN 0-7868-1338-5.


Notes

Index

There are currently no notes on this unit. If you have suggestions or changes to make on the experiments or units, please email us! Our address is wow@chemistry.ohio-state.edu. Š S. Olesik, WOW Project, Ohio State University, 2002.

Copyright Š 2002-2010 by S.Olesik, Wonders of Our World Project (WOW), the Ohio State University. Permission to make digital or hard copies of portions of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that the copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page in print or the first screen in digital media. Abstracting with credit is permitted.

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Insect Experiments 10 11 12 13 Crickets and Colors Worksheet Notes 8 9 3 4 5 Crickets’ Preferred Environments 6 7 Crickets’ Preferred Enviro...

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