The Big Bug Challenge
Unleash your inner Jeff Corwin—and get ready for an adventure in your own backyard. Did you know that you can find literally dozens of wacky, weird-looking creepy crawlers in your garden? In fact, there are more than 900,000 insects in the world, some with names like spittlebug and stink bug, others with 750 legs, some that hide with camouflage, and others that show off their pretty colors. So, grab your magnifying glass, and let’s go on a backyard buggy adventure to find the coolest, craziest-looking bugs!
What You’ll Need:
- Hunting ground: a garden, backyard, or forest
- Notebook and pencil for each player
- Magnifying glass (to see tiny bugs and bug details up close)
- Optional: A bug field guide or smartphone to identify bugs
- Optional: Give out prizes
How to Play:
1. Before you begin, pinky promise not to touch the bugs, unless an adult says it’s OK. Some bugs bite or sting, so be careful!
2. The goal of the game is to find the craziest, weirdest, most wacky-looking bugs, but take some time to look at all the bugs you find.
3. Gather the players in the garden with their notebooks. Count to 3, and unleash the explorers! You can set a 15-minute time limit, or let them hunt as long as they like.
4. Start by looking around the space for easy-to-spot bugs. Some critters, like bumblebees and butterflies, are easy to see as they fly through the garden. Make notes or draw a picture of any flying bugs you see.
5. Next, it’s time to go to the ground! Get on your knees, and look at the plants around you. Carefully flip over leaves, because many bugs, like caterpillars, like to hide on the undersides of plants’ leaves. Look at flowers, because you’ll see pollinators (like bees) as well as pests (like aphids). Maybe you’ll get lucky and spot a praying mantis—they’re really cool! What did you find? Make a note or drawing.
6. Now, it’s time to go low! Explore the soil—what do you see? Maybe you’ll spot ants in a line or a snail followed by a trail of slime. Move some mulch—see any insect action? Look for gazillion-legged centipedes or teeny tiny termites. Carefully turn over rocks—what’s hiding underneath? Roly polies, worms, grubs…who knows what cool things you’ll find? Make some notes or drawings.
7. If you have a field guide or smartphone, look up the names of your discoveries and write them next to your pictures.
8. When the bug safari is over, compare notes. Who found the biggest bug? The most colorful bug? A bug with the best disguise (camouflage)? Tiniest? Scariest-looking bug? Most legs?
9. If desired, award the winner a bug-themed prize, like some gummy worms.
Speaking of bugs, once you’ve finished bug hunting, be sure to check clothing and skin for ticks, and carefully remove any you find. Then, go ahead and award everyone an extra gummy worm!