Well, our bug lovin’ boy has passed his bug curiosity on to all of us, I think. He’s certainly ignited my curiosity and I’ve never found myself so interested in insects before. I do remember years ago, meeting my dad’s uncle, an entomologist, and getting to take a peek in a room full of insects on display. There were the hugest butterflies and moths I’d ever seen, in all colors you can imagine, and I thought it was amazing. But I didn’t give the bugs in our garden a whole lot of thought, other than if they were becoming a pest and eating something up (or hoping that we’d see plenty of bees out there.)
I’ve enjoyed taking pictures of bees in the garden for many years, but this last summer and throughout the fall, I found myself taking pictures of all sorts of insects. We wondered why the ants always congregated in the squash blossoms? If a little leaf hopper could sit still long enough to get it’s picture taken? What kind of bees those were in the dill? What kind of cocoon was suspended in the blueberry bushes? And though I’ve avoided most spiders throughout my life, I was fascinated to learn about the little white crab spiders (what a perfect name for them, they do look crab-like, don’t they?) in our garden and the fact that they can change color (like a chameleon) to match the flowers where they live! That just blows my mind, really.
It seems the more Jeff and I encourage Bracken’s interest (by bringing him bugs and reading books about bugs), the more we become interested ourselves. Over the summer Jeff surprised Bracken with a container of ladybugs to release in the garden. He loved it so much. (The praying mantis egg that he got for him never did hatch out, but we’ll try again next year.) Bracken’s been chasing butterflies in the garden since he was old enough to do so, but when Jeff gave him a butterfly net, he carried it with him every single time he stepped out the door. He even made a bed for a butterfly (and devised all sorts of plans for how to keep butterflies inside as pets.) He saved another butterfly from his swimming pool and had a harder time saying goodbye that time. He caught a cinnabar moth. He introduced us to many butterflies and moths.
After going to the bug safari (which I looked forward to for many months because I knew how excited Bracken would be), Bracken’s new pastime became catching grasshoppers in the garden. Mostly he found red-legged grasshoppers, but once he found a grasshopper with “blueberry blue” on it’s back legs and he thought it was the coolest thing ever. For his birthday, Bracken got a container for keeping bugs. He found a cacoon, which he put in there, and then carried it with him everywhere. He brought it on car rides, brought it to town, showed it to friends, and didn’t want to be away from it for a moment just in case it started hatching. It’s still there and it hasn’t hatched (we don’t think it will), but now he added another cocoon in there to keep an eye on. We all take a peek whenever we walk by.
We’ve been reading a book that identifies the different types of bees and have been looking up kinds we’ve seen around here and wondered about. In another book that Bracken got for his birthday (that talks about caterpillars turning into butterflies), we learned about a place called Butterfly World in Florida. The next time we visit my mom in Florida, we have plans to go there!!