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Growing With Science
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Science and nature investigations for kids
Science and nature investigations for kids

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Bug of the Week: Scorpion in the Water Bowl - So, look who I found floating in the cats' water bowl this morning. How did it get there? The first guess is that it climbed in looking for water. Given that water bowl is glass and scorpions can't climb glass, it doesn't seem likely. Guess two is the cat who likes to dip his "toys" in his water bowl caught the scorpion and decided to "wash" it. In any case, apparently scorpions aren't good swimmers. I recently saw a photograph of a grasshopper ...
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Bug of the Week: Snail Lungs? - Have you ever looked closely at a snail shell? The shell can be many colors, but it is usually opaque. When I downloaded this photo, I was surprised to see the channels on the inside of the shell. Can you see the vein-like, branching structures I'm talking about? Let's zoom in: It turns out that in young land snails like this one -- with a thinner, more transparent shell -- it is possible to see the interior vessels of the mantle and mantle cavity (lung). In ...
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Bug of the Week: It’s All in the Antennae - Last month while I was in western New York I found this critter. It seemed to be a grasshopper, but with very long antennae. I backed out to try to get all the antennae in the frame. Then it struck me that it felt like trying to take a photograph of katydid nymphs back home (previous post). The insects we usually think of as grasshoppers don't have such long antennae. This little guy is actually a meadow katydid or longhorned grasshopper (genus Co...
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Bug of the Week: Ambush Bugs - What is this? It is a true bug because it has a triangle shape in the middle of its back. Let's take a closer look. It also has enlarged front legs for grasping prey. This is an ambush bug, Subfamily Phymatinae. Check out those orange eyes. Ambush bugs sit on flowers and wait for other insects or spiders to come by. When the unsuspecting prey gets too close, ambush bugs grab it with their front legs. They are a lot like praying mantids. We've never featured am...
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Bug of the Week: Posing Japanese Beetles - During a recent trip to western New York State, I tried once again to capture a photograph of a Japanese beetle. It should be easy, right? After all, the adult beetles are common, numerous and large. Yet, the photographs always seem to turn out blurry. What is going on? While trying to capture this one, I got a clue. (By the way, notice the cool antennae?) As I followed it down the leaf, it stuck its hind leg out. That's the blurry thing coming out...
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Bug of the Week: Funnel Weaver Spider - During a recent trip, my nephew pointed out a classic funnel web a spider had built in a bush. Funnel webs consist of flat sheets of webbing with a round tunnel that serves as a retreat. A few hours later, he pointed out the spider.   Funnel web spiders look a lot like wolf spiders, but they have a different eye pattern (see BugGuide) You can see a better photo of the web structure at Wikimedia. If you are interested in spiders, I've read some great b...
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Astronomy Events August 2018: Solar Probe and Meteor Shower - We have two space science-related events next weekend, August 11-12, 2018. 1. Parker Solar Probe Launch First up, on Saturday August 11, 2018 NASA is going to launch the Parker Solar Probe. The probe will travel close to the sun and gather data about it, including information about the sun's corona. Scientists are curious about the corona because temperatures measured there are hotter than at the surface of the sun and they want ...
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Bug of the Week: Ailanthus Webworm - Just when we thought we were done with moths, we found an orange, black, and white beauty feeding on a Queen Anne's lace flower in western New York. It almost looks as lacy as the flower. With the striking coloration, it didn't take long to figure out it is an ailanthus webworm moth, Atteva aurea. These moths were thought to be native to Florida, where they feed on paradise trees, Simarouba glauca and S. amara. The introduced Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus al...
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Bug of the Week: Bee or Clearwing Moth - Is it a bird? Is it a bee? No, it's a.... moth! This moth has many names. Because its fuzzy amber yellow and black body resembles a bumble bee, it is called a bee moth, bumblebee moth, or bee hawk moth. Unlike other moths, you can see through its wings, so sometimes they are called clearwing moths. Finally, because they are active during the day, because of their size, and because they hover around flowers sipping nectar, members of their family are ...
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Bug of the Week: Crazy About Moths - Next week is National Moth Week, so let's go crazy about moths! This year geometrids are the featured moth family for National Moth Week. The name geometrid roughly translates as "earth measurer" and refers to the fact the larvae are mostly inchworms. See our recent blog post about geometrid moths. How to celebrate: First, be sure to check the National Moth Week events page to see if there are any public events in your area. For example, here in Arizona ...
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