Young Reporters: hunting for bugs


The Young Reporters learn how to identify insect pests

In early July I led two conservation workshops about insect pests for the Young Reporters project. The Young Reporters saw for themselves just how damaging insect pests can be when they examined some felt that had been eaten by webbing clothes moth larvae and a piece of wood that had been damaged by woodworm. These examples helped them to appreciate how important insect monitoring is in protecting the objects in the museum’s collections. We then had a look at the traps that we use to monitor insects and the way we record information about insect populations and distributions.

Next we learnt how to think like an insect by considering the conditions that the insect pests need to thrive. The Young Reporters were all excellent at thinking like insects and correctly guessed that pests generally prefer warm, damp, dark and undisturbed spaces where there is plenty of food. We then discussed how we manage these conditions at IWM in order to control the insect populations.

Young Reporters put to the test in The Bug Quiz

Finally the Young Reports came face to face with the insects themselves in the Bug Quiz. They were given 12 insect pests to examine and identify using microscopes. This was a fairly difficult exercise as some of the insects look very similar to each other but the Young Reporters did surprisingly well and passed with flying colours!

It was great to work with the Young Reporters. Their interest and enthusiasm made the sessions very enjoyable to run. It was good to be able to share with the Young Reporters a fascinating but little known part of the work that goes on behind the scenes at IWM.

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