The last day of garden class was an especially fun day. It was all about bugs!
Pest Detective Lesson
I had just discovered an infestation of white grubs in our garden, a slight set back for the plants but a perfect learning opportunity for the students. I set up three pest scenarios, corresponding with the three main types sucking pests, chewing pests and soil dwelling pests. Then I had the students move around the garden to observe the plants to determine which they thought was in our garden.
Scenario #1: Aphids are sucking pests. They are very small soft bodied insects who live on the bottom of leaves and suck the plant sap. They cause the plant to not grow as fast as others and cause the leaves to curl. They also leave a dewy deposit. The solution to this pest is a soap spray or ladybugs. The aphid is the ladybug’s favorite food.
Scenario #2: Tomato hornworms are chewing pests. Hornworms are the larvae of flying hawk moths. They get their name from the horn on their rear end. They feed voraciously on tomato and pepper plants leaving holes in the leaves or eating the leaves off entirely. The only solution to this pest is searching for them and collecting them by hand or encouraging birds to eat them up.
Scenario #3: White grubs are soil dwelling pests. They are the larvae of June bugs. They are C-shaped, live underground, and are about the size of a dime. Their favorite food is grass roots but they will eat the roots of any vegetables too. The plants appear to be not getting enough water, which makes sense because the roots are gone, so they look small and yellow. The best solution is adding microscopic worms called nematodes to the soil.
They all guessed Scenario #1 or #3, using the yellow, small plants as the big clue. Great job guys! It is scenario #3. The students who guessed #3 correctly also checked for aphids on the bottom of the leaves.
The Bug Jar
Using a reused glass jar and poking holes into the lid for ventilation I sent the students out to collect as many bugs as they could so we could take an inventory on what was in our garden. It was a hit, especially with the boys!
Making Aphid/Bug Spray
The students who did not want to collect bugs helped me make bug spray in our new kitchen. We combined olive oil, crushed garlic, cayenne pepper, biodegradable dish soap, and water and Voila!
Lady bug Lesson
This was a great choice for the kindergarden and pre-k classes. We leaned the “Five Lady Bugs Song.” I conveniently forgot my numbers while we were singing so they had to help, which encouraged lots of giggling.
We learned lots of facts about ladybugs, including the following:
- Ladybugs come in many colors. Red, orange, pink, yellow, black. (I was thinking a good art project with egg cartons or paint and potato stamps could come out of this but we didn’t have time.)
- A group of ladybugs is called a huddle.
- Birds don’t eat ladybugs because their bight colors are a warning that they don’t taste good.
- Lady bugs smell with their feet. (How many feet do ladybugs have? Six!)
- In many countries ladybugs are considered good luck.
- Ladybugs eat aphids, which harm our garden plants. (In one class I asked, “does anyone know what lady bugs eat?’ and a kindergardener replied “Aphids.” I was amazed, and asked her where she learned that. They had just finished reading the Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carl.)
Then we released ladybugs and cheered “Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly Away Home!”