Cubs hunting for creepy crawlies at the Lake District Wildlife Park
Kids love bugs. There is just something irresistible about the creepy crawlies that slither, march and fly around us. Maybe it is their intriguing size or perhaps their alien form.
There are plenty of bugs at the Lake District Wildlife Park – inside and out. The reptile house is brimming with roaches, gigantic spiders and the coolest looking bugs you’ll ever see. We also happen to live in a region that is teeming with insects that can be found in our own gardens.
National Insect Week will run from 20-26 June 2016. The purpose of the awareness week is to remind us of the importance of the role of insects in our everyday lives – connecting kids to the insects in their backyard is a big part of connecting them to the idea of living landscapes. Every organism is a player, and if you start with the little guys, it is easy to get children on board with that concept.
This week Richard Robinson, Park’s manager led a group of youngsters and scout leaders to our own backyard space – Armathwaite Hall Estate’s hay fields – and gave them some nets and magnifying glasses, and let them loose. A bug hunt ensued!
Digging, waiting patiently and climbing were all good tactics for these bug hunt professionals and
the beautiful bounty of the bug hunt? a tiny cricket. Don’t worry—no bugs were harmed in the making of this activity. All bugs were placed gently back from whence they were scooped.
“It’s an excellent opportunity for the cubs to get involved in National Insect week and to learn the value of playing outdoors,” says Richard. “Allowing kids to explore and learn on their own is invaluable. When kids are excited and curious about a subject, such as bugs, they learn to value them.”
“Arthropods are amazing!” adds keeper Kasper “We can lead various outdoor programs for the cubs including bug hunts, web walks (participants look for spider webs and gently mist webs with a spray bottle to see the web structure) or a micro hikes (participants follow a string through the backyard and see what they can find along the way).
It is easy to see how something as simple as a bug hunt promotes problem solving, critical thinking and imagination.
Kasper, a keen amateur entomologist as well as zoo keeper, has been cultivating wildflowers with particular appeal to insects within the warmth of his reptile house and is now hardening them off before planting around the wildlife park in time for national insect week. He has adapted his reptile encounter to a creepy crawly talk and is dying to introduce his ‘unlovables’ to visitors to the Wildlife Park during National Insect Week.
Whilst many of us flinch may away from bugs, there is one insect that most of us do have a love of – and that is the ladybird! The ladybird has an important role to play in our gardens as it eats greenfly. This lovely little insect, is also very popular with young children and features in many children’s stories and nursery rhymes:
Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home
Your house is on fire and your children are gone
All except one, and that’s Little Anne
For she has crept under the warming pan.
So what can we do during National Insect Week to help the insects?
Well, if you have a garden and some space to spare, why not allow it to become waste ground. By allowing native plants to take over it will bring a whole variety of insects into your garden. The gardens of our local country houses such as Mirehouse have their beautifully manicured gardens, an awe inspiring sight, but now you also find areas of natural meadow where our native plants are given the chance to grow in abundance and feed the bees.
Kasper is also encouraging us to avoid planting hybrid cultivars in our gardens, as they are often sterile and they are of absolutely no use whatsoever to insect life. But if you don’t think that you can give over a section of your garden to wildflowers why not plant traditional cottage garden plants, lavender and buddleia are great nectar-rich plants and very welcoming to insects like bees and butterflies.
Why not buy a ladybird nesting box, a pollinating bee log or a butterfly tower to help the insects that are so important to us have a great home in your garden.
Do pop in to catch one of Kasper’s creepy crawly talks at 1 o’clock and 4 o’clock all through National Insect Week running from 20-26 June 2016