We’re Going On a Bug Hunt: Early Science and Gardening With a Little One

We are going on a bug hunt,

We are going to catch a big one,

What a beautiful day!

We’re not Scared.

Uh oh

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That was just a small tribute to one of the children’s books we like to read “We Are Going on a Bear Hunt.” But in all seriousness, sometimes we go on a bug hunt. Some people call this “wildschooling” (home schooling with an outdoorsy twist), others would say it’s just kid stuff, but our bug hunts have purpose.

For my toddler, she’s learning about her world. Natural Science? Yes, please!

For me, we are caring for the garden. I had just put fresh soil and store bought compost for my large garden containers and I wanted to ensure they had worms for the sake of making the soil healthier. I also thought since our parsley and dill plants took off in our butterfly garden, it might be fun to look for caterpillars. Lastly, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for bug pests.

For more information on beneficial vs non beneficial insects, check out this book: GOOD BUG, BAD BUG

As if all this manner of bugging wasn’t enough, we also bought Ladybugs for the first time ever. Our local store had containers of Ladybugs for sale, half off. At first I wondered if this was because half of the lady bugs were dead. As I read the instructions, that is a normal occurrence and to be expected but there should still be plenty of Ladybugs. There were a lot crawling around and they are so beneficial so I went for it. They had to be put in the refrigerator until evening time so I did that and we went about our bug hunt.

We didn’t find any caterpillars. Maybe it’s early, or maybe they are very camouflaged. We will check back later.


We did find wildlife we weren’t looking for. We found the tiniest dragonfly and a lizard.

We found one worm. Into the planter he went.

Later, after I put my little one to bed and started writing, I remembered the Ladybugs! “Did I freeze them?” I thought. I pulled them out of the refrigerator and they were all still and looked like they had shrunk. Then within a minute they were crawling all over their case. What happens is the cold makes them inactive and they don’t fly at night. So by releasing them into your watered garden in the evening, you are increasing the likelihood that they will settle in and search for food. If they find food sources, they’ll stay in your garden a while. They like to eat spider mites and aphids—troublesome pests for gardeners! That’s why we like them.

I must have dumped most of them but I had a few left to put back in the refrigerator. The recommendation is to release a few each evening for several evenings in a row (chilling them in between).

Tomorrow, I’ll take my daughter on another bug hunt (I wonder if she’ll spot Ladybugs).

You can get ladybugs ordered to your door to delight your children here. In an upcoming post I will review the Ladybug Land Learning Kit for Children in which you can watch their life cycle!

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