Backyard science 

19 Aug

Don’t read this if you don’t want to hear about dying insects.

A few weeks ago I noticed that my decorative birdhouses had become homes to some vicious black and yellow stinging insects.  

I’m not particularly attached to these birdhouses because I did find them on the side of the road, but I was surprised that the birdhouses had been empty for so long and this was the summer that wasps finally decided to take up residence.

I’m not one to casually and caustically murder living creatures, but Inactually do make an exception for wasps and hornets.  I can’t stand them and I definitely don’t want to be sharing my living area with them.  If I had to choose between my children playing in the backyard and scary bugs living unhampered, Im going to have to choose the children!

I hatched a plan that consisting of waiting until dark (when presumably the wasps would be home sleeping), poisonous bug killer, and duct tape.  I waited until all the kids were sleeping, crept out into the dark backyard, sprayed a gallon of raid into the birdhouse entrance. The slapped some duct tape over the hole.  Then Jason arrived home late from work and I told him what I was doing.  Then we started getting dive-bombed by wasps and we ran inside.  So…apparently all the wasps weren’t home yet?  I don’t know, but I abandoned my insecticidal mission, vowing to return the following day.

In the morning, I could see swarms of giant wasps circling the taped up birdhouses.  The kids and I played in the front yard and I decided to give the after dark raid another go that evening.  After the kids were asleep, I once again crept out into the backyard and peeled back the duct tape and let loose with the raid.  

The next morning, the purple birdhouse seemed deserted but the white birdhouse was still being swarmed.  I decided that the raid wasn’t killing them, so much as it was making them angry and turning them into poison-resistant-mutant-super-beasts.  Then we were told we needed a special kind of raid, one designed for wasps and hornets.

Jason came home with the special raid and I went out to investigate the buzzing birdhouse.  I was pretty surprised to see that, instead of wasps, giant fuzzy bumblebees had taken up residence in the poison soaked birdhouse!  They had even peeled back the duct tape.  

I know that we shouldn’t kill our best pollinators, but by this time I was committed, both to killing the bugs and destroying the environment with harmful chemicals.  And I succeeded.  I didn’t even wait until after dark this time.  

The next day all buzzing had ceased.  We waited a week and then it was time for some backyard science!  Everything can be a learning opportunity!

   
  

spelling error, too lazy to change it

   
So after our inspection, it looks like the birdhouse was actually used by birds for awhile.  Maybe last year or the year before?  I had the house up in a tree for two years until it was blown down in a big wind storm.

R2 was pretty fascinated and disgusted by the maggots.  As soon as the grass was disturbed, an aroma of rot permeated the air. Lovely!  I told R2 after the bees died, maggots moved in to eat the bodies.  If left alone, they would grow up to be flies.  Don’t worry, I was wearing rubber gloves.

What a learning experience!  We’ve also recently watched hundreds of flying ants emerge from a nest and saw a few get trapped in a spider web.  We even saw the spider run to a flying ant and start wrapping it up!

What kind of interesting and gross experiments have you done with your children in the name of education?

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