Tag Archives: insects

Tiny Surprises

Not too long ago I got a cool little photo gift–a small detachable macro lens for my iPhone.  It has a little clip (kind of like a clothespin) that fits the macro lens right over my phone’s native camera lens.  The fun thing about a macro lens is that it lets you get close up and magnify tiny things so you can really see them.

During Tuesday’s lunch break I decided to attach the macro lens to my phone and head out into the backyard in search of a photo subject.  The milkweed is looking quite sickly.  There are a few flowers, but the leaves have been stripped clean.  Upon close examination, I did find a caterpillar–the monarch variety–cruising the stripped branches.  I leaned in, took a deep breath, and held as steady as possible to snap a few photos of the yellow, white, and black crawling creature.  It was a pretty big one, so I ended up with a head shot rather than a full body portrait.

Then I turned my attention to the lavender.  I love the way that lavender has tiny blossoms that make up the bloom.  I aimed the macro lens at the individual blossom–and then I saw them!  The tiniest ants were crawling in and out of the blossom.  I moved the lens away and looked closely.  I could make out the tiny ants, just barely, without the lens.  I snapped a few different shots of the tiny ants exploring the blossom and then my questions started emerging.  Are these ants pollinators?  Do they help or hurt the lavender?  What about these tiny ants–are they a different species than the regular ants I’m used to seeing, just smaller?

I love the way taking photos also creates opportunities for research and learning, piquing my curiosity as I notice something new or unexpected.  Photography keeps reminding me to look at the world through fresh eyes, changing my angles…or just the camera lens!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Red

Some weeks it’s just all about the color…and this week for me, it was red.

We’re fortunate to have a beautiful and productive garden at our school.  Even in the first weeks of school it is full of life.  My students are expert insect hunters…and not afraid to look closely to uncover what ofter remains hidden.

This brilliant green grasshopper was quite patient…and posed beautifully with the chard as a vivid red backdrop.

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And who can resist our friends the ladybugs perched on garden-green leaves?  (They were feasting on the plentiful aphids–something our students pointed out as they turned leaves over to look closely.)

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Last night was Back to School Night…that evening spent with parents talking about what students will be learning this year.  And no matter how many times I have done it, it is always a bit stressful.  It was such a treat receiving a bouquet of gerbera daisies from a parent…just because!

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And this morning brought another parent with giant pomegranates from their tree…and I couldn’t resist creating a spare “still life” on my kitchen counter!

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Red seems like a dominant color in my life this week (and I realize that as I am writing this I am wearing a bright red shirt!).  Take a look around, where do you find red?  The cover of the book you are reading? The colors of the sun setting at the end of a long day?  The fire truck that screams by you with sirens blasting?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #red for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

So take a look around and find some red!  I can’t wait to see red through your lens!

Citizen Scientists: Researchers in the Wild

This morning someone shared an article about kids as citizen scientist researchers–observing and documenting ladybugs in their place, and learning about research and data in the process. I love engaging students in real work as part of the learning process…and teaching them that all of us, as part of our daily lives, can and should continue to learn every day.

On our rain hike in Yellowstone the other day I got to look closely at the environment around me, noticing details and appreciating the beauty.  Our destination was this natural bridge, a work of nature that I’m sure informed the first people who saw it.

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And as we walked away from the bridge back toward the car, I noticed bubbles in the puddles as we passed.  I was sure I was noticing something in the bubbles…and stopped to watch.  It seemed that with the rain drops, a bubble would form with a white insect in it–magnifying the image of the bug–and then pop after it floated a ways.

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I had to look closer…what were these creatures?  And why do they form these bubbles?  Do they only come out in the rain?  Are they native to this forested area in Yellowstone?

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I haven’t yet found out what these insects (I think they are insects) are…but I am curious to know more about them.  I’m hoping that someone will know something more and lead me to some research to answer my questions.  Here is a close up view…

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There are so many interesting things to learn about when you take the time to notice.  As I start to prepare for the beginning of school, I’m thinking about ways to support and encourage my students to pay attention the world around them and then to document and further research the questions that interest them.  I’ll also be on the lookout for citizen scientist projects in my area (and would love any information you might have)…what a great way to engage students as researchers!

And if you happen to know anything about these bugs in the bubbles…I’d love some leads!