There is a great variety of terrestrial invertebrates at Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve and the study of these can form the basis of what is commonly known as a mini-beast safari or bug hunt.
On the west side of the nature reserve is an area of grassland and hedgerow bordering the footpath. Groups can spread out along this route and remain within eyesight. Using the equipment provided, children can catch for themselves a multitude of bugs, insects and tiny creatures, some of which they may never have seen before. As with the pond dipping, the invertebrate study links well with birdwatching as it gives children the opportunity to observe birds then have a closer look at what they eat.
- Mini-beast Worksheet 208kb pdf
Following an introductory talk, the children are shown the best ways to use the equipment and where to find the creatures. Splitting into small groups of 2 or 3, the children are provided with a white plastic tray, magnifying pots and pooters (collecting pots with two tubes attached that can be used to hoover up creatures without harming them). The plastic trays can be used in two ways - either placed under a branch, then the branch is shaken and the invertebrates fall into the tray or the tray can be swept through grass or tall vegetation scooping up the creatures attached to the plants. As the trays are white, the invertebrates collected are more easily seen. Notable creatures can be 'sucked up' using the pooter and transferred to the magnifying pot for closer study.
A summary talk at the end highlights some of the animals found but keys and identification sheets can be provided to help children identify the creatures themselves.
The close hands-on study of terrestrial invertebrates. The range of creatures that may be caught include spiders, ants, ladybirds and their larvae, frog hoppers, aphids, assassin bugs, caterpillars, flies, lacewings, shield bugs, ground beetles, rove beetles, harvestmen.
- Adaptations - Terrestrial invertebrates display a large number of adaptations for survival that can be easily observed such as camouflage, mimicry and warning colours.
- Food Chains - by studying the plants where the creatures are found, sorting out herbivores from carnivores then referring to the birds seen on the visit it is easy to establish the links in a food chain.
- Art - children can sketch the creatures in their collecting trays.
If booked as a separate activity, allow 1½ hours for the Invertebrate Study. This includes the time taken to walk from the Visitor Centre to the activity location. If combined with another activity such as Birdwatching, then 45 minutes is sufficient.
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