We just finished our week of the American Museum of Science and Energy's summer science camp. This was my 21st year to do the program! It is always interesting to see what kind of critters we find out at the Freels Cabin. Every morning the kids (rising 5, 6, and 7th graders) study a different habitat. I take the groups to a grassy field with a small wetland area. Today I was so excited to photograph and then catch a very unusual insect called a Phantom Crane Fly. One of the boys saw it yesterday in the same area, so I hoped it would be there again today --- it was! These insects look as though they are floating in the air as they fly. Their black and white-striped legs stick straight out when they are flying and when they land. It had been years since I had seen one, and I have been wanting to photograph one for a long time!
Another interesting creature we enjoyed finding in the field was the tiny Spring Peeper frog. I had told the campers that these frogs are so small they could fit on a thumbnail. It was hard for them to believe a frog could be so little! So, it was a lot of fun when they started finding them as we walked through the field each morning. It is amazing that this is an adult frog!
Today one of our co-workers who is a wildlife "rehabber" came to speak to the kids. She brought an opossum, 2 corn snakes and a tiny red phase Screech Owl. These little birds have the most intriguing yellow eyes!
I've been squeezing in time at night to go out on the carport and see what comes to the black light and sheet. Last night I was happy to find "Mr. and Mrs. Stag Beetle" out there. Actually, I played matchmaker by placing them next to each other on the sheet so I could photograph them. I guess there won't be any grubs (baby beetles) anytime soon, they weren't too interested in each other! :( Maybe she didn't like his big mouth! ;)
We find lots of interesting spiders each day. This one is very well camouflaged! She looks nearly identical to her discarded remains of her prey that she keeps in the center of her web. It was hard to point her out to the kids!
This is also the time of the year that the cicada nymphs come out of the ground to begin their short period of life as an adult. Some of the campers spotted this cicada emerging from its nymph skin when they were looking at the trees. It is amazing how much more 26 pairs of eyes can observe, especially with a little bit of training!
This huge black spider caused quite a bit of excitement when he ran across the grass during one of our classes. That is one of the interesting things about science camp, you never know what will happen! :) I caught him in a jar and put him on a tree so I could get a better photo of him! The kids said he looked like a small black tarantula!