55 Year 5 students from Otatara School Rooms 8 and 9, came out to the nursery for the day on Wednesday 29th March. They were studying “invertebrates” or minibeasts and Bronwyn and Chris had put together a programme of activities for the day. The group was divided into four “habitat” groups – the Bush, the pond area, the garden and the education centre building, and paddock. Each group looked for bugs in two of the four habitats, for an hour each. The Bush group was led by Lloyd Esler and lots of rotting logs were examined for huhu grubs and ground beetles, spiderwebs were looked into and fantails accompanied this group – feasting on the bugs disturbed along the way!
The Garden group was led by Chris and started with sheetweb spiders in the nursery beds, then at the worm farm counting and estimating how many worms were in there doing their recycling, then under logs finding ground beetles, earwigs, slaters etc and a case moth in the blueberry cage. Bees were slow to get going on the flowers as we started in mist! Pitfall traps, weta motels and tracking tunnels were all examined as ways to detect which insects may live in your patch.
Bronwyn led the pond group who pulled out nets containing backswimmers, damselflies were seen and lots of nursery spider webs. The lifecycles of damsel flies were looked at, noting in particular that different stages are spent in different habitats (in the water, flying!)
At the Education Centre a huhu beetle was the first capture – Chris had used the Centre as a huge “light trap” by leaving the lights on and the windows open all night – a host of night flying moths and other insects had flown in! Previously, an insect scientist – an entomologist – had captured 74 different moth species using a light trap at Rances. The Education Centre group had also studied insect life cycles and food webs.
After lunch there was a run round the koru in the paddock before sitting in the building to examine all the insects caught in the morning and reporting back on the different finds. The students used their recently learnt scientific drawing skills to record the minibeasts found in the various habitats of the Southland Community Nursery. Mr Esler is an expert on minibeasts and could tell us all lots about their lifecycles and about special characteristics each insect had. “There would be no life on earth without insects” he said. Lots of good questions were asked. Thanks to Gillian Donelly and Jena Young for bringing out a great group of budding entomologists!
Chris and Bronwyn