Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summer of Science: The Life Cycle of a Squash Bug

Evelyn and I love spending time in Grandma's garden. We check over the plants, look for any fruits or vegetables that are ready to harvest, and observe wild life whenever possible.

Two days ago, we were observing Grandma's Squash plants when Evelyn and I noticed some insect eggs on the top of a squash leaf.

What kind of eggs were these? Evelyn thought they looked similar to mouth eggs, but were maybe a different shape. We needed more information. We began looking for more eggs as I got out my science notebook. We wanted to know if these eggs were on all of the plants. I made a chart that listed the type of plant, number of egg clusters, and description of the egg clusters. The squash ended up being the only plant type with these eggs and it had 8 clusters.

As we examined more of the squash plant we lifted up a leaf and discovered...THIS

We found a group of baby bugs clustered together near other egg clusters.

We now had three clues. These bugs lay their eggs on squash plants, have amber eggs, and now we knew what the baby bugs looked like.

A brief online search brought up what we were looking at. Squash bugs. These bugs destroy squash plants. Last year the squash died off before we got any squash off of them. Reading about the squash bugs, we now think we know why.  The second generation of squash bugs will lay more eggs, and then those hatchlings will burrow underground for the winter. When spring comes, they tunnel back up and lay eggs in the same area on squash again.

So these may very well be the decendants of last years squash killers. Having identified the bug, Grandma went and bought appropriate pesticides to allow the squash to be food safe and squash bug safe.

We also captured two adult squash bugs and made a kill jar. We killed them in fingernail polish remover and have them in a container now to take to the Nature Exchange at the zoo so Evelyn can share what we've learned with the Exchange.

Since we found examples of all 3 life cycle stages of the bug, Evelyn's science journal entry on Squash Bugs is about the Squash Bug Life Cycle. 

I sketched images of what we saw and Evelyn colored it, but she does like explaining the life cycle using the picture in her journal.

We also now have a bug net and bug observation box. Turns out bugs aren't "icky" when you are learning about them and now our outdoor time is filled with calls of "Mom! Look at this really cool insect!"

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