If you love a forest, love playing hide and seek in the woods, or just have a handful of kids or grandkids to keep entertained then bug-hunting is definitely for you!
And I know what you're thinking, well some of you at any rate, spiders, slugs. beetles, any thing that crawls... need I go on. But even for the most squeamish of parents or nervy grandparent or aunt, there are ways and means and well, stuff to help you:
And here's my suggestion - take a small pack or bag with you containing a few of the following things:
Spoons: Yes, believe it or not, the humble spoon will help the most nervy of adults in 'picking up' creatures. And indeed, increase the confidence of any young nature-loving explorer in the process
Plastic Pots: Really any type of pot can be used but small and capable of being handled by jammy-fingered little children are perfect. Use your spoons to transfer your bugs which then enables you to have a good look at what you've found
Magnifying Glass: These days, any cheap magnifying glass will go - find them in a cracker at Christmas or in a bargain shop but small or large it doesn't matter. These days even a phone has a camera on it which are great to magnify things...
Identification Bug Sheet or Bug Book: Not essential but helpful, bring some kind of identification bug sheet or bug book, which can be printed off online or borrow a book from the library.
Camera: The best thing about bug-hunting for kids is to keep a record of what you've found - then you can show your mates, show your parents, show any one who they think they can shock with their findings... Use your smartphone or take a little camera with you!
So the method is fairly straight-forward, find some woodland, and go find bugs!
Explain first to your little helpers that bugs are important, they do a good job on the woodland floor, and that any bug which are discovered, need to be picked up carefully and then put back carefully where they were found
Then go investigate - under rocks, under logs, on bark, in leaf litter - but be careful, roll logs carefully, lift objects with care...
Remember that bugs are shy, so try to keep little ones quiet and calm but occassional shrieks of excitement are completely natural!
Use your spoons to lift anything with care into your pots to examine, and then look closely at before photographs or records of your investigation.
Well done bug hunter!
Please note, take some hand-wash or sanitiser for after the bug-hunts and stress to the children that bugs should not be squashed or killed; and when you're finished put your bugs back where you found them.
But the best part is just to have fun in the fresh air. Explore. Get interested. Get excited when kids see things that they've never seen. Discover Hidden Britain!
So for ideas about where to go - check out the WOODLAND page on Discover Hidden Britain
Or for places like: