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Do you remember the mysterious bug I found under a rock last week?

Are you ready to find out what it is?

It is a springtail or Collembola.

Even though springtails have six legs and antennae, they are not currently classified as insects because their mouthparts are inside their heads. The mouthparts of insects are on the outside (where you can see them).

Photograph of a springtail by Andy Murray licensed under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0), retrieved from Flickr.

The name springtail comes from the fact many kinds have a special appendage called a furcula that tucks under the abdomen. When released, the furcula bangs against the surface and shoots the springtail up into the air.

You can view the furcula in action in this short video from the BBC.

As you can see, some springtails are quite oddly shaped, but kind of cute.

Springtails are not uncommon, but because they are tiny and live in leaf litter, under rocks, or in the soil, we often don't notice them. In fact, we haven't featured one for Bug of the Week before now. Maybe we should try to find some more.

Have you ever seen springtails? Where did you find them?

Pi Day is coming up next week on March 14 (3/14), chosen because the first three digits of pi are 3.14... It is a fun way to celebrate the mathematical constant π and all things math.

Pi is based on the relationship (ratio) between circumference of a circle and its diameter. If you're a bit rusty in math, the diameter is a straight line segment that passes through the center of a circle and has endpoints on the circle. The circumference is the distance around the outside of the circle.

Public domain image by Kjoonlee, based on previous work by w:User:Papeschr at  Wikimedia

Pi was first established as the ratio of the circumference to the diameter.

π = C/d

It is a fascinating number because it is so useful, but it is also irrational. That means it is an infinite, non-repeating decimal.

Pi Day activities can run the gamut from serious to seriously lighthearted.

Public domain image of a Pi Day pie

You might want to check out

One great way to celebrate Pi Day is to read a book about math. We maintain a list of children's math books for Pi Day and every day at Science Books for Kids. Let's add some recent releases to the list:

Goodnight, Numbers by Danica McKellar and illustrated by Alicia Padron is for children who are learning their numbers.

Danica McKellar is not just another celebrity using their fame to hawk children's books. She is a serious mathematician whose goal is to get kids excited about math through books and videos. Her first books were for middle and high school aged kids. Now she's writing for the youngest set.

You can see what she has to say in this book trailer:

Age Range: 2 - 5 years
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers (March 7, 2017)
ISBN-10: 110193378X
ISBN-13: 978-1101933787

STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and math.  This is Not Another Math Book by Anna Weltman and ilustrated by‎ Charlotte Milner is a perfect choice for older kids who want to explore art as a way to understand math.

Author Anna Weltman has created an imaginative series of hands-on projects that include exploring symmetry by drawing kaleidoscopic patterns, growing a forest of fractal trees, and assembling five-square pentomino shapes into pictures.

Ages: 9+
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Kane Miller Books / EDC Publishing; First American edition (2018)
ISBN-10: 1610675975
ISBN-13: 978-1610675970

For the full list, see children's math books for Pi Day and every day at Science Books for Kids.


Can you tell why I had trouble finding a bug for Bug of the Week by looking at this brittlebush flower?

It is wet from the cold rain we had overnight.

Because of the downpour, I knew I'd have to go farther and look harder to find live critters today. I flipped some rocks.

I did find a spider. It is hiding beneath a sheet of silk.

Wait. What's that bug on the right?

Ever seen one of these before?

Any idea what it might be?