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This week has been very busy, but I do have a minute to post this cute beetle.

Beetles like this one belong to the family Scarabaeidae, which contain the scarab beetles, the dung beetles, and the May or June beetles. Some scarabs are brightly colored like shiny jewels. Others like the dung beetles, are drab or dark brown. Most are easy to recognize with their boxy, square shape. This one is probably picking up a snack of pollen and/or nectar from this flower.


Who doesn’t love ladybugs? They are beautiful, and helpful. Now you and your children have an opportunity to help out a scientist with a project on ladybugs.

Dr. John Losey, a professor of entomology at Cornell University, wants you and your children to find and photograph ladybugs. Scientists have noticed that some native species of lady beetles are disappearing, while introduced ladybugs are on the rise. Dr. Losey wants children to help document ladybug populations around the country by taking photographs and sending them to him, with information about when and where they were found.

This is a fun project for learning about ladybugs, which are actually a type of beetle. However, before you rush to the website, I would like to add my two cents to the information provided on the website. First of all, it is pretty easy to take photos of ladybugs without catching them or handling them. You can spot ladybugs while out hiking. They sit on plants, usually out in the open. That’s how I got this photograph. The less you handle them the better, especially if you are lucky enough to spot a rare one.


Second, be sure to download and print out the Field Guide. Although the photograph here looks like the one on their website, it is actually the introduced seven-spotted lady beetle, not the nine-spotted one. The Field Guide helps a lot.

To find out more, go to the Lost Ladybug Project <snip>

Have fun!

Are you going to travel this weekend? Looking for something to do in the car or on the plane? Doing science activities can be even more fun than the standard travel games. Here are some ideas:

  • Look for birds, count them, and identify them by shape or silhouette (see all birds website for example shapes). Listen to a CD/tape of bird songs. If the tape is boring, it will have the added benefit of putting the kids to sleep 🙂
  • Explore roadside geology, particularly where highways have been cut through mountainsides. If you are a newbie, just comment on colors and shapes. More experienced can comment on sedimentary formations, volcanic activity, etc. Look for books about local geology at the library, like the classic “Roadside Geology of Arizona” by Halka Chronic.
  • Identify trees by their shape and color from a distance. Count the pine trees or apple trees, or whatever.
  • Cars are perfect places for studying the laws of physics. This link should get you started.(Link broken)
  • At the airport, explore the shape of airplane wings and learn about lift, like at this website.

As always, feel free to contact me via the comments if you have questions.
Happy Fourth of July!