Category: insects (Page 2 of 88)

STEM Friday #Kidlit Little Killers Has a Big Impact

We all know middle grade readers who can be a little jaded and hard to please. That’s why you should make sure you have Sneed B. Collard III’s newest, Little Killers: The Ferocious Lives of Puny Predators in your arsenal.

With just enough humor sprinkled in, Collard introduces us to some lesser-known predators that have a big impact regardless of their size.

Take the pteropods. More commonly known as sea angels or sea butterflies, he calls them the “potato chips of the sea” –isn’t that great imagery?– because so many critters eat them. But it turns out at least some of these “potato chips” have a bite. The sea angels turn on their mostly vegetarian cousins the sea butterflies and eat them!

After revealing the killer instincts of invertebrates from flatworms to driver ants, the final chapter is a call to action to protect these creatures that we often don’t see or notice, but which serve such important roles in ecosystems.

The book is illustrated with eye-catching stock photographs, like the closeup of the driver ant worker on the cover. A few photographs show young scientists at work, allowing kids to relate.

Little Killers will grab the attention of both budding biologists and reluctant readers.  Get your claws on a copy today!

Related Activities:

Get to know more about tiny predators

  1. Most of us know that lady beetles (also called lady bugs) eat aphids.

convergent lady beetle

Did you know that another stage of their life cycle eats even more aphids than the adults?

Lady beetle larvae don’t look much like their adult parents, but they are even hungrier! When you see them on plants, don’t be alarmed. You should leave them alone.

Let’s look at the rest of the stages.

To start out, adult lady beetles lay eggs that look like tiny orange footballs.

The eggs hatch into voracious larvae.

Any idea what the orange blob below is?


If you look very closely at the base where the blob attaches to the plant, you might see a clue. That is the outside skin or exoskeleton of the lady beetle larva.

This is the lady beetle pupa. Doesn’t look much like the beautiful beetle that will emerge in a few days, does it?

Keep your eyes open this spring for lady beetles. Learn about the kinds of lady beetles living in your neighborhood and watch for their life stages.

2. Sea angels are incredibly beautiful, but you are unlikely to see one unless you visit an aquarium.  They are snails without shells that swim in the ocean.

And they are also “Tiny Killers.”


Reading age ‏ : ‎ 8 – 12 years
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Millbrook Press ™ (March 1, 2022)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1728415691
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1728415697

Want to entice  younger readers? Try the picture book, Beaver and Otter Get Along…Sort of: A Story of Grit and Patience Between Neighbors by Sneed B. Collard III and illustrated by Meg Sodano. It came out in September.

Meet the author and learn more about the book in this video.

Be sure to visit Sneed’s website

and see our reviews of his books in previous posts.

Reading age ‏ : ‎ 4 – 8 years
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Dawn Publications (September 7, 2021)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1728232252
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1728232256

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

Favorite Insect Photographs of 2021

This is the time to look back at the highlights of the past year and look forward to upcoming adventures. In that vein, here are some of my favorite insect photographs from 2021.

Butterflies like this hairstreak are always such prima donnas.



Okay, so my favorites aren’t all photographs. These queen butterflies tell off the intruder by flapping their wings.


Roses always look even more lovely with a katydid decoration.


My neighbor was so excited when the praying mantis egg cases she had purchased began hatching that she called me over to watch. It was pretty amazing to see all the little nymphs. Later I found this one in our yard.


Yep, another video. In this one I caught a honey bee using her legs to pat pollen into her already pretty full pollen baskets. The plant is jojoba.


I took this photograph on January 14, 2021, which seems pretty early in the season for bees. Maybe the early bee gets the pollen?

Hope you enjoyed these. Thank you so much for following Growing with Science in 2021. I really appreciate everyone who took time to comment and for your support.

Happy New Year!



Celebrating #PollinatorWeek 2021

Let’s get ready to celebrate Pollinator Week.

Reading children’s books is great way to learn more about pollinators. Afterwards, do some of the activities suggested below.

But first, what is pollination and what is a pollinator?

Pollination is an essential process that allows plants to grow healthy fruit and seeds. Scientifically, pollination occurs when pollen (the colorful powdery dust) is moved from male part (anther) of a flower to the female part (stigma) of the same or another flower.

A pollinator carries the pollen from flower to flower so that pollination happens. Although when we hear the word “pollinator” we generally think of bees, many different animals act as pollinators.

Children’s books:

In No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart, Allen Young, and illustrated by Nicole Wong young readers learn that cacao trees need the help of a menagerie of rain forest critters to survive: a pollen-sucking midge (previous post), an aphid-munching anole lizard, and brain-eating coffin fly maggots. Reviewed at Wrapped in Foil.

In Flower Talk: How Plants Use Color to Communicate by Sara Levine and illustrated by Masha D’yans a snarky purple cactus narrator explains why plants “talk” to animals via their flowers and how they entice the animals to carry their pollen from place to place.

POLLEN: Darwin’s 130-Year Prediction by Darcy Pattison and illustrated by Peter Willis reveals how long it may take for science to find an answer to a problem. In 1862, naturalist Charles Darwin received a box of orchids. When he saw one of the flowers, the Madagascar star orchid, he wondered how insects could pollinate it, and he made some predictions that it was a moth.

Fast forward 130 years. In 1992, German entomologist, Lutz Thilo Wasserthal, Ph.D. traveled to Madagascar. By then, the moths were rare. He managed to capture two moths and released them in a cage with the orchid. Would they pollinate the orchid as Darwin had predicted?

Although it is more about who and what eats flies, 13 Ways to Eat a Fly by Sue Heavenrich and illustrated by David Clark features some flies that pollinate plants (previous review).

A Place for Butterflies by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Higgins Bond showcases twelve North American butterflies―from the familiar eastern tiger swallowtail to the rare Palos Verdes blue butterfly―and the ecosystems that support their survival.

A Place for Bats by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Higgins Bond features twelve types of North American bats, from the familiar little brown bat to the Mexican free-tailed bat.


Related Activities

Disclosure:  One of the books mentioned above was provided by the publisher. The rest were from the library or are my personal copies. I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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