Here’s the thing about bugs: once you start noticing them, you cannot stop. Once you become aware of the colorful array of moths bonking their heads on your porchlight, you’ll check for them every time you’re at the door. Once your ears hone in on the katydids scratching out a dry rhythm in the treetops, you’ll smile when they return the following summer.
Insects can be found 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. They’re in cities, parks, and yards. They are under water and on dry land. They are high in the trees. They are in the soil beneath our feet. They’re in your basement and on your windowsills. To find them, it’s just a matter of adjusting your awareness to include them in your radar.
It is the happy “lament” of the naturalist that the most casual observance of some little creature is enough to spur an hours-long, or even a lifetime, adventure. For those of us with curious minds, it is not enough to simply observe and forget. We enjoy learning things we did not know. Learning is not a chore. It is the reward of the experience.
Insects are great ambassadors to the outdoors for several reasons. Foremost is their accessibility. Remember, they’re everywhere. Most have forms that we find beautiful, or at the very least, curious. We learn that there are reasons for those forms, and those reasons will open up volumes of new questions. Along your journey, you discover similar creatures that have found unique ways to express their forms and functions in the natural world.
You are on a treasure hunt where the prizes continue to shift and multiply, and where the hunt can be all the more sweet when shared with others.
Editor’s note: When John Himmelman was 8 years old, he started his first “Bug Club” in a friend’s garage, and he’s been playing with insects ever since. Even now, on summer nights John is often in his wooded yard in Killingworth, Connecticut, flashlight in hand, searching for little creatures. Some of his most exciting discoveries are found just a few feet from his house! John co-founded the Connecticut Butterfly Association, is past president of the New Haven Bird Club, and gives nature programs both in person and by Skype. He is an author and illustrator of over 75 books for children