Friday, 31 May 2013

Embark on a Wild Safari of Nature's Tiniest Treasures:  The Predaceous Diving Beetle

image courtesy of bioweb

The Spark:
Aristotle once said, "We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."  If you want to get into the most excellent habit immersing yourself in nature on a daily basis, then I have just the quest for you.  It's time to embark on a wild safari of nature's tiniest treasures.  You may not know it yet, but the natural world is packed full of the most wondrous creatures and many of them come in the tiniest of packages.  You may not notice them but they are everywhere.  You can find them zipping through the air, swimming through ponds, slithering under a rock, scampering up a tree, or just sitting on a blade of grass.  When you finally spot one, that is when the magic begins.  So look around, be very careful, don't make too much noise or you will scare them away.  The goal of this quest is to get to know a little bit about these awesome, tiny creatures.  Inch by inch, bit by bit, you will start to know about and amass an incredible amount of information on these tiny creatures until one day, you will become a connoisseur of awesomeness!  Well... at the very least you will know some interesting facts about many tiny creatures.

Are you interested in embarking on a wild safari of nature's tiniest treasures?  Calling all Super Natural Superheroes to ACTIVATE!  Get out your magnifying glass, camera, sketchbook, or just use your own eyes and lets get outdoors on this great safari.  As always, we need to ask the question WHY?

Start Your Quest:
Why:  Why you may ask?  Because in order to enhance our love of the natural world, we should make it a habit of becoming acquainted with it's awesome inhabitants, starting from the teeny, tiny, most minuscule creatures that can be seen with the naked eye.
What:  To go on a wild safari in hunt of tiny creatures.  To snap a picture of them.  To do a little research to find out some information about them.  To start a painted rock collection so that our learning is tangible and visible in a fun sort of way.
Where:  In a nearby patch of nature.
Who: You, your family, and friends.
When:  As soon as you can get yourself organized.
How:  Find out below.  It's a S.N.CH., or is it!

Take Action:

1.  To prepare for your wild safari you will need:

* appropriate clothing
* a camera
* a sketch book, sketching pencil, eraser
* a butterfly net
* a bucket
* a magnifying glass
* a pair of goulashes (if you are going into muddy or watery areas)
* if you have none of the above just bring yourself, after all, your eyeballs are all you will really need

2.  Start your wild safari:
Be careful, tiptoe, don't make too much noise!  Try and find the tiniest creature.  Look under rocks, in ponds, at tree trunks, in the grass, and above your head in the sky.

3.  Find a tiny treasure:
Take a picture, sketch, or use your net to catch your creature.  Do not harm them.  If you are taking your creature from a pond, don't forget to add water to your bucket.  Place your creature in your bucket.  Handle your creature with the utmost respect and care.  When you finish observing it then place it back where it was originally found.

Here is the tiny creature that we spotted swimming in our local pond.

4.  Investigate:
After some research and investigation, we found out that the creature was called a diving beetle.

Here is our sketch:

5.  Share some fascinating information:
Find out whatever you can about your tiny treasure and share it with your family, friends, camp group...

Here are some awesome facts about the diving beetle:

Diving beetles are insects.  Their bodies are divided into three sections, the head, the thorax, and the abdomen.  They have 4 stages to their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

The Great Diving Beetle

Beetles are the largest group of living organisms known to science, bar none.  One in every four animals on Earth is a beetle.  

With protective armour, razor-sharp mouthparts and superb mobility in the air and underwater, the great diving beetle is a deadly predator.

It has a distinctly shaped, streamlined body, elongated and oval like a football.  A pair  of antennae and three pairs of legs.  The back legs are flattened like paddles and have a thick fringe of swimming hairs for increased speed and propulsion.

They use a "frog kick" with their back legs for swimming (that is the reason that we noticed them.)

Adult diving beetles breathe by storing oxygen in bubble underneath their wing cases.  They use their wing cases like an air tank as they use the air trapped under a structure called the elytra to stay submerged for long periods of time.  Larvae have a siphon (like a snorkel) coming out the end of their body.  They stick this siphon out of the water to get oxygen to breathe.

 Diving beetles eat invertebrate that live or fall into the water.  Occasionally the also eat small tadpoles and fish.  They are a small but powerful aquatic predator that is capable of killing prey several times larger than itself.  Adults tear larger prey into smaller pieces.  larvae pierce and pump digestive juices into their prey.  The then suck out the liquefied remains.

Adult diving beetles often fly from one pond to another.  They use light reflected from the water to find ponds.  Sometimes they get confused, as light reflected off glass can look the same.

6.  Painted Rocks:
Find a flat rock and paint it into a diving beetle.  Start a collection of pet painted rocks so that you can track how many awesome creatures you have learned about.  Your pile will be small at first but you will be surprised at how fast it will grow.  Pet rocks are a fantastic and fun way of keeping track of your learning.  Not only will you remember how your tiny creature looks, you will learn it's name as well.

Don't Stop Here:
Keep on researching and finding out more about nature's tiniest treasures.  Every creature on Earth it awesome and you will find that out as you go along.  If you have a hunch about something just drop us an email and we'll give your hunch a whirl and get back to you.

Quest Check:
We are very interested in keeping you interested on your quest to explore nature's wonders.  Keep checking back with us on a regular basis to see if your interests match our quests.

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