Monday, 23 May 2011
A visit from a Biologist!
On Friday, during the second block, Annette came over to share her insect presentation with us. Annette is a biologist from the University of Auckland and she spends a lot of time studying insects.
First she shared a Powerpoint about what types of insects live in different areas and told us how to classify if a creature is an insect or not. We learnt that insects always have 6 legs, 2 antanae and 3 body parts (head, abdomen and thorax) - which means that spiders aren't even insects! We also learnt that bugs are a certain type of insect, which means that not all insects are bugs! All of these creatures though are called invertebrates because they don't have a backbone, instead they have an exoskeleton (their 'bones' are on the outside instead of being on the inside, like the are with humans and animals.) We asked lots of good questions were able to answer some of the ones she asked us.
Then, we were tested on our knowledge. Annette gave us little containers that had creatures inside them. We had to decide whether the creatures were insects or just invertebrates, and note down special characteristics (exactly what they were.) Some of the insects were saw were alive! There was a big selection, including a monarch butterfly, a white-tailed spider (NZ's main poisonous spider), an earwig and baby cockroaches. We had fun trying to recognise what they were but some of us were creeped out by the live insects - especially the spider!
We were also shown a little bottle filled with alcohol and lots of dead invertebrates. These are known as pitfall traps. They are placed in the ground and the invertebrates fall into the trap over a period of days, and show the scientists the insects that are in the area. The pitfall trap that Annette showed us came from Motatapu Island and had lots of scary spiders (called arachnids.)
She also showed us a collection of insects that she'd caught and found herself, and that she'd pinned herself in a wooden box. They were all labeled and looked amazing.
We really enjoyed having Annette along to Learning Hub 3 and hope she comes back again. It was great to hear from a real biologist and it was clear that she knew a lot about invertebrates!
By Craig and Ben
Insects with Annette! on PhotoPeach