insects - Auckland War Memorial Museum


insects - Auckland War Memorial Museum
activities | years 1–6
©Auckland Museum 2008
About this Resource
Booking Information
Introduction and Map
Background Notes
Gondwanaland Insects
Alpine Zone
Caves / Bush
Introduced Insects and Pastures
Sandy Exposed Beaches
Insects Specialties
Food and feeding
Maori Natural History
Fact Sheets
c u r r i cu lu m l i nk s
Curriculum Links
Learning Activities
Classroom Activity Sheets
Museum Insect Trails Map
Gallery Activity Sheets
The education resources provided by Auckland War Memorial
Museum focus on specific galleries or on specific exhibitions in
those galleries. There are a small number of resources that were
developed for exhibitions that are no longer present but which
have been maintained on the website by popular demand.
All education group visits must be booked.
Email: [email protected]
Service charges apply to education groups depending on the level
of service required.
Numbers and Adult/Child ratios:
1:3 or better
• Gallery Introduction with a Museum Educator or trained
guide (approx 15 minutes), using resource materials. Longer
gallery tours and Highlights Tours are also available.
Y 1–6
Y 7–8
Y 9–13
Sessions will be tailored to suit the level and focus of the visiting
This kit has been designed to meet the needs of a wide range of
educa­tion groups.
The kit is in three separate sections and includes:
Background Notes suitable for all levels
Curriculum Links from Pre-school to Adult
[these are still under development]
Activities Pre-visit, Post-visit and Gallery Activity Sheets
Phone: 306 7040 Fax: 306 7075
• Self-conducted visits based on supporting resource materials.
• Hands-on activity session for school groups with a Museum
Educator (approx 45–50 mins), using resource materials.
Students have the opportunity to handle real or replica items
from museum collections,
act i v i t i e s
Visiting education groups may book to request the following
learning opportunities:
All groups including Adult groups ought to be accompanied by
their teacher or educator.
Adult/child interaction is vital to maximize the value of the
museum experience. Group leaders need to have some background
knowledge of what the students are expected to cover and they do
need to participate in the introduction process on arrival. Knowing
about the expectations of the class teacher and the museum will
make the visit smoother for everyone.
Adult/child interaction is vital to maximize the value of the
museum experience. Group leaders need to have some background
knowledge of what the students are expected to cover and they do
need to participate in the introduction process on arrival. Knowing
about the expectations of the class teacher and the museum will
make the visit smoother for everyone.
Some education services at Auckland Museum are provided under a contract to the Ministry of Education under
the LEOTC programme and Ministry support is gratefully acknowledged.
This resource traces insect history in New Zealand, from its origins as part of Gondwanaland to the present
day nightmare of accidental interlopers. Its content follows the layout of Auckland Museum’s Natural History
galleries: through habitats from the mountains down to the oceans. The gallery displays end with a glimpse
of human impacts on our native flora and fauna.
activities | pre and post-visit | level 1–2
Level 1 & 2
for finds such as caterpillars or a weta or stick
Focus Questions:
Make a mural of a land habitat. Place the animals,
and plants in the habitat. Discuss the adaptations
that these organisms have to help them survive.
Make insect models of beetles, dragonflies or
cockroaches with Plasticine or clay. Press the
models into a container of fine, damp sand to show
one way a fossil can be made. Fill the imprint with
plaster of Paris, turn upside down when set and
carefully brush away the sand.
Collect a variety of animal footprints and other
evidence of their passing, e.g. holes in leaves, leaf
miners, droppings. Display as a mystery game,
“Who Passed Here?” with label matching.
Brainstorm how they know something is living.
Look for words like: moving, growing, eating,
having babies, breathing.
Create insects using natural materials e.g. Ginkgo
leaves make great butterfly wings.
Cut out insect pictures and allow children to
classify these according to their characteristics.
e.g. all those with hopping legs, or those with
knobbly antennae.
Selecting a variety of boldly coloured busy
backgrounds, students design an insect that would
be well camouflaged against this.
Read a legend or story about some insect
characteristics. A legend about ants is included in
this resource.
Learn “I know an old lady . . .” then make up your
own words to illustrate some insect behaviours.
E.g. “I saw a praying mantis sitting ever so still . . .”
or “I saw a mosquito, it was trying to hide . . .”
Make a display of harmful and helpful insects and
an assortment of insect repellents and anti-insect
devices. Try and design traps for specific insects.
Test and evaluate them. Do any specific colours
attract or repel? Design a method of testing your
What is an insect?
What makes a plant different from an insect?
What evidence can we find that insects lived long
What is a fossil?
How do fossils begin?
Possible learning activities
Make a collection of animal bones, leaf skeletons,
insect exo-skeletons and shells.
Play "Animal, Plant (vegetable) and Never Alive
(mineral)" with objects brought by children.
Create your own butterfly garden with help from
the school caretaker or parents. Some useful
plants are verbena, cabbage, phlox, daisies,
marigolds, petunias etc. Predict what will happen
first and then keep regular diaries over a period of
Visit a habitat within walking distance that can
be visited throughout the study. Collect and care
activities | pre and post-visit | level 3–4
Levels 3–4
Focus Questions:
. What are the characteristics of insects?
∙ What things lived in New Zealand a long time
∙ What is a fossil and how are they made?
∙ How do we group living things?
∙ What do insects have to help them survive?
∙ How do species become extinct or endangered?
∙ Where are some of the places that insects are
∙ What are food chains?
expect to find there. Visit the habitat and identify
insects, observe and record natural behaviours
and note environmental impacts of humans.
Clas­sify insects identified, according to easily
ob­servable features and external characteristics.
Discuss how each insect is suited to its habitat.
Compare insects found, to predictions. Learn the
skill of photography (especially good with a digital
camera to download onto computer and create a
Have a bug catcher night-time safari. Create a
light-screen trap. Which coloured light is more
successful? Collate data and compare with another
school’s/classes’ findings.
Design a new insect which is at home on the fridge
or kitchen wallpaper or dining room floor, or even
in a rubbish bin or sink waste master. Consider
external characteristics, catching or gathering
food, predators, environmental conditions and the
effect that human activity has on the insect. Give
it a fun name and present in a poster, model or
perhaps a role-play.
Write a legend about some insects e.g. “How the
grasshopper got its long legs” (read the Chinese
legend about how the ant got its shape on pg 32)
Make a mobile of some of New Zealand’s special
insects and hanging from their bases a short “Did
you know?” type label.
As a class compile a list of insect adaptations and
their functions e.g. weta hind legs, insect antennae,
camouflage colours, sand scarab’s digging legs
etc. Using common astrological star signs and the
related constellation shape as examples, invent
a horoscope and constellation shape based on
an insect. E.g. the sign of the grasshopper which
leaps to conclusions and can be green with envy.
Using accurate pictures of known insects create
card games for class, group or individual sorting,
according to criteria set by students. Add pictures
of other animals and plants native to New Zealand.
Discuss external features and adaptations.
Make a display of harmful and helpful insects.
Design a method to test and evaluate insect
re­pel­lents or insect traps. Select a common
nuisance insect and invent a trap for it aimed
specifically at its behavioural or external features
and adaptations.
Possible learning activities
Discuss the term food chain. Together make up a
food chain based on a common insect. In groups
create another chain based on familiar insects.
Place each link on to a card, so that others can
assemble the chain. Swap these “chain games”
amongst the groups
Construct food chains for specific habitats e.g.
alpine, cave, bush, wetlands, mangroves, rocky
shore, sandy shore, ocean. Start by making up
songs using the tune “I know an old lady who
swallowed . . .” to illustrate food chains.
Following observations, sort pictures of insects
into different groups according to external
characteristics. Groups could include where the
insects are found e.g. air, land and fresh water.
Create your own insect mask, concentrating heavily
on the types of eyes, antennae and mouthparts
found on specific insect heads. Perform a play for
younger children.
Group things by playing Animal, Plant (vegetable),
Never Alive (mineral)? Identify which of these
could become a fossil.
Make several different fossil rocks using plaster
of Paris mixed with a number of items e.g. insect
wings, grasshopper legs, bones, shell, leaves,
twigs. Children break open the fossil rock to
discover the fossils. They can make up their own
stories about how the item became a fossil.
Make individual lists about: New Zealand insects I
know and which of these are endangered.
Use a map of the local area. Identify and label the
different habitats e.g. fresh water, bush, seashore.
After discussion choose suitable habitats for
in­sects and record predictions of what the students
activities | pre and post-visit | level 5–6
Construct a mural of one of the habitats repre­
sented in the Museum’s Natural History galleries
which follow the headings in this resource, except
pasture insects which are not represented in
our Museum display). Include examples of the
animals and plants found there, highlighting their
Level 5–6
students are familiar with). Talk about what it
needs to survive. Review the term “adaptation”
and describe it as being something that a living
thing has or does to help it survive in its habitat
(where it lives). Brainstorm what helps this animal
survive in its particular habitat and how these
adaptations work.
Brainstorm ideas about how pests have changed
life for people in New Zealand taking special note
of habitat changes. Investigate the activities of the
Acclimatization Society (now called the Fish and
Game Council). How did this group contribute to
the introduction of foreign organisms? Students
could write a letter to an imaginary paper about
how humans have changed the New Zealand
Brainstorm intercontinental transport impacts
on the environment. Research the spread of
mosquito borne diseases such as West Nile virus
in America. Discuss a scenario where diseasebearing mosquitoes entered New Zealand, such
as nearly happened with the Australian salt marsh
mosquito. What would need to be done? E.g. what
is being done about the Varroa Bee mite?
Investigate the introduction of the South African
praying mantis and its effect on our native species
of mantis. Do a counting survey in a garden looking
for evidence, such as the distinctive egg cases of
either species, to aid in drawing conclusions.
Design a native insect board game aimed at
primary school level e.g. “Who am I”, matching
adaptations to the animal.
Carry out a fieldtrip around the school grounds
and in a nearby suitable area. Collect and log the
numbers and types of cicada nymph skins found.
This type of data can be built up over several
years. Included in this resource is an excerpt
of an article on cicadas by Dr. John Early, the
Auckland Museum’s entomologist (see page 27).
Use the data to predict past vegetation patterns in
your area.
Divide the class into two groups. Each selects a
different ecosystem. e.g. freshwater swamp or a
sandy beach community. Identify the various living
and nonliving components of it. Compare the
diversity and adaptations displayed by inhabitants
of each community. Decide how to display the
group’s findings
Focus Questions: ∙
How do humans affect the New Zealand
Should the environment be protected?
Living or nonliving?
How can this native animal/plant survive here?
Who eats who?
How have some insects adapted to their biotic
and abiotic environments?
Possible Learning Activities
Brainstorm a list of insects found in New Zealand.
Have the class divide the list into native and
introduced organisms. Each student chooses
an organism to research, and presents this
information in poster form. Posters can be
displayed as a mural
Read a legend or story about how animals got
their special features: included in this resource is
a charming Chinese legend of how the ant got its
waist. Write a myth about a native insect, perhaps
how it got its name e.g. the very unusual Batwinged Cannibal Fly (Exul singularis)
Discuss the concept of food chains and energy
flow within an ecosystem with special regard to
the role of insect life.
Make a food chain mobile based on the dietary
habits of a special native or introduced insect. An
interesting one may be based on the beech scale
insects both before and after the German wasp
invasion (Find out on the Internet).
Collect a range of insect pictures. Review the
term “classification” and ask students to group
the insects in any way they think suitable. They
need to record what information they used to
classify the insects in such a way e.g. size, colour,
locomotion mode etc.
As a class select a native insect (it will need to
be one with easily recognizable adaptations that
activity sheet
cicadas — little summer screamers
(links with learning activities level 5 & 6)
Article for Soil and Health:
Our Insect Allies
Although it marks the beginning of warm weather,
at times the cicada chorus is simply deafening. Many
people soon tire of their ceaseless daytime racket
which usually lasts until mid-late March at least.
The racket they make is all about sex. It’s the males
who make the noise and fuss as they try to attract
a mate, while the females remain silent. The song
is very much a daytime activity and they usually
cease as night draws on, their harsh clamour being
replaced by the more gentle and melodious whistling
of crickets.
There are about 30 species of cicadas in NZ, all
native, but the summer song comes mainly from two
of them which also happen to be our largest cicadas.
Males of the long winged cicada (Amphisalta zealandica) congregate in large numbers and sing in unison
as though they are one gigantic super-male. Males
of the short winged cicada (Amphisalta cingulata) are
solitary, their sound often drowned out by the others.
The sound is produced from a special organ located
in a cavity on each side of the first segment of the
abdomen. In addition to this basic zizzzzzz component of the repertoire, you can hear a series of clicks
as the cicada periodically bashes its wing against the
twig or branch on which it is perched. New Zealand
Amphisalta are the only cicadas in the world known
to do this.
Of course, the other obvious thing about cicadas is
their “shells” left behind on tree trunks. These are
the old shed moult skins from the nymphs which have
just spent 3–6 years underground in the soil, sucking
sap from tree roots. When fully grown they crawl up
out of the ground at night, their skin (exoskeleton)
splits down the back, and the adult cicada emerges.
Under cover of darkness, their wings expand and
their tender skin hardens as dawn approaches.
Amphisalta zealandica has bright brown husks but
those of A. cingulata are pale. The interesting thing
is that these two species have slightly different
habitat requirements, the former being a cicada of
the forest, the latter being more at home in scrub.
But what is more interesting is that the cicadas stay
put even though the forest or scrub may be cleared
through urban sprawl. The exclusive occurrence of
pallid cicada husks in my Onehunga garden indicates
the presence of A. cingulata which tells me that this
area was scrub covered before urbanisation. It is also
fortunate because this species is solitary and doesn’t
form deafening aggregations like A. zealandica whose
bright brown husks festoon the tree trunks of the
Auckland Domain, indicating that this part of the city
was indeed once covered by forest, and whose singing en masse can make a lunchtime stroll almost
John Early, 22 March 2000
classroom activity sheet 1
Use the information in the article about ladybirds
(following pages) to decide which months of the
year would be best to study this insect.
- Survey your own garden counting the number
of lady birds in a small, well vegetated area
(e.g.1x1m, or select a plant type in the school
garden, perhaps rose bushes or any plant heavily
infested with aphids) Record on which plants
the beetles were found. Were they all the same
colours? Search carefully for the larvae (see the
photo included). In class collate, chart, graph
and compare your data with others. Were there
any differences? What was different about the
garden environments? (Make sure you investigate
the presence of ladybirds yourself first to avoid
disappointment). If there are no ladybirds try
aphids and ants where the ants “milk” the aphids
(see following material).
- Roses and many other plants often become food
for aphids. Design an observation sheet to record
the speed at which ladybird larvae can destroy
aphids. Children could think about what factors
may influence this, e.g. how long since the ladybird
had a meal? What effect might the density of
aphids have? (Lure ladybirds with a mixture of
honey, water and brewer’s yeast) Alternatively
do ant/aphids observation. Adapt the behaviour
record sheet (see Classroom activity sheet 2).
What happens if you place an obstacle in the ants’
- Draw your own lifecycle of a ladybird (or aphid
or ant). Make up a play to teach others about the
valuable work ladybirds do. Alternatively the ant
and cicada Maori legend can provide a starting
point for your play.
- Use the Internet to find out more about ladybirds,
ants or aphids. (They are called Ladybugs in USA)
- Make a food chain diagram based on the aphid,
ladybird and/or ant lifestyles.
activity sheet | page one
all about ladybirds
(Condensed from an internet article) www.celticbug.
com/LadybugLore/ LadybugLore.html
the world to help control (and conquer) outbreaks of
crop-destroying pests.
Their scientific names (Coleoptera, meaning “sheathwinged”, and Coccinellidae, meaning “little red
sphere”) can be quite a mouthful, but by whatever
name you call them, Ladybirds are well known and
well loved all over the Earth. There are nearly 5,000
species worldwide!
Female Ladybirds produce clusters of 20–50 yelloworange oval-shaped eggs in the early spring. You can
usually find them stuck to the undersides of leaves.
The average female will lay anywhere from 300 to
1000 eggs during her lifetime! Once they hatch the
Larvae are ravenous and immediately begin gorging
on aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, and other softbodied pests. One larva can consume as many as 350
aphids during the 3-week period before it enters the
Pupa stage and turns into an adult.
They aren’t much larger than a pencil-rubber (some
are even smaller!), and they come in a wide variety
of colours, including red, orange, pink, yellow, black
and even metallic blue. They can have as many as
20 spots or no spots at all. Most species of Ladybird
are voracious aphid-eaters, although some eat only
scale insects and/or mealybugs, others eat mites,
and at least one (Illeis galbula) easts mildew fungus.
One Ladybird can eat about 600 aphids in its lifetime,
and about 3000 Ladybirds can easily protect an entire
acre of plants! They’re also one of the few insects
that hibernate during the winter months, emerging
in the spring to lay their eggs.
Ladybird Larvae are actually larger than their parents, and they look very much like little blue-black
alligators! In fact, some well-meaning gardeners
will actually exterminate them because they don’t
recognize them as Ladybird offspring! However, all
Ladybirds are completely harmless to humans, but
extremely helpful in your garden and yard. Numerous
species of Ladybirds have been “employed” around
Ladybird larva
In New Zealand the best time to look for ladybirds is
when aphids are around in large numbers, in early
spring and again in autumn. Ladybirds are a bit clumsy, though efficient, fliers. Their transparent wings
(hidden from view under the outer wing cases, until
they take to the air) flutter at a rate of 85 beats per
second! Their bright colors serve as a warning sign
to birds and other potential predators that they don’t
taste good! If attacked by a predator, Ladybirds ooze
a yellow, foul-smelling liquid (actually their blood!)
from their leg joints, which is usually all it takes to
convince their attacker not to continue snacking on
them. Finally, after consuming aphids all summerlong, the air starts to turn brisk, and the Ladybirds
begin to seek shelter for the winter.
They cluster together by the hundreds (for warmth, it’s
presumed) under dead leaves or inside hollow logs.
Ladybird eggs
activity sheet | page two
There they will remain — in hibernation — until the
warmer temperatures return, indicating that Spring
has come and the aphid population has replenished.
The Ladybirds will then devote themselves to several days of eating and frenzied mating, the females
sometimes feeding and breeding at the same time!
Our beautiful, bright beetles will die soon thereafter
but before they do, new clusters of yellow-orange
eggs will be laid and the life cycle begins anew.
“Ladybird, Ladybird, fly away home...your house is
on fire, and your children will burn! Except little
Nan, who sits in a pan, weaving gold laces as fast
as she can!” Undoubtedly, you’re familiar with this
well-known children’s rhyme, but do you know how it
originated? In Medieval England, the farmers would
set torches to the old Hop vines after the harvest, to
clear the fields for the next planting. The poem was
a warning to the aphid-eating Ladybirds, still crawling on the vines in search of aphids. The Ladybirds’
children (larvae) could get away from the flames, but
the immobile pupae (Nan) remained fastened to the
plants and couldn’t escape!
called these beautiful insects “The Beetles of Our
Lady”, and they eventually became popularly known
as “Lady Beetles”! The red wings were said to represent the Virgin’s cloak and the black spots were
symbolic of both her joys and her sorrows.
Nearly all cultures believe that a Ladybird is lucky!
Killing one is said to bring sadness and misfortune.
In the 1800s, some doctors used Ladybirds to treat
measles! They also believed that if you mashed
Ladybirds (ewww!) and put them into a cavity, the
insects would stop a toothache. Folklore suggests if
you catch a Ladybird in your home, count the number
of spots and that’s how many dollars you’ll soon
By whatever name you know them as, Ladybirds are
certainly well-known and well-loved, all around the
There are varying legends about how the Ladybird
came to be named, but the most common (and
enduring) is this: in Europe, during the Middle Ages,
swarms of insects were destroying the crops. The
farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary for help. Soon
thereafter the Ladybirds came, devouring the plantdestroying pests and saving the crops. The farmers
Hibernating Ladybirds
activity sheet | page three
An excerpt from an article for Soil and Health (2002), by
John Early, Auckland Museum’s entomologist: “The 25 or so dull brown or blackish native NZ species
live incognito and usually don’t venture into our gardens, but not so the introduced species, often brightly
coloured with contrasting patterns of black on red,
yellow or orange, or the inverse of orange on black.
On the face of it, they seem unlikely predators and
show none of the usual features associated with predation. Their squat and dumpy bodies with short legs
are hardly designed for speed, there are no prominent
jaws held forwards for seizing prey, and their bright
colours seem aimed to advertise their presence rather
than provide camouflage for stealthily creeping up on
their victims. But then again, the things that ladybirds
eat aren’t very mobile themselves and are unlikely to
get up and run away from an approaching predator
decked out in hazard warning colours.
Two common reddish orange species are the elevenspotted and two-spotted ladybirds. The first of these
was deliberately introduced from Europe in 1874 as
one of the first attempts at aphid control in NZ. It is also
the first documented case in the world of the transfer
of a predatory insect for biocontrol. The larvae are just
as voracious as the adults, and feed on several aphid
species on a wide variety of plants from grasses to
herbs to trees. They’ll also attack small caterpillars.
Two spotted ladybird (Adalia bipunctata) prefer to live it
up in the branches — look for it on aphid-infested fruit
trees. Both of these ladybirds can be found throughout
NZ, but they seem more abundant in the south, especially drier areas like Hawkes Bay and Canterbury.
A third orange-red species with black markings can
become abundant in the top half of the North Island.
This is the double-cross ladybird (Coelophora inaequalis), whose markings produce a roughly delineated
cross on each wing cover. It’s a generalist feeder on
a number of different aphid species. It can become
rather numerous on my swan plants late in the season
where it tucks in to the oleander aphid, that charming
yellow and black aphid which can cover the stems in
its sheer abundance, and whose colonies perform a
synchronized dance when disturbed. This ladybird is a
native of Australia and the Pacific, and appeared here
in the 1960s.
Metallic blue
One of the most familiar ladybirds in the North Island
is the steelblue ladybird Halmus chalybeus. It’s an
Australian species, brought here in 1899 to control
black scale, but it will attack a range of other scale
insects as well as aphids on a variety of plants. This
species doesn’t seem to be much affected by the
seasons, and you can find it year round, particularly
on citrus.
Yellow and black
Harmonia conformis, at 6mm long and yellow with
18 black spots, is one of the largest ladybirds. It was
brought in from Australia and seems relatively common around the Auckland area. It attacks mealybugs
and psyllids, (small, scale-like nymphs living in dimples on leaf undersides) as well as aphids. But it’s a
smaller yellow and black species that is more commonly encountered in northern gardens. The mildew
ladybird (Illeis galbula), of normal ladybird proportions,
is an unusual member of its family because it has
forsworn carnivory for a fungal diet. In autumn you
can often find huge numbers of them and their larvae
on the underside of mildewed leaves, particularly of
cucurbits (pumpkin type family) and dahlias. This species mysteriously appeared in the mid 1980s.”
activity sheet
Scientist estimate that approximately 10% of the world’s biomass is made up of ants.
Another 10% are termites. Today there are about 1 million ants for every person on earth.
New Zealand has only 10 native ant species, compared with Australia’s 5000. The native
ants occur mainly in the soil and are rarely encountered inside houses. Unfortunately
the number of introduced species is increasing each decade (28 kinds by 1991). The
most common interloper into our kitchens is the introduced Asian White-footed House
Ant (Technomyrmex albipes). The most worrying discovery lately has been a nest of
Red Fire Ants close to Auckland airport. The M.A.F. response was quick and follow-up
bait stations indicate it’s unlikely that the Red Fire Ant became firmly established on this
The following legend suggests the origins of the body shape of the ant: An Ant Legend from China
Why the Ant has a Waist
Chaozheng Lien, the founder of the NaXi nation,
fell in love with Chenhong Baobai, the daughter
of a god. Lien asked this god for her hand in marriage. Unfortunately Chenhong Baobai’s father didn’t
like the idea at all. Hoping to discourage the eager
suitor he asked Chaozheng Lien to solve numerous
extremely difficult problems. The god thought
that by creating problems of such difficulty
Lien would be forced to
give up, proving he was
unworthy of marrying
the princess. But, with
her help, Lien managed
to complete all his tasks
and married Baobai.
One of the challenges
had been to harvest and
then to sort out and separate nine types of cereal
seed. With the help of
a white butterfly and a
black ant, Lien managed
to gather the seeds into a
pile. When he separated
them and counted them
he found that three and a half of the seeds were
missing. It turned out that a turtledove had eaten
three and the ant had taken the other half seed. Lien
shot down the turtledove to retrieve the three seeds.
He then found the ant under a stone and tied a horsehair around it so he could follow the ant to where it
had hidden the half seed. Lien did not remove the hair
and to this day, ants can been seen with a tight knot
around their waist.
Chinese pictograph depicting the legend
activity sheet
ants & aphids
Taken from the website:
Rearing insects to obtain honey
Ants sometimes take care of the larvae of aphids or
scale insects. This seems strange, but the reason is
that since these insects release a sweet sap, the ant
raises them to obtain a supply of the sap rather than
eating them. As long as these insects are being cared
for by ants, they are protected from other enemies.
Keeping aphids
Some people call the aphid “the ant’s cow”. In order
to obtain sweet sap from the aphids, ants carry them
to the buds of plants that produce a large amount of
sweet sap, especially rose buds.
Native Ant (Monomorium antarcticum): Length 1cm, Golden brown
with 3 black bands over the abdomen.
The ant also raises scale insects. Instead of taking
the sweet sap away, the ants defend the scale insects
from parasitic flies or carry them to a place where a
large amount of the sweet sap can be obtained.
Paratrechina flavipes sucking sweet sap from scale insects
Lasius japonicus obtaining honey from
aphids on a rose
Paratrechina flavipes helping aphids to move
classroom activity sheet
Ants: Foraging experiments
Aim: To design a controlled
behavioural experiment with
wild ants
Survey experiences with ants among the
students. Make a chart of known lifestyle facts
to date. Students draw what they think happens
As a class discuss the type of food ants are
commonly attracted to (cat food, picnic sand­
wiches). What might be important to an ant when
looking for food (Perhaps distance from nest,
position of food, sun or shade, odour of food, salty
or sweet, etc.)? List ideas and suggest how each
idea could be tested. Select one idea out of all and
predict what will happen. Your whole class will
be asking the same experimental question but
approaching it with their own group food choices.
Search for ants’ nests outside and select as many
as possible which are at least 20cm apart.
Working in groups collect some test foods, each
group’s foods according to their own experimental
design. You’ll need magnifiers, food containers,
data sheets and observation recording sheet.
Data sheet: The nest is shown in the centre of
the sheet. Each group draws and labels the
positions of their food lures and any other relevant
information, depending on the design parameters.
Beside foods record the order and speed they
were discovered, 1st, 2nd etc. Also do an ant count
at set times to discover which was the most and
least popular food.
Observation sheet: The purpose is to observe and
record the behaviour of a number of individual
ants. Each group member fills in the following
details about several ants observed going to
different lures. *Did the ant follow a trail to the
food? * What happened if it met another? * Which
body part touched the food first? *Did it follow a
trail back to the nest?
Compare, collate and analyse data as a class.
Display in any form suitable for your level. Collect
and look at various ants under a microscope. Are
they all the same species?
For able students place a paper strip close to
one of the food lures. This will later be able to be
rotated to observe whether ants lay a scent trail
(the turning of the strip by 180° will confuse the
ants if they have laid a trail).
Older students may do further research about
introduced ants and other pest dangers by
accessing the Landcare Research web site.
Others might be interested to investigate insect
classroom activity sheet
Insect Mouth parts experiments
Aim: To identify different insect mouthpart adaptations and investigate how
these function
1 Brainstorm ideas for different insect foods (include
our blood as a food). Chart the foods and list
beside each type of food the method with which
it could be eaten. If you had to eat this using only
your mouth what tools in your mouth would help?
E.g. nectar (liquid in a small cuplike area), will
need to be sucked up with a tube, like drinking a
milkshake. Humans can shape our lips like a tube,
but can insects do this?
2 Give each child an iceblock stick and a container
half filled with cornflakes. The object is to eat the
contents, but you can only use hands to steady the
cup. Discuss how this task could be made easier.
3 Hand each child a picture of one insect out of the
5 following types: fly, mosquito, praying mantis,
grasshopper, butterfly. Ask them to make a 5person group in which all insects are different.
Each group goes to a workstation which displays various insect “mouthpart” tools.
• scissors
• plastic drinking straw
• straw with sharply pointed end
• straw with a piece of flat sponge attached to
one end
At each station is also one of the following “foods”:
saucer with water (represents any free liquid
source such as nectar)
cup with water but covered in Glad Wrap (vein
covered by tough skin or liquid inside plant stem)
bowl of marbles (insect prey with hard carapaces
such as beetles)
bowl of raisins (softer insects and solid bits of
food); sheet of paper (plant leaves).
Each child selects a feeding tool which would be most
appropriate for the insect they represent. They then
discuss and try collecting the foods with only the
tools they have. *Note: Straws should not be sucked
with the mouth (meningitis). Water can be collected
by dipping the straw in then holding a finger over the
end. Each child collects foods in a separate container.
Groups move around each station to experiment with all
the foods available. Food supplies will need replenishing periodically.
Discuss which insect’s mouthparts had the easiest
task to collect foods. Which could collect a variety of
food? Chart results and add to the chart as the study
progresses any other insect with the same mouthparts as the experimental five.
• clothes peg
classroom activity sheet
Insect game
The size of an insect population can change quite
dramatically. Usually environmental factors are at
work. This game gives you a chance to be a conservation scientist involved in studying a population of
Most of us will have seen beautiful, acrobatic dragonflies near ponds and swamps. Few though will have
seen the ugly, dull coloured young. This is because
dragonfly nymphs (babies) hatch out from eggs which
the mother lays in or near the water. They spend several years lurking near the muddy lake bottom hunting worms, tadpoles and insects. When they have
grown enough they emerge from the water, crawl out
of their old skins and fly away to become fearsome
hunters in the air. Dragonflies represent the most
ancient flying insects. Their ancestors first appeared
about 350 MYA during the Carboniferous period.
The habitat in this game is a small lake. You will need
a generous supply of counters for this game. In the
START square each player begins with a small population of 10 dragonfly nymphs. You could place nine
coloured counters in your matchbox for this, and use
only one to move on the game board. Throw a dice
and move around the board. Follow the instructions
and add (or remove) counters in your box. At the end
of the game count who has the most nymphs left in
their population.
museum insect trail map
16 15
This Gallery Map is for use with all MUSEUM NATURAL HISTORY TRAILS
museum insect trail | years 1–3
New Zealand’s original inhabitants
This is a female
Giant Weta
What is missing from the weta’s
head? Draw them.
I can jump but I have
no __________
Something is missing from the
end of her body. She lays eggs
with this. Draw it in.
Her body has patterns on the
back. Draw them in the right
4Migrants continue to arrive
Which number insect do you like? How is it different from the weta? Can you guess who I am?
I am named after a dangerous beast which breathes fire.
I hunt near water.
I have 4 see-through wings.
I am a ____________________
Draw me here
11Limestone Cave
Look up at the roof. The little stars are Glowworms. They use light to catch their __________.
Find the Cave Weta. Compare these Weta with the Giant Weta.
How are they different? ____________________________
How are they the same? ____________________________
museum insect trail | years 1–3
10 Forest Birds [computer touch screen]
Touch the:
Its beaks holds a __________________
Its beak is full of __________________
It is hunting under the _____________with its beak.
What do you think it will find to eat?
9A fallen tree
Fill in the gaps in the flow chart about the Huhu beetle
Grub eats beetle
grub becomes which is eaten by
Find the adult Huhu beetle on the log.
Some insects live in water.
Can you find an insect that looks like this
What does it use to move around? _______________
Why do you think it keeps swimming to the top?_____________________
5Small animals on a sandy beach
Find this insect baby (a larva)
It changes into the black beetle when it grows up. (Look just above the larva)
Finish the scarab beetle
weird & wonderful activity sheet
Bug Bits
Look in the Live Insects case:
Clue 1
How many body parts does an
insect have? one
Be an insect
Answer the clues to
draw the insect under
the magnifying glass!
Open at least 4 red drawers to
Clue 2
How many legs does an insect
have? two
Draw the correct
number of legs
onto the body you
have just drawn.
Copy the correct
body under the
magnifying glass
Look in the red drawers
near the stick insects:
Clue 4
Clue 3
Which of these is an
insect’s eye?
How many wings do most
insects have? What is the name
of the insect you’ve drawn?
Find the live ones in the glass
Draw the correct eyes onto
the insect’s head
museum insect trail | years 4–6
1Insect Curiosities
Choose two different insects. Write down their names
Which insect group do you think each belongs to (or does it need a new group)? (ant, fly, bee, grasshopper,
butterfly, beetle) Why?
Natural History Information Centre
Find one fact about insects from the information centre. [ Information can be gathered from computers,
newspaper articles and books]
4Migrants continue to arrive
Read the names of the insects numbers 8 to 16
Which name do you like best?
Explain why the name does or doesn’t match the insect.
12 Life on a Mountain Top
See if you can find the insects on the rocks. All the insects are a dark colour. This helps them absorb
warmth from the sun.
Why would this be useful in the mountains?
11Limestone Cave
Find insects which are specially adapted to cave life (don’t forget to look up).
What are the glowworms attracting with their light?
Why do cave weta have such very long feelers? (hint: they live in darkness)
10 Forest Birds [computer touch screen]
Touch the screen to find birds eating or collecting insects.
Find the kaka. It collects insects from under the bark.
How is it suited for this job?
museum insect trail | years 4–6
9A fallen tree
Find the window in the fallen tree. Fill in the gaps in the flow chart about the Huhu beetle
Grub eats grub becomes is eaten by
The adult Huhu beetle (on the log) has long feelers.
Why doesn’t the grub have feelers?
8 Wetlands
Find the backswimmers and watch them carefully for a while.
How are these insects adapted to living in water?
Why might they go to the top?
5Small animals on the sandy beach
Read about the Native Bee (10) and the Black Spider-hunter Wasp (8)
Why do they nest under the sand ?
The Beetle (4) uses seaweed to
and to
Find the Tiger Beetles (1, A B C D)
How are those beetles different from each other to look at?
Why do they need to be different?
Sketch your choice in this space
weird & wonderful activity sheet
Weird & Wonderful Insect information gathering
Eye spy
Open some of the red
insect drawers With the
yellow labels.
Find one insect that could hide
on a leaf.
Find one that has good legs for
Find a plant that traps insects.
It is called
Choose one of the live insect displays.
Draw the insect catcher
of one plant.
Have they been provided with food?
Can the insects hide anywhere?
Are all the insects the same size and shape and colour? (If
some are much smaller they are probably nymphs or babies.)
What other reasons can you think of that they might be different?
How does the plant
attract insects? Draw one here
Ask the facilitator for help
gallery insect trail | years 7–8
1Insect Curiosities
Choose two different insects. Write down their names
Which insect group do you think each belongs to (or does it need a new group — ant, fly, bee, grasshopper,
butterfly, beetle)? Why?
Do NZ weta, stick insects and earwigs have wings?
Many insects in New Zealand are wingless. Winglessness often happens in windy countries.
natural History Information Centre
find one fact about one of the insects you choose in the question above. [You may use the computers, books,
newspaper articles or posters]
4Migrants Continue to Arrive
Read: Insects & spiders.
allows new species to arrive mostly from
Look at 4, 5 6 and 7.
Usually these insects have their wings tucked away under two hard
How does this help the insect?
Beetles also hide their wings the same way. Most migrants have wings.
How could the spiders have got here?
5Life on a Mountain Top
What two advantages do insects in the mountains get from their dark colours?
Find some dark coloured insects on the rocks and in the drawer below.
6Limestone Cave
There are five easy-to-find creatures in this cave display.
Use the chart below to classify the five creatures. Write their names by the correct insect.
Does the creature have:
No Legs
6 Legs
8 Legs or more
2 hard covers hide
wings, can’t see
the segments of
4 wings
Just 2 wings
Scaly and
Butterfly or
2 wings
8 Legs
No wings
bee, wasp,
or cicada
Body long
and thin
well developed
legs and long
Pincers at All legs the
one end same length
Centipede or
Slug or
gallery insect trail | years 7–8
10 Find the Forest Birds (a big glass display case) with the computer touch-screen nearby
Look at the Kaka (4) and touch the screen to see it hunting for food.
Choose one of the following habitats. Fill in the parts of the food-chains that are missing.
(plant uses sun to make own food)
(is eaten by)
(is eaten by)
Fallen log forest area
_____________ Huhu grub
Swamp area
_____________ Cabbage
tree moth
Sandy beach area
_____________ Beetle (4)
5Small animals on a sandy beach
Find the Tiger Beetles (1, A B C D)
How are those beetles different from each other to look at?
Why do they need to be different?
gallery insect trail | year 9
Begin this trail in the Origins Gallery.
Insect Curiosities
Although in overseas countries many of these insects have wings, here in New Zealand they have lost the
power of flight. Give two reasons why. [Note: New Zealand is very windy]
Find two other ways in which these insects are vulnerable (apart from being unable to fly)
Begin at New Zealand’s Original Inhabitants
Use the classification key to find the name of the order which each of the following animals belong to.
belongs to
found in
Gallery area
Cave Weta (7) 2 Origins, New Zealand’s Original Inhabitants
Giant Bush Dragonfly (14) 2 Origins, New Zealand’s Original Inhabitants
Black Tunnelweb Spider (15) 2 Origins, New Zealand’s Original Inhabitants
Black Mountain Ringlet Butterfly (10) 5 Land , Life on a Mountain Top
Tachinid Fly (35) 5 Insect drawer below Mountain display
Giant Paua Slug (2) 6 Land, Limestone cave
Does the creature have:
No Legs
6 Legs
8 Legs or more
2 hard covers hide
wings, can’t see
the segments of
Just 2 wings
4 wings
Scaly and
2 wings
8 Legs +
2 palps
No wings
Body long
and thin
well developed
legs and feelers
Pincers at All legs the
one end same length
Dermaptera Phasmatodea
gallery insect trail | year 9
Natural History Information Centre
Choose one insect you have seen in the gallery and find out more about it from the Information Centre. [There
are newspaper articles, books, posters and computers]
10Small animals on a sandy beach
Choose two insects: a herbivore and a carnivore.
What did they consume, and did they use any special method to organize an abundant food supply?
Recorded information: (09) 306 7067
Administration: (09) 309 0443 Fax (09) 379 9956
School Bookings: (09) 306 7040 Fax (09) 306 7075
Email: [email protected]
Auckland Museum
The Domain Auckland
Private Bag 92018 Auckland New Zealand