Creepy Crawlies

The school year has finally begun! For the first few weeks we only have a couple students with us in the garden, harvesting and selling produce. While it would be nice to have more, this is makes for a great opportunity to get up close with some of the smaller members of our community; namely, these little fellers:

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Called ground beetles, these black, dirt covered buggos are an important member of any garden or farm – and something that many “tidier” ones are missing. Hiding beneath low-growing grass, rocks, or logs during the day, they come out at night to sneak up on and gobble up their prey – including pests such as cucumber beetles and potato bugs.

You normally never see them during the day, so we had to set up a trap to find them. This was done by digging a hole, placing a plastic cup in it, and shading it with a board. Come morning, the students and I stumbled upon this one first – what a surprise! I did not know what to expect when we uncovered the trap, but it certainly wasn’t a dozen black beetles scrabbling at the sides of the cup.

If anyone tries this at home, I have one suggestion: don’t hold them in your hand like I did in the photo! These beetles aren’t really dangerous to us, but they can (and do) bite; which was what one did right after this was taken. It doesn’t really hurt, but still. Also, make sure to check the trap every day you have it up, as bugs will get stuck and need help getting out. Try placing traps next to different shrub growth to see what things live where!

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