STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

Be an Insect Detective


Be an Insect Detective
by Sue Heavenrich

Insect Detective

By Steve Voake; illustrated by Charlotte Voake

Candlewick Press 2010, ages 5 – 8

“Right now, all around you, thousands of insects are doing strange and wonderful things,” writes Steve Voake. The problem is, you have to know where to look. Fortunately, this book guides young nature detectives to the best places to find bugs. Hear that scratching sound by the fence? Sneak up and take a peek – it might be a paper wasp scraping at the wood with her jaws. Want to find an ant nest? Follow that ant! Can’t see any insects? It could be they’re hiding in plain sight, camouflaged to blend in with their surroundings. So look closer.

The illustrations provide enough detail to engage readers, yet simple enough to encourage curious naturalists to grab a pencil and sketch the insects they see. Something we should all do: grab a pencil and sketch. Not only is it a great way to document what you see, but drawing something makes you look closer – see more details.

The underlying message in this book is that all kids have to is “…open the door and step outside.” You don’t even need a back yard, either. There’s a lot to discover in sidewalk cracks, roadside edges and vacant lots. Voake adds some practical advice for insect detectives in the last couple pages: directions for making pitfall traps, how to construct a bee condo, and tell-tale signs that wasps have been gnawing on your picnic table.

If you’re looking for some hands-on ideas for your insect detectives, check out Archimedes Notebook.

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Author: Sue Heavenrich

I write about science and environmental issues for children and their families.

7 thoughts on “Be an Insect Detective

  1. Helping children to learn how to stop and observe in our tech heavy world is quite a challenge. It’s much easier with younger students. Thank you for sharing Insect Detectives with us. At NC Teacher Stuff, I have posted a review of a fiction board book that can be used for discussions and activities about animals:

    • thanks for dropping by, Jeff. I agree; in this age of tech it is really hard to get the kids to leave the screen for the outdoors. Things in nature don’t move as fast, aren’t as glitzy (unless you’re watching those green metallic beetles), and don’t make funny beeps. Though they do buzz, hum and chirp.

  2. At Booktalking I’m reading Endangered Animals: Invertebrates (Facts at Your Fingertips) by Tim Harris (Editor)

  3. Sue, Insect Detective is one of my all-time favorite books. Great selection with fun things to do! At SimplyScience, I have Rain Forest Life by Janine Scott. Its an early introduction to the rainforest and its animal life.

    • A rain forest would be an awesome place to be an insect detective… bird detective too. thanks for dropping by – The Rain Forest book looks really interesting, and the cover photo is awesome.

  4. Sue,

    I am really fond of Insect Detective, too. I love the part about the paper wasp collecting wood, because it is an amazing thing to watch (and listen to).

    I have Destined For Space to tie in with the recent annular solar eclipse and the upcoming transit of Venus at

    • We have a picnic table that you can see the wasp-bites! I can go down any day and listen. When they begin to construct nests in bad places (like right above the door) I almost hate to knock the nests down because I know I’ll lose more of the table when they find a place to build a new paper nest. Oh well… it’ll take years for them to munch the entire table down to the bolts.