A Natural History Moment

by Carl Strang

Monday was the first day of the Roger Raccoon Club camp. One popular activity among these 9-to-12-year-olds is trying to catch pond animals with nets.

 

Various netting methods are attempted.

 

The collective catch was placed in a bucket.

Most collected animals were small minnows, plus a few insects.

Confining the minnows with predatory insects provided for predation events one hears about, but seldom gets to see. First, a dragonfly nymph approached a minnow of greater length than its own, and stretched out its hinged jaw to catch it.

The shape of the nymph places it in the skimmer family. I don’t know the minnow species.

Then an even smaller insect, a backswimmer, grabbed another minnow.

A true bug, the backswimmer feeds through a beak rather than by chewing.

Though the emphasis in this 4-day camp is on learning how to play and explore safely in the out-of-doors, inevitably there were lessons in natural history like this one.

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