Experimentation with living things demands your
attention to attitudes toward life, science and the scientific
method. To contribute to an understanding of animal
behavior, the leader and 4-H members must tamper with,
harm and, in some cases, kill test animals. Few people
object to killing insects because they are a low order of life
and the well-being of humans makes it necessary to control
pest insects. One should not convey an attitude of pleasure
or, conversely, an attitude of disgust if the insect is harmed
by the experiment. The experiment is a logical means to an
end and should have moral purpose. It should be both
humbling and exhilarating to unfold and understand some
of the mysteries of life.
The following experiments or observations may be
performed by members or conducted as demonstrations by
leaders or junior leaders. Results of some experiments will
depend on what kind of insect is used. Therefore, the observer
must be alert for detecting and interpreting results. Remem-
ber, every experiment should have a control, or unrelated units
of the experiment as a reference point.
- Collect a large fly and remove one of its halteres. Release
the fly in a closed room and observe the fly's flight control.
Recapture the fly and remove the other haltere. How was the
fly's flight affected each time? Are halteres important to
flight? Is a fly's flight affected if its legs are removed but its
halteres left on?
- Catch a butterfly and clip the wings together with a
paper clip. Suspend the butterfly on a string attached to the
paper clip and let the butterfly quiet down. Now touch the
tongue of the butterfly with a small watercolor brush that
has been dipped in sugar water. What happens? Next touch
the front tarsus with the brush. What happens to the tongue
this time? Touch the antennae and other parts of the
butterfly with the brush and notice what happens to the
tongue each time. How does the butterfly respond to taste?
(by uncoiling its tongue)
- Catch several large insects of the same kind and notice how
they move and the position they take when resting. With a
dark colored paint or dark fingernail polish, cover one eye of one
of the insects. Does this change the insect's behavior in any way?
Cover the top part of each eye of another insect and notice its
behavior. Try covering the bottom of each eye of another insect,
and all of both eyes of another insect to see the effects.
- Cut the front wings from a grasshopper, June beetle or any
other beetle that is a good flier. Does the absence of these
parts affect the flight of these insects? If so, how?
- Place several crawling insects of any kind at the center
of a l0-inch circle, and determine the average length of
time it takes them to crawl out of the circle. Place the same
insects in a jar, refrigerate them for 15 minutes, and time
them again in the circle. After 15 minutes, time them again.
Next warm them gently with an electric light, and time
them again. What effect does temperature have on the
activity of these insects?
- Catch a cricket of the chirping variety and keep it in a cage
you can move around. Place the cage in different areas with
different temperatures, and record how many chirps it makes
per minute at different temperatures. Use a thermometer to
determine the temperature. Make a graph of your data. Put
degrees on one scale and number of chirps per minute on the
other scale. At some later time when the cricket is chirping,
count the number of chirps per minute and see if you can
predict what the temperature is.