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Horrible Housemates

Introduction
Public summary: 

Jars of all sorts of horrible house pests; bugs, flies, worms and more!

Jars of all sorts of horrible house pests; bugs, flies, worms and more!
Useful information
Kit List: 

Jars of preserved pests
Key with descriptions of each insect (below)

Frequency of use: 
5
Explanation
Explanation: 

*** OVERVIEW ***

Children will look at lots of jars of pests that we share our houses with, try to identify them, and learn a few things are each pest.

Other things to talk about:
1) What makes the animal a pest?
2) Where does the pest live in a house? How is the pest adapted to the environment in the house?
3) What is the life cycle of the pest?
4) What is the actual problem with having this pest in the house (perceived vs. actual)?
5) Taxonomy

Tips for demonstrating:
1) Always count the total number of insects you have on display before you start demonstrating…make sure that none of these disappear during the day!
2) Ask them to look at their fingernail or a hair under the microscope – this will give them a better concept of scale and show them how much more detail you can see under a scope!

*** BASIC PROCEDURE AND EXPLANATION ***

1) Ask the child to choose an insect on display that looks interesting to them. Then go through the following questions with them:
2) What do you think this is?
3) Where do you think it might live in your house? Why would it like to live there?
4) Do you want this living in your house? Why (not)?
5) Allow them to look at the insect under the microscope.

6) Also allow kids to look at the BioViewer. Ask them to look at the different specimens and describe what they see. With these specimens you can discuss taxonomy, life cycles, etc…

See explanations for each insect/pest below

*** OTHER THINGS TO TALK ABOUT ***

Discuss the life cycle of each pest
o Egg
o Larvae (goal = eat and grow!)
o Pupae (undergoes metamorphosis)
o Adult
Discuss Taxonomy

*** SCIENCE BACKGROUND FOR DEMONSTRATORS ***

Good website discussing taxonomy: http://www.earthlife.net/insects/classtax.html

Key with descriptions for each insect

1) Grain Weevil:
Location = packet of cereal/bird seed/pasta in your food cupboard
Why does it live there? (Source of food)
Lays eggs inside the grain
Do you want these living in you house? Why not? (They eat your food!)
Interesting facts:
o Grain weevils can’t fly…but are tireless walkers
o Live 7-8 months
o You can recognize them by their elongates snout
o When disturbed, they fake death by drawing up their legs close to their body, falling, and remaining silent
o About 4mm long

2) Seed Beetle:
Location = in garden
Why does it live there? (Source of food – lays eggs in certain types of seeds)
Do you want these living in your house? Why? (It depends on what kind of seeds the specific species of seed beetle destroys (i.e. can be used to control weeds by eating their seeds))
Interesting facts:
o More than 900 species
o Size <5mm long

3) Larder Beetle:
Location = cured meats in the kitchen
Why does it live there? (They eat meat and plant material)
Do you want these living in your house? Why not?
o No – they eat your food
o Larvae will bore into wood, cork, or insulation to find a place to pupate
Interesting Facts:
o Length is up to 13mm
o Larvae like the dark
o A female lays 200 eggs in a lifetime
o They spend winter outdoors and come inside in spring to lay eggs
o They are attracted to light and often are found near windows

4) Flour Beetle:
Location = bag of flour in your kitchen
Why does it live there?
o It eats the flour
Do you want these living in your house? Why not?
o No – it eats your food!
o Badly infested flour is characterized by a sharp odor and moldy flavor
Interesting Facts:
o Also known as a bran bug

5) Blowfly
Location = uncovered food in the kitchen
Why does it live there?
o It lays its eggs on uncovered meat and fish (i.e. decaying food in your garbage can)
Do you want these living in your house? Why not?
o Flies can transmit diseases (such as dysentery)
o Can destroy your food if they lay eggs on meat you are planning to eat
Interesting facts:
o Also known as blue bottles
o Were once used to eat dead tissue and promote healing

6) Aphid:
Location = pot plant
Why does it live there?
o Aphids feed on the plants
Do you want these living in your house? Why not?
o No – they eat/destroy your plants!
Interesting Facts:
o Over 4,000 species of aphid in the world
o The females of many aphid species do not have to mate in order to reproduce and they typically produce live young, rather than eggs
o Ladybugs eat aphids, and therefore are often used to protect your houseplants or garden!
o Signs of an aphid infestation include honeydew or sooty mould on leaves, yellow spots on upper leaf surface, cast skins on leaves, curling of leaves, and distortion of new growth

7) Fruit fly:
Location = around your fruit bowl
o Fruit flies feed on fruit
Do you want these living in your house? Why not?
o No – they eat fruit!
Interesting Facts:
o Over 1,500 species of Drosophila in the world
o Useful to biologists (a model species) because they are small and thus take up little lab space, they are easily cultured, they have a short generation time, they are extremely fertile and they have easily observable phenotypes.
o Life cycle of Drosophila is made up of four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult
o Eggs are laid in a food source such as a rotting fruit and develop into larvae after about a day.

8) Locust:
Location = your garden
Why does it live there?
o It eats your plants
Do you want these living in your house? Why not?
o No – they eat your plants!
Interesting Facts:
o Locusts outbreaks can destroy entire crops of food, which historically has led to famine
o There was a recent plague in West Africa, which led to food shortages because crops were destroyed

9) Wasp:
Location = Garden
o Nest is made up of chewed wood fibres mixed with saliva
o Wasps secrete a chemical to repel ants from the nest
o Adult wasps feed on nectar and sweet fruit, but bring insects and caterpillars to feed the larvae
(Really nice simple diagram showing life cycle of the wasp colony can be found at
http://www.waspcontrol.co.uk/wasp-lifecycle.php)

10) Caterpillar:
Location = garden
Why does it live there?
o It feeds on the plants
Do you want these living in your garden? Why not?
o No – it destroys plants

11) Mealworm:
Location = kitchen
Why does it live there?
o Source of food – eats grain
Do you want these living in your house? Why not?
o No! It eats your food.
Interesting facts:
o Not really worms, but larvae of the Darkling Beetle

12) Tick:
Location = on pet
Why does it live on pets?
o Pets provide a source of food (blood meals)
Do you want ticks living in you house? Why not?
o Transmit disease such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, rocky mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and tick-borne relapsing fever
Interesting facts:
o 850 species of ticks worldwide

13) Flea
Location = on your pet or a rat
Why does it live there?
o Source of food! (blood meal)
Do you want these living in your house? Why not?
o Fleas can carry diseases
o Fleas are uncomfortable for your pet (very itchy!)
Interesting Facts:
o The Oriental Rat Flea is believed to have caused the black death
o Have two eyes, yet can only see in very bright light
o Mouth has two parts, one for squirting saliva into the bite and one for sucking up the blood
o Can jump long distances (i.e. from one pet to another)
o Live up to a year

14) Louse:
Location = your head/hair
Why does it live there?
o Your head provides a source of food (blood)
Do you want these living in your house? Why not?
o They itch!
Interesting Facts:
o Wingless biting or sucking insects
o Eggs are called nits
o Head lice have been recovered from prehistoric mummies!

15) Bed Bug:
Location = bedroom
Why does it live there?
o Feeds solely on the blood of animals (i.e. you!)
Do you want these living in your house? Why not?
o Although they don’t usually cause disease, they can cause skin irritation
Interesting Facts:
o Can’t fly – but can move very quickly
o Adults can survive for more than a year without feeding
o They are active mainly at night and don't come out if there isn't a potential meal

16) Cockroach:
Location = your bathroom (near a pipe)
Why does it live there?
o Cockroaches like dark, damp, warm places
Do you want these living in your house? Why not?
o Cockroaches can contaminate food with certain bacterial diseases that result in food poisoning, dysentery, and diarrhea
o Cockroaches can cause childhood asthma
Interesting Facts:
o Cockroaches don’t like lights – they will run away from sources of light
o Cockroaches are nocturnal

17, 18, 19) See below

20) Slug
Location = Garden
Why does it live there?
o Some feed on the leaves of plants. Others feed on earthworms or other slugs
Do you want these living in your house? Why not?
o No - the eat your plants and leave slime trails everywhere
Interesting Facts:
o Slime is secreted to stop slugs from drying out (desiccating) and attracts water (hygroscopic)
o Slime trails can be used for slugs to find each other (e.g. for mating) or for carnivorous slugs to find slugs to eat
o Slime trails make it difficult and repulsive for predators to eat them
(o Humans control slugs by spraying nematodes (round worms) into the water, which then infect and kill the slugs)

Parasites
The kids will look at different parasites and learn how they cause disease in human/animal hosts.

Other things to talk about:
1) How are these parasites transmitted?
2) Where in the world are these diseases prevalent? Why?

Tips for demonstrating: Great for the "we've seen it all before" older kids.

17. ROUNDWORM:

R1) You can talk about how they live inside animals and sometimes humans - in their intestines.

R2) Ask the children if they know where their intestine is. If not, point to it on your body, and briefly explain what it is (food in through mouth, down into stomach, then into intestines, and out as poop).

R3) Then you could say that the life cycle for some human roundworms involves ingestion of eggs, hatching of eggs, the babies going out through your gut wall (because they're not big enough to live in the gut all on their own yet) and finding their way via the lymphatic system to the lungs.

R4) The baby roundworms aren't content to stay there, so they crawl up your lungs and "tickle," What would you do if something was tickling you inside your lungs? That's right, we cough the thing up. Then, once we've coughed, unless we spit out the plegm, what do we do? We Swallow it.

R5) Roundworms go to intestine again, but by this time they're big, and they grow there.

R6) How do they grow? They eat. What do they eat? Your food in your intestines!

R7) How many do you think can live in your intestines? About 100 can live in one person.

R8) How do you think they make you feel? They can block your gut, cause pain, anaemia, and malnutrition.

R9) So - how do other people become infected? The roundworms produce lots of eggs, which you excrete in your feces (poop). If this gets on someone's hands/in their food (through poor sanitation/hygiene), they will get infected. Moral of the story: wash your hands after using the toilet!

18. FLATWORM (TAPEWORMS):

F1) Show the flatworm to the kids and explain that these flatworms infect cows and humans. How do they get infected?

F2) Show them the flatworm segments in the tube

F3) Explain that these segments are excreted in cow poop... because some of these segments are motile - they form a long sticky trail!

F4) Quite often, these segments are excreted onto grass, and another cow will become infected when it eats the grass.

19. LIVER FLUKES:

L1) These live in your liver, and make holes in it (like swiss cheese).

L2) How would this make you feel? Why do you need your liver? Explain how the liver detoxifies things that we eat, and without these toxins can build up in our body and harm us!

Risk Assessment
Date risk assesment last checked: 
Wed, 25/12/2013
Risk assesment checked by: 
Miffles
Date risk assesment double checked: 
Wed, 01/01/2014
Risk assesment double-checked by: 
Sarah
Risk Assessment: 
DESCRIPTION Looking at dead insects in small sealed tubes, talking about them and matching them to their home environment on a board
RISKS
  • Smashing a specimen tube can cause cuts, and the preservative to come out. Preservative is 1% Propylene phenoxetol, which should not be irritant to eyes or skin at that concentration, but which may be harmful if ingested.
  • Child getting injured by the display board, if it is not being used on the floor
  • ACTION TO BE TAKEN TO MINIMISE RISKS
  • Keep a careful eye on the tubes. If necessary, reduce the number of tubes on display. Make sure all are tightly closed with sellotape on top of the seal to make it obvious that the tube should not be opened. Demonstrator must know the location of the nearest eyewash.
  • Make sure board is firmly attached to the desk, if not on the floor
  • ACTION TO BE TAKEN IN THE EVENT OF AN ACCIDENT
  • Call first aider in case of injury.
    Wash skin with that has come into contact with preservative with water. If preservative gets into eyes call a first aider. Use eyewash to wash out of eyes if trained and confident to do so.
  • Unless large quantities ingested, recommend that parents take child to GP if child becomes ill, and state that 1% propylene phenoxytol was the substance ingested.
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    RA checked 23/1/11

    RA checked 23/1/11

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