It was a warm evening—and the lightning bugs were out in droves.
I told my 9-year-old to run to the basement and grab a few mason jars with lids. And when he returned, we spent the next 30 minutes roaming around our yard and neighborhood catching as many fireflies as we could.
This led him to a very natural question while we were outside: “Why do lightning bugs light up?”
So I told him: “Their abdomens have luciferin in them. When air comes into their abdomens, this reacts with the luciferin and makes it glow.”
“But why did God make them do that?” he asked.
So we got into a discussion about the birds and the bees (actually, the birds and the beetles—since lightning bugs are really beetles). I said…
Every species of firefly has its own light “code.” Most male fireflies fly around while the females wait in the trees or grass. The males will emit their light pattern to attract a female. If she likes what she sees, in most species, females emit a light pattern of their own light. This twinkling conversation goes back and forth for a while, and then male then flies over and they mate. But there are some female fireflies that only “mimic” the patterns of other fireflies. They do this to attract males for another reason—so they can trap and eat them.
It was one of those memorable conversations that continues to stick with me (and my son).
Summers Are for Nature Study! (especially bug catching)
As the summer months approach, and as official schoolwork winds down, the warm weather gives kids (and their parents) a chance to do some hands-on “nature study.”
Why is nature study important?
- No matter their age, kids tend to find nature study fun—it gives them a chance to get outside and explore.
- Nature study is, at its heart, the foundation for all sciences. Before there was experimental science, there was “natural history“—the basic observation of the natural world. And it remains true today: an attention to the small details of nature lays a foundation for a love of science and a love for investigation.
- Nature study cultivates an appreciation of creation—and thus a deep love for the wisdom and power of the Creator.
And as far as studying the animal world goes, nothing is as universal as insects. Insects are the most abundant type of creatures in the world—found on every continent.
Observing Bugs to the Glory of God
Understanding insects also puts us more in touch with the world in which the Bible was written.
- The Bible commands us to observe the industrious ways of ants so we too can learn the virtue of diligence (Proverbs 6:6; 30:25).
- The Bible commands us to observe the organic unity of a swarm of locusts—small yet extremely wise in how they know exactly where to go (Proverbs 30:27).
- Three of the 10 plagues God used to decimate Egypt involved insects (Exodus 8:16-32; 10:1-20; Psalm 78:45)—underscoring just how numerous and powerful insects can be.
- God often used grubs, grasshoppers, and locusts as instruments of divine discipline against his people (Exodus 16:20; Deuteronomy 28:39,42; 2 Chronicles 7:13; Psalm 78:46; 105:31,34 Isaiah 51:8; Joel 2:25; Amos 4:9).
- The Lord’s enemies are often likened to swarms of bees, merciless and inescapable, highlighting the need for divine protection (Deuteronomy 1:44; Psalm 118:12).
- The inhabitants of the earth are likened to the tiny, helplessness of grasshoppers compared to the immense power of God (Isaiah 40:22).
- The moth eating through clothing is often used as a symbol for temporariness of riches (Isaiah 50:9; Matthew 6:19-20; Luke 12:33; James 5:2).
Let Us Make It Easy for You
We’ve been teaching biology courses in our homeschool co-op and online for years—especially through our Experience Biology program. We love captivating kids and teens alike with an appreciation for the world of living things.
So this summer we invite your family to enroll in Backyard Bugs: a fun, free 8-week summer course for the whole family.
You’ll get weekly videos over the course of 8 weeks—short videos that will…
- You’ll find out why a lot of creepy crawlies you call insects—actually aren’t insects!
- Learn why insects are so important for life on earth.
- You won’t believe how one creepy bug can survive for weeks with no head!
- And you’ll see why some tribes in East Africa use an insect when they need to close wounds on their bodies.
- You’ll be amazed by how these tiny creatures have managed to evade predators and become the most numerous creatures in the world.
- And much, much more…
This is a very low key course: no special equipment needed. Just you, your family, and some places outside you can explore.
This course is for the whole family: moms, dads, teens, and little kids will all learn something and easily be able to follow along with simple, step-by-step (and entertaining) instructions.
Best yet—just like great outdoors—it is totally free.
Once you’ve signed up, starting in mid-June, you’ll receive one video per week for 8 weeks.