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Looking for a way to connect your kids or grandkids with nature? We have ideas here.

A Berlese Funnel

It's common to look around in nature during winter and assume that everything is dead. This experiment teaches parents and children to see what types of insects are active in leaf litter during the "dead" of winter.

Make a berlese funnel by placing a large plastic funnel inside a glass jar that's big enough to fit over the funnel's narrow end. Fit a piece of coarse 1/4-inch mesh wire that is three inches or more in diameter inside the funnel. Position an adjustable desk lamp over your berlese funnel, just close enough to warm the contents without touching the funnel. Gather fresh composting leaf litter; place about three inches of matter in the funnel and turn on the light.

Check back in 30 minutes to see what kinds of insects have dropped into the glass jar. You may need to come back frequently over the next hour to check on additional guests in your jar. Investigate these insects with a hand lens or microscope and try to identify what you see. When you finish, don't forget to put all insects and leaf litter back where you collected them. You may be surprised just how active winter can be.

developed by Stephen Brueggerhoff

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