Find Wildlife Hidden in Your Yard
10/29/2009 – When you look out the window, you probably see trees, bushes and sometimes birds eating wild seeds or berries. But what if you go outside and look about? Do you see ants crawling on the ground? Maybe a butterfly sitting on a flower? Did you know there are many kinds of animals you cannot see unless you look really hard?
All sorts of animals – big and small – live in your backyard. Some fly, some crawl, some jump, and some slither. They live under rocks, logs and leaves; up in bushes or trees; near water; and in holes in the ground and cracks in your house.
For your first Backyard Safari, look under a plant’s leaves, especially if they look as if something chewed on them. This is where caterpillars hang out. They look like worms with many legs. Some caterpillars look hairy, while others are smooth. Caterpillars change into pretty butterflies or moths. Leaves hide caterpillars from birds that might want to eat them for lunch.
Unless you know what kind of caterpillar you are looking at, do not touch it. Sometimes the ones that look furry are prickly. They could be poisonous.
Ask an adult to help you turn over a log or large stone (be sure to turn the log toward you in case there is a snake hiding underneath). It is not hard to find a beetle because there are many different ones. In fact, they are the largest group of insects on Earth. Look for the bugs with biting mouths and hard front wings that protect them.
Some beetles help people by using their jaws to eat tiny critters that chew on flowers or dine on vegetable gardens. Other beetles are pests because they eat the food people grow.
Beetles lay their eggs in dead, fallen trees or logs. When you turned the log over, did you also see tiny, white, squishy “worms” wriggling around? These grubs are baby beetles. Other animals and bugs that call logs and fallen trees home are pill bugs (roly-polies), ants, salamanders, lizards, frogs, earthworms, termites and centipedes.