Dad formed the wire loops on the bamboo poles. Mom sewed the white nets to fit the loops. It was brilliant, really. Way more exhausting than watching a red/white bobber while holding a bamboo fishing pole; chasing butterflies involved running up and down hills swinging nets with forehand and backhand. It was fascinating enough for the kiddies to keep going for hours at a time.
In the heat of the afternoon we flopped on the living room rug to study field guides. At dusk we were running around hunting sphinx moths with gorgeous pink underwings. Dad read the evening newspaper. Mom loaded the dishwasher. Life was good. By the time the fireflies began appearing near the pine trees we were pretty tuckered out.
Our capture rate was very low, even when we became skilled net-swooshers. Netting insects must be a bit like riding a bicycle. When I climbed back on the task, I managed to catch (two each) butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies, squash bugs, and less flamboyant insects to place in the magnifiers.
No carbon tetrachloride or kill jar in this hunt--I transferred my netted specimens to Greek yogurt containers, put on lids, then popped them in the freezer for a minute and a half. My chilled-out beauties were easily transferred into the magnifiers for the class. Afterwards, they all returned "into the wild".
One can argue about collecting specimens in nature preserves, and most preserves prohibit the practice. I would say my impulse to stewardship of nature began in those summer days of netting yore. The fascination of close observation and study inspired all my later environmentalist efforts, and not a few of my creative endeavors.
At Oak Point:
Snapping photos isn't the same aerobic experience as chasing around the neighborhood with nets. Hoping I can still translate the complexity and fragility to my very young students.
© 2014-2015 Nancy L. Ruder