One of my goals this summer was to get my son somewhat over his intense fear of bugs.  And that is exactly what it is – INTENSE. 

In the past, we’ve tried holding insects and other critters for him to see (we’ve never made it to touch), but even that is almost too much for him.  However, I want him to appreciate and respect nature and other living creatures, not necessarily FEAR them.

Then, we came across something so simple, I couldn’t believe how quickly his tune changed.

We gave him a bug jar.

Now, a bug jar doesn’t need to be anything fancy.  It can be a plastic tub with holes punched in the lid for air.  Ours however, was bought…a plastic jar with a lid and mesh sides.  You can also get quite extensive with your collection containers, depending upon how serious of an entymologist you may have on your hands.

Within an hour of having his newly acquired jar in hand, our older son found a most interesting beetle (better known as the common “stink bug”) on our sidewalk.  He opened his jar, gingerly held a stick on the ground for the beetle to climb, then quickly but gently put the stick in the jar, closing the lid.  And that’s when he became a different child.

An insect that would have normally sent him screaming for the hills was now sitting on his lap, separated from his skin by some plastic and a mesh screen.  And, he LOVED it.  We found our insect book (because when you are trying to teach your child to handle their fears, you invest in every possible tool) and looked up our specimen, determined how he lived and what he ate, watched him crawl around over dinnertime, and then we released him to the wild, also known as our flower bed.  The next day, our son was back out there, searching for his “new friend!”

Since then, we’ve caught a mayfly, a dragonfly, countless roly polies and an earthworm (short term, though…he needed the dirt!), and my son has been intricately involved in each bug’s turn in captivity.  We even watched the mayfly molt on the side of the screening!  And, through it all, we’ve learned more about “bugs” than we ever thought possible, and more importantly, we’ve learned to respect our bugs.

He still isn’t willing to do much touching, and I’ll still be the one to chase the houseflies out of the house and get the spiders out of the corners, but they might have to take a turn in the bug jar before we let them go now.

Wonderbrains carries an excellent line of insect collectors.  Be sure to check them out!