By Kay Walburger
School Children Discover
Environmental ‘Web of Life’
At Dr. Sue’s Live Insect Zoo!


“Delicate lacey winged dragonflies, iridescent multi-toned butterflies, cartoon-colored ladybugs, and jewel-toned beetles are the glamorous insects and arthropods that fascinate school children,” reports, Susan Van Vorhis Key, PhD, Entomology. “The less colorful creepy, crawly critters, however, are just as important to our environmental ‘Web of Life’ “, continues Dr. Sue.

“Our healthy environment depends on the ‘Web of Life’ sustaining its balance,” teaches Dr. Sue. “We used to refer to our planet’s life process as ‘the food chain’ but in all its diversity and complex interactions ‘the web’ better describes the profound effects one species has on all others.

“You know that when you gently touch one side of a web it moves and shifts the other sides. This helps explain ‘the butterfly effect’ which says when a butterfly flaps its wings on one side of the world, it affects the weather on the other side of the world.

“Today’s school children are learning about the importance of bugs/insects to our environmental health and balance. This is preparing them to become the Earth’s protectors and caretakers of the future!”

Dr. Sue’s “Traveling Insect & Arthropod Zoo” comes right to the classroom, school, camp, or nature and science center. This provides hands-on learning experience that children find fun, entertaining and educational, but most of all memorable! The collection includes live specimens, arthropod artifacts (beetle wings, silkworm cocoons, honey-filled honeycomb, etc.), puppets, models, and toys, ever intriguing to youngsters.

School children of all ages are spellbound by the dramatically artistic and gentle way Dr. Sue presents her bug menagerie. Soon after leaving each school, she receives a packet of wonderful ‘fan mail’ from enthusiastic young scholars. The wonderfully touching handprinted letters have colorful drawings of the insects that most impressed each child. They all begin…Dear Dr. Sue,

“Thank you for coming to our classroom. My favorite activity was making spiders with candy.”  Ally

“Thank you. I learned that spiders don’t spin the same (kind) of web. I learned that spiders don’t chew their food.”  Adam  

“Insects are not my favorite things, but I like them better now!”  Magan

“I never knew bugs were so interesting. Not only did you teach me about bugs, you encouraged me to be friends with bugs. When I grow up, I would like to be an entomologist.”  Victoria

“You helped me see how lovable bugs are.”  Dawniell

“I save and cherish every letter I receive because the words and hand-drawn pictures from the children represent a “light of knowledge and wisdom” they happily received and understood and it rewards me for my devotion and investment in my life’s work,” muses Dr. Sue.

“One of the most satisfying things I do is helping children, and even some adults, to stop being afraid of insects,’ says, Dr. Sue. “When children get past their personal fears they allow me to help educate them about the positive choices they can make regarding the environment.

“The letters children send, reassure me that I am helping them to understand more about other small creatures that are for the most part misunderstood. When children learn more about insects they can put to rest old irrational fears they may have had for a number of years. This is freeing and allows them to make choices that are more logical and sound for our ecology.

“The ‘Web of Life’ shows us how everything is connected in ways that may be invisible to our naked eyes most of the time.  Without awareness we can not make wise choices or take action because we are not sure what we will be affecting. When we affect one creature on the web we affect all the other creatures, and that includes humans as well as animals and insects.

“One example I can suggest is the common fly. They are an annoyance and a nuisance to most of us. They relentlessly buzz around and invade our outdoor barbeque or picnic. We swat them with a vengeance!  However, if all the flies were ‘nuked’ overnight, we would be stunned by the astonishing negative effects! So much of what they do is not seen by us, yet, they are all over the planet doing important work.

“Think if the garbage collectors in NY City stopped collecting for a few weeks! The impact is hard to fathom! Think how the garbage would pile up and how bad it would smell! That is nothing compared to what would happen to our Earth if the buzzing flies stopped ‘Recycling’. Flies are everywhere ‘Recycling’ dead and decaying matter from all four corners of the earth.

“That is just the first impact. Think of all the many animals that use flies as a food source, like birds and frogs, etc, and what it would do to them. That would soon start another chain reaction.

“Perhaps people are most annoyed by flies, ants, cockroaches, and spiders, but their tireless work ‘recycling’ decaying matter is part of the majesty and wonder of our environmental ‘Web of Life’ at work.

“I love to show school children all the wonderful diversity insects have in their uniqueness of body types, skills, defense strategies and that every creature has its purpose in “The Grand Scheme of Nature.” They now see the world could not function without these tireless ‘Recyclers!’

“The implication regarding the ‘Web of Life’ is that we need to be very careful about the choices we make using pesticides that seep into the ground and wash into streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans, because many small life forms will be affected along the way. Ultimately it affects all of us. I want everyone to know that they have choices and can take actions that honor the ‘Web of Life!’”

Dr. Sue’s Traveling Live Insect & Arthropod Zoo is available for schools, classroom, birthday parties, summer camps, etc. For more information or to book a program, contact Dr. Sue at Metamorphosis Enterprises, P.O. Box 395 Tustin, CA 92781 or call (714) 734-2040.

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