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Looking for Life in Your own Back Yard

Subject: Science

Description: Looking for nature in your own back yard, how to start exploring the land of the microscopic

Posted by David Caldwell on 09/06/13 at 10:48

Within a square metre of earth there is said to be up to 40 species of earthworms living.  Darwin studied the earth worm not by sailing the seven seas or exploring a remote island but by examining the worm’s behaviour in his own back garden.  Darwin was so fascinated he published a book about them which at the time outsold ‘Origin of the Species’.  If looking for nature in your own back garden was good enough for Darwin it should be good enough for you.

When is it best to explore?

Choose a warm spring or summer day, this is when the insects and wildlife are at their most active when the temperature is high and food is plentiful.


  • Notebook
  • Pen
  • Camera
  • Magnifying Glass / Pocket Microscope
  • Pooter



The pooter is said to get it’s wonderful name from William Poos an American entomologist active in the 1930’s, it consists of a small transparent airtight vial with two tubes protruding.  One tube is put in your mouth and the other acts as a vacuum that will suck up bugs safely without damaging them.  There is an inherent risk of sucking a bug into your mouth but that is half the fun.

Classification of Insects

Insects can be classified into four distinct groups


Woodlice, lobsters, shrimps and Doctor Zoidberg from Futurama

Dr John Zoidberg.png

These love damp conditions, look near rotting wood or under stones


Millipedes and centipedes, these love damp conditions and eat fungi and rotting leaves so look in soil and leaves 


Crabs, scorpions, ticks and spiders, ticks lie in long grass waiting for a passing victim to latch on to, spiders hunt

insects by spinning webs which can be found in bushes and trees


Flies, wasps, bees, crickets, beetles and pretty much everything else, as they are mostly flying they can be found pretty much anywhere, look for crickets in long grass by slowly following the chirrup.

After you have finished examining your speciman make sure you release them unharmed in their natural habitat.

Keywords: back yard, garden, nature, insects, pooter, crustacea, myripoda, arachnida, insecta