Summer in Winnipeg is infamous for one particular insect. You know the one. We don’t need to name it.

But we actually have a huge number and variety of insects in our ecological community, and summertime gives kids (and other curious people!) a great opportunity to get to know them.

You can begin with an online search for age-specific resources, like this one, to help get you and your little one started. Search terms like “insect identification pre-K” (using your own child’s age group) can help you find appropriate pages more quickly.

Our local libraries also have lots of books about bugs, suitable for readers of various ages, in their children’s departments.

Together, talk about what makes a beetle different from an ant. What makes a moth different from a butterfly? What’s the difference between a wasp and a bumble bee?

Then, investigate the back yard or your local park! A dedicated small memo pad from a dollar store and a magnifying glass can make your little investigator feel more “official,” and can give you a memento of the summer’s investigations, too.

Help your child make a note of which insects they found, where, and on what date, and describe how they recognized them. They can even draw them or you can take pictures with a mobile phone to supplement their notes, if you’d like. If there are any you can’t recognize right away, record a good description and then when you get home, see if online resources like this one can help you.

Later in the summer, when the sun is setting a little earlier, make a special event of hanging a white bedsheet when it’s dark out and shining a flashlight on it. Together, watch for all the insects that are drawn to the light. Which ones can your child identify?

You can build knowledge and great memories getting to know our local insects together this summer. But make sure you apply bug spray, especially after dark, because of… you-know-who.