PLAYING WITH INSECTS 

Like all of God's creatures, insects were placed on this earth for our pleasure. Ants, in particular, are a wonderful species to learn about the intense power of the sun. All you need is one magnifying glass, a large black carpenter ant and a sunny day.

The first step is to find an ant and gently squish its hindquarters (not enough to kill it; just a crippling blow). With the ant immobilized, hold a magnifying glass steady. This is the intriguing part of the experiment. The magnifying glass gathers the sun's rays and bundles them into one intense beam. This is the same technology used for laser weapons. To vary the beam's intensity, draw the magnifying glass closer and further from the ant. The ant should begin to smolder in less than a minute, sending smoke signals to his buddies to STAY AWAY!

Butterflies also provide colorful fodder for scientific experimentation. They are a little more elusive than land-based ants, but an aerial net will allow you to quickly bring one down.

In order to preserve the bug's color and integrity, it is important to swiftly suffocate the butterfly. At least six hours in advance, prepare a "killing jar" by pouring a half-inch of plaster of Paris into the bottom of a glass jar (the jar should have an airtight screw top lid). Immediately before heading into the field, dribble a few drops of ethyl acetate into the jar (nail polish remover also works).

Once you have captured a butterfly in your net, lift the net slightly so that you can slide your killing jar underneath. Unscrew--but don't remove--the jar's lid. Once the butterfly is cornered, maneuver it into the jar and secure the lid. The bug should be dead in minutes.

Try to have the dead butterfly and your killing jar back home within a few hours. After that time, the butterfly will dry and become brittle. Once home, remove the bug from the jar and mount it onto a piece of styrofoam by steadily pushing a pin through the butterfly's chest, like driving a stake through Dracula's heart. If the wings have folded up, gently pry them apart (tweezers work best for this task) and hold them down with a strip of wax paper. Store in an airtight, glass-covered box, available at most hobby stores. PB

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