Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
Several years ago when Nicholas was six years of age we were hit with a severe fly infestation at the back door and porch of our house. Soon after I stumbled upon How Do Flies Walk Upside Down? A Scholastic question and answer book about insects and knew I had to get it.
This is another book in the series by Melvin and Gilda Berger that we have enjoyed over the years. This is a forty-eight page reference guide with exceptional illustrations by Jim Effler.
The first printing was done in Mexico in August of 1999. The last page consists of the Index to find any particular insect or part of an insect you may want to read about. From cockroaches, fleas, ladybugs, mayflies, spiders to wasps they are discussed and illustrated with detailed answers for any inquisitive mind.
A page has anywhere from two to four questions with the answers provided below and illustrations to enhance the readers’ knowledge on that specific insect. The book is broken into a few sections, first Insect Ways, Growing Up and Insects you might meet. The very first question is How Do Flies Walk Upside Down? with the answer that they use their claws to grip rough spots. They explain that there is some sticky stuff covering their feet that makes it similar to walking with gum on your shoe sole.
Flies, ants and moths are insects while spiders are part of another group known as arachnids, along with mites, scorpions and ticks. Spiders have eight legs with only two parts to their body. Insects do not have bones and are very strong with 4,000 muscles compared to only 400 humans have. Insects are able to walk on six legs because they switch them and are always balancing on three legs. Insects can breathe, have two eyes and their blood is light green or yellowish.
The other questions in this beginning section are how do insects smell, hear, make sounds, what do they eat, do they have tongues and a sense of touch. Many insects hear through vibrations, have a special scent for others to smell them, some buzz, hum or sing, as they have no vocal chords. They have a sharper sense of touch than humans but no tongue, so moths, bees and flies eat with their feet. Others use antennae or the tips of their abdomen.
Some insects are known as sucking insects as they feed on liquids, like moths, flies and mosquitoes. Grasshoppers, beetles and termites are chewing insects, meaning they can eat solid foods and plants. There are some insects that never eat as they live very short lives, mayflies and moths are those kind. Insects are food for other animals such as frogs, anteaters, fish, birds and lizards. They will use camouflage to hide themselves from their prey while some will fight back or give off foul smelling liquids. Ants and beetles have powerful jaws while the bees and ants can sting in defense. The Goliath beetle is the largest insect and the fairyfly is the smallest. Cockroaches will run the fastest of all insects while the yellow jacket wasp can fly fifteen miles in one hour.
For winter season many insects will hibernate in trees, cellars and attics, in caves and underground tunnels. They will breathe slower and not eat during hibernation. The growing up section asks about if an insect can fall in love, how are they born, where do they lay their eggs and do they sit on their eggs. Some female moths give off special odor but insects do not fall in love. The female insects are the ones to give birth either in soil or in water. They will not sit on the eggs but some species will stay close by them and when they are hatched they soon die or leave.
The illustrations showcase all the insects with their names beside them as well as documenting the four stages of metamorphosis. This is when certain insects change. Some insects do not pass through the four stages while others might grow wings. The insects you might meet would be butterflies, moths, ants and mosquitoes as well as flies. A butterfly will hold its wings straight up while a moth spreads its wings out flat.
Bees are always busy making honey to feed their colony. This can contain up to 80,000 bees eating almost 500 pounds of honey in one year. Female bees are the ones that sting causing around forty people a year to die from them. A good question is, "How do ants find your lunch in the park?" The answer is by their smell and they leave a trail on the way to the nest so others can pick up the scent. Some ants are blind, they are strong and have troops of 10,000 to 30,000 making them loud army ants. They also have a smell like rotting meat and kill other insects and spiders. Ladybugs are not all female either.
There are many questions inside How Do Flies Walk Upside Down? with interesting answers sure to amaze and interest any child with a curious mind. These books usually open up the discussion for more questions with more books to search for. This sparked the imagination and opened up the world of science and nature to Nicholas at six years of age. He soon became a walking encyclopedia on many animals and when we go outside he gets to see many of the same insects profiled inside the book. The illustrations show the insects up close and in their natural environment. There is one of a mosquito on skin as well as bees making honey. The colors are vivid and full of life showing all parts of the insects.
To this day when we come upon insects Nicholas consults many of his insect books to show me a picture and compare to what is outside. For children on the Autism Spectrum these question and answer books are excellent sources of information for the child with many questions. Whenever I cannot come up with the answer on my own or within the pages of a book, Nicholas knows we go to google.com for the answer. We always find some another useful website to add to our favorites.
This article was adapted from a review previously published on Epinions
This article is part of the themed series mentioned in The Interests of children with autism through the years
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How Do Flies Walk Upside Down is available at Amazon.