Apart from the usual summer flurry of mosquitoes (for which I gained a greater appreciation at the Cicada Serenade), we also have butterflies and bees visiting us this year. I have planted a few flowers that were meant to attract them, but the spring deluge we experienced this year has also meant that the grass is growing at a fast rate, and the bees in particular seem to like the nectar that the white clovers growing amidst the grass provide). Conor and I have tried to identify the bees we've seen, which seem to be of two species as far as I can see. I haven't been able to get a good picture, but I think we've seen an Eastern Carpenter Bee, which doesn't have a fuzzy abdomen and fits the description at insectidentification.org and an American Bee. We haven't been journaling them, though that's an activity that may be fun later on. As it is, he's very aware of the insects in the garden (being simultaneously interested in the bees feeding on the nectar and horrified by gnats that land on him) and so right now I'm happy to observe with him. Every time we notice something I try to think of kid-friendly facts that he'll enjoy. Insects are luckily insanely interesting: for example, we still don't know how many species of bugs there are in the world. According to the Smithsonian's "BugInfo" site, there may be anywhere from 2 to 30 million species — we just don't know! My favorite fact: at any given point there may up to 10 quintillion insects alive in the world. That's 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 in case you were wondering. If you've ever upset an ant hill, and you see the never-ending streams of ants storming out, it makes it somewhat easier to imagine just how many bugs there must be on Earth; still, I can barely fathom a million (much less a billion, not to mention a quintillion) so it's pretty cool.
Also of note in our backyard, we got a chance to explore the difference between "diurnal" and "nocturnal" animals. As it turns out, our dog Charlie had been having a territory dispute with the woodchucks that roam the area; unfortunately the cute little marmots had also been digging under the neighbor's tree and endangering their house, so they were moved to another park. During the process our neighbor caught (in a humane trap) a raccoon since he left the trap open overnight. Since Conor and I have been following the comings and goings of the woodchucks, who like to waddle around in the daytime, we were also able to talk about the difference between diurnal and nocturnal animals.
I'm very excited to see what the rest of the summer holds for us just outside the door.