Monday, June 8, 2009

Cricket Posteriors

I did a program for a handful of girl scouts this past weekend. The program consisted of the scouts solving a "crime" allegedly committed by an insect. In this particular case, there are dead crickets involved. The kids go into the "neighborhood" to "walk the beat" to learn how to "build a case profile" of the various suspects before going to the scene of the crime in search of clues and suspects. The kids also meet 4 insect "suspects" and learn of their behaviors before solving the crime.

The girls were a lively bunch but well behaved and very interested in the program. After they walked the beat they met the "family members" of the deceased cricket victims. Each girl received a cricket in a small jar they could examine while I discussed cricket anatomy (antennae, head, thorax, abdomen, etc). One of the girls asked if you could tell the difference between the male and female crickets and I promptly explained that female crickets had an ovipositor, a thin, sword-like projection on their posterior whereas male crickets lacked the long projection. So the girls spent a minute or two examining their crickets to see if they had a male or female.

For some reason, the girls did not want to relinquish their crickets when it was time to move on to the next portion of the program. In the 5 minutes the girls had their crickets, they had named them and professed great attachment to these insects.

"Why do you want to keep them?" I asked, "They smell!"

"But I love Lou!" one girl exclaimed, "I don't' want to let him go!"

Next it was time to investigate the crime scene. Each girl was given a magnifying glass, a booklet to take notes and a plastic baggie to pick up evidence. Did I mention there were real cricket pieces scattered across the crime scene? Of course the girls asked if the cricket bits were real, to which I replied, "Of course!"

The girls took it in stride and this is when they applied their newly acquired knowledge of cricket anatomy, namely, the...ahem...posterior end.

"Oh look! I found a cricket posterior!" one girl said. (they didn't really say posterior. We're using that noun here so no perverts who type in the b word can find my website)

"This one's a girl cricket posterior." another announced, writing the info in her notebook.

At least 3 girls claimed to have found cricket posteriors but I knew better. I had placed mostly cricket legs or heads across the floor, not posteriors.

After examining the crime scene, the girls met the "suspects" one of which included an african giant millipede. Most of the girls wanted to touch or hold the millipede but there were the predicted 2 or 3 who wanted no part of the arthropod. One girl in particular absolutely loved the millipede and touched it and then wanted to hold it...or so she thought. Each time I'd try to place the millipede in her hand, she'd flinch and jerk her hand back. This occurred 3 or 4 times before I stopped and said, "ok, well I'm going to put him back now."

"No! Just give me a second." She paused, took a deep breath and then enthusiatically said, "Ok. I'm ready this time. I'm really ready."

She was convincing. She convinced me that this was it, she was really going to hold it and I think she believed it herself. But as I extended the millipede and touched her hand, she squealed and jerked back saying "No! Wait!."

Oye. Eventually she did hold it, but it required her troop leader's assistance. And then once she held it, she didnt' want to let it go. Silly girl.

After the girls solved the crime, 2 of the girls wandered up to the table where the crickets were sitting.

"Can I have Lou? Please?"

"No! You really dont' want to keep a cricket trust me." I replied.

"Oh but I do!"

"You can go outside to your backyard and find a cricket."

"But it won't be the same!"

I gave her a stern look to which she replied with a pout.

I dont' think I've ever seen a group of girls as obessesed with crickets and their posteriors as this bunch.

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