When I was very little, my mother would take me to parks to play. One day, I ate an ant. I just picked it up and popped it in my mouth. My mother was horrified! What if I got sick? So she ate one, too. If I got sick, then she would get sick as well and be able to tell a doctor what had happened.
Of course, neither of us got sick.
I recall a few years later my dad and I out walking around the neighbourhood. We came across an ant hill and dad and I bent down to take a look. Little ants going about their business. Dad said "Watch this" and he let a big gob of spit fall from his lips onto the opening of the ant hill. They went nuts! "They think it's raining" Dad said "so they're trying to get everyone back inside".
My dad's father, my grandfather Frank, was a lover of nature. He'd sit in his swinging couch out in the tiny backyard of his house and watch spiders and bugs of all sorts. I can honestly say I was not fond of spiders, still get a little creeped out by the bigger hairier ones, but I would sit with him and I did learn how they went about their business, gruesome as it is.
The first incident demonstrates an early attempt at replicating results from an experiment. Not that that's how my mom or I saw it, but in retrospect, that's what it was. The next incident showed another experiment that was repeated many times over the years, with identical results. And the last scenario was simple observation, again repeated over the years.
I continue to be fascinated by creepy crawlies, no doubt in part to my early education in the scientific method and the results obtained from those experiments. I have handled all sorts of creatures in the wild, including bees, with no fear, and only a healthy respect for stingers and possible bites. I have never been stung or bitten. I suspect that's only due to luck, not that I'm a sort of entymological Dr. Dolittle.
I pick up worms in the parking lot and put them somewhere safer. I catch spiders and other critters in my apartment (not often) and release them to the outdoors. A month ago, I found a flour beetle larva, in my rice (so maybe it's a rice beetle larva), and put it in my bug container which has a couple of magnifying windows on it. I forgot all about it until yesterday. I took the top off the container and prodded the little thing. It began moving so I put a little flour in there with it and am hoping it becomes an adult beetle.
I have a bug kit I take with me when I'm on the bike. It has a number of baggies and a couple of glass jars in it for specimens and a little fish net to catch the elusive ones. "Chance favours the prepared mind". Of course, Louis Pasteur wasn't thinking about collecting bugs when he said that, but it applies.
I prefer to find and take home intact dead creatures, though I have been known to put living ones in the deep freeze for a couple of days to put them to sleep. Last summer, the Wookie and I went to a beach about a half hour from where I live. We left our lunch and towels on the beach and went for a long walk. At one point I had no less than 3 species of long horned beetle on my hand and a gorgeous (non-stinging) wasp. I managed to keep all four of these creatures crawling on my hands until we made it back to our towels. While rooting around for baggies, one of the beetles and the wasp flew away, but I still managed to take two of them home.
I have been known to go to a local gas station late in the evening with a bigger net and baggies. There are some pretty big moths and other winged wonders that hang around the lights and if I'm lucky will sometimes find intact dead ones around the pumps.
"Then what?" you might ask. They go in the deep freeze. And after a couple of days I take 'em out, thaw them, and then mount them. No stale cardboard and pins for my bugs though. I put 'em in clocks, watches, or wooden shadow boxes. It's more artistic. Science and art together.