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KWEC hosting Summer Nature Craft drop-ins
Children make a dragonfly pin during craft time Monday at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center. More wetlands-themed crafts will be offered over the next two Mondays, Aug. 9 and 16. photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

The magnifiers came out Monday at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, where Program Specialist Mandy Kern was showing children insects.

“How many legs does an insect have? Let’s count them together,” she said.

The Madagascar hissing cockroach and other bugs submitted for examination were safely enclosed in containers, but children could take a close look as they learned the characteristics of an insect:

• six legs

• three body segments (head, thorax and abdomen)

• four stages of life for complete metamorphosis (egg; larva - such as a caterpillar; pupa - the cocoon; and the final metamorphosis into an adult, such as a butterfly.

Most insects undergo complete metamorphosis over the course of a lifetime. That includes beetles, bees, ants, moths, fleas and mosquitoes. Some have three life stages, called an incomplete metamorphosis. For the damselfly and dragonfly, there are three stages: egg, larva (also known as a nymph, swimming in the water) and adult.

Kern showed some damselflies she caught outdoors, in their nymph and adult life stages. Although she was unsuccessful at catching a dragonfly, the Cheyenne Bottoms wetlands where the KWEC is located is home to many of both species.

The next activity was a nature craft, where children made their own dragonfly out of different colored beads.

More nature crafts 

The KWEC invites families to enjoy the last few weeks of summer vacation by bringing the kids out for a new nature craft each Monday. These free, come-and-go crafts are designed for kids ages 4-11. Each week will feature a different craft with a theme, and participants might even meet an animal or two. Kern said it takes about 15-20 minutes to complete the craft. Be sure to save time for the interactive exhibits, half-mile paved nature trail, classroom with live animal ambassadors, and the roads to Cheyenne Bottoms.

The final two events are:

• 1-4 p.m., Aug. 9: Nature Prints

• 1-4 p.m., Aug. 16: Turtles and Snakes