Bringing Science To Life
Fun, entertaining and educational! Cricket's Critters brings the love and joy of science, nature and wildlife to your center or home, entertaining your children while serving up a love of learning. The Three R's -- Real, Relevant and Remarkable!
"Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at the stars and the mountains above. Let them look at the waters and the trees and flowers on Earth. Then they will begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real education."
- Naturalist David Polis
Contact: Julie@cricketscritters.com 240-687-9196
Science and Wildlife Programs
Hands-on Science Experiments
Children are filled with wonder, unbounded curiosity, and a love of exploration. But books and lectures can fall short in igniting the potential to learn. Bring the love of science, chemistry and physics to your center. Based on the scientific method, children pose a question and offer a hypothesis, Then we work (play) to mix, twist, combine, blowup, jumble and muddle to conduct our experiments, analyse the results, and reflect on the SO WHAT!
Get Close and Personal
Children go from fear to fab as they get close and personal with Maryland’s most secretive and misunderstood critters when they visit your center live!
Presented by Maryland Master Naturalist Julie Lowe, our programs focus on Maryland natives – those animals children are most likely to run into in their backyards or on weekend walks. Fun and crazy facts are shared that give real and relevant insight into the world of Maryland's most secretive and misunderstood critters!
Seasonal programs available focusing on environmental lifecycles (i.e., metamorphosis, hibernation, climate change, symbiotic relationships),
- Learn to identify sounds, tracks, and even scat!
- Recognize what is relatively safe to handle and what to approach with caution
- Learn what wildlife is revealing about the environment, develop an appreciation and love for our critters, and make a connection with our wild neighbors and the valuable role you play!
Nature's Diary: Posts from the Field
The small but mighty spring peeper! Arguably the most recognized harbinger of spring. This tiny tree frog is hard to see, but can be heard from a great distance. A chorus of them nearby can be deafening!
Only an inch and a half full grown, with males being even smaller, these frogs are hard to find but easily identifiable by the ‘x’ on their back — when it is visible (they are masters at camouflage).
They are able to survive the winter by the production of glucose in their body that acts as a type of antifreeze. This keeps them from freezing entirely as they wait out the winter above the frost line among the leaves near a water source. Nature’s Chemistry in action!
I mention them now, because though we are still in January, the warm temperatures in the Maryland area have confused them this year and brought out some singers early! This is sometimes referred to as the ‘fall echo’. As cold returns, they will return to ‘brumation’ (a state of hibernation for reptiles and amphibians) and will emerge in force in the spring to find mates.
It’s always a special treat when we first hear the spring peepers each year, so much so that my family refers to any type of nighttime critter searches as ‘peepin’, regardless of the time of year or the critter we’re seeking.
The beautiful swallowtail butterflies, and their secret chemical defense!
As caterpillars, these beautiful but vulnerable critters are easy to spot on their favorite food from the carrot family including parsley, fennel, and dill. When disturbed, they raise special forked glands on their head called osmeterium. These glands emit a foul odor that repels predators such as ants, spiders and mantids.
Nature’s chemistry in action!
Wood frogs survive by partially freezing their body. They do not brumate (hibernate) under water, or below the frost line to avoid freezing. Instead, they convert the glycogen inside their liver into glucose, which keeps the water in their cells from freezing. While 70% of the frogcicle freezes, the ‘antifreeze’ keeps the cells strong until warmer temperatures.
These are the first frogs to emerge in spring, announcing the arrival of my favorite season each year! The first day of spring is March 19. But the wood frogs are not waiting on the calendar. Here are the tracks of a North American wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) exploring the almost frozen surface of a vernal pond.
Vernal ponds will literally be hopping with frogs and spotted salamanders in the next few weeks! Spring is on its way, with the emergence of the frogs who spend most of winter frozen almost solid!
Marbled Orb Weaver
The beautiful marbled orb weaver! Just in time for Halloween, they are sometimes called the pumpkin spider because of the intricate orange face on the abdomen. With a much larger body than the male, this beauty pictured is a female.
This woodland dweller creates a new web daily near water sources. She’s rarely seen since she hides out in a leaf or bark ‘tent’ near her web. Attaching a single ‘signal’ strand of silk from the center of her web to her hiding place, she’s instantly alerted when prey has been caught.
Like all spiders, these orb weavers have fangs. Like most spiders, they are venomous as well. But they are a shy, non aggressive species and their venom is not medically significant. It’s always a real treat to see these critters, especially so close to Halloween!
More information or to schedule a class, please contact: Julie Lowe julie@Cricketscritters.com 240-687-9196
©2017 by Cricket's Critters