mystery The answer to the clues may be found at the bottom of this column.    Teachers and Parents: Enter to win an entire set of Dawn’s nature books of one title for your home or classroom. It's fun and easy!
Just read the clues below. They describe an aspect of nature—a plant, animal, mineral, habitat, or natural process.
When you're ready to make your guess about who or what I am, click ENTER NOW.
Who Am I?
spacerglass1 Clue 1:  I'm a member of the "dog family."
glass1 Clue 2:  I live throughout North America in deserts, prairies, forests, and even in towns and cities.
glass1 Clue 3:  You might hear me howling at night to communicate with my pack.
glass1 Clue 4:  Don't let me trick you—I am NOT a wolf.
Do you think you know who I am? ENTER NOW.
Entries should be submitted no later than noon on Friday.
If you guessed correctly, you’re automatically entered into the monthly drawing for a set of nature books from Dawn Publications.
A contest winner will be announced at the end of September.
Throughout the school year, clues for a new Who Am I are posted no later than Sunday night, so you can use them with your class on Monday morning.Good luck!
The answer to last week's mystery was: SEASHELLS Although Inside Outside Nature blog is changing it's focus, this weekly "Who Am I?" will remain the same! Teachers, click here to get ideas about how to use the contest with your students.  

Catching Bugs!

Brian_FoxThis week’s guest blogger is storyteller, environmental educator, author, and museum consultant, Brian “Fox”  Ellis.

(Scroll to bottom to view complete bio.)



Dragonflies really are my favorite insect, including the Green Darner Dragonfly (Anax junius) that is illustrated in my book The Web at Dragonfly Pond. I often say that a dragonfly taught me this story…because it is true! It was while watching dragonfly metamorphosis that I was inspired to write The Web at Dragonfly Pond.

While researching the book I learned lots of cool facts about them. Dragonflies are the hawks of the insect world. They can fly 60 miles per hour, or hover in the same spot. About 200 million years ago, there was a super-sized dragonfly with a wingspan of nearly two feet across, about the size of a hawk today.botm_greendarner_main

The dragonfly is also an “Indicator Species.” Indicator, what do they indicate? Certain species will tolerate more or less pollution. To put it quit simply: the kinds of bugs you find in your local creek or pond indicate how clean the water is or isn’t. Bio-diversity is a good thing! If you find dragonfly nymphs and stone fly nymphs then the water is clean. If you find no bugs in the water, it could be polluted.


Outside: Go Catch Some Bugs!

By Brian “Fox” Ellis—In this activity you and your students become watershed detectives.



  • net for collecting (a kick-net or d-shaped net works best)
  • bucket for collecting the specimens
  • ice cube tray for sorting the specimens
  • magnifying glass or field microscope for observation
  • field guide for identification
  • large waterproof boots for wading in water



  1. Visit a creek or pond and look for bugs. Put whatever you catch in the bucket. Download a pdf of BUG COLLECTING TIPS.
  2. Sort your specimens into an ice cube tray.
  3. Analyze what you’ve found using the Macro-invertebrate Field Guide by answering the questions below. Generally speaking, the fewer kinds of insects you find the more polluted it is. The more different species you find the cleaner it is.
  • How many species can you find that are near the top of the list and indicate clean water?
  • How many species can you find in the middle of the list indicating not so clean water?
  • If you only find species at the bottom of the list this indicates polluted water. How many?

3425220858_9f73440519Optional: Compile your information into a report on water quality that includes:

  • The date and time you completed your study
  • The name of the body of water and if a creek or stream what is the watershed
  • What kinds of life forms you found and in what numbers
  • And your conclusion about the evidence you found
  • The names of the people involved in the study
  • An address or e-mail, contact information

Send this vital information to the state or local environmental protection agency. Green Rivers is a web site that allows you to upload information about macro-invertebrates as well as other water quality tests.


More Fun and Facts about Indicator Species

by Brian “Fox” Ellis—These are some my favorite web sites about indicator species:



Inside: Dragonfly Life Cycle

Even if you’re inside, you might feel like you’re at the pond when you see the illustrations in these books. Each one teaches about the life cycle of  dragonflies in a fun and interesting way:

imagesThe Web at Dragonfly Pond—a true story from the childhood by Brian “Fox” Ellis. Go to the Kidzone website for a handout of the Life Cycle of a Dragonfly.



ELIZA_StoreEliza and the Dragonfly—a young girl learns that dragonflies are “magnificent!” Written by Susie Caldwell Reinhart. Go to Dawn Publications Downloads for Teachers/Librarians to find classroom activities for Eliza created by the author.



CATTL_COVER2Another great book about wetland bugs, including dragonflies, is Near One Cattail:Turtles, Logs, and Leaping Frogs by Anthony Fredericks.




More Fun and Facts About Dragonflies

by Brian “Fox” Ellis—These are a few of my favorite websites:


More About Brian “Fox” Ellis

foxheadshot1Brian “Fox” Ellis is a professional storyteller, environmental educator, museum consultant, and Riverlorian for the Spirit of Peoria riverboat. His love for nature, fishing, and Midwest farm ponds grew from many adventures with his father such as portrayed in his book, The Web at Dragonfly Pond. After listening to kids at camp whine about mosquitoes, he started telling this story in order to convey on a visceral level how all things in nature are important and how we humans are actively engaged in the web of life, even being food for mosquitoes. Fox still loves to fish on farm ponds near his home in Peoria, Illinois, along with his two daughters. This is his first book with Dawn Publications.

For information about inviting Fox to your school, library or conference please visit his web page Fox Tales International: