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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Insect Leaf Miners and Rollers

Outdoor Hour Challenge Leaf Miners and Leaf Rollers Insect Study @handbookofnaturestudy

Leaf Miner and Leaf Roller Challenge from the Archives:Outdoor Hour Challenge – Leaf Miners and Rollers

and the More Nature Study – Autumn ebook.


We are going to start off our autumn nature study with one that will require some careful observations. The first time we did this challenge I was pleasantly surprised at how many subjects we found to look at as part of the leaf miner and leaf roller nature study ideas. There are videos in the archived challenge for you to view that will help you get started and know what you are looking for. Make sure to read the pages in the Handbook of Nature Study!

You may be interested in viewing our family’s entry from the original study: Searching for Leaf Miners and Leaf Rollers. You can see that we used a magnifying lens to get a good look at the leaf damage so you may want to do the same thing. Don’t forget that this month’s newsletter has ideas for studying insect homes: Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter September 2016.


Outdoor Hour Challenge Plans for Sept 16 to March 17 @handbookofnaturestudyNote: You do not need to purchase the ebooks to participate but they are handy to have for planning and for the regular and advanced notebook pages included in each one. Click the graphic at the bottom of this post to go over to check out the Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy


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Searching for Leaf-Miners and Leaf-Rollers

Oak Leaves 2

We found quite a bit of leaf damage on the oaks in our backyard…nothing that really looked like leaf-miners though. We looked carefully which is part of what this challenge (More Nature Study #2 Leaf-Miners and Rollers) was all about.Taking time to really look and see the leaves opens up lots of interesting thoughts and ideas.  Who caused the damage? Were they nibbled by insects or something else like the birds that frequent our yard?

The preparation work from the Handbook of Nature Study really helped us with this challenge.

Leaf Rollers 2

We went around to the garden side of the yard and started to look at the shrubs there and we think we found several leaves that had been rolled up by insects. This one looks close to what we were looking for so we are going to assume it is our subject for this challenge. Amazing that I never noticed this leaf-rolling in our own backyard until now! What else am I missing?

Oak leaves

Now in the front yard we have a different kind of oak and we were able to see clearly some damage done by some insect…perhaps a leaf-miner. We couldn’t find any leaves that had insects working on them currently but these looked promising enough to bring a few inside to look at under the magnifying lens.

Leaf 2

Here is one image (through the magnifying lens) that was super pretty, almost looked like stained glass.When you hold the leaf up to the light as suggested in the Handbook of Nature Study it is even more beautiful. My husband was wondering what I was looking at and I had to share with him too. He was fascinated by our topic and since he spends lots of time outdoors as part of his job, he is going to keep an eye out for some more leaves to look at with the hand lens.

Leaf 1

Another image up-close at what we think may be what we were looking for this week.

So there you have it…our leaf-miner and leaf-roller study in our own yard. Amazing that we could find it right under out noses. I think that is the lesson I learned from reading the entries to the Blog Carnival for this challenge from different families… amazement that they could even find this subject so close to home.

If you haven’t taken the time to give this challenge a try yet, there is still plenty of time to do so. Make it an investigation after reading the information in the Handbook of Nature Study. Take your magnifying glass with you outdoors to look at the suggested plants (see Lesson 77 in the HNS).

Oak Galls
We also observed some oak galls which are covered in Lesson 79 in the Handbook of Nature Study. These are interesting to observe as well and surprising to most that they are actually signs of an insect.More Nature Study Button


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Outdoor Hour Challenge – More Nature Study #2 Leaf-Miners and Leaf-Rollers

Outdoor Hour Challenge Leaf Miners and Leaf Rollers Insect Study @handbookofnaturestudy

Here comes the second challenge in the new series of Outdoor Hour Challenges! I will be posting one new challenge each Friday and you are welcome to jump in and work through the challenges as you have time.

Leaf Miner 1

Inside Preparation Work:
1.Read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 329-334 (Lessons 77 and 78). Pay special attention to the “Leading Thoughts” and the “Methods” sections in each lesson. These will give you hints and ideas for searching for Leaf-miners and Leaf-rollers.
2. Optional YouTube Video: Watch a leaf roller HERE. One short one showing it up close HERE.
3. Preview this YouTube video of a leaf miner at work: The Good, The Bad, the Ugly…Larva. Awesome! Watch it full screen if you dare.

  • Hints: Look on sumac, basswood, and witch hazel for leaf-rollers. We have found leaf-rollers on our crepe myrtle and coneflowers. For leaf-miners, look on nasturtium, columbine, lamb’s quarters, dock, and burdock. You may also try pine needles for yellow tips. We have found leaf-miners on oaks.

Outdoor Hour Time:
1. Go outside with the intention of looking for and observing some insects. Keep in mind the images of the leaf-miner and the leaf-roller. Look for signs of these kinds of insects on the leaves in your garden or in your neighborhood. There are many varieties of each kind of insect so you may wish to consult your field guide before you head out.
2. If you don’t find any insects to observe, take a few minutes of your Outdoor Hour time to examine various leaves with a hand-lens. Look for anything that has damaged the leaves and describe what it looks like. Many things can damage leaves besides insects.

Follow-Up Activity:
1. Insects are hard to identify but the point of this challenge is mainly to look for Leaf-miners and Leaf-rollers and how they use leaves during their life-cycle. If you can see the larva or the insect itself, you may have a good chance at identifying it. On the other hand, you may just need to talk about the behavior of this kind of insect and give the opportunity to sketch the leaf and your observations. You can use the accompanying notebook page for convenience (ebook users only).
2. Advanced Follow-Up: Read this link for more information on leaf rolling insects: Leaf Rollers on Ornamental and Fruit Trees ( UC Davis). Complete the Upper Level notebook page with your research (ebook users only).

More Nature Study Autumn

This challenge is part of the More Nature Study – Autumn series. All of the challenges are gathered into one ebook with notebooking pages (regular and for advanced students) and additional resources. You can gain access to this ebook by purchasing an Ultimate Naturalist membership here on the Handbook of Nature Study. See the Join Us page by clicking the link at the top of the website for more information about what comes with your Ultimate membership.

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy