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Microworlds: Bugs - Hakai Institute

Microworlds: Bugs

Microworlds is a YouTube series where we shrink down and discover the wonderful lives of the tiny, the miniature, the microworlds. Come with us on bug-sized adventures, and get up close and personal with critters you might otherwise swat away. Peer into the world of the small to see coastal bugs like you’ve never seen them before in Season 2 of Microworlds: Bugs.

Each episode also has a cheat sheet for teachers that identifies concepts in the videos that may be useful in the classroom. And all episodes have closed captioning options in both English and French.

Produced by Meigan Henry, Josh Silberg, and Bennett Whitnell
Edited by Bennett Whitnell and Kristina Blanchflower
Videography by Bennett Whitnell, Kristina Blanchflower, and Josh Silberg
Voice-over by Kristina Blanchflower
Written by Josh Silberg

Bugs 101

Bugs undoubtedly make some folks uncomfortable. But when you look closely at insects, spiders, mites, and more, there’s so much to learn and love about bugs, especially on the ever-changing coast.

Teacher cheat sheet of what’s included in Bugs 101:
– What is a bug? What is an insect?
– The roles bugs play in coastal ecosystems: decomposer, pollinator, predator, prey
– Adaptations to coastal environments

Survival in the Sand

Hot, harsh, and constantly on the move. And yet here, where the shifting sands meet the ocean along the coast of British Columbia, there’s an abundance of insects. These bugs have evolved to succeed in the sand. But survival in this merciless landscape is hard won.

Teacher cheat sheet of what’s included in Survival in the Sand:
– Bug adaptations to coastal sand environments: burrows, anatomy, behavior
– Roles bugs play in sandy coastal environments
– Bug interactions, food
– Life cycles
– Sand wasp, fly, kelp, rove beetle, tiger beetle

Bugs on the Rocks

If you thought sand was tough enough for insects, meet the bugs that make a living on British Columbia’s rocky seaside, where conditions swing wildly between extremes. One moment, they could drown. The next? Get baked in the sun. But certain strange-looking creatures have adapted to life on the edge here.

Teacher cheat sheet of what’s included in Bugs on the Rocks:
– Extreme change in environmental conditions in the intertidal and how bugs have adapted
– Life cycles
– Defensive strategies (protective structures, taste, camouflage, feeding strategies)
– Evolution
– Snout mite, barnacle, barnacle fly, jumping bristletail

Beyond Bees and Butterflies

When it comes to pollinating flowering plants, bees and butterflies tend to get all the glory, but ants, flies, wasps, beetles, and more are also hard at work with far less fanfare. Let’s change that.

Teacher cheat sheet of what’s included in Beyond Bees and Butterflies:
– Lesser-known pollinators in the bug world
– Bees vs. wasps vs. flies: how to tell them apart
– Secondary benefits to plants from pollinators: pest control
– Hoverfly, syrphid, yellowjacket, paper wasp, blister beetle

Blending In or Standing Out

Outward appearances allow bugs to blend into the background or stand out in warning. But is their threat real, or are they faking it to make it? Mimicry takes a few forms here on the coast in the world of bugs, all in the name of survival.

Teacher cheat sheet of what’s included in Blending In or Standing Out:
– What is mimicry?
– Different types of mimicry: Müllerian, Batesian, automimicry
– Bee, wasp, hoverfly, syrphid, ladybug, firefly, gray hairstreak butterfly, moth

Adapting to Life as a Bug

Adaptations are where biology meets innovation. And over millions of years, bugs have evolved some of the strangest adaptations anywhere on Earth. Meet a few of our coastal favorites.

Teacher cheat sheet of what’s included in Adapting to Life as a Bug:
– What are adaptations? Different types of adaptations
– Water strider legs and how they walk on water
– Roles bugs play in an ecosystem
– Life cycles
– Mating
– Water strider, sheep moth, caterpillar, ironclad beetle


Meet the team behind the show and get your questions answered.