Fall Foliage

All of a sudden, here in Portland, the trees are on fire! Autumn is in full swing and I realized that if I didn't act fast I was going to miss my opportunity to get red and yellow leaves under the microscope. So I went outside and grabbed some. On my way back in, I snagged one of the last vibrant green leaves on our cherry tomato plant and one of the last dark green kale leaves. I wanted a little color diversity. The maple leaves that had turned red were lovely--

Red-Maple-bug-chicks.jpg

The scope revealed some interesting color anomalies--

red-to-purple-bug-chicks.jpg

I found mold that had started to eat through the cuticle and epidermis--

Red-leaf-mold-bug-chicks.jpg

I picked up a yellow leaf and found the edges tinged with red--

Red-to-Yellow-Leaf-bug-chicks.jpg

And looked closely at the one perfect butter yellow leaf--

Yellow-maple-bug-chicks.jpg

I discovered that the "vibrant green" tomato leaf was actually covered with mold--

mold-on-tomato-leaf-bug-chicks.jpg

The underside rib of the kale was almost luminous--

Underside-Kale-bug-chicks.jpg

But as I moved the scope around I made a discovery! Whitefly nymphs feeding! I haven't seen these insects since grad school. Man, even when I try to do a post on something other than bugs, I find them--

whitefly-nymphs-bug-chicks.jpg

I was about to pack up the scope and found a tiny white insect around the light rim. Adult whitefly--

whitefly-2-better-bug-chicks.jpg

I've been stressing a bit about planning these blog posts. Making them cohesive and well thought-out. But I'm realizing that I have the most fun and the biggest discoveries when I just go with an idea and let it take me on a journey of discovery. It's inquiry based learning. If you give your students or children some colored leaves and a handheld digital microscope (like the type I use from Celestron) the learning and questions will come naturally. The lesson writes itself.