An Obsession with Insects
First Became Obsessed: Age 5
First Sign of Obsession: Fell in love with the hissing cockroach pets in her classroom. "One is named Speedy. Another is Grumpy." She's into bugs "because they're cute, and they come in nearly every color."
Favorite Bug: "Hissing cockroaches. Because you don't see one every day. I like them on my hand [like Grumpy, left] because they feel tickly. They're scaly but soft, and their feet are sticky. They like to be petted."
Least Favorite Bug: "Mosquitoes. They bother a lot of people. I caught one once and got to see the place where all the blood is. I let it go where nobody was."
Where to Find Her: "In my backyard. But in the tub if I'm looking for daddy longlegs. I found two there."
Favorite Fact: "I would like everyone to know that bugs have compound eyes."
Things for the Bug-Obsessed
1. Ella loves these Red Ladybug Rain Boots ($23, kidsrainwear.com). "They're so comfortable when it rains," she says.
2. Grumpy, the hissing cockroach, spent some time at the photo shoot in this. The Exo-Terra Faunarium Plastic Terrarium (similar to the one pictured) is $4-$14 at petco.com.
3. Can you say Praying Mantis Place? Expand your knowledge of insects and your property holdings with Bug-opoly ($30, hearthsong.com). Ella hasn't won a game of this or of Monopoly yet, but she loves to play.
4. GapKids Shorts ($13-$27, gap.com). Very comfortable, Ella says.
5. Ella really liked the ants crawling on her shirt. Similar designs are found for around $10-$25 at cafepress.com.
6. This vest is a handy item when Ella's class has "Pocket Day," and great when she's at the nature sanctuary, "where there are lots of things to put in your pockets." The Master Sportsman 26 Pocket Fishing Vest ($15, dickssportinggoods.com) is quite similar.
7. Ella's mom loved her hair when we pulled it back with Insect Hair Clips ($3-$5, oompa.com).
8. "I would like to have this in my room," Ella says of Butterfly Decorative Gift Wrap ($5, flaxart.com). We cut a rectangle off the roll to make a great poster.
9. National Geographic Explorer Kit ($20, shop.nationalgeographic.com). Ella's had this kit for a long time. It contains a high-powered magnifying glass.
10. Bees GelGems ($5, shopatartworks.com). "Oh! Cool!"
11. Rooms are always available at the Bug Hotel, similar to the one we show here ($8, sassafrasenterprises.com). Ella says, "I once put three crickets in this to see if they would eat each other. They didn't. They just looked bored. But it makes it easier to inspect them. I also caught a centipede or a millipede and put it in here — I couldn't tell which because it kept curling up."
12. Women's Solar Roller Hat ($28, outdoorresearch.com). Good for shade.
13. Catch a few bugs with the Explorer Net ($8, schylling.com). Ella says she's caught (and then released) butterflies with such a net.
14. Ella approves of this lantern's resemblance to a caterpillar (Mini Lantern, similar to the one pictured here, $6, schylling.com). In fact, she says, she recently found a caterpillar behaving like an inchworm. "It was quite funny."
15. Hidden Kingdom Insects ($4-$6, storeforknowledge.com). Ella says these are especially good to have around when you need an insect to play a part in a game with other creatures.
16. Ella highly recommends Crickwing by Janell Cannon, which offers a lesson in getting along with others. $7, amazon.com.
17. Ella wore this Springfest T-Shirt for a recent musical performance. (Northampton Community Music Center; for more information, check ncmc.net).
18. 3D Squares ($10, wildearthproducts.com). "This seems like an interesting puzzle," Ella commented.
19. Bees GelGems ($5, shopatartworks.com). "Oh! Cool!"
20. Get a closer look with Safety Goggles, similar to those pictured ($6, sciencekit.com). Ella finds these especially useful when she digs up a hunk of clay with things in it. "They protect my eyes from all the dust."
21. Ella's parents got this lamp for a wedding present. It's included here because it's got Ella's favorite ladybugs on it, which you can see up close. Twilight Turtle ($34, cloudb.com) is very similar.
22. Giant Inflatable Insects ($37, learningresources.com). "I wouldn't put this in my room, but I bet my brother Liam would like it," says Ella.
23. Insect stamps (similar to those pictured, $3-$15, addictedtorubberstamps.com). Ella and her family make cards with these.
24. Hidden Kingdom Insects ($4-$6, storeforknowledge.com). Ella says these are especially good to have around when you need an insect to play a part in a game with other creatures.
25. Buzz ($20, us.dk.com) has lots of info about the insect world for budding entomologists like Ella.
26. Float like a butterfly with Insect Wings similar to those found here ($14-$19, costumeexpress.com). The ladybug wings are particularly special to Ella — she's had them since she was about 1 year old.
27 and 28. These are Ella's plastic tweezers and flashlight — they come in handy for picking up and examining crawly creatures in the backyard. The tweezers often come with bug explorer kits, like the Backyard Safari Bug Habitat ($23, amazon.com).
29. Buzzerks Eyewear ($10, insectlore.com) is "kind of weird," but does keep the flies out of your eyes when you're on a bug-finding mission, reports Ella.
30. Growing Like a Weed Growth Chart ($17, geniusbabies.com). Ella's family has used this for years. Time may be running out though: Ella points out that it measures up to 60 inches, and she's already at 52.
31. Questions and Answers About the Natural World (available used; prices vary). Ella says this book is great. It tells you "just about everything about just about everything about nature."
32. These are Ella's. We found something similar (Schylling Wind-Up Insects) at schylling.com. Each is about $3; the website directs you to a seller in your area.
33. Ella's brother Liam wears these boots in rainstorms. The Western Chief Kids Ladybug Rain Boots are similar. ($25, westernchief.com)
34. Snappy Little Bugs by Claire Nielson (available used; prices vary). "This has spiders on it too, which makes me suspicious that maybe they should change the name. Spiders aren't bugs, they are arachnids. But I like spiders as much as I like bugs," Ella says.
35. Hidden Kingdom Insects ($4-$6, storeforknowledge.com). Ella says these are especially good to have around when you need an insect to play a part in a game with other creatures.
36. A classic: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle ($15, amazon.com). One of Ella's very first books.
37. The Insect Toob ($8, fatbraintoys.com) is full of more plastic bugs, which Ella can engage in more imaginative play.
38. Ella likes the fact that you can have both a top and side view with this Microscope Bug Viewer ($10, orientaltrading.com).
39. Spy bugs in dark corners with the Large Forever Flashlight ($26, foreverflashlights.com). Ella got this flashlight, which requires vigorous shaking to charge, from her aunt and uncle. "It shines really far if it's charged enough."
40. These are Ella's. We found something similar (Schylling Wind-Up Insects) at schylling.com. Each is about $3; the website directs you to a seller in your area.
41. The Tallest Tree Stacking Blocks ($20, parksconservancy.org). "These are so cool and funny. I like to read them and look to see how tall I can get them on different surfaces without them falling over," Ella reports.
42. This colored growing butterfly is one of Ella's prized possessions. Westminster Inc.'s Fun Capsules, in the bug version, are similar. Put them in warm water and watch the capsules dissolve and the insects are released. ($2, westminsterinc.com)
43. Hidden Kingdom Insects ($4-$6, storeforknowledge.com). Ella says these are especially good to have around when you need an insect to play a part in a game with other creatures.
44. Beetle Spoon and Spork (set of 2, $18, hearthsong.com). Ella: "Oh cool! The wings open up and move!"
45. Waiter, there's a fly near my soup: Bugs & Insects place mat ($3, painlesslearning.com). Ella says there are very good facts to be found here.
46. Float like a butterfly with Insect Wings similar to those found here ($14-$19, costumeexpress.com).
47. Ella's used this Butterfly Canopy a bunch. She advised, "You can order caterpillars and put them in here and watch them become butterflies." ($25, shopping.discovery.com)
48. Ten Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth (about $9, amazon.com). "This book is really funny. Every time you flip a page a ladybug disappears until they are all gone," Ella says.
49. The Fun Box by Shakespeare ($10, dickssportinggoods.com) is good for sorting and collecting samples.
50. Creepy Crawly Ultimate Sticker Book ($7, us.dk.com). More info and cool facts. Ella likes it.
51. Ladybug Finger Puppet ($3, folkmanis.com). "Sometimes I like puppets, and I always like ladybugs."
52. Don't leave home without a 2-Inch Round Handle Magnifier, similar to this one. "Really," says Ella, "the only tool you MUST have to find bugs." ($6, ultraoptix.com)
53. Only Hearts Club Doll Briana Joy ($15 price includes her dog Longfellow, not pictured) and Pink Ballet Outfit ($10, onlyheartsclub.com). What you can't see here, says Ella, is that the doll actually has on — yep — ladybug wings, courtesy of Ella.