The Rise and Fall of Stinktopia

 

Back in the fall one of our participants noticed that there were a lot of stink bugs trying to hide out here at TCS. We would find them on the walls, in the window sills, on our curtains – everywhere we looked! Since he is an animal lover, he was very curious about them and we decided to do a bit of research to learn more about them. We learned more than we ever thought we would know about these bugs!
Stink bug
For one thing, stink bugs are an invasive species originating in Asia. We learned the reason they come inside is because they are looking for a safe place to hide out for the winter time. They also have pretty short lifespans, so it made us extremely sad to imagine them living out a chunk of their short lives in the cinderblock walls of TCS. This participant suspected they might want a better place to wait out the winter. And so was born…. STINKTOPIA!
Stink bug
Stinktopia became a project of love and compassion. This participant was full of great ideas (based on our research) of what the stink bugs might want in their habitat. We found a plastic container in my room and emptied the toys out of it, adding air holes in the top. We decided to line the bottom with newspaper and found something to keep water for the bugs in. We then went outside to forage around the First Baptist Church’s creek and hiking trail in order to fill the habitat with fresh plants, flowers and grass.
Stink bug
Once Stinktopia was ready to go – we were on the hunt for stink bugs! Each time we found one we would put them into Stinktopia to live out the winter. We even posted signs around the school to make sure everyone knew we were on the lookout for them. Over the course of a few months we probably housed about 10 stink bugs or more!
Stink bug
Every week we changed out the water and gave them fresh greens, and sometimes even fruit from my lunches! For the most part our stink bugs thrived. Sometimes this participant even enjoyed taking them out of their Stinktopia to fly around and stretch their legs a bit in my classroom. We would often name them, though admittedly we began to reuse the name “stinky” a lot – it was just the perfect fit for a few of them!
Our beloved Stinky’s funeral

A Stink Bug Funeral

Sadly, due to their short life span it also became a regular occurrence for us to find stink bugs that had passed on to stink bug heaven. We would sometimes examine their bodies before giving them a short service to thank them for their time with us. This week our very last stink bug, the stinkbug that had survived the longest, Stinky #3, passed on. Our compassionate participant decided we needed a proper service as it was time to end Stinktopia until the fall when the stink bugs will inevitably raid our halls again.
Stink bug
He requested we play Sarah McLachlan’s “I will Remember You” as we took Stinktopia (and Stinky #3) down to the creek. He said a few words, which he wanted me to record on video to share with others. He shared his favorite memory of Stinky – the time he was letting Stinky crawl on his hand and Stinky accidentally peed on him! We gave Stinky a simple burial as we said our goodbyes. In honor of Stinky’s memory, he and I not only made plans for how to improve Stinktopia for next year but also decided to have a drawing contest to see who could draw their best stink bugs to celebrate these glorious bugs that taught us so much!
Stink bug
Not only did Stinktopia teach us about stink bugs but also it taught us how even the smallest creatures, who are often viewed as a nuisance, can teach you something. We learned about responsibility and caring for others, how to appreciate the little things in life, how to handle disappointment, how to problem solve, how to generate creative and out of the box solutions to problems as they come up and how to show respect to all of nature’s creatures. Only at our program could a stink bug habitat be used as a tool in counseling and social emotional growth!
Stink bug
Stink bug
Stinkys final resting place by the FBC creek

Stinky #3’s Final Resting Place

Stink bug Stink bug Stink bug Stink bug

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