New sting for mother nature: Four in ten children mistake a bee for a wasp
03rd September 2009

Four out of ten children can't tell the difference between a wasp and a bee, a study revealed today.

Researchers found 37 per cent of youngsters aged between five and ten didn't know what a bee looked like - with one in three mistaking it for a wasp.

Incredibly, three per cent picked 'fly' when shown a picture of a bee.

Children were also baffled by the difference between rodents. Almost a third had no idea what a mouse looked like, with six per cent confusing it with a gerbil. And nearly two thirds also struggled to tell a toad from a frog.

The children surveyed were unsure when it came to larger animals too. One in 20 had no idea that a polar bear lives in the frozen wastelands of the North Pole.

The study of 1,600 children was carried out by aircraft manufacturer Airbus to raise children's awareness of biodiversity.

Views: 63


You need to be a member of COMMUNITY FORUM to add comments!


Comment by Eric Gyllenhaal on September 9, 2009 at 7:33am
I just found some more links about the 2008 study described in BBC Wildlife Magazine. It appears to be a study by Britain's National Trust, made available in July 2008. Several newspapers besides the Independent wrote about it:

A version of the Wildlife Quiz is on the National Trust website:

Unfortunately, I couldn't find the original study on the National Trust website, so I emailed the Trust.
Comment by Eric Gyllenhaal on September 7, 2009 at 4:22pm
Here are links to two of the researchers/studies mentioned in the Djoghlaf speech, above:
Some of the quotes from Pushp Deep Pandey:

The 2002 Pokemon study (published in Science):

Note that, for me, the take-home lesson for the Pokemon study has always been more about how children learned about Pokemon: They did it with their peers, it really mattered whether you knew the names and habits of Pokemon (e.g., it helped you win the games), you did stuff with Pokemon across media (toys, cards, video games, fantasy play), and knowing about Pokemon won you the respect of your peers.
If it's important for kids to know the names of wildlife, our efforts could be inspired by the Pokemon experience.
Comment by Eric Gyllenhaal on September 7, 2009 at 4:04pm
Here's a speech by Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf, the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, that puts the Airbus study in context:
Comment by Eric Gyllenhaal on September 7, 2009 at 3:40pm
Well, I found a press release for the Airbus study, from the Convention on Biological Diversity:
I'd still like to see the whole report on the original study.
Comment by Eric Gyllenhaal on September 3, 2009 at 5:04pm
There's also this August 2008 study, sponsored by BBC Wildlife Magazine:
Does any one have links to the original papers for either of these studies?
Also, does anyone have data on contemporary adults' knowledge of wildlife (or today's adults when they were kids?) That would help us understand what, if anything, has changed from generation to generation, and how we should best address the issue.
For instance, in my experience, lots of adults mistake wasps for bees and vice versa -- I'm not sure that's changed all that much from generation to generation. That seems more like a folk taxonomy differing from the experts' taxonomy. Most people -- really most animals -- try to stay away from anything that looks like a "bee." (That's why warning colors/convergent evolution works, after all.) Getting more kids out in nature probably wouldn't change that, unless they also develop a real interest in insects.

© 2020   Created by amy pertschuk.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service