Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Insect Collecting 101

This series of blog posts will contain all the information you need to know about how to properly collect insects, label and preserve them. You will be able to make an awesome bug collection that will not only wow friends and family, but be your very own contribution to science and nature preservation.  I'll start with 'Insect collecting basics' :)

  1. Insect collecting basics (see below)
  2. Advanced insect collecting (coming soon) 
  3. Insect pinning basics (coming soon) 
  4. Insect preservation basics (coming soon) 
  5. Insect identification basics (coming soon)

You will need:

  • Insect net. Make your own easily and cheaply with pvc pipe, stiff aluminium wire and nylon netting. (full downloadable instructions to follow). 
  • Containers of various sizes to keep individual insects. 
  • Forceps to pick up insects. 
  • Paper envelopes to keep butterflies and moths 
  • Paper labels and a pencil. 
  • Notebook 

What to do:

  1. A great place to start your bug hunt is in your back yard. Use the net to sweep and catch butterflies, dragonflies and flying insects. Hold your collection container under beetles - they play dead when startled and will fall right into your container. 
  2. Keep each insect in its own container. For butterflies, hold the wings folded together, and squeeze the thorax hard to immobilize it then store flat in paper envelopes. This will preserve their wings. 
  3. Write the following information down on your paper labels: date, location (e.g. Scout's Trail,Harrison Hills Park, Natrona Hts PA), your name, host plant or substrate (e.g. hickory leaf). Any other interesting observations can also be noted. Put the label in with the insect in its container. 
  4. Fill in your collector's notebook with the date, location and a summary of your bug hunt. You can be as detailed as you like! 
  5. When you get home, place the insects (in their containers) in the freezer for 1 hour or until you are ready to pin them. 

That's it for the basics of insect collecting! Check back soon for my insect pinning guide!

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