How To Collect and Preserve Insects for Study


The equipment used in collecting insects is simple and inexpensive. The average collector usually will need only a few items : Nets, killing bottles, suction bottle, tweezers, scissors, small brushes, and insect pins. Many collectors prefer to make most of their own equipment even though most items may be purchased from commercial supply companies. The insect net is essentially a cloth bag hung from a loop that is attached to a handle. The size, shape, and material of the net depend on its use. The beating net (fig. i) must be strong enough to stand rough use. A handle of straight-grain hickory or ash, such as a hoe handle, fitted at one end with a metal ferrule (fig. i, C) about an inch in diameter to hold the wire loop in place, is recommended. The handle should be about i3^ inches in diameter and 3/2 to 4/2 feet long. The wire loop (fig. i. A) should be of No. 12 steel wire (0.189 inch in diameter), although even heavier wire is sometimes preferred. After the loop is shaped, it can be tempered so that it will spring back into shape if it is bent when it is used. For the bag, 6-ounce drill, heavy muslin, or light canvas is recommended. It may be made as shown in figure I, D. The four lobes form the rounded bottom of the bag when sewed together. The details of the doublethickness hem as it hangs on the wire loop are shown in figure i, E. This type of construction is advisable because that part of the bag gets the most wear. For a lightweight bag, the entire top band may be made of a stout material and the bag sewed to it. The final step is to complete the bag by sewing together the two ends of the material and the margins of the cut lobes. This beating net is not satisfactory for the capture of moths, butterflies, flics, wasps, and other swift-flying or fragile insects. For them, the nets described in the next three paragraphs are useful. The general-purpose net should have a loop 12 inches in diameter and a bag of unbleached muslin or of coarse or medium-mesh brussels. It should be tapered more toward the bottom than the beating net, but it should not come to a point. The handle need not be so stout as that for the beating net. The butterfly net is like the generalpurpose net, but the bag is of goodquality marquisette or fine netting, and the handle is a little longer and of lighter weight. This net is also useful in capturing dragonflies and other large-winged insects. The fly net should have a loop 8 inches in diameter and a bag of medium-mesh brussels or fine netting. The handle should be short and light. The wire loop need not be so heavy as that for the beating net. This net is also good for collecting bees and wasps. The aquatic net, for collecting insects that live in or on water or on aquatic plants, should not have a circular loop, but should be either square (with the handle attached to one corner) or about semicircular (with the side opposite the handle straight). The bag should be shallow (about as deep as the length of the straight side in the semicircular net) and should be made of heavy scrim with a canvas band for the wire loop. The bag for any of the nets I have described may be made of silk bolting cloth, which is durable and has meshes of various sizes but is more expensive. Nylon may also be used. The bag for any net, excepting the water net, should be long enough so that the tip may be flipped over the rim of the wire loop to form a pocket from which the netted insects will not escape.

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Oman2010HowTC, title={How To Collect and Preserve Insects for Study}, author={Paul W. Oman}, year={2010} }