Insect collecting is the collection of insects for hobby, scientific study or profit. Historically insect collecting has been widespread and a very popular educational hobby
A hobby is a regular activity or interest that is undertaken for pleasure, typically done during one's leisure time.- Etymology :A hobby horse is a wooden or wickerwork toy made to be ridden just like a real horse...
. Insect collecting has left traces in European cultural history
The term cultural history refers both to an academic discipline and to its subject matter.Cultural history, as a discipline, at least in its common definition since the 1970s, often combines the approaches of anthropology and history to look at popular cultural traditions and cultural...
, literature and songs (e.g., Georges Brassens
Georges Brassens , 22 October 1921 – 29 October 1981), was a French singer-songwriter and poet.Brassens was born in Sète, a town in southern France near Montpellier...
: "La chasse aux papillons" ("The hunt for butterflies"). The practice is still widespread in Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...
, especially amongst the youth demographic.
Since most types of insects have hard exoskeleton
An exoskeleton is the external skeleton that supports and protects an animal's body, in contrast to the internal skeleton of, for example, a human. In popular usage, some of the larger kinds of exoskeletons are known as "shells". Examples of exoskeleton animals include insects such as grasshoppers...
s that retain their appearance after the insects dies, it is easy and practical to form a collection. With many thousands of colorful and attractive species known, a collection may become quite large.
Nowadays some collectors practice their hobby also by rearing caterpillar
Caterpillars are the larval form of members of the order Lepidoptera . They are mostly herbivorous in food habit, although some species are insectivorous. Caterpillars are voracious feeders and many of them are considered to be pests in agriculture...
s, or ova
An ovum is a haploid female reproductive cell or gamete. Both animals and embryophytes have ova. The term ovule is used for the young ovum of an animal, as well as the plant structure that carries the female gametophyte and egg cell and develops into a seed after fertilization...
, to adulthood. When done well, this procreates more adults than in nature. Some of the adults are released back in the wild, thus minding the numbers of individuals in natural populations. This method has also been used in some conservation
Conservation biology is the scientific study of the nature and status of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction...
Locating insectsInsects are common in almost every part of world, and may be easily found by looking closely at plant leaves or flowers, under rocks and boards, in water, and so forth.
Collecting techniquesAspirators or "pooters" suck up insects too small or delicate to handle with fingers. At night, many types can be caught flying around lights. Funnels, malaise traps
A Malaise trap is a large, tent-like structure used for trapping flying insects particularly Hymenoptera and Diptera. The trap is made of a material such as terylene netting and can be various colours. Insects fly into the tent wall and are funnelled into a collecting vessel attached to highest point...
, and other types of insect trap
Insect traps are used to monitor or directly reduce insect populations. They typically use food, visual lures, chemical attractants and pheromones as bait and are installed so that they do not injure other animals or humans or result in residues in foods or feeds. Visual lures use light, bright...
s, some of which are baited with small bits of sweet foods (such as honey), are also quite effective.
Several different types of nets
A net, in its primary meaning, comprises fibers woven in a grid-like structure, and is very infrequently mentioned in discussions of philosophy. It blocks the passage of large items, while letting small items and fluids pass...
are commonly used to collect insects. Butterfly nets are used to collect flying insects. The bag of a butterfly net is generally constructed from a lightweight mesh to minimize damage to delicate butterfly
A butterfly is a mainly day-flying insect of the order Lepidoptera, which includes the butterflies and moths. Like other holometabolous insects, the butterfly's life cycle consists of four parts: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Most species are diurnal. Butterflies have large, often brightly coloured...
wings. A sweep net is used to collect insects from grass and brush. It is similar to a butterfly net, except that the bag is generally constructed from more rugged material such as sailcloth
Sails have been made from cloth for all of recorded history. Typically sails were made from flax , hemp or cotton in various forms including canvas. However, modern sails are rarely made from natural fibers. Most sails are made from synthetic fibers ranging from low-cost nylon or polyester to...
. Other types of nets used for collecting insects include beating nets and aquatic nets.
Once collected, a killing jar
A killing jar is a device used by entomologists to kill captured insects quickly and with minimum damage. The jar, typically glass, must be hermetically sealable and usually has a thin layer of hardened plaster of paris on the bottom to absorb the insecticide. The insecticide will then slowly...
is often used to dispatch insects before they damage themselves trying to escape. However, Killing jars are generally only used on hard-bodied insects. Soft-bodied insects, such as those in the larval
In Roman mythology, lemures were shades or spirits of the restless or malignant dead, and are probably cognate with an extended sense of larvae as disturbing or frightening...
stage, are generally drowned in a vial containing an ethanol
Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid. It is a psychoactive drug and one of the oldest recreational drugs. Best known as the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, it is also used in thermometers, as a...
and water solution or formaldehyde
Formaldehyde is an organic compound with the formula CH2O. It is the simplest aldehyde, hence its systematic name methanal.Formaldehyde is a colorless gas with a characteristic pungent odor. It is an important precursor to many other chemical compounds, especially for polymers...
, which both kills and then preserves them. Butterflies and moths are not traditionally killed in a killing jar as their wings, which are delicate, can become damaged trying to escape. Instead, the usual method of killing a lepidoptera
Lepidoptera is a large order of insects that includes moths and butterflies . It is one of the most widespread and widely recognizable insect orders in the world, encompassing moths and the three superfamilies of butterflies, skipper butterflies, and moth-butterflies...
n is by crushing the thorax
Thorax (insect anatomy)
The thorax is the mid section of the insect body. It holds the head, legs, wings and abdomen. It is also called mesosoma in other arthropods....
, and death occurs by suffocation.
DisplayThe usual method of display is in a glass-covered box, with the insects mounted on specially made non corrosive insect pins stuck into foam board (typically Plastazote) or paper covered cork at the bottom of the box. Common pin
A pin is a device used for fastening objects or material together.Pin may also refer to:* Award pin, a small piece of metal or plastic with a pin attached given as an award for some achievement...
s are not used. Very small insects are either pinned on "minuten" (very tiny pins) into a block of plastazote borne by a standard insect pin or glued to a small piece of card on the pin. There are specific procedures for proper mounting that are used to show off the insects' unique characteristics. Sometimes variations can be used especially if more than one of a species is available. For example, one or both of the wings of a beetle
Coleoptera is an order of insects commonly called beetles. The word "coleoptera" is from the Greek , koleos, "sheath"; and , pteron, "wing", thus "sheathed wing". Coleoptera contains more species than any other order, constituting almost 25% of all known life-forms...
The grasshopper is an insect of the suborder Caelifera in the order Orthoptera. To distinguish it from bush crickets or katydids, it is sometimes referred to as the short-horned grasshopper...
can be pulled open and fanned out to show the wing structure that would otherwise be hidden. At least the date and place of capture should be written or computer printed on to a piece of paper or card transfixed by the pin. This is called a data label.
A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities...
s frequently have quite large insect collections, used for research. These are not usually on display, since most of them will all look the same to the untrained eye. Rare insects, and/or those from distant parts of the world may also be acquired from dealers or by trading. Some noted insect collections have been sold at auction
An auction is a process of buying and selling goods or services by offering them up for bid, taking bids, and then selling the item to the highest bidder...
- Collecting and Preserving Insects and Mites: Tools and Techniques; PDF Comprenhesive, detailed download.
- Expedition Insect Manual PDF
- Chris Raper Insect Collecting Easy to read Excellent illustrations]
- Manchester Museum
- Liverpool Museum
- Coke Smith Insect Collection
- A.Tereshkin Devices for Ichneumonidae collecting.
- Instructions for mounting beetles
- http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/bsc/pdf/whywekillbugs.pdf Rationale for insect collecting