MSU Weed Science - Department of Crop and Soil Sciences
May 23rd, 2017

ENT 404, Fundamentals of Entomology
Collecting Tips

*Where? Alfalfa fields & tall grass; under logs; on flowers and on garden plants; in streams; at night or early morning around lights, in greenhouses

*What? Collect crunchy adult insects that aren't squishy.

*How many? As many as you can, but 100 is a great start. The more specimens you have, the greater chance that you have different species. If possible, collect multiples for practice-pinning or trading.

After C
Kill insects in the freezer. A few days should do it. Then put insects from the same date/ location together in the same bag - throw in a piece of paper with collection info (location, date, and collector). Do not let specimens roll around in a bottle or container because Body parts fall off. Pack your critters into a small bag, or in layers of Kleenex as padding. Consolidate your catch by putting the small bags or kleenex layers into a sealed Rubbermaid container or butter tub. You can easily get 50-100 insects in a small container, plus they will not roll around and fall apart. Store the container in the freezer. Keep the insects FROZEN (can thaw for short periods, as in transport) until we pin them in class in the fall. Don't let specimens dry out or get freezer-burned, because body parts fall off. Butterflies/ moths: lay specimens flat with wings held above, or place in an envelope (flat) in the freezer.

Data to Record as you collect

* Who collected it, location/ habitat, and where = state, county, nearest town or cross roads. Just throw a piece of paper in with the insect with location and date, in PENCIL (pen runs).
* It's OK to have insects from other states or countries, just keep track of where/when found.
* It's OK to have family & friends help you collect, just give them credit as the collector.

If you aren't near a freezer (for ex, camping) you can collect chunky hard insects like beetles or bugs into ethanol. By ethanol, I mean real lab-grade ethanol or vodka, NOT Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. Note that ethanol is a good preservative, but insect colors may fade and only chunky hard insects do well in ethanol. When you get back to civilization, put the jar of ethanol in the freezer too. To preserve colors better, throw the insect into boiling water first, for about a minute, then move it into ethanol.

NEED an INSECT NET?  If you plan to stay in pest management after graduation, its not a bad idea to have a sweep net, which will come in handy this summer to collect for ENT 404. A local source of nets is Great Lakes IPM in Vestaburg Michigan. 800-235-0285 or