Have you got
a bug for a pet? If not, hereís
how to get stuck inÖ.
is for beginner entomologists, so that people know what you need to collect bugs
successfully. I wrote it in case
people who are interested in bugs, and perhaps donít have their own, can still
learn about them. If there is a star
(*) next to one of the objects listed, you can make this yourself. You
need a strong bag to put all of this in: one with pockets is ideal.
It is also better if you have zip pockets as things can easily fall out
The complete kit
A pooter is
a pot with two tubes coming out. One
has a filter attached to the end. You
suck though this tube when the other tube is over a bug.
The bug is vacuumed up into the pot but cannot go any further because of
the filter over the non-sucking end of the other tube.
It can be used for collecting small spiders, greenfly, ants and many
other small bugs.
A sweep net
has a stiff rim and fairly tough material so that if it is dragged through a
bramble is wonít tear to shreds.
material net that inside is very smooth so that butterflies cannot be hurt in
the creases. If you hold the net so
that the rim is facing towards you there should always be a loop of spare
netting dangling underneath it. This
is so that when you have captured an insect you can quickly twist the net round
and catch it in this section and hold it so that the weight of the net is
pulling it across the opening of the net.
We went to a
woodland with a pond nearby and lots of small red dragonflies kept landing on
the path. I used my butterfly net
from behind them to catch them and I caught three or four.
Dragonflies are hard to catch so if you ever try donít be too surprised
if you miss the first few. But if
you do catch them it really is great fun.
are again fairly tough material which dries fairly quickly so that the whole
place doesnít get soaking wet after it has been used.
The netting needs to be fine though, if you are going to try to catch
small pond life such as freshwater shrimp. We
went to a ford with lots of tree roots sticking out from the sides and there
must have been thousands of loach swimming in between them.
We caught a fair few of them with the pond nets because we found out that
they like swimming under the roots instead of more in between them. In the end
we caught something like 30-40 of them.
A ford in Worcestershire
A snare net
is like a pond net but used in streams or some kind of flowing water and is
attached to a string and tied around something like a tree.
Set it up so that the water flows through the net so that if anything
gets swept downstream, it will go into it. You
need a stone to weight the bottom down so that the rim is facing towards the
current, otherwise the rim will slip back, everything will flow underneath and
you will end up with nothing. It is
not a hand-held net and after a fairly long wait you can come back and see if
there is anything in there. Once I
set up my snare net in a river and went upstream quite a long way, then waded
back downstream to scare as much into the net as possible.
I ended up with quite a lot of freshwater shrimp and nothing much else.
Looking at the bugs and catching them was fun as well as being able to
wade down the stream, making as much splashing as I wanted to!
boxes are described below, under Ďobservingí, but you can also use them for
catching, so that you just drop it over an insect.
have magnifying glasses for larger insects.
The magnifying glasses are much cheaper than a hand lens so at first you
can just use a magnifying glass. But
now that I have got a hand lens, I use that instead of my magnifying glasses.
Bug boxes with magnifiers
are very useful for a beginner as you can have the insect safely inside a pot
and not have to bother with holding a hand lens and they cover the whole of the
box with Magnifier
home, I looked at some of my cockroaches using this hand lens.
You could see the individual tiny hairs on the antennae, especially on
the males. Outside, I found
demoiselles hovering over a pond. We
caught a few and had a careful look at them as well.
It had lots of delicate veins in the wings and the eyes were made up of
thousands of lenses. Mine is a
Triplet 10x lens. You can get
different magnifications but this is one of the best for insects.
the Preseliís we found lots of froghoppers and because they hop, we couldnít
get close enough to look at them with the hand lens.
So, we used our syringe observer to hold them still while we looked at
them. You can make them by sawing
the top off a syringe and then covering the end with cling-film, holding it in
place with a rubber band. The
syringe is one without a needle, one of the measuring sort.
You can get them from chemists. You put the insect into the syringe with
the plunger out and then put it in until the insect is up against the cling
film. The cling film should stretch
so that the insect is held still but not damaged.
I was taught how to make these by Peter Brown through the Darwin Festival
more general naturalist would use these for observing birds.
I donít use them very often.
have one powerful torch for going out at night and another underwater torch for
peering in between under-water rocks. A
UV (ultra violet) torch is very useful for going out night-hunting especially if
you are looking for something that doesnít like light: it may not be able to
see ultra-violet light.
are very useful for attracting spiders to come out on their webs.
If you make the fork vibrate and then touch it gently to the web,
the spider should come running out because it thinks the vibration is a fly
beating one of its wings against the web.
It is nice
to know what you have caught, but some identification guides arenít very good.
They can be just hard to find things in or simply donít have enough.
The ones that we like to use are good because they are quick and easy to
identify things with and I donít think that we have ever not been able to find
something in them:
laminated fold out guides are great because they are small and cover specific
area that might interest you. See http://www.field-studies-council.org/publications/index.aspx
Chinery, M (1976) A Field Guide to the
record most of what we catch in our rough notebook and in there thereís all
kinds of rough notes that donít have to look very smart.
is where I keep lots of the information about what I have been catching and how
much and where I caught it. I do
this once we have got back at home so that I can make it as neat as possible,
leaning on a table. It is very
helpful to have a layout where you have one page without any lines and then the
next is lined, so that if you want to you can put a picture by lots of writing.
Pens and pencils
Boxes of all sorts
Bags and ties
were near a beach, mainly short grass with a few hedges but we found a patch
that had lots of thistles in and very long grass.
I held a bag open and found a cricket, mainly by using the sound that it
makes to work out roughly where it was and then looking very carefully to see
its exact position. Once I had found
it, I positioned myself behind it and then crept up to it and quickly plopped
the bag over it and grabbed it shut and tied it.
It was like a bubble of air, so that the cricket would not be in any
danger of suffocation and there were less creases for it to get stuck in.
We caught loads, about ten in a few minutes. You can also catch many
other insects, but not butterflies and moths as they flap about too much and
loose too many of their delicate wing scales. There
are lots of other minibeasts that can be collected such as woodlice and
sometimes a few ants.
found a small steam in the Preseli Hills and with our long handled nets we
fished in the stream and found lots of fish as well as living caddis flies as
well as just their cases, as well as lots of damsel and dragonfly larvae.
Although it became a bit cramped after a while the tank was very useful
for keeping them in as it was larger than all the other pots and they might feel
as if they had a bit more space as well as depth because all of our other pots
were very shallow and small.
is very important that tanks are water-tight and it is useful if it has a lid
that can be either sealed or not, but that isnít necessary.
Itís only necessary if you want to take something from place to place
in a car journey or something like that. Once
I had the tank on my lap because we wanted to take some newt tadpoles home to
keep there. I got very wet when this
good for tying odds and ends together.
insects in for a short period of time.
messy things like stroking slugs: if you stroke a slug head to tail several
times, it sways from side to side in a strange kind of dance.
useful for long walks to give energy.
to find the way back home. Wood ants
always build their nests on the South side of trees so if you have no compass
and get lost, and thereís a nest nearby youíll know which direction is
which. If you have got a
compass, you can check that the ants got it right!
for telling each other ĎIím lostí.
I hope you
will be wanting to go out and look at bugs in fields more often now.
You donít need all of this. As
technology moves on and you get more and more advanced pieces of equipment, you
may want to change the contents of your naturalistsí bag and you can put any
spare items on ebay or something else like that.