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Bug Collecting

Updated on April 27, 2016

Bug Collecting :: Endeavors in Entomology

I have been fascinated by insects and little critters since I was an infant. It is no wonder that one of my favorite unit studies is on insects. We began our homeschool journey with insects and my kiddos have been adding to their collection ever since. They love examining their specimens with the hand lens and microscope .. their specimens are handled so frequently, that many have lost antennae, legs and wings.

As the summer approaches, I know that we will resume our quest for new specimens - secretly hoping for that prized one we haven't yet observed. This lens was developed to help other parents cultivate a love of the outdoors - particularly of insects - within their children.

I'll walk you through the steps of identification so in the end you will be comfortable naming the order to which each insect you observe belongs. I will also give you several options for beginning a collection of your own. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy!

Be Out There - The nature of childhood has changed: there's not much nature in it.

American childhood has moved indoors during the last two decades, taking a mental and physical toll on today's kids. The negative impact of decreased time outdoors includes a doubling of the childhood obesity rate -- accompanied by an incremental hundred billion dollar cost to our health care system -- as well as declining creativity, concentration and social skills.

Some say it takes a village to raise a child. We say: it takes a backyard, a playground, a park. Studies show outdoor time helps children grow lean and strong, enhances imaginations and attention spans, decreases aggression, and boosts classroom performance. In addition, children who spend time in nature regularly are shown to become better stewards of the environment.

Outdoor Learning - The Key to Success

Here are a number of links to organizations - on the national and international level - that are providing families with tools and inspiration to get outdoors.

"Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher." ~ William Wordsworth

Traditional Insect Collecting

Live insects can be caught with the aid of a net, jar, or by hand. Be careful of those that bite or sting! Insects can then be 'preserved' by:

1) Placing the jar in the freezer for approximately 20 minutes, or

2) Put a few drops of fingernail polish remover (which contains acetone) or rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and drop it into the jar with your insects. Don't drown your insect - this makes for a poor specimen.

To mount the insect, put a straight pin through the thorax. Very small insects should be glued to a small triangular piece of paper and then a pin can be put through the center of the paper.

Stick the pin into a display such as a piece of cardboard or Styrofoam. Use your imagination!

Student Insect Collecting & Mounting Kit

Student Insect Collecting & Mounting Kit
Student Insect Collecting & Mounting Kit

This is a great starter set for the insect enthusiast. It truly gives you everything you need to begin insect collecting and displaying at a very affordable price. Instruction manual is included and is very easy to follow.


In the Stream

In the Stream
In the Stream

What is your opinion of insects and little critters?

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Are You Squeamish?

Alternative Collection Ideas

If you'd rather not do a traditional mount style collection, consider one of the following options.

  • Take photographs and display / share your images in an album (either online or in print).
  • Keep a field journal and make detailed illustrations of insects you observe in their natural surroundings.
  • Set-up a terrarium (either permanent or temporary) and enjoy watching insects in their habitat. Record daily observations of preferred diet, terrain preferences, etc.
  • Build a Squidoo lens of your own of the insects you've observed in the wild.

In the Field

In the Field
In the Field
Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches
Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

Set Up a Terrarium

Keeping stick insects as pets can be great fun for everyone. Some species are very easy to keep, while others pose more of a challenge to the real insect enthusiast.

Every species of insects requires specific care, depending on its natural habitat. To find out what care the species of your choice really needs, please do a little research on your species.

Of course all insects need roughly the same kind of care; they need an enclosure, warmth, humidity and food.

Guides to Building Insect Habitats

Keep a Journal

What kind of insects do you like best?

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Colorado Beetle
Colorado Beetle

"Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar." ~Bradley Millar

Create Illustrations

Nature journaling and biological illustration activities teach children to become keen observers of the natural world by drawing and writing about plants and animals in the field.

Mountain Pine Beetle

Mountain Pine Beetle
Mountain Pine Beetle

See the Larger Picture

Your study of insects doesn't have to be limited to adult stages and specimens. Consider the impact insects have on the environment (pine bark or mountain pine beetles) and observe larval stages when possible as well.

Do You Have a Favorite Insect Memory You'd Like to Share?

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    • EvaVarga profile image

      Eva Varga 6 years ago from NorCal

      Thank you Jimmie & Barb! It is always nice to hear that my lenses are useful to other homeschooling moms!

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 6 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      I picked up a dead moth just last night. And I loved catching fireflies and collecting "june bug" (cicada) exoskeletons as a child. Okay, I admit, I still do.

      I was thinking of making a lens on insect collecting for nature study, but it seems that you've got it covered here. What a WONDERFUL lens! Hmmmm... maybe a blog post instead.

    • Barb McCoy profile image

      Barb McCoy 7 years ago

      I think the more closely I look at insects, the better I can appreciate their unique place in nature. Who can look at a butterfly wing or a dragonfly's eye and not be impressed with their beauty?

      Great lens and I will be adding to my favorites and lensrolling to my nature lenses.