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ENT109: Insect Taxonomy and Field Ecology

Things to Bring

Personal items

  1. Field clothes: long pants, long-sleeved shirts and things with lots of pockets
  2. Sturdy set of hiking boots
  3. Sunscreen
  5. Sun hat
  6. Water bottle
  7. Towel
  8. Swimsuit!
  9. Laundry detergent (for the benefit of everyone)
  10. Notebook and pens/pencils for lectures
  11. Bedding: pillow, sleeping bags and/or sheets and blankets
  12. Warm clothing (Sagehen still has frosts in June!)
  13. Flashlight!!!!
  14. Any food items you can’t live without!

Phil lectures to students in the Sagehen library

Note that Truckee is a 20 minute drive away and forgotten items can be purchased there.

Equipment list

There are certain pieces of equipment that students are responsible for obtaining before the class starts. Most of these can be obtained from BioQuip, an entomological supply company in Rancho Dominguez, California. Address: 2321 Gladwick Street, Rancho Dominguez, CA 90220, USA ( Phone: (310) 667-8800  Fax: (310)667-8808; email:; internet:  Some guidance on your equipment needs is given below.  Note: prices are taken from the March 2002 catalog, and they may have increased slightly.  Placing a combined order with fellow students will save you money.

1. Insect Boxes (p. 10, BioQuip Catalog)
You will need six boxes (of Schmitt box size) and you have the choice of the following four kinds: 1009 Insect Box ($10.50 each), 1001 Standard Insect Box ($23.30 each), 1004 Schmitt Box ($34.25 each) and 1006 Schmitt Box ($55.85 each). The “1009 Insect Box” (the cheapest, made of chipboard) is popular, but you might want to have one or two sturdier (wooden) boxes. It’s up to you. Remember that you get to keep your insect collection at the end of the course.
Some of you may already have your own insect boxes and you are welcome to use these, provided they are DERMESTID-FREE, of the appropriate size, and not glass-covered.

2. Forceps (p. 30, BioQuip Catalog)
You will need 2 pairs of fine (jeweller’s style) forceps. Some choices are outlined on page 30 of the BioQuip catalog. We suggest either #4522 ($15.15) or #4523 ($16.75) Rubis forceps. Heavier forceps (e.g. #4731) ($2.50) and featherweights (e.g. #4750) ($4.15) are also useful for some specimen handling tasks.

3. Insect Pins (p. 32, BioQuip Catalog)
We suggest that you order about 1500 size 2 ‘Elephant’ brand insect pins (#1202B). This is generally sufficient for most people; order 2000 pins if you are an enthusiastic collector or if you plan to continue collecting insects after the course. These pins are $49.50 per thousand. Be sure to specify the size (size 2) of the pins when ordering.

4. Nets and Net Bags (pp. 44-48, BioQuip Catalog)

For insect nets we recommend two 12″ diameter nets, one with a medium sweep bag (7612MS @ $12.70) and one with an aerial bag (7612NA @ $11.50). These are quite serviceable nets, with wooden handles. More expensive light-weight nets with aluminum handles are also available (p. 45).

5. Killing Jars (p. 50, BioQuip Catalog)

The 1120 Series collecting jars are the most suitable. We recommend getting one large 32 oz. jar (1120C) ($3.50), a couple of 16 oz. jars (1120B) ($3.00 each), and three or four pocket collecting jars (1120P) ($2.20 each).
The 1120 series jars have a cartridge which holds the killing agent. The latter can be either ethyl acetate (held in absorbent cotton) or cyanide crystals. BioQuip sells ethyl acetate (page 50 of the catalog) but not cyanide. Cyanide is actually the more effective killing agent. If you are unable to obtain it, we will have a supply available when the class begins.

6. Other equipment needs
Other supplies that you are responsible for procuring include:

  • 1 pair of scissors (for cutting labels)
  • 1 collecting bag (a shoulder bag is preferable so that you have easy access to vials, kill jars, etc.)
  • 1 flashlight
  • 1 bottle of glue for point-mounting small insects (we strongly recommend
  • Titebound Liquid Hide Glue, available at hardware stores)
  • 1 rapidograph pen (for writing labels; 0.25 mm or finer; indelible ink)
  • 2 hardcover field notebooks
  • 1 text: most recent edition (1989) of Borror, Triplehorn & Johnson. An introduction to the study of insects. Saunders Publishing Co.

Chris and Deanna look through the microscope

When the class starts, we will supply microscopes, lights, vials, alcohol, insect labels (i.e., data labels for the field sites that we plan to visit), microscope stages, pinning blocks, point punches, spreading boards, and minuten pins. An assortment of collecting equipment (u-v lights, Malaise trap, Winkler litter sifters, pitfalls traps, pan traps, beating trays, etc.) will also be available for student use.

Although we will supply simple microscope stages, we recommend that you get one of your own to keep. The best one that BioQuip sells (although it could stand some improvement) is the #6188 Microscope Stage (p. 21, BioQuip Catalog) (overpriced at $30.00).

All photos © Alex Wild 2002 and may not be used without permission


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