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    Home / Science projects / Make an Insect Collection
    • Make an Insect Collection

      Make an Insect Collection

      Make an Insect Collection

      In this article, older kids will learn how to catch, kill, and mount live insects for a collection. Younger kids can learn about insects in the article Insect Investigations for Pre K -2.

      Watch this video to see a variety of tools used in making an insect collection.

      From an itty-bitty bed bug to a massive atlas moth, the world of insects is crawling (and flying!) with different specimens to discover. Making an insect collection is one of the best ways to learn about insects, as you’ll observe them up-close.

      What You Need:  


      Consider the complete Deluxe Insect Collecting Kit, which contains all items necessary to make an insect collection from the insects you catch.



      Finding and Catching Insects

      When searching for insects outside, look on flowers, in gardens, on decaying leaves, around a porch light at night, around and in ponds, and through the air. If looking for insects in a field, use the sweep method: Carefully swing your net through the top edge of the grass and see what you catch in the end of your net.

      When attempting to catch an individual bug with a net, move slowly until you are in range. Position the net under the insect, then swing your net upward and quickly turn the handle so that the net flops over its ring and the captured insect cannot escape. If you bring the net over the insect and down to the ground, raise the end of it so that the insect can fly to the closed top, then stick a container (a killing jar, if you intend to preserve the insect in a collection) under the net and carefully move your insect down into it.

      Observing and Identifying Insects


      There are about a million insect species of all different colors, shapes, and sizes! However, despite the many differences, all insects share a few basic characteristics:

      • Exoskeleton – Rather than bones inside their bodies, insects have a hard protective covering on the outside.
      • Antennae– Insects usually have one pair of antennae on their head used for touching and smelling.
      • Three body divisions – Insect bodies are divided into the head (with its eyes, mouth, and antennae), the thorax (where its legs and wings are), and the abdomen.
      • Six legs – All insects have six legs attached to their thorax.

      You’ll likely find “bugs” that don’t have all these characteristics—like spiders and ticks, which have eight legs, and millipedes, which have many, many more. It’s up to you whether or not to include these bugs in your insect collection.

      When observing a live insect specimen that you intend to release later, carefully put it in the Deluxe Bug Magnifier. Is its body soft or armor-covered? What are its antennae like and how does it use them? Based on its mouth, can you tell its eating habits? Does the specimen walk jerkily or quickly? If it has wings, what does its flight look like? Use these features to help you identify the insect, using a high-quality guide book.

      Using a Killing Jar

      First, charge the jar by adding a capful of ethyl acetate to the plaster cartridge in the bottom. Then put your insect in and quickly close the lid. After a few minutes, the insect should be dead, but you may wait a half hour before removal to be sure. Insects left in the jar for a day or more may become too soggy and wet to use.

      You may dispatch several small insects in the jar at once. But kill larger insects and butterflies separately so they don’t damage each other.

      Here's a handy, printable guide that explains How to Pin and Spread Butterflies and Other Insects for Display.

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    By: alexiadees
    Date: Apr 16, 2015

    Hey cool bug collection