Bug Catchers Can Master Their Craft with New Field Guide

New publication helps bug catchers of all ages learn to collect, identify and preserve insects

October 21, 2019, 2:53 pm | Erin Hodgson, Adam Sisson

AMES, Iowa – Insects have a way of capturing children’s attention, and thanks to a new publication by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach – children and adults can both become experts at identifying and collecting some of Iowa’s many insects.

little girl with butterfly net.Be a Bug Catcher: Learn to Collect, Identify, and Preserve Insects,” offers bug enthusiasts of all ages a practical, easy-to-follow booklet that can be taken into the field, or downloaded and printed.

The publication includes nine chapters, covering topics like the importance of insects, insect biology and anatomy, collecting supplies and techniques, preserving insects and a list of useful insect terminology and references.

Co-authors Erin Hodgson and Adam Sisson said the goal was to produce a useful, practical guide that uses a limited amount of jargon, but still provides a scientific, technical foundation for the bug collector. Hodgson is an associate professor and extension specialist in entomology, and Sisson is an extension specialist for the Integrated Pest Management Program at Iowa State.

According to Hodgson, collecting insects is a simple way to enjoy nature, and learn about the life going on beneath our feet and in the air.

“Insect collecting is a skill to learn that you can apply to other interests and sciences,” Hodgson said. “Every time you go out, you find something different. There are always insects around.”

The publication also helps youth to see insects as more than just pests, and to actually appreciate the importance of insect biodiversity.

“Insect identification gives us a unique vision into the diversity of our ecosystem,” Sisson said. “There’s a whole world of life going on beneath our very eyes.”

The guide is available through the ISU Extension Store. Spiral-bound hard copies cost $5, and the guide can be downloaded for $2.50.

More information for bug collectors is available on the ISU Department of Entomology Insect Zoo, including upcoming school programs.

The ISU Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic also provides useful resources for identification, including photos.


About the Authors: