Must Have Equipment for Entomology

| | | | | | |

Blog, She Wrote: Must Have Equipment for EntomologyIf you are going to collect insects, then you’ll need the right equipment. Today’s post is a list by category of the Must Have Equipment for Entomology.

Be sure to buy equipment that is meant for serious entomologists and not items that are essentially toys. We bought an Insect Collectors Backpack Kit from Home Science Tools for his birthday. While this was not everything Joshua needed once he got serious, it was a great starter kit and we only needed to supplement our initial investment.

Our other supplier is BioQuip Products which specializes in equipment, supplies, and books for entomology and related sciences.

Materials for Collecting

  • Aerial Net– For sweeping over vegetation and collecting terrestrial insects
  • Aquatic Net– A seining type of net for use in the water to collect aquatic species of insects.
  • Flat Pans– For pouring water collections into
  • Flat Tweezers on a String– for catching the aquatic species from the pan
  • Killing jar– jar of any kind with tissues inside. The jar usually has a substrate on the bottom to hold the ethyl alcohol when you pour it in. The out-gassing of the ethanol into the jar will kill the insect.
  • Aquatics Jar– filled with isopropyl alchol to keep aquatic and soft-bodied insects when you collect them.

Blog, She Wrote: Must Have Equipment for Entomology

Supplies for Pinning & Spreading

  • Quilting Pins– to hold the legs, wings, & other appendages into place while the insect is drying
  • Insect Pins– in various sizes from 0 to 3. For use with different sized insects
  • Tweezers/Forceps– for handling the insects precisely
  • Magnifying Lens– to see the insect features up close
  • Glassine Envelopes– These are also used in collection (which we’ll talk about tomorrow). They are for temporary storage of moths & butterflies so you don’t destroy their wing scales, but they are also useful in holding wings in place during drying.
  • Scissors– for cutting apart the glycene envelope when you pin insect wings
  • Small Ruler– so you can measure where the insect is on your pin.
  • Spreading Board– made so you can place the body of the insect in the groove and coax the wings out very carefully. Joshua made his own out of insulating foam block and dowels.
  • Pinning Block– this foam can’t easily break and is thick enough to pin insects which don’t need any wing spreading.
  • Paper Points– for displaying tiny insects rather than pinning them through
  • Elmer’s Glue– for the occasion when a leg falls off. Elmer’s to the rescue! This is also how we get an insect to display on a point.

Blog, She Wrote: Must Have Equipment for Entomology

Equipment for Handling Aquatic Species

Listed here are items you’ll need for handling aquatic insects and soft bodies insects such as caterpillars.

  • Jar– for collecting day
  • Isopropyl Alcohol– For preserving the insect. How to use it will be in tomorrow’s post!
  • Small Glass Vials– in a few small sizes depending on the size of your specimen
  • Screw Cap Collecting Tubes– These allow you to collect aquatic insects which are larger and hold specimens for putting them into their display vials.

Blog, She Wrote: Must Have Equipment for Entomology

Materials for Displaying Your Insect Collection

One of the requirements in our entomology club is to share your collection in a public display. On Wednesday afternoon, Joshua will turn in his collection and he’ll talk to a judge about his experience. Then his collection will go on display at the fair for the rest of the week.

  • Case with a Glass Lid– So that people can see your insect collection without taking the glass off. The backpack kit we got came with a small box.
  • Pins for Labels– For holding the labels
  • Laser Printed Labels– So that the labels don’t smear when you place them in the vials with alcohol
  • Vials– the small glass variety in various sizes

We ordered about $40.00 worth of equipment from BioQuip, Inc outside of the Backpack Kit from Home Science Tools. We use items from the kit as well including the field guide. Next season, which starts in September, we’ll be ordering a few more supplies to add to our collection of equipment.

You want to be well-equipped to do the job right. There is so much to learn and inferior materials will make the work more difficult.

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing all about where and how to collect your insect specimens.

Other bloggers are sharing their own series this week through the iHN Hopscotch. Click and see what they’re up to!

iHN July 2014 Hopscotch

Similar Posts


  1. Great list of supplies! Experiments, projects, and studies go so much smoother when you have the right equipment up front. Have you ever used the Discovery Scope? It is a handheld microscope that will fit in your backpack or bag. It lets you get a closer view than a hand lens and comes with a little specimen box for easy observation. I never want to do nature studies without it.

  2. Thanks for the tip Marci! I’ll check out Discovery Scope. The right equipment can make all the difference.

  3. I really appreciate your sharing this list. It can be difficult to wade through the toys to find the serious science equipment – nice to have the leg work done.

    1. My pleasure! I tried to pick out the items most unlikely to be household items to give a link. I hope they are helpful!

Comments are closed.