14 July 1999
Volume 7: no. 7
We've been working to get some things on the net since camp and 4-H Club congress, so if you are computer able, check the listings at http://www.ext.msstate.edu/anr/entpath/4-h/. I think you'll like what you see there. We will continue to add new pictures and text to these pages. We're also open to suggestions.
There were a number of insect collections at both 4-H Club Congress and Project Achievement days. There were also a number of 4-Hers who chose not to bring their collections for judging at those contest events. It's time to begin getting ready for the fall fairs and shows. These are times when collections can really shine, because people are greatly impressed by almost any insect collection on display. These pointers apply to almost every collection I've seen recently.
- Remove/replace specimens which are faded or have lost body parts. Often dragonflies lose their head or their tail, grasshoppers and katydids lose legs, moths and butterflies fade.
- Replace twirlers. Insect collections left unattended for more than 30 days most often become infested with dermestid beetles. These tiny insects eat the inside of the specimens, often leaving an outside shell which is unstable on the pin. These turn around or slid down on the pin during transit. If the infestation has been stopped early enough, the twirler can be repaired by placing a drop of glue on the underside of the body close to the pin. An insurance droplet can also be applied dorsally if it doesn't detract from the specimen.
- Replace improperly spread or pinned insects. Many Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) are placed in collections without having their wings spread. Judges accept this with no penalty for the first or even second year collections, but it is expected that collections will improve each year and this is one of the criteria used to determine progress. Moths or butterflies which have sagging wings should also be replaced when good specimens are available. (Summer is the time to find them!) Do not remove these specimens from the pinning board too quickly ( 4-5 days should be allowed for the specimen to adequately dry).
- Work on labeling. Labels should be as small as possible and still be readable. If a computer is available, use it to create labels X æ inches or smaller for both date and locality and common names of insects (size 4 font works well). Print the labels on card stock. Dr. Richard Brown strongly suggests that the labels be oriented along the length of the body. In any case don't let the labels detract from the specimen.
- Work on overall appearance and neatness. Collections often look unkempt. Attention to insects' height on pins helps prevent this. Also, arrangement in the box is important. No collection should go to State Fair with less than 50 insects and none should go to the Mid-South Fair with less than 100. Arrange them alphabetically by Order and place them neatly evenly spaced in the box. Yes if you add 25 new insects next year you may have to rearrange the entire box, but we learn in this manner.
- Always make sure that the box is well protected from direct sunlight and that there is a good supply of moth balls or crystals inside. Keep the box closed as tightly as possible and display the insects as often as possible.
County and State Fairs will begin in August, so `times a wasting!'
Most of the time we feature an insect which is flashy or one that many folks like, but this time we're going to hear about a PEST. The boll weevil is a small beetle with chewing mouthparts which feeds only on cotton. It migrated northward from Mexico into the US in the late 1800's and had infested cotton all the way to Virginia by 1922. This 1/4 inch long beetle caused great changes to occur in the Southern US by destroying the mono-culture cotton economy. Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia farmers were forced to diversify. Mississippi farmers went into timber and cattle production, Alabama and Georgia farmers began to raise peanuts as a result of the boll weevil damage to cotton. Alabama farmers erected a statue in honor of the boll weevil in Enterprise, Alabama.
Dr. Michael R. Williams
Entomology & Plant Pathology
Mississippi State, MS 39762-9775
phone - 601-325-2085
home - 601-323-5699
FAX - 601-325-8837