Your Extension Experts
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26 September 1994
Volume 2: no. 9a
Many of the biology/science teachers have assigned insect collections to their students this year. Early fall is the best time to collect and is an ideal time for such an assignment. Identification is always a sticky problem for young people (and their parents). Remember that it is almost impossible for a novice to identify insects to genus and species. 4-H rules require identification to Order and common name. 4-H materials are an excellent resource for instruction in making insect collections and other entomological projects. Full directions for making insect collections and other projects are available free in most states to any who want them from any extension office. If your county office does not have the information, ask them to get it or write to me and I will mail you a Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service packet.
The Young Entomologists' Society (Y.E.S.) is also a good resource from which entomological items may be obtained. Their address is: Young Entomologists' Society, 1915 Peggy Pl., Lansing, MI 48910. They have a catalog and also produce a newsletter! There are also other groups who produce newsletters or are willing to share their expertise. Most university/college Biology, Entomology or Zoology Departments also have resource materials. Some have student clubs or organizations who would be willing to visit your group and talk about insects. Check them out!
There are a number of useful references which can be used to help with insect identification:
*** THE PETERSON FIELD GUIDE SERIES: A FIELD GUIDE TO THE INSECTS OF NORTH AMERICA...by Donald J. Borror and R. E. White
** THE AUDUBON SOCIETY FIELD GUIDE TO NORTH AMERICAN INSECTS AND SPIDERS
* THE AUDUBON SOCIETY FIELD GUIDE TO NORTH AMERICAN BUTTERFLIES
* A GOLDEN GUIDE TO BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS
I suggest that you use the Peterson series book . In paperback it is usually available at most good book stores for about $10.00. The plates in this book are excellent and easy to use. The Audubon books are a little more expensive (less than $20.00) and have beautiful plates which are very helpful. The Golden Guide is a small book , less than $5.00, which is surprisingly good. Encyclopedias and other reference sets are also helpful at times.
Insect collections can be very beautiful and quite informative. They not only demonstrate the beauty of insects, but also demonstrate qualities in the collector. Thus, it is very important that the collection be neat, well organized and well kept. Please remember to follow the pinning and label instructions as closely as possible. Insect pins are a must for any good insect collection. They are available through most extension offices or at University Book Stores. You can order them direct from the Y.E.S. - Young Entomologists' Society. Spreading boards, pinning blocks and other collecting paraphernalia can be easily constructed. Instructions and ideas for making these items are often included in the Gloworm.
We conduct a number of workshops each year. These are really enjoyable and we appreciate getting to work with people interested in entomology. These workshops are generally conducted for school classes or 4-H Council or Club meetings. Volunteer Leader meetings and other gatherings of interested adults are also places where we regularly conduct workshops. We enjoy promoting entomological awareness and activity. In 1994 the MSU Entomology Staff conducted our first annual Entomology Camp in early June. There were more than 30 campers (aged 10 to 55) who spent a week collecting and learning about insects. We have set June 4 to 8, 1995 as the dates for our second camp. Teachers as well as students are welcome to attend. Out of state applications are also welcome!
Many of the young people with whom we have worked will be able to show their insect collections in the various fairs and show days that occur each year. Entomology project work is also another outstanding way for a young person to learn about insects. These projects range from IPM (Insect Pest Management) to using insects as a food source. We will review many project ideas in the Gloworm throughout the year. Butterfly gardens, preying mantises as pets, raising mealy worms for fish food (or people food) and many other projects are proposed. The 4-H entomology project is a family activity and the whole family will get involved!
Each fall we get reports of hundreds of pale orange lady beetles congregating on houses, trying, seemingly, to get inside for a visit. We are beginning to get reports that the lady beetles are back. These beetles are beneficial and cause no harm, other than being a nuisance when they congregate in high numbers. If they show up at your door and you aren't inclined to let them in, just sweep them up and dump them outside. They are looking for a place to hibernate. They like leaf litter, underneath logs or boards, or other protected sites. Perhaps there is an enterprising young person who could devise a hibernation home for these introduced friends from Asia. If preserved, they can be very helpful next spring.
Dr. Michael R. Williams
Entomology & Plant Pathology
Mississippi State, MS 39762-9775
phone - 601-325-2085
home - 601-323-5699
FAX - 601-325-8837