Volume 4: no .5
10 July 1996
The dog days of summer are upon us and I'm already hearing cicadas begin to beg for the cooler days of fall. This is a neat time to build butterfly puddles and watch for beautiful specimens to appear. Since almost all of us like to play in the water and mud, now is an ideal time to get the water hose and build a good mud puddle. It will attract butterflies about as well as it attracts barefooted boys (and girls, too!). You'll also have an excuse for the squishing mud between your toes. The brightly blooming flowers of mid-summer are also very attractive to butterflies, so don't overlook them. Pans of fruit peels placed near flowers or in a sun dappled area of the yard near the puddle' will also attract butterflies. Remember it's much easier to capture these creatures if they are sitting still than it is by chasing them across the yard with a wildly swinging net. Species of insects change in their availability for collecting as the year progresses. There are insects which were available in May and June which we won't see again until this time next year. Many of the insects which have one generation per year may only appear as adults during a 3 to 4 week time each year. Butterflies and a few other insects also migrate through our area and may be here for only a few days. A journal of observations is often quite helpful in finding insects in a particular location and place. In fact that is one of the reasons that we place date, locality, and collector information on labels on insects we have collected. Be sure and keep this information as accurate as possible for it provides a short concise history of the insect.
One of the quickest ways to collect insects in grassy or weedy areas is to use a sweepnet. NOTE: sweeping with a lightweight butterfly net will destroy it, so a special net should be used with which to sweep. The net can be purchased from biological supply houses or constructed using heavy gauge wire, (12 gauge or heavier is best). The sack should be made of heavy duty cotton material and the mouth of the net should be 12 to 15 inches in diameter. Attach the wire to a heavy handle, i.e. 1%" dowel about 3 feet long. Swing the net through weeds or grassy areas usinf 5 to 10 figure 8 sweeping motions. Keep the net in motion until you are ready to check it then quickly grasp the sack to close off the mouth. You can open the net a small amount at a time to meter' the emergence of the insects from it. Remove any interesting specimens and place them either in a kill jar or alcohol vial. Alcohol vials are good kill mediums for beetles and most other small insects. Do not try to kill moths and butterflies in alcohol. Instructions for constructing a sweep net are included in this gloworrn and are taken fromMCES Information Sheet #654.
This is the fourth year of production of the Gloworm, and it has been a lot of fun for me. Along the way, for one reason or another I have added people's names to the mailing list. It has grown! So it was suggested that we request that you, the reader, decide whether you still wanted to receive it. If you want to continue to receive the letter, write to me and let me know! We are now on the INTERNET World Wide Web, address:
Try it out and see what you think. Please note that the address is case sensitive and must be used as I have it listed here. The Gloworm is on the net and information about other `buggy' activities is also available.
MICHAEL R. WILLIAMS
Dr. Michael R. Williams
Entomology & Plant Pathology
Mississippi State, MS 39762-9775
phone - 601-325-2085
home - 601-323-5699
FAX - 601-325-8837
Constructing a Sweepnet
- Small wooden handle, 30 to 36 inches long. You may use a broom or mop handle.
- 5-foot length of heavy steel wire. Use 1/8-inch steel or no. 14 galvanized wire.
- Two pieces of muslin or netting, 20 inches x 30 inches.
- Strip of fine wire or cord to wrap wire hoop ends to handle
How to Make
On one end of the handle cut two grooves lengthwise and as deep as the thickness of the wire. Make one groove 2-1/2 inches long and the other 3-1/2 inches long. Drill a small hole through the handle at the end of each groove. Bend the sleel wire into shape.
To make the net bag, lay a 20- x 30-inch piece of net material on another piece the same size (Figure A). Fold them so that they will be 10 x 30 inches (Figure B). Cut the material from the bottom folded corner diagonally up and across to a point 10 inches below the top unfolded corner (Figure C).
After you cut, the net bag will be in two, roughly triangular pieces (Figure D). Seam the two halves of net together to about 1/2 inch from the cut edge. Leave 10 inches free on one side at the top where you will insert the net hoop (Figure E). Turn the cut edges inside and stitch the seam down flat. Make a flat felled seam. To make a loop for the wire hoop, fold the top edge down 5 inches and stitch hem as in Figure G.
If you want to reinforce the hem of aerial nets made of netting, you can make only one fold and cover the fold with a strip of muslin 5 x 40 inches. Then fold again and stitch. The muslin will protect the netting around the wire hoop.