Bug-catching nets

Do any of you more entomology-focused iNatters use bug nets for catching things? If so, do you have any you’d recommend? What do you look for in a net?


I don’t know the specific net I have (what I have changed got rid of the label). I got it from my local sporting store near the fishing area, and it is essentially just a white fabric net. I needed to cut the handle to make it portable, though. One thing I would look for from someone with more experience is a good brand that doesn’t get torn up as easily by any kind of plant that is capable of stabbing or slicing.

Not sure if this is any help at all!

1 Like

for catching things on land:

  • a hoop with at least 12 inch diameter (how big is sort of your preference though)
  • a long enough net – maybe 24-30 inches – so that when you twist your net 180 degrees, it can enclose the target with plenty of slack so that you can manipulate it into a container. a light colored mesh is probably best for visibility.
  • a heavier-duty fabric or reinforcement around the hoop for a little more durability when catching things in vegetation
  • i think the type of the handle is going to be personal preference. maybe you want a short handle so that it’s light and portable. maybe you want a long wooden handle for extra reach and the ability to use it as a walking stick. maybe you want a telescoping handle to get the best of short and long, with the tradeoff being that metal is more slippery than wood.

for catching tiny things in streams:

  • a rectangular opening, at least 12 inches wide
  • the net should be mostly reinforced / heavier duty fabric so that you can set it on the stream bottom without fear of tearing it and so that it has a little structure to stay open. the back end should have a very fine mesh so that you can catch really tiny stuff
  • probably a long handle (>5ft) so that you can catch things while standing up

for catching bigger things in ponds:

  • probably a rectangular opening, at least 12 inches wide
  • the net doesn’t have to be very long – maybe 12 inches. the mesh on these kinds of nets always seems to be a dark color (maybe to make it harder for your target to see?), but i’m not sure if it matters.
  • a long handle (>5ft) so that you have plenty of reach. probably lightweight aluminum and telescoping for maneuverability and portability.

I didn’t know that was so important, thank you! :)

This seems a hot topic. :wink:

Diameter: 35cm to 40cm seems pretty good for general use. In tight places 30cm or even a bit smaller if transport is a problem. On wide open spaces 50cm is good or even 55cm. 60cm was too much - the weight increases as does the drag. The latter can be eliminated by using more open material, but then the smallest ones might slip through.

Length: I prefer roughly 1.75 x diameter. That is long enough to flip reliably, but not so long that you can’t peek in to see what you have (after they’ve settled down). If you don’t do that, the 2x diameter or a bit longer should work.

Wire: Piano wire is the best. For diameters under 30cm d2.5 mm will do. The general use is d3mm and above 45cm I would go for d4mm wire. If the wire is standard steel, you’ll want to increase one step or you are likely to bend it. The reason for increasing the thickness on piano wire is not strength - it is flexibility.

Does it need to be foldable or can you transport it without? Foldables are available, but usually those are weaker material and also thicker. This adds weight and it adds quite a lot for larger diameters.

Is the ring permanently attached to the handle or removable? That is transport issue again, but with removable ring you can mix and match diameters and handle lengths for different situations. So a standard fixing is preferable if you need more than one.

Usually handle lengths follow the diameter, but not entirely. A short 1m handle with 40cm diameter works very well on mothing around a light. Normal handle length would be 1.5m to 2m and even longer ones for special purposes are possible.

Can you transport a fixed handle or does it have to be collapsible or even telescopic for multi-purpose use? I made one from telescopic walking stick and it was quite handy except that it was the open-by-twisting type and tended to open when twisted the wrong way. The current ones don’t do that.

The fixing of the ring to the handle is often critical for longevity. I wasn’t happy with a commercial ones so I overdesigned one for myself. 3D printed out of stainless steel with no fatigue point anywhere. That will never brake. :wink:

The hole at bottom gets threads and a threaded rod with strong LockTite. The ends of the ring are bent 180 degrees and tightened with a bolt. The offset between the sides adds some rigidity too.

OK - forgot to add that my comments are most fitting for catching flying things. If you want to hit bushes, you need more strength and likely thicker wires.


for sweeping / beating grass and other denser vegetation to catch grasshoppers and spiders and such, there are specialized nets where the bag is made of mostly canvas so that you don’t have to worry about tearing or catching a more delicate mesh.

you wouldn’t use the sweep and twist/flip method with these. instead, you would just sweep, sweep, sweep, and then occasionally check inside the net to see what you’ve caught.

(the alternative way to catch insects in heavier vegetation is to put a light colored sheet on the ground and then beat / shake the vegetation to see if anything drops down onto the sheet, but this only works if you’ve got a clear spot to put a sheet down.)

someone told me these are jokingly called “National Park specials” in some circles (because you can more easily hide these until you’re ready to collect).


Are there any specific ones that you would recommend?

i’ve used plenty of nets, but, i’ve never bought my own, nor noted the brands of the ones i was using. (i bet a lot the ones i’ve used came from BioQuip, but that company no longer exists, and i’m not sure which net supplier they used or if they had their own line of nets.)

as noted before, the best for you comes down a lot to personal preference and specific task.

here are some from science suppliers that look reasonable. the advantage of ordering these is that most of them seem to have replaceable / interchangeable parts so that you can adapt for fix your net (until the manufacturer goes out of business, i suppose):

and, honestly, some of the ones on Amazon look fine (and cheaper), too, though its unclear if these can be mixed / fixed (if that’s something that appeals to you):


Thank you! :)

1 Like

If you’re looking to capture non-flying critters, the “The Perfect Dipnet” from Jonah’s Aquarium is close to perfect. The folks @ Jonah’s took feedback from the NANFA community and created (literally) the perfect dipnet which also doubles as a great sweep net for non-flying critters.

While this net is great, I’m also looking for one with a smaller head as Jonah’s net doesn’t fit well into a backpack or bike bag.

Jonah’s Perfect Dipnet: http://jonahsaquarium.com/jonahsite/netdipnet.htm
NANFA: North America Native Fish Association: https://www.nanfa.org/


You will also be needing a pooter, sometimes called an aspirator, for getting the livelier insects out the net and into captivity.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.