What's your favourite method of insect collection?

Those of us who collect, all have different, or similar methods of collection. Many of us have made our own, unique methods, and I think that if we share our favourite method(s) of collection, then that will help improve your work, as well as the work and studies done by others all over the globe!

Personally, I prefer hand collecting, or pitfall traps, but I would like to hear some opinions or ideas from of you guys, “What’s your favourite method of insect collection?”

I can’t wait to hear everyone’s ideas or opinions on this topic, and I hope that some of these replies end up becoming useful to others! Good luck!


I collect moths, and my favorite way to do it is with a 175 watt mercury vapor light fixed to a piece of wood about 5 feet off the ground with a white sheet hanging under the light. The moths come to the light, then land the sheet, and then I can scoop them up!


I enjoy any method that allows you to directly observe the insects you intend to capture (e.g., by hand, net, etc.). I have been focused on flower-visiting insects for some time now, and the net can be pretty handy. However, it isn’t always the most fun since it is possible to miss, and when it something exciting this can be a bummer.


Very true @wranglebees , I agree with you, and I have missed when using a net to get something exciting on many occasions unfortunately. Welcome to iNatForum!

Definitely an aerial net. While some methods of collecting are more effective for different groups (who doesn’t love a trap full of Phanaeus!), nothing is more fun than actively pursuing a skittish tiger beetle on an open beach or salt flat.


My favorite method of collecting is to not. I just sit and look at the beautiful creature perform its natural tasks.


Yes, I must agree with you Alex, I do find chasing tigers a lot. Have you ever had to chase down Cicindela oregona? When I find them in groups or individually here in the Salem/Keizer area, I don’t have to chase them much unless they are flying away. I usually just need to pick them up by a gloved hand. (sharp mandibles)
Other than C.oregona and some C.oregona ssp., there don’t seem to b ea whole lot of tigers here in Marion County, I guess that’s and excuse to travel more! : )

I have not collected oregona yet, but am hoping to get them in Colorado this summer. Also, all oregona in your area are the nominate subspecies, no need to differentiate between the two! Travelling will definitely get you more tiger beetles, although you have a couple nice flightless ones up in your areas as well: Omus dejeanii and O. audouini. Omus is one of the few U.S. tiger beetle genera I have not collected myself yet.

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Even though I don’t generally collect moths, I also really enjoy night collecting from a light sheet. It’s fun to just sit around waiting for the next cool moth…not to mention surprising non-moths that often show up.

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Definitely a MV sheet. You can take photos of the majority of them alive for iNat to keep track of what you see, but then also have an easy way to collect off the sheet the things that are interesting or new. I find bucket traps are fun to open but if you get rain or scarabs or lots of large moths the specimens get beat up and worn, and all of the moths tend to get killed unnecessarily. Sheets tend to bring in more good specimens and it keeps the non-collectors happy because most of the insects stay alive.


Definitely a blacklight sheet. It attracts moths (my favorite insects), provides a great background for photos, and attracts the insects alive so I can continue with my no-kill collecting strategy.

Yes, Omus so far have been on my list to find, and I used to see them all the time at my grandparent’s house in Polk County, but that was before I started collecting. And now I haven’t seen any except for a decimated specimen that was attacked by one of the neighborhood cats.

I have been putting out Popillia japonica traps with @bioedteach lately in that area too, since we keep finding them, and OSU department of agriculture was a bit agitated that we had found them there when they hadn’t. We’ve been seeing them in the roses for years now, also before I started collecting. But maybe I should start putting out a doubled amount of pitfall traps! : )
Thanks for the info on C.oregona!

I agree. Sometimes I catch and observe living animals, but always free them soon.


Pooter. I created a homemade one when I was about your age. Went without one for a few decades, then just recently bought a professional model. I like collecting tiny things and then seeing the amazing detail under the dissecting scope

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What’s a


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An aspirator:



Okay, thank you for the clarification.

Welcome to the Forum @wranglebees and @alex_cicindela_guy . Always lots to talk about here!
I have found this to be a very good resource for collecting all types of insects- https://esc-sec.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/AAFC_insects_and_arachnids_part_1_eng.pdf
It’s better in book form, but silly beggars can’t be choosers!!


Collecting Strauzia (https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/322167-Strauzia) involves sneaking up on them with plastic condiment cups, so I’m pretty fond of that - it’s a good way to collect bugs that hang around on plant leaves.

My easiest and goto method has been home-made pooter and beating tray. I also use a sit-still for extremely active captures. These with a good field loupe will keep me entertained (and learning) for a great deal of time. They are also fantastic for when general public enquire about what you are doing, as you can easily show them, and with the exception of the pooter, you can even let them have a go too. Most are really surprised at what can be shaken from a humble shrub, or swept with the tray through long grasses…

My most interesting and “oh wow” finds have been with a berlese, but it’s certainly not an “immediate” method that you can do with other people as easily… Needs too much “here’s one I prepared earlier” preparation

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