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For insect collection, the nets that are commonly used:

Aerial insect nets are used to collect flying insects such as butterflies. The bag of a butterfly (aerial) net is generally longer, cone shaped, and constructed from a light weight mesh to minimize damage to delicate butterfly wings.

Sweep insect nets are used to collect resting or plant feeding insects from low vegetation such as bushes or grass.   The sweep net is quickly swept back and forth in a horizontal figure eight motion skimming across grasses and brush as the person walks forward.   To prevent snagging your mesh, try to avoid bushes with thorns.    

Aquatic insect nets are constructed for catching insects in water.  They generally have a slightly a bigger mesh size to enable it to sweep through the water quicker.  However, it is a good idea to check the larger aquatic mesh size against the size of the aquatic insect you are trying to catch.  If a smaller mesh size is needed, often an insect net can be used.  



One you have collected your insects, a “killing jar” is often used to kill the insects before they damage themselves.  NOTE:  Killing jars contain poison and should only be used by adults. 


Use a clean glass jar and lid with a wide ‘mouth’ opening.  Example: a pickle jar.

Fill the bottom of the jar, generally no more than ¼ of the entire jar with an absorbing material.  Plaster of Paris (mixed, poured and dried) works best, but you can use cotton balls or cardboard as well.  Start with putting a few drops of Nail Polish Remover with Acetone (poisonous) on the absorbing material (plaster, cotton balls or cardboard).  If the insects do not die within a few minutes, trying adding a few more drops of nail polish remover until you have the right amount for your size jar and insect.  Usually killing jars are only used for hard bodied insects, but people do use them for butterflies.  For a butterfly or other winged insect, put dry tissue on top of the absorbing material to protect the wings by keeping them away from the acetone.

If your insect is a butterfly and you aren’t going to prepare them for display right away, take out the butterfly, fold the wings and place the butterfly in a glycene (see through) envelope.  The butterfly can be rehydrated later by placing the butterfly in a sealed container with a few water dampened cotton balls in the same container but not touching the butterfly.


The common method of displaying insects is in a glass-covered box.  Display cases that do not require pinning usually contain acid free fiber fill.  The insects are simply placed on top of the fiber in the position you wish.  One the lid is closed and secured (usually with pins), your insects are ready to display. 

Another method is to mount the insects onto balsa wood, foam board, or cork by pinning them with specially made non-corrosive insect pins.  Smaller insects that cannot be pinned are usually glued to the pointy end of a pie shaped piece of heavier acid free paper.  This is called ‘pointing.’ The pin is then inserted into the broad end of the small pie shaped piece of paper and the insect and paper is slid up 3/4 of the distance from the head of the pin.

The pinning method can also be displayed in glass cases, just make sure the cases are deep enough to accommodate the pinned insect.

Make sure you label all of your insects as to what they are, the location and date they were captured.