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Insects and other arthropods

Planning your insect observation outing

Insect observation field trip.
Photo: Insectarium de Montréal (Claude Pilon)
Insect observation field trip.

Some insects can be hard to see, especially if they move quickly, live in the water or are active at night. So to best observe them, you must take the time to plan your expedition carefully.

Depending on the objectives and duration of your outing, the material you take will vary. Of course, insects can be observed with no material at all. However, there are many things that will make the job easier.

A notebook and …

This is the best way to remember the insect that caught your eye. Write down the location, date and time of observation as well as the insect’s behaviour, the type of habitat and the weather that day. If the insect was found on a plant, the plant can be identified. Adding photos, sketches or drawings can be useful.

… if needed:

  • One or more plant and insect identification guides
  • A pocket knife always comes in handy for lifting up bark.
  • Pliers for handling small insects or insects that shouldn’t be touched.
  • A magnifying glass on a cord around your neck or integrated into a small, transparent box to hold the insect while you observe it.
  • A net or other device such as a plastic container to capture an insect temporarily for observation (making sure to release it afterwards).
  • A few plastic, Ziploc-type bags, to bring back flowers or leaves of host plants for identification.
  • A hat, long-sleeved shirt and pants to protect yourself from mosquitoes, sun, rain and thorny plants.

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