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The Benefits of Insect Collecting

Tuesday, August 6, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jeni Ruisch, The Ohio State University
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By Jeni Ruisch, Academic and Outreach Program Director, Department of Entomology, The Ohio State University

The value of

Ask an entomologist what sparked their interest in the natural world, and you are likely to hear about their childhood, bug-collecting adventures! This fun activity is the foundation for a myriad of life and academic skills.

A 4-H member involved in an insect project benefits in numerous ways. Here are some of the most unique:

·         As youth explore diverse areas to find specimens, they learn about different habitats and ways of living. The astonishing variation in the arthropod world reveals lessons on biodiversity and conservation.  

·         Preserving insect specimens requires patience, dexterity, and even tenacity. Development of these skills is rewarded with a sense of pride as caring adults, some as judges, provide feedback. Typically, youth have a story to tell about each captured bug.

·         Collecting insects helps youth convert wonder about the natural world into knowledge about scientific practices and values.

·         Even the short-lived experience of completing an insect project allows youth to be part of a scientific community, encouraging them to share their experiences and make connections with like-minded peers and adults.

These skills are in addition to those developed with many 4-H projects—understanding systems, using scientific methods, thinking critically, completing a project or task, planning and organizing, keeping records, etc. Simply getting outside is accomplishment enough for some! How great to have a project that creates interest and naturally draws youth into exploring the outdoors.

As they explore, build, and record, youth connect with nature in unexpected ways. And by encouraging this connection, adults help cultivate curiosity, confidence, and critical thinking skills, all in a natural setting. Youth, and people of all ages, assuredly benefit when science comes alive.

From Ohio 4-H

4-H members in your community can study insects with the Insect Adventures series from Ohio 4-H. These member-driven projects are easily completed in a year with occasional help and advice from a project helper and with support from short, online videos. Sample activities include a bug buffet (as a way of studying mouthpart adaptations), a board game on endangered butterflies, fake caterpillars that reveal who bites, and building a bee hotel. Each level also requires youth collect and display insect specimens. Look inside each book with these links:

·         Insect Adventures 1

·         Insect Adventures 2

·         Insect Adventures 3

·         Insect Collecting Book—coming soon!

To introduce the series, we asked OSU entomologists and students to finish the sentence, “I’m an Entomologist Because . . .” Their responses are HERE.

Publications are available at extensionpubs.osu.edu. Bulk discounts and partner pricing for state 4-H offices is available.

Citizen Science Extra!

The Gardiner Lab at The Ohio State University has launched Dandelion Detectives, a youth focused citizen science program aimed at measuring the distribution of weeds in US lawns and their value for insects. It’s not too late to sign up and participate in 2019! The $10 fee includes curriculum and supplies.

National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals


701 Exposition Place, Suite 206 | Raleigh, NC 27615 | T: (919) 232-0112 | E: contact@nae4hydp.org