Workshop:  Insect Plant Interactions

Natural History Field Techniques

Fall 2012

Dr. Suzanne Koptur

OE 232, phone 305-348-3103; office hours M W 10:30 - noon and by appointment

selected Thursdays 9 am - 12 pm - meeting in lab room OE 169

    All ecological studies require voucher specimens to document what taxa were studied, to document variation in populations, and permit determination of the correct names of the organisms.  While the techniques for collecting and preserving plants and insects are simple, this workshop will bring all students up to a basic level of competence that will enable them to document their studies and make specimens that are essential to their research projects.

    Often it is necessary to rear insects to obtain adult forms (few taxa can be determined precisely from the immatures).   We will learn various techniques for rearing.  Each student will make a collection of a type of insect/plant interaction, of relevance to their own research, or of special interest to them.

Date Topic
11 October Introduction - Feeding experiments - Insect rearing - photodocumentation
18 October Collecting plants - making specimens - preservation of ephemeral parts - labeling - notes (voucher books)
Collecting insects with nets - spreading, pinning, and drying specimens - labeling
25 October Collecting insects with baiting, beating, pitfall traps and other techniques
Preserving soft and/or tiny arthropods
Use of keys - sending specimens to experts
15 November Final presentations - collections and write-ups due


Borror and White - A Field Guide to the Insects.  Petersen's Field Guide Series.

Steyskal, G.C., W.L. Murphy, and E.M. Hoover. 1986.  Insects and Mites: Techniques for Collection and Preservation.  USDA Miscellaneous Publication 1443. [copy provided by professor]  also see