Investigating Insects

This introductory course aims to assist the observer in differentiating between the orders of adult insects found in Britain; both in the laboratory and, where possible, in the field.

The course also introduces the attendees to the basic principles of Taxonomy, the making of a valid biological record, curation techniques and field skills.

Within the class Insecta, which is the largest class of the phylum Arthropoda, there are 25 separate orders of insect present in Britain containing some 22 000 individual species. This is a drop in the ocean on a worldwide scale where there are an estimated 10 – 30 million extant species with still more being discovered.

So with an often baffling system of taxonomy and a seemingly insurmountable number of insects in Britain, let alone globally, what do we hope to achieve with this course?

By learning what makes one group morphologically different from another we can begin to make sense out of the baffling system.

The naturalist who tackles a multitude of insect orders will quickly learn the commoner groups and will gradually be able to build up a picture of what groups of insects are present on their favourite sites and how they utilise the resources at that site.

This is an introductory course for those who wish to make a start in entomology.

  • Classroom: Introduction to the insect orders presentation using powerpoint and / or video microscope. This session will cover the diversity of insect groups and some simple tips on telling them apart (to include examples of confusing mimicry), taxonomy and the uses of binominal nomenclature, curation and building a reference collection and the fundamentals of making a viable biological record.
  • Outdoors: Attendees will use sweep nets, mesh nets, beating trays and various other pieces of entomological equipment / techniques to sample insects in the field (primarily in wooded areas). General and standardised sampling techniques, and their application, will be discussed. A brief overview of other capture methods will also be discussed. Attendees may wish to use x10 hand lenses and / or photography of live animals to identify their insects to Order. However, a proportion of the samples will have to be dispatched for examination under the microscope.
  • Classroom: Attendees will have the opportunity to look at selected samples from the field work under a stereo microscope; examples may also be projected using the video microscope. There will be the opportunity to use a selection of ‘Keys to Insect Orders’, which follow the same format as Family and Species keys. The pros and cons of these keys will also be discussed.

Key Information

Start date:

Cost:

SWT £45/ non-members £50

Organisation:

Surrey Wildlife Trust

Type:

Short

Sector:

Ecology, Nature & Wildlife

Location:

Nower Wood Educational Nature Reserve

Contact Details: