Improving Your Display Collection

Improving Your Display Collection

There are certain specifications on which your insect collection will be judged in competition. The given illustration is an example for you to follow. The information below will help you in preparing your display.

  1. Either the standard 18 x 24-inch display box or the special styrene box must be used for exhibiting insects in competition at fairs. (Directions for making the standard box were given in 4-H Entomology Unit I.) The styrene box can be ordered from the State 4-H Office, 212 Scovell Hall, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546.
  2. Insects must be arranged in the box so that the short sides of the box are the right and left sides.
  3. Insects must be in vertical columns with the head of each insect toward the front (top) of the box.
  4. Insects on card points must be pointed in the same direction as the other insects, with the card point jutting to the left from the pin.
  5. All insects of the same order must be grouped together into one series, but they may continue into more than one column. In other words, insects in the same order should not be scattered in the box and separated from each other by insects of other orders.
  6. The largest insect of an order must be placed first in that order series; the rest should be placed according to decreasing size.
  7. For Unit ll, the display should consist of one box with a minimum of eight orders and not less than 50 insects. Do not exceed the minimum requirements to the extent that insects are jammed in a messy way in the box. If you have a lot of insects, it is best to choose only the best specimens to make a good-looking, uncrowded display. (For more advanced projects that require more insects, 2 or 3 boxes are allowed so the insects are not crowded.)
  8. Half of the insects should be identified with a common name more precise than the common name of the order. For instance, ' beetles" is the common name for Order Coleoptera, so when identifying a beetle you should try to identify what kind it is, such as Colorado potato beetle.
  9. Use only the labels printed for and provided by the 4-H project.
  10. See that the order labels lie flat on the bottom of the box in front of the first insect in the order series. It should be held in place with two common straight pins. If the series continues into the next column, label the continued column also. If an order series ends in the middle of a column, you may start the next order series right after it.
  11. A "date-locality" label must be on the pin of each specimen. The pin should go through the dot at the center of the label. The label should be aligned parallel to the insect's body so it can be read from the left side of the collection. Keep the labels at a uniform height on the pins. (See the Optional Exercises for making and using a pinning block.)
  12. If the wing length of moths or butterflies is one inch or more, the wings should be spread. (Click here for directions on spreading butterfly wings.)
  13. The "common name" labels rest on the bottom of the box and are held in place by the specimen pins. The pin should go through the dot on the right side of the label, causing the label to jut to the left from the pin. If the insect is large and blocks the view of the common name label, the label may be placed on a separate pin close after the insect. Every insect should have a common name label whether anything is written on it or not.
  14. Every insect in the collection should be different, either a different species or a different form of the same species. (Males and females of the same species often look slightly different, so you can use a male and a female as different insects.)
  15. Damaged or poorly pinned insects detract from the appearance of your collection and will count against your display score. Replace such specimens if you can. However, if a damaged insect is your only representative of that order, or if you need the insect to meet the minimum number of insects, then you should include it in your display collection.
  16. When entering your display in competition at fairs, attach an "insect collection catalog" to the display box. The catalog will make it easier for the judge to make constructive comments. Bonus points are also given for having a catalog with the collection.


Getting More Variety in Your Collection

If you collect in only a few different places during the day and use the same collecting techniques, it may be hard to find enough variety of the insects you want for your collection. Many types of insects that cannot be found during the day are attracted to lights at night. Some insects will come to lights early in the evening, and others may come very late. The color of the light also affects the attraction of insects. A black light (ultraviolet) is more attractive to a greater variety of insects than lights of other types. You can also devise traps to collect insects when you are not at the light. See the Optional Exercises section for making and using light traps. You can use your own imagination for designing or modifying some of the light traps suggested in the Optional Exercises.


Pinning Insects

In Unit I, you were given some general instructions for pinning insects, and you were shown some typical examples. You probably learned a lot about what you can and cannot do without damaging insects when you pin them. Now you are going to learn techniques for dealing with some more special situations such as pinning insects that have become dry and brittle and spreading the wings of butterflies and moths. The illustrations below are for review of the special spots for pinning some common insects. Notice that even though the pin appears to go through a different spot on different insects, the pin always goes through the thorax a little to the right of the mid line.


BEE--Pin bees, wasps, flies, dragonflies and other insects with similar wings through the thorax between the bases of the wings.


TRUE BUGS--Pin true bugs through the right comer of the scutellum. The scutellum is a triangular area with the point of the triangle pointing to the rear. In stink bugs the scutellum is large, but in other bugs it may be quite small.


BEETLES--Pin beetles to the right of the center line so that the pin emerges from the underside of the insect between the middle and hind legs of the right side. Do not pin so far back that the pin comes through the abdomen.


GRASSHOPPERS--Pin grasshoppers so that the pin emerges between the middle and hind legs of the right side. Insert the pin near the right hind margin of the pronotum. The pronotum is the saddle-shaped structure of the thorax just behind the head.


How to Card Point Small Insects

Small, delicate insects may be impossible to pin in the conventional way with standard sized insect pins. You can solve this problem by using the card point pinning technique explained below. Prepare several card points on pins in advance so they are ready when you want to mount a small insect.

  1. Select some heavy paper, such as a file card, and cut triangular card points to the dimensions as shown in Figure A.
  2. Put an insect pin through the base of the card point. Use a pinning block as shown in Figure B to position the card point on the pin. (Click here for instructions for making and using a pinning block.)
  3. With a pair of tweezers, bend down the tip of the card point as shown in Figure C.
  4. Put a tiny drop of glue on the bent down tip of the card point, and touch the glue drop to the right side of the insect as shown in Figure D. Do not use so much glue that the insect becomes totally embedded in it. When you lift up the pin, the insect should be level and topside up as shown in Figure E.


Insect Collection Catalog

The Insect Collection Catalog should accompany your collection when it is being exhibited. The example shows how the catalog should be filled out. It also shows the kinds of comments the judge might make about the insects in your collection. Blank catalog pages are supplied with the project. If you don't have them, order them from the 4-H Entomologist, Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546-0091. The catalog list should be placed in an envelope and taped to the back of the box.