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.
- 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.
- Insects must be arranged in the box so that the
short sides of the box are the right and left
- Insects must be in vertical columns with the
head of each insect toward the front (top) of the
- 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.
- 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.
- The largest insect of an order must be placed
first in that order series; the rest should be
placed according to decreasing size.
- 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.)
- 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.
- Use only the labels printed for and provided by
the 4-H project.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
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
BEE--Pin bees, wasps, flies, dragonflies and other insects
with similar wings through the thorax between the bases of
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
- Select some heavy paper, such as a file card,
and cut triangular card points to the
dimensions as shown in Figure A.
- 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
- With a pair of tweezers, bend down the tip of
the card point as shown in Figure C.
- 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.
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.