Gary Hevel began his kinship with Nature when quite young in his hometown of Oswego, Kansas. Early experiences were with snakes and other reptiles. At the Smithsonian Institution (since 1969), Gary is the public point-of-contact for the Department of Entomology. He produces the monthly departmental newsletter, EntNews, and is routinely involved in collections maintenance, curation and loans of beetles from the research collection. Through the years he has led or joined insect collecting trips to 24 worldwide countries and territories, and has collected some 200 new species of insects, with a dozen of those named for him. His latest research effort has been a four-year survey of insects in his back yard, resulting in an estimated 4,000 different species (see Oct. 2004 issue of Smithsonian magazine). This effort attracted the attention of a public television company in Japan, which sent a film crew to his residence in September, 2004 to film the story. The resulting documentary, “Bug-Hunter,” was broadcast nationally in Japan in December of that year. This documentary has recently been updated to an English language version, which is currently appearing some fifteen times per month as “Insect Microcosm” on the Smithsonian Channel (Direct TV, Channel 267). Gary has appeared in radio, television and newspaper interviews on the subject of entomology, and his busiest time with the news media was during May of 2004, when he was point person for fielding media questions about the emergence of the seventeen-year cicadas in the eastern United States. One afternoon during that period, he was interviewed on live radio transmissions two times by the BBC (British Broadcasting Company). He is pleased to have appeared in the book, Adventures of Riley: Mission to Madagascar, in the form of a cartoon, commenting as an authority on an aspect of insect life, as a sidebar to the story. Gary is witness to the fact that entomology is not for sissies. His entomological experiences include being stung by a European hornet, a cicada killer wasp, and a scorpion; and being bitten by a masked hunter bug, a wheel bug, a unique-headed bug, a minute pirate bug, a copperhead snake, and a squirrel.
In this video series, expert Gary Hevel demonstrates how to start your very own insect collection.
Gary Hevel: Hi! I am Gary Hevel, welcome to my backyard. What we are going to do today is talk about developing and starting an insect collection. Some people call them bugs, but the true bugs are only one part of the total insects. So, we are calling it insect collection while we discuss it.
What we are going to do is run through some of the collecting method, preparation methods, the identification of insects. Show you some guides, walk around show you how to collect and all the subjects that we can think of that will interest you.
What we want to talk about and show you are various equipment and supplies; as we go we will see some of those in action. But right now, of course, the basic essentials are an insect net, because most insects do fly and we can get into killing jars and safety at the same time. Professionals use a killing jar with cyanide on the bottom, but cyanide is a chemical thats protected and unavailable in general.
Normally, for collecting -- that the person can, wants do is just to take a plane jar, put the insect inside and then put that insect with jar into the freezer of your refrigerator. Its best to share that knowledge with some other people you live with rather than have a surprise, so do warn them about that beforehand. Insects are small; so, you can not necessarily use a full-sized jar, but place an insect in the vial of different kinds. And that works just fine, the insects are dead in the morning, there is no chemicals, no fuss that way. Killing jars can be gained from supply houses as can most of the material, the equipment and supplies we talk about today. One other reminder about the safety involved in insect collecting, some insects will sting and bite; mostly wasp and ants and pirate bugs. So its best to learn about them and not grab anything that you know is not going to bite you; with experience you will know more about that. I work at the Smithsonian Institution at the National Museum of Natural History. Despite my youthful appearance I have been there about 50 years and started out collecting insects in my youth in Kansas. And I have been to a number of places around the world and now I am settled into my backyard where I am concentrating on the fauna here. So lets get started, I will show you how to build an insect collection.