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.
Insect Collecting - Collecting During the Day
This video will show how to collect insects during the day.
Gary Hevel: Hi! I am Gary Hevel and we are looking at developing an insect collection, starting a bug collection. So this point of it is daytime collecting, there are various methods of that for the collector to go out with an insect net instead of chasing around with butterflies like a fool. It depends on what you are looking for; you can chase butterflies or if you get more into entomology for biodiversity or project of any kind, one of the ways of collecting small insects and sometimes medium-size insects is doing, what we call sweeping or beating vegetation.
So, I just take aerial net for this purpose and sweep it upwards on kinds of vegetation, in this case, Jerusalem artichoke. I know that they are certain little flies and small bugs like this that might accumulate. So I do this a bit of time; number of sweeps. Then I grasp the bottom of here, thinking that there is going to be a lot of wonderful insects inside. I have got a cyanide jar out and put these fetch into the cyanide jar.
So, sometimes this is very successful and sometimes not, but after a number of tries like this, things do accumulate. Some of which didnt really get into the cyanide jar, but its a great way to accumulate insects over a period of time. The other things that can be beaten or simply or swept or simply the grasslands, this has recently been more in here, but pulling the insect net over the general grass of any suburban yard despite not seeing thing we will often bring a lot of flies, leafhoppers and such into the net.
So in this time instead of jarring, I think I will just hold this up and lets take a look at it. So you can see that there are a good number of things flying here, that perhaps are surprise to the general person walking by. Lot of leafhoppers, true bugs, there is a beetle there; that is of interest so I will keep it, thats amazing. The numbers of insect specimens as well as species anywhere you look except the Antarctic. I always carry a little vial in my pocket, just in case. This is a little leaf beetle, that I dont know that I have ever seen before. I dont know for the fact that I have seen it before.
So good, you never know and that is simply from the grassland here, gracious. More successful usually is into heavier vegetation and taller vegetation, in the sunshine or in the shade. So in this case next to the malaise trap, here is some vegetation. One has to be careful about doing sweeping of an aerial net and not getting it into brambles and wines, like this raspberry set here. That will tear and stop an insect net very fast. Its all about the same thing, a lot of jumping insects here; most of which I have seen before, I am sure. Little flies, little beetles, a spider or two; so its a great way of gathering a lot of different kinds of insects very fast. Sometimes a person can gather more insects of more interest on trees, leaves, branches, bark. So this is a nice oak here, oaks have a big reputation for having golds all over them. I dont see any at the moment but this is a nice tree bark here and these are simply branches that a person can do the same thing with in a way of beating, looking for insects in this way and see what drops out into the net.
But the other way is to carefully look at the bark of an oak tree and see what might be there and sometimes it takes quite a bit of patience. What a person looks for when they are chasing the insects this way are color patterns or shifts on different changes in the color. So this is a little hopper that actually hopped in front of our very eyes, but they are resting just like that in the daytime to get out of the heat and such.
So often there are a lot of insects on the bark and sometimes at night too. Its fun to look at all logs like this and branches that have fallen. There are always things under the bark and very interesting items in the way of beetles in many cases. Here is another different species of hopper that we just saw here, light green, so its not a very good camouflage there. But most insects that are on bark are dark and look very much like bark; so its difficult. One of the things I have read recently are collectors going to tree like this and hitting this tree barks, the base of the bark this way and in many cases there is a underwing moth, that flies away about 20 feet or so and then the collectors are able to recognize where they stop and go up with the jar and capture then better.
So there are all kinds of methods and techniques of collecting and you can read about these, you can experience them, you can develop your own interest on what you are looking for. Sometimes there are more insects on small saplings like this oak than there are on the main tree itself. So there are many things to see and find that about that way in the daytime of collecting and you will learn more as you go. Next, we will look at nighttime collecting.