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 at Night
This video will show how to collect insects at night.
Gary Hevel: Hi! I am Gary Hevel. We are talking about building insect collections, and we wanted to talk now about nighttime activities. Pretend its night, if you will, we are looking at tree bark. There is two or three ways, and places do at night. Tree bark is an excellent place, as there are a lot of beetles that come out at night and crawl up and down tress especially dead tress but living trees just as well. So examining a lot of the bark on tress, both living and dead standing trees is an excellent place to find insects. You find flies and beetles and bugs that crawl up and down in the bark at night and here is a dead part of this basswood tree, right behind. So not only the bark, but sometimes the leaves too, insects would be munching on the leaves. So nighttime is a good time. Remarkably good place and good position to find insects is at porch lights at night. The mots will accumulate in good numbers after 10 Oclock. What you want to use with a black light, with a porch light, whatever light at night is the dark of the moon with high humidity, and thats when insects mostly fly. Not so much with full moon, but the dark of the moon.
And they come in to the lights of our porch, land in on the surface here, and I spend a lot of time instead of television chasing bugs at night. So mots, flies, beetles, lots of great things; its a matter that if you have access to not only the porch lights, but other lights, commercial lights especially at night, thats a great place too, especially if they are near woods of any kind. So I encourage that as an activity.
Our third method of nighttime activities for collecting insects is something that's not done commonly, but is well registered in the history of insect books and still goes on. Its a matter of what we call, sugaring. So you get some kind of mixture that is composed of old beer and old fruit, rotting fruit, and molasses, that kind of stuff. So you mash it up in a bow and then use a paintbrush or a spoon to go around on a path next to trees, before sunset and put the mass on the base of trees. Just put some along the sloping part of the tree base here and then leave the area and then go watch television, do whatever, return after dark. After dark, a lot of mots and other insects will accumulate, attracted to that mixture, that mass. Its like apple mash, as the revenuers used to call it. But thats where you can find a lot of insects too, especially at the dark of the moon and the high humidity aspect that we mentioned before. What we want to show you next is the use of small traps and sometimes attractants to attract the insects.