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 - General Preparation of Bugs
This video will show how to collect insects and discusses general preparation of bugs.
Gary Hevel: Hi! I am Gary Hevel. We are talking about how to build a bug collection today. Right now we are looking at preparation, general preparation of fairly moderately sized insects and very small insects. First we are going to start with a moderately large insect called a Leaf-footed bug. Its killed yesterday and we are taking it out now. Putting the moth back in the killing jar; this is the bug that we are working with, it's a true bug. There is about 30 different orders of insects and this is called a true bug, in the order Heteroptera. So everything insects in this particular order are true bugs. True bugs are pinned right in the center of the little triangle on a back and then the easiest way to put the insect up the shaft or the pin is this, and be sure to wear a blouse or a shirt in that case because otherwise it hurts quite a bit. But the insect is now pinned at a generally good level on the pin and then it's a matter of just bracing the insect with a number of other pins.
Sometimes this is easy, sometime difficult. The scientific style is this way. Scientist and collections prefer the insect to be in a very small amount of space because we have lots of insects and space is important. There is no need to have the legs flayed, otherwise if a person does want to they can pull the legs out here and brace them all the way around with pins for a life look at the insects and that could be done. And I am not going to show you everything all around but thats the way that would be done. But for the moment let's put this guy back this way and put it aside. This is a foam board, it's just a Styrofoam board with a sheet of white paper and stained over the years and its very useable in that case. To do a small insect we put them on points like this and the way to make up point. We have a high rag paper here and it's just a matter of getting the point punch. All of the things that I am using today are commercially available and cutting out those, you can also take a pair of scissors and cut the points out little triangles from edge of good quality amount of paper; that we are putting this aside now and trying to get an insect of small size to put on this paper point. So this is a little beetle that came into lights last night. Tweezers are essential for all of this work and we usually position that beetle toward us upside down. So we can work with it that way. Glue is simply any kind of commercial glue, multipurpose glue is best and under the microscope we look carefully. We have dealt with that before. So we get a bit of glue on the end of the point. I like to bend the points just a bit toward the body and then bit of glue, the smaller amount the better. And using another pin for pressing the beetle into the glue point, adjusting a bit and that should do it.
So still if its not quite straight, we can move it above while the glue is drying. So it takes a bit of experience but thats the finished product in that sense. The other thing we have to do is put a little piece of paper on the bottom of the shaft of the pin indicating the place and time, all of this essential data that person wants to have associated with the insect. So that is finished and that's the way you prepare small beetles, bugs and such. Coming up next, we are going to talk about spreading the wings of butterflies and moths.