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.
Labeling an Insect Collection
This video will show how to label an insect collection.
Gary Hevel: Hi! I am Gary Hevel and we are talking about building an insect collection today. I want to talk to right now about labeling and identification of species that you might collect. We can use this as an example in this box. Let's choose the Ichneumon wasp here. Its a wasp that has very long ovipositors, so that makes it a female wasp and the label underneath is what we are concentrating on now. Information that is on an insect label is basically the locality as far down as you can get it, in the case of where I live is 4 miles south west of Ashton. So 4 miles of abbreviated, the SW abbreviated of Ashton would work fine; then the date and then the collector. This is essential information that allows a person in the future to go to notes or find out if they want to go back and look in the same neighborhood for this insect that might be unique and interesting to them, biological also. They can go back to that same locality. So that's the essential information. Sometime a person has enough information if it was parasitizing something in particular about the second label on the shaft or the pin. So that's basically it and the person who identifies it later often puts another label on beneath giving the scientific name of the insect and their name and year to indicate when the identified the insect. Identification is a tricky problem; most insects are very small and very tough to find what they are. There are numbers of references and the books that I have here are simply examples of those, The Roger Tory Peterson Field Guide Series includes insect, field guide to insects, one to moths and one to beetles but thats only -- especially those orders are only a small part of the total numbers of insects that are living and as you might find. There are more field guides to -- for comprehensive insects and this is the latest that I know about. Kaufmans Field Guide to the insects in North America and the value of it is its pictorial guides. So you will see a lot of images of insects that you might find in North America. Sometimes the field guides are too eastern or western but this is a Total of North America.
Here is a page of true bugs. You recall in the beginning we did pinned an insect just like this, so at least we can find out what it is to the genus by the comparison of what we found and what's in the image book here. All insects cannot be imaged of course but this is a very good start to insects that are common and you would fine normally. Sometimes as a matter that you just will not be able to identify what you have, often its a matter of trying to go a science teacher or friend of the Smithsonian or e-mail the image to someone to identify that. I am available for that kind of service too. Well, I hope you have enjoyed all of this talk about insects and how to start an insect collection and I think you should just go out into the field and do your thing. Find out, learn about, observe, you don't necessarily have to pin insects and do that; you can photograph them, you can illustrate them, you can observe their biology and make recordings of that. There is so much, its a vast field of interest and knowledge, so good luck.