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  • Emily

Easy Bug Collection Project

Updated: Apr 26, 2020

If you step outside on a warm, spring evening, you will probably find yourself accompanied by more than a few nocturnal insects.

Entomologists (insect scientists) like to take advantage of the abundance of evening insects for their studies. They use what is called a “light trap,” but is really just a white sheet in front of a bright light.

Because this weekend is the 2020 City Nature Challenge, I thought it was the right time to test out this method for myself. I highly recommend that you give it a try!

Here's what you need:

1. a light colored sheet, blanket, or tablecloth

2. a sturdy place where you can hang this sheet

3. a bright, outdoor light that you can shine on it

After an hour of waiting, I already had 8 different species to add to the iNaturalist app and contribute to the City Nature Challenge. It's a great way to have the critters come to you, and you don't even have to leave your yard. Urban, suburban, rural- wherever you live, there is certain to be a wide variety of insects who will accept your spotlight invitation.

I can't claim to have any experience in identifying insects, but the good news is that I was able to upload the pictures to iNaturalist, where there are researchers and experts in Entomology who can clarify and correct my vague descriptions. It's a good reminder that, despite physical distance, science is still all about collaboration! To paraphrase the great Sir Isaac Newton, we stand on the shoulders of giants.

Give it a try and let us know what you find!

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