Jun. 14, 2012

DIY Insect Collecting: Beat Sheet

by The Bug Chicks

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What better way to spend a warm summer day than to go bug hunting?  There are all kinds of fascinating insects to be found in your own backyard.  But it can be tricky – lots of insects like to live and hide in scrubby, hard-to-reach places.
 
People always ask us how they can collect insects safely.  Professional insect collecting equipment can be expensive, so we’ve decided to make a little DIY series about how to make your own insect collecting equipment on the cheap.
 
So for this post, we’re going to show you how to create a piece of equipment called a beat sheet.  Entomologists use beat sheets to collect insects from places like bushes because insect nets can get torn up on the woody stems and branches.  It’s quick to make, easy to use, and will help you collect crawling and slow moving insects.  Take a close look!  A lot of the insects that fall into a beat sheet use a defense mechanism called thanatosis, which means they play dead when threatened.
 
Best of all, parents, beat sheets keep little hands away from insects and spiders.  The sheet provides a great way to observe these small animals without having to touch them. Tip your haul out of the beat sheet when you’re done!
 
About The Bug Chicks

Kristie Reddick and Jessica Honaker are The Bug Chicks. They each have Masters Degrees in Entomology and love to teach people about insects and spiders.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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