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Angler's Entomology Podcast

Welcome to the Angler's Entomology Podcast.  On this podcast and blog, I am documenting my re-entry into the world of entomology.   Join us as my wife and I explore the environment in which trout live and the insects and other creatures that live in and share that space.  This is not just a dry recitation of facts, I hope to bring these creatures alive - show you how they live, what makes them fascinating in their own right, and help you understand how they interact with trout in ways that will help your fishing.  So, please join us.  I hope you enjoy the program...


Selene's Blog and Page for Classic Streamers; and you can finder her interview on the podcast the Liar's Club. 

Angler's Entomology Quizup


Episode 13 Notes and Pics - for Collecting Insects

Aug 4, 2017

Hi folks,

Here is a post describing and providing pictures for some of the gear I describe in the collecting insects episode.   As usual, shoot me any questions if you have 

Here’s a pic of my “pocket” collecting gear.   Pretty simple.  A strainer, some vials and forceps.  I actually have it strapped onto my wader belt usually.  It’s in an old epi-pen container – I used to be allergic to honey bees… Note my treasured Grandfather's "ear" forceps.  Those are close to 100 years old now, and in my opinion, they are perfect. 

Picture of Vest Collecting Kit

The other thing  I keep in my vest – which I mention later in the podcast and recently bought  is a collapsing net.  With a twist the net ring folds on itself and it is nice and small.  The handle is small and you can buy extensions for it, but for most of what you are doing while fishing the short handle is enough.   This is primarily designed for flying insects – so when mayflies, for example, are coming off the water, I use this.  If something is in the water I use the strainer.

Bioquip's Pocket Net

Forceps – I love ‘em.

Here is a pic of a series of forceps:  Across the top are vial forceps, left to right are, new ear  forceps, watchmakers forceps, both bent tip and straight, and featherweight forceps.

A selection of forceps

Note the difference between the tips of tweezers and forceps.  See how nice my grandpa’s forceps come together in parallel planes?

Tweezers Tweezing


Ahhh, my forceps, ready to gently grasp a mayfly nymph

Here’s a link to Widget Supply – where you can get cheap forceps.   You are not as likely to get parallel jaws at this source.

And, of course, my favorite source for entomological supplies, bioquip.  Where you can get featherweight forceps - for which parallel jaws aren't that important because the jaws flex around the specimen. 

As I mention in the episode, wing burners can make a decent substitute for featherweight forceps : compare these:

wingburners vs. featherweight

The next tool that is useful is a seine – here is picture of mine – fairly straightforward – just some old tent poles which fold together and window screen with pockets sewed into the edges.  I like it because it folds up into a relatively small package.  The disadvantage is that as it is currently designed the netting can fall off the bottom of the poles.  Duct tape will solve that, but for seines with wooden poles thumbtacks are also used.   My seine rolled up and ready to fit in my collecting vest:

My seine rolled up 

Rolled out and ready to use: 

And in use:

 Since I recorded the podcast I found a cool site which lists ways in which to build one person seines.   Pretty clever ideas:

We then move to nets.   First – here is a picture of a commercial bioquip net, so you can see how it is built – this is their standard student aerial net. Note the grooves in the net handle where the net legs fit into the handle.


So, the one I built is similar – yet holds different nets for different conditions.  As you can see, the strainer fits at the end of the net.  This is just a standard wire kitchen strainer where I cut out the handle and reshaped the wire to fit into the net.


You could, of course, just duct tape it, but my goal was to build something with interchangeable nets. 

I also built an aquatic net – by buying steel rod (stiffer than wire), forming it into a triangle shape and then attaching it higher up on the handle – so the end of the handle supports the rim of the net so it bends less when dragged on the bottom of the stream. 

The net is relatively straightforward – it is typically a muslin triangular walls with a netting base.   Usually the netting is set partially up the walls.  I’m not quite sure why, but all of this style of net I’ve seen built this way.

There are other simple options as well – as I mentioned I use a tea strainer for picking up critters drifting by in the stream – but other use aquarium nets

I mentioned using a garden rake to drag up material from the bottom of a stream or pond.  This is the kind of rake I’m talking about – the ones with the stiff prongs.  It acts basically like a grappling hook.  

Here is my aquatic beetle trap – which I have yet to use!  I made some modifications to the design – I flipped the peanut jar over and put the funnel on the bottom of the jar rather than the lid end –so once insects collect in the jar all I have to do is unscrew the lid and dump them out.  I’m also going to make a version where I increase the size of the funnel so I can trap larger beetles as well.   I’ll post a separate blog when I use it and let  you know how it works.

Here is my aspirator.   Again, this was built from things I had laying around my lab bench – but then, I’ll admit, I think I probably have more random lab equipment laying around than most.  What it does NOT have is a filter so I’m not inhaling dust and fungal spores.  On my list to add.

And here’s the link I promised on the origin of the pooter:

Ok, let’s talk about nets:

There are various plans and tools for modifying landing nets such as:

Here is a landing net that actually can double as a net – specifically for straining insects off of the surface of the water.

Or you can add a paint strainer to a landing net.  Cool idea, but I’m not a big fan of landing nets.

I've already shown you pics of my standard bioquip butterfly net and my pocket net.  

Here is my UV light set up.   As I mentioned in the podcast, it is two PVC pipes, connected to a piece of conduit with bedsheet stretched in between.

Hang a UV Fluorescent light on it and you are good to go.

For power you can use an inverter plugged into the car – here is my inverter from the 1970s - I remember I was a kid and it cost me a gazillion dollars.  You can buy an equivalent one on amazon for about $20. 

Or you can buy one of those portable generators – that is basically a big battery with an inverter built in.  Like this:

These are nifty in that they also have a compressor that you can use to pump up your float tube.

Here is my picture of my ethyl acetate killing jar – which I have to admit – I rarely use.  For most of my collecting now a days I’m either just popping them in alcohol or close enough home so I pop them in the freezer.   Anyway – note the layer of plaster on the bottom – in which you add the ethyl acetate. 

If you kill them and can’t get to them right away you need to relax them.  I mentioned a couple of techniques on the podcast, including dipping them in boiling water, but here is an example of a relaxing jar.  This is an old museum relaxing jar, so it is large and fancy – but you can get the idea of an area where the water is kept vs. a ledge to hold the insects while they are relaxed.

There you go – lot’s of gory details on how to go out and collect insects.  Have fun collecting insects and … honestly, collecting the gear to collect insects!  A lot of the links on the building an insect collection episode also have links and info for how to build some of this gear.  So, it is worth poking around on the internet!