Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Collecting, Identifying and Classifying Insects - An Interesting Hobby and Profession

Dr Abe V Rotor
Lesson: Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

Butterfly, Order Lepidoptera

Fig and its wasp pollinator (50x magnification)
Order Hymenoptera.
Mealy bug colony; mealybug without wax covering
(50x magnification)

Preying Mantis, Order Mantodea, formerly Orthoptera

Skipper in camouflage, Order Lepidoptera

Dragonfly, Order Odonata

The first thing I do when I see an insect is to find out its group. Is it a beetle? Moth? Wasp? Grasshopper? Then I proceed in understanding it according to the general description of its group or Order. From here I trace it on the Dichotomy of Insect Classification which is found in entomology books.

For example, grasshoppers belong to Order Orthoptera, bugs to Hemiptera, termites Isopotera, dragonflies Odonata, Mayflies Ephemerida. And so on.

But insects are many and varied, and quite often they are seen in their various stages of development. Thus a butterfly may be seen as caterpillar, grasshopper as hopper, flies as maggots, dragonfly as nymph, beetles as grubs. Thus, one must become familiar with the immature stages of an insect.

In this case, the best thing to do is to culture the live immature specimen, if possible. When it metamorphoses it is easier to identify. And you have the specimen for your collection.

There are other problems such as the minute size of insects. You need a magnifying glass or a microscope for earwigs, weevils, thrips, aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, and the like. You need these tools too, in studying the minute parts of other insects.

Let's group insects into Order and give examples under each. This list is arranged according to evolutionary sequence, that is, from primitive to modern. Thus the thysanurans are the earliest insects, while the ants and bees are the most recent. Social behavior - that of forming colonies - is a major characteristic of the modern insects, the hymenopterans, so with the isopterans or termites which are relatively primitive.

  1. Thysanura - Silverfish and Firebrats
  2. Archaeongnata or Collembola - Springtails
  3. Ephemeroptera - Mayflies
  4. Odonata - Dragonflies
  5. Plecoptera - Stoneflies
  6. Blattodea - Cockroaches
  7. Isoptera - Termites
  8. Mantodea - Mantids
  9. Dermaptera - Earwigs
  10. Orthoptera - Grasshoppers and Crickets
  11. Phasmatodea - Stick insect or Walking stick
  12. Embioptera - Web-spinners
  13. Psocoptera - Barklice and Booklice
  14. Phthiraptera - Parasitic Lice
  15. Hemiptera - Bug
  16. Homoptera - Aphids, Scale Insects and Mealybugs
  17. Thysanoptera - Thrips
  18. Raphidioptera - Snakeflies
  19. Megaloptera - Alderflies and Dobsonflies
  20. Neuroptera - Lacewings and Antlions
  21. Coleoptera - Beetles
  22. Strepsiptera - Strepsipterans
  23. Mecoptera - Scorpionflies
  24. Siphonoptera - Fleas
  25. Diptera - Two-winged flies (Houseflies and Mosquitoes)
  26. Tricoptera - Caddisflies
  27. Lepidoptera - Moths and Butterflies
  28. Hymenoptera - Sawflies, Wasps, Ants and Bees
*Major/Common Orders

Seeing this list for the first time may discourage you as an insect hobbyist. While insect taxonomy is comprehensive in books and references, in the field it is different. It is not easy to find representatives of these Orders, and it takes time to get familiar with them. It takes a clinical eye, so to speak, and it needs a lot of patience.

Start collecting insects and you will discover it a very interesting hobby. Why don't you become an entomologist? ~

No comments: