Monday, December 10, 2012

"Why do you collect insects?"

That's a good question, and whenever I'm asked that I usually get a shocked look as I explain how I collect insects and the process of killing them. To entomologists, it's not such a big deal, especially if you've been collecting insects for a while, but the general public might see it as a hypocritical approach: if entomologists love these bugs they're collecting, why are they killing them rather than letting them live?

I always strive to explain that I collect for a purpose and do my best not to let my collected specimens go to waste by giving them a label and properly processing them, but it can be tough to get the point across.

Thankfully, Greg Pohl, the president of the Alberta Lepidopterists’ Guild, has written a letter that stands as the best defense of insect collection I've read. It's a thorough and very informative piece, and I encourage you to read it in its entirety.

Personally, using insect collections as teaching tools has been the most successful use for collections that I've found. It's how I became interested in insects, and it's how I've gotten others interested in insects--from middle schoolers to adults.

1 comment:

  1. I like the way you put it Derek, "thankfully" Greg wrote that letter, and an excellent one at that. I on the other hand would not have been so patient and nice in my wording. Responding to a naturalist group is essential. Responding to anything with a Jeff Glassberg name on it though is a waste of time.

    Using collections as a teaching tool is very rewarding. For over 20 years my students have provided data for many publications in and out of Ohio with their collections. Just last week another student collected a new record for this area, and he was quite excited. It's about the scientific data, not the hobby.