Several students in Dr. Julio Bernal’s ENTO 313, Biology of Insects, lab got the experience of a lifetime this March as they learned valuable hands-on experience in collecting insects at Lick Creek Park early in March.
The students worked throughout the class period learning the various techniques and the insect biodiversity that is at the park. Teaching assistant and Ph.D. student Ordom Huot led the trip and said that he wanted to teach and use some of the collection and identification techniques that were taught in the lab and during the lecture.
“I believe that it’s important for students to observe insects in nature to understand the important role of insects and to have experiences applying the knowledge they had gained in class,” Huot said.
Huot said this was the first time the students had worked in the field collecting insects and that insects they were focusing on were in the orders Orthoptera (grasshoppers), Diptera (flies), Collembola (springtails), Isoptera (termites), and Coleoptera (beetles).
Senior Wildlife and Fisheries major Katherine Hoffman said that her favorite part of the activity was learning all the different collection techniques and collecting various insects including springtails and dung beetles.
“I think I perfected the technique of removing bark to collect Collembola,” she said. “It was great and lots of fun.”
In addition to dung beetles and springtails, some students caught grasshoppers and some paper wasps, including junior Lindsey Garza. She caught a fairly large grasshopper near the trails.
“It was cool. I saw him on the ground and I thought it was great when I got him,” she said.
Garza said her favorite part of the trip was working with the various techniques, including using a sweep net to capture insects.
“It was fun chasing the insects with the net,” she said. “They’re really fast!”
Senior Biomedical Sciences and Entomology major Amanda Blake learned that there were a lot of surprises when collecting insects.
“I learned that insects are in a lot of places that I didn’t expect,” she said. “I thought collecting them was great.”
Huot was pleased with the outcome and said the students did enjoy the collection time, despite the cooler weather conditions.
“I was just hoping to show students different techniques of collecting insects so that they can collect insects on their own,” he said. “Frankly, I did not expect much since the weather was unpredictable and it was still cold outside, but the students had so much fun and we found so many insects. So we ended up staying at the park longer than planned.”