Friday 5: Top 5 Entomological Tools I Never Leave Home Without

I’ve decided to start Friday 5. This feature will include short posts that include lists of five things about me, collecting, insects, entomology, entomologists – anything that I think might be interesting.  They’re likely to let my sense of humor out a bit more than my regular blog posts too, for better or worse.  Hope you enjoy my lists!

Top 5 Entomological Tools I Never Leave Home Without

I am one of THOSE entomologists.  The kind that is often discovered crawling around in the dirt trying to photograph an insect, who stops at EVERY puddle looking for insects (and sometimes even gets in!), and who carries supplies for catching/observing insects with her everywhere she goes.  As you might imagine, my bag is quite heavy.  So here are the things I carry with me everywhere:

Canon G11

Canon G11. Click image for image source and a review.

1. My camera. If there was a fire at my house, after saving my husband, my dogs, and my gerbils, I would save my cameras.  I LOVE my cameras!  The one I carry with me is a point and shoot Canon G11.  This is a fantastic camera for photographing insects.  In fact, I got it specifically so I could photograph the insects I come across in my daily life.  I use it nearly everyday.  It’s not the smallest point and shoot on the market, but the macro is amazing, so it’s worth the extra bulk for me.  The majority of the videos I post on my blog were recorded with this camera as well.  The Canon G12 was just released.  Tempting.  So tempting…

feather foceps

Feather forceps. Click image for image source.

2. Feather forceps. These get a lot of use so I love them, even though people laugh at me for carrying them with me and in spite of the hubbub they cause when I go through metal detectors forgetting they’re in my bag.  Need to pluck an insect from between cactus spines?  Feather forceps!  Want to pick up ants that are likely to sting you?  Feather forceps!  Want to grab any soft bodied insects?  Feather forceps!  Don’t leave home without them.

3. Plastic Ziploc bags. Useful when I need a secure place to put a live insect I’ve collected, so I don’t, say, end up with a dung beetle roaming around inside my lunch bag with my food.  Not that I’ve done that… more than once…  :)


Notebook. Click image for image source.

4. Notebook. The camera will record the date and time, but it’s nice to be able to jot down a few notes about any insects I see, maybe a few “helpful” drawings.  I always have a notebook with me.  And no, I will not be sharing any of these quick sketches. You don’t deserve to be tortured.

magnifying loupe

Magnifying hand lens. Click image for image source.

5. Magnifying hand lens. As much as you might want to, it’s just not practical to carry a microscope around with you.  In a pinch, a hand lens like this one is very useful when you need to get a close look at something.  They’re small and lightweight, so I carry one in my bag at all times.

So that’s my top 5.  Friends of mine carry vials, paint brushes, little containers of alcohol (for preserving insects – what were you thinking it was for?!), pins, glassine envelopes, etc, so there’s a wide range of tools that we entomologists might lug around with us at all times.  Any entomologists want to share the things they carry with them?  Leave a comment below!

Next week: My top 5 dragonflies!


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4 thoughts on “Friday 5: Top 5 Entomological Tools I Never Leave Home Without

  1. The G12 released! mmm, that is sooo tempting. I love my G10 but it is a bit wanting on the macro side, I have to do a lot of cropping and I cannot get close enough to tiny bugs. I might treat myself for Christmas! Cool post. I carry my camera everywhere, and a pen and notebook. The ziplock bags are a good idea, but I tend to leave bugs well alone unless dead, still, the bag would come in handy then.

    • I agree with you that it’s hard to get a photo of really small things with your camera or mine, but I have a DSLR with a good macro lens and a stereoscope I can use with my DSLR for tiny things. Overall though, the macro of the Canon G series cameras is great compared to other point and shoots – and it’s a whole lot easier to carry my G11 with me all the time than my DSLR with the enormously heavy macro lens. Plus, if I drop my G11 in a stream or on the sidewalk and destroy it, I’m out $480 rather than the $2500 my DSLR and macro lens cost. :)

  2. I use small portion cups (like a Jello shot cup) from my local party store. A 100ct pack of 1.25oz cups is $3.50, and the lids are $2.50. Sometimes I use a bigger 2oz cup. I always have them for my field research. They are very handy, and easily stackable, so I can keep some in my purse. It comes in handy if you see a good specimen at a backyard barbecue (go ahead and grab it, our friends usually know we’re weird like that). :)
    If you can’t picture it, here’s the links:

    • Ha ha ha! I’ve carried condiment cups in my purse (I got a box of 1000 at Costco a few years back) AND collected insects in them at parties, so been there, done that! Collected bugs at a wedding once, but then I also got a photo of the bride squatting in the grass to look at ants (what she researches), so I didn’t feel awkward. I’ve also carried petri dishes in my purse for similar purposes, have a variety of vials in there most of the time, and I ALWAYS have my feather forceps on their lanyard handy. Glad to hear you do similar things! :)

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