Making a Kick Net by Hand

Kick nets are great tools for collecting insects in streams.  They consist of a rectangular sheet of netting that’s supported on either side with poles.  They typically require two people to operate, one person who holds the net upright in the water with the bottom edge of the net laying against the streambed and a second person who “kicks” by stirring up all of the substrate with his/her feet.   The insects that are dislodged drift downstream into the net.  Kick nets of varying quality are available commercially and if you want to use a kick net to do research, you’ll be better off buying a well made one that you can use for a long time.  However, if you are collecting for fun, doing educational programs, or simply want to explore a stream, a handmade kick net will do just fine.

There are several ways to make kick nets, including simply stapling screen to a pair of dowels with a staple gun, but I like one that’s just a little more complicated to make.  I find they come apart less easily and don’t require quite such frequent repairs.  To make it, you’ll need the following:

  • Window screen. The kick nets pictured in this tutorial were made from a roll of 36” x 25 foot screen, which you can purchase at a hardware store and will make several nets.  I recommend the 48” screen if your water is more than a foot deep.
  • Two wooden dowels – I use 1/2″ x 36” dowels. If you are working in deeper water, get 48” dowels instead. Any diameter dowel will work, but I recommend something between about 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch.  Anything smaller is easy to break and anything wider is needlessly heavy.
  • Two thumbtacks (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine or needle for hand sewing
  • Thread – I recommend nylon thread for longevity

Kick net supplies

Sewing machin

I have been sewing since I was about 8 years old, so I use a sewing machine to make my nets.  You can do the exact same thing I describe here stitching by hand – it just won’t be as quick to make.

Step 1.  Cut a rectangle of screen.  I cut 2 foot sections from my roll, so my pieces were 36” (the width of the roll) by 24”.  I use the width of the roll of screen as the width of my net, so the length I cut from the roll is the final height of my net.  The nets I make are 34 inches across and 24 inches high when complete.

Screen rectangle

Step 2.  Fold over about 1” along one of the shorter edges (make it closer to 1 1/2  inches if you’ve got a 3/4 inch dowel).  Pin if needed.  Stitch in place about 1/4 inch from the raw edge.  If using a sewing machine, backstitch at both ends.

Stitching a dowel pocket

Step 3.  Stitch across the tube you made about 1/4 inch from one end.  Stitch back and forth a few times for a strong seam.

Stitching along the bottom

Step 4.  Repeat on the other end of the netting, folding over about 1 inch, sewing 1/4 inch from the raw edge, and stitching across the bottom of the tube.  Make sure the “bottom” on both ends of the net are the same!  The final product should look like this:

Stitched rectangle

Step 5.  Insert dowels into the pockets you made.

Inserting dowel

Inserted dowel

Step 6.  If you want to be able to remove the dowels easily when not in use, you’re done.  This makes it easier to fold up and put away.  However, it makes the kick net harder to use as you have to hold the net in place in the stream and also hold the dowels in place in the pockets.  I like to add a couple of thumbtacks to hold the net in place during use.  Press them part way in with your thumb and then hammer them in the rest of the way.

thumbtack in place

The final net should look like this:

Final net

To make your kick net easy to carry, roll the net along one of the dowels and secure in place with a twist tie or other fastener:

rolled net

It takes me about 15 minutes to make one of these nets with a sewing machine and they cost about $4 altogether.  Considering how much the professional kick nets cost, I much prefer making a new one of these when one breaks than laying out the cash for a new pro net.

Good luck and here’s hoping you find many interesting things with your net!

pile of kick nets

You can download a printable version of this tutorial on my Educational Materials page.

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth.

Swarm Sunday: 9/27/15 – 12/20/15

Dragonfly Swarm Project logoThanks to work, I haven’t had much time to blog recently, but I wanted to get the remaining swarms reported from 2015 up before the end of the year.  Swarms were reported from the following locations since early October, the normal end of the season:

USA:

Santa Monica, CA
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Holmes Beach, FL
Indian Shores, FL
Lakeland, FL
Miami, FL
Naples, FL
Panama City Beach, FL
Pompano Beach, FL
Santa Rosa Beach, FL (2 swarms)
Sarasota, FL (2 swarms)
Sunrise, FL
Wichita, KS
Somerset, KY
Vineland, NJ
Austin, TX
Gilchrist, TX

India:

Bangalore (2 swarms)

Mexico:

Cancun

Belize:

Dangriga

Here is the US map for the fall flights:

10.4.15 to 12.19.15

 

Click the map to enlarge!

 

The end of the swarm season was interesting this year!  It lasted quite a lot longer into October than usual and a couple American swarms were reported in November.  The past 5 years, a very few swarm reports have been submitted the first two weeks in October, so the late swarms this year were a good 2-6 weeks later than normal.  The season started a few weeks late this year, too, and it stayed warm a lot longer into the fall in the east than typical, so there was a lot potentially coming into play here.  What’s really odd about this map is that there are three swarms reported from areas fairly far north much later in the season than I would expect them.  Most of the swarms should be much further south by early October, so it’s very strange to see a swarm as far north as New Jersey that late in the year.

There have been a few winter reports made from closer to the equator, from Belize and southern Mexico.  These are normal, but it’s always exciting to see activity further south.  Are the dragonflies they’re seeing the same dragonflies we saw in the fall?  It’s impossible to tell with the way I collect data, but it’s fun to think that they might be.

I totally dropped the ball reporting the annual findings last year, but I’m almost ready to post the findings from 2015.  Look for the first post next weekend most likely!  It’s been an interesting year.

Thank you to everyone who has participated in the Dragonfly Swarm Project in 2015!  I’ve got some exciting new opportunities coming up next year that I’ll share soon and I’m looking forward to the next season.  In the meantime, if you see any swarms, I hope you’ll report them!  This is a slow time of year, but I get a lot of very interesting reports from many sites across the world in the winter.  I’ll gladly take reports!

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Have you seen a dragonfly swarm? I am tracking swarms so I can learn more about this interesting behavior.  If you see one, I’d love to hear from you!  Please visit my Report a Dragonfly Swarm page to fill out the official report form.  It only takes a few minutes! Thanks!

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Want more information? Visit my dragonfly swarm information page for my entire collection of posts about dragonfly swarms!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Swarm Sunday: 9/27/15 – 10/3/15

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

The swarming season is definitely slowing down, though there were two areas this week that saw a fair bit of activity.  Swarms were reported from the following locations in the last week:

USA:

Miami Beach, FL
Miami Shores, FL
Pompano Beach, FL

Yorktown, IN
Omaha, NE (8 swarms)

Here is the US map for last week:

9.27.15 to 10.3.15

 

Click the map to enlarge!

There’s been a big event in Omaha and/or Lincoln, Nebraska each year since I started this project and it took place last week.  A big migration moved through the Omaha area and several people reported it.  There were also a handful of swarms reported from southern Florida (and there have been others reported since then too), so it looks like some of our eastern dragonflies might be headed across the ocean to Central or South America soon!

I’ll post again next week since I’ve already gotten some reports this week, but the season is definitely winding down.  Here’s hoping we’ll see one more big burst in activity before the dragonflies disappear for the year!

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Have you seen a dragonfly swarm? I am tracking swarms so I can learn more about this interesting behavior.  If you see one, I’d love to hear from you!  Please visit my Report a Dragonfly Swarm page to fill out the official report form.  It only takes a few minutes! Thanks!

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Want more information? Visit my dragonfly swarm information page for my entire collection of posts about dragonfly swarms!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Swarm Sunday (on Monday): 9/20/15 – 9/26/15

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

Thanks to attending a conference with very limited internet connection this weekend, this is a day late.  However, we’re transitioning into fall, so the swarm activity is way down this week – not a lot to report anyway!  Swarms were reported from the following locations in the last week:

USA:

Phoenix, AZ
Panama City Beach, FL
Port St. Joe, FL
Sarasota, FL
St. Petersburg, FL
Blackshear, GA
Council Grove, KS
Kansas City, KS
Ludington, MI
Kansas City, MO
Fort Worth, TX

Here is the US map for last week:

 

9.20.15 to 9.26.15

Click the map to enlarge!

A bit of an odd arrangement of reports this week!  A few in the south, where I’d expect them to be, but there is still a small amount of activity in the upper and central Midwest.  Odd!  Still no migration in the western US this year, which seems to fit well with the limited migratory reports in the east overall.  With some definite exceptions, cities that had huge migratory events, there hasn’t been a whole lot of movement reported this year.  Very interesting.

I suspect the season is almost over and that I’ll only get a few reports this week.  Hope you’ll take a moment to submit a report if you see a swarm!  Anything this late in the year is exciting.

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Have you seen a dragonfly swarm? I am tracking swarms so I can learn more about this interesting behavior.  If you see one, I’d love to hear from you!  Please visit my Report a Dragonfly Swarm page to fill out the official report form.  It only takes a few minutes! Thanks!

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Want more information? Visit my dragonfly swarm information page for my entire collection of posts about dragonfly swarms!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Swarm Sunday: 9/13/15 – 9/19/15

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

Well, things have definitely slowed down!  After a big, bright burst of swarming activity over the last three weeks, we’re suddenly headed into fall.  Swarms were reported in the following locations over the last week:

USA:

Marco Island, FL
Santa Rosa Beach, FL
Hamburg, IA
Hillsboro, IL
Parkton, MD
Silver Spring, MD
North Topsail, NC (2 swarms)
Oak Island, NC
Pine Knoll Shores, NC
Surf City, NC (2 swarms)
Topsail Beach, NC
Alpine, NJ
Cherry Hill, NJ
Somerdale, NJ
College Point, NY
New York, NY
Mustang, OK
Hawley, PA
Lehighton, PA
West Chester, PA

Here is the US map for last week:

9.13.15 to 9.19.15

 

 

 

Click the map to enlarge!

 

Still not a lot of migratory action being reported, but last week there was a significant migratory movement in my own state of North Carolina.  I heard about this migration through my project, via e mails, and some people even came to tell me all about it after a talk I gave on dragonflies at the museum where I work yesterday.  Otherwise, it was a pretty quiet week!  Little bit of activity along coastal New England, but very little inland.

I’ve gotten over 700 swarm reports so far this year!  Hoping I’ll end up with 800+, which would make this a pretty good year for swarming dragonflies overall.  Keep sending in reports as you see swarms!

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Have you seen a dragonfly swarm? I am tracking swarms so I can learn more about this interesting behavior.  If you see one, I’d love to hear from you!  Please visit my Report a Dragonfly Swarm page to fill out the official report form.  It only takes a few minutes! Thanks!

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Want more information? Visit my dragonfly swarm information page for my entire collection of posts about dragonfly swarms!

_______________

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Heads Up – New Project Starting on Monday and YOU Can Get Involved!

As many of you probably know, I work for a natural history museum in North Carolina and my job focuses on getting people involved in citizen science efforts.  My museum is part of a really fun collaborative project called Remix, Remake, Curate that brings together museum-based science and the arts (writing especially).  It encourages participants (especially K-12 students) to get involved in fun, hands-on science activities and write creatively about their experiences.  We’re partnered with the Tar River Writing Project and the Poetry Project, so our particular project has students learning about science through a variety of activities and then writing/performing poetry based on what they learned.  Participants then share their results – scientific and written – through scheduled Twitter chats and Google Hangouts and post their poems and photos from their scientific explorations on the Google+ community.  The project is offered in a massive open online course format, so anyone anywhere can get involved!  You don’t even have to be a kid to take part.

Prodaticus bimarginatus

Predaceous diving beetle at a light at night

Why should you care?  Because year 2 of the project starts on Monday and my team created a fun insect-themed activity focused on nighttime insects!  Over the next two weeks, we’re encouraging people to go outside at night, look at lights, and record observations about the insects they see.  I’ve created a simple guide to porch light insects to help people identify their critters and a datasheet for recording observations.  (Both are now available on the Educational Materials page!)   After making some observations of nighttime insects, we are encouraging participants to write a two-voice poem based on their experience and share the results (whether the poem itself or a video recording of two people performing the poem) on our Google+ community.  At the end of our two weeks, we will have built a huge collection of insect photos, datasheets with awesome insect drawings, artwork, insect poetry, and other insect awesomeness that everyone will be able to see online.  I think it’s going to be a lot of fun!

Plume moth G12

Plume moth

Want to get involved?  You can participate in a variety of different ways!  If you’re an educator, consider following along with your class.  Most of the people developing the activities for this activity are language or visual arts teachers and the activities are built for teachers to use in their classrooms.  We’d love to have you join in.  If you would simply like to participate in the project on your own, please do!  Even if you’re not a K-12 student or a teacher, we’d still love to see some of your porch light insect photos, poems, etc.  And, if you want to really make a kid’s day, you could also visit our Google+ community page over the next few weeks and comment on poems submitted by participants.  Last year, the kids who participated told their teachers that one of the best things about the project was the feedback they got from strangers, knowing that people out there were actually reading the things they had created.  I don’t expect any of you to become poetry trolls, but it’s worth saying that we hope that commenters will be kind.  Most of the participants are kids, after all!

Hebrew

Hebrew

I am planning to blacklight in my backyard each night next week and write a whole bunch of poems for the project.  I’ll likely post some of them here, so if you see my blog invaded by poetry, that’s why!  And just to get you in the mood, I thought I’d share a poem today.  The woman who administers Remix, Remake, Curate,  Stephanie West-Puckett (an instructor at Eastern Carolina University), attended the Educator Open House at my museum last week to drum up interest in the project.  She had the teachers who visited her station do a blackout poem, a type of poem where you take a piece of text and then black out all of the words that will not eventually become a part of the poem.  She chose my recent post about antlions as the text, so I’ll leave you with an antlion blackout poem.

Hope to see a few of you join the project starting Monday!

Going, Going, Gone
A Blackout Poem Created by North Carolina Teachers

Entomologist.
Prairie Ridge antlions at work
moving about.  There are hoards.
Hoards!!

For a moment, digging.
Abdomen, thorax, head.
Disappeared.
Mouth-parts for a moment.
Antlion.

Like the Sarlaccc in Star,
Sci-fi lover.  Antlion pits.
Little craters. Monster.
Rawwr!

Predators wait.
Unsuspecting victims slip into the cone-shaped pits,
Tumble to the bottom.
Loose sand.
Down.

Whole larva swallowed by the sand,
Cone-shaped pit, sand all over the place.
Lurking.

Hapless ant, it’s next meal.
Antlions are crazy cool.
Larvae, they roll.  Ball.
Damselfly-like antlion. Same species.
Ant.

As that antlion lying in wait,
Jaws poised,
Just below the surface,
Hidden.
Sight. Life. Over.

Series of photos, re-burying itself.
Larvae crawl backwards,
Butt first, bewildered.
Larvae hooked the easiest
Misidentification pet.
Feel.

Repeating, burying itself.
Pit.  Lurks beneath surface.
Nightmares…

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Swarm Sunday (on Monday): 8/30/15 – 9/12/15

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

Reporting on two weeks of data once again, but there’s been a lot going on recently! Swarms were reported from the following locations over the last two weeks:

USA:

El Cajon, CA
Foresthill, CA
Studio City, CA
Ventura, CA
Branford, CT
Clinton, CT
East Haven, CT
Middletown, CT
Redding, CT
Daytona Beach, FL
Britt, IA
Council Bluffs, IA (2 swarms)
Davenport, IA
Dubuque, IA
Grinnell, IA
Osceola, IA
Oskaloosa, IA
Sergeant Bluff, IA
Sioux City, IA
Traer, IA
Waukee, IA
Arlington Heights, IL
Beardstown, IL
Beecher IL
Bensenville, IL
Bloomington, IL
Crestwood, IL (2 swarms)
Dawson, IL
Dekalb, IL
Downs, IL
Geneva, IL
Germantown Hills, IL
Gurnee, IL
Homewood, IL (2 swarms)
Jacksonville, IL
Lawrenceville, IL
Liberty, IL
Mackinaw, IL
Midlothian, IL
Monmouth, IL
Oak Forest, IL
Oak Park, IL
Oakwood, IL
Philo, IL
Silvis, IL
St. Joseph, IL (3 swarms)
Sterling, IL
Sycamore, IL
Tinley Park, IL (2 swarms)
Urbana, IL (2 swarms)
Western Springs, IL
Wilmette, IL
Arcadia, IN
Centerville, IN
Cowan, IN
Fowlerton, IN (2 swarms)
Frankfort, IN
Laporte, IN
Lebanon, IN
Milton, IN
Rushville, IN
South Bend, IN
Terre Haute, IN
Tipton, IN
Vevay, IN
Atchison, KS
Bonner Springs, KS
Burrton, KS
Girard, KS
Goddard, KS
Newton, KS
Overland Park, KS
Ashland, KY (2 swarms)
Brooksville, KY
London, KY
Shelbyville, KY
Amesbury, MA
Dighton, MA
Huntington, MA
Ipswich, MA (2 swarms)
Newbury, MA
Newburyport, MA
Clarksburg, MD
Baroda, MI
Dowling, MI
East Tawas, MI
Lasalle , MI
Roseville, MI
Apple Valley, MN
Butterfield, MN
Dennison, MN (2 swarms)
Lakeville, MI
Blue Springs, MO
Cameron, MO
Clinton, MO
Edina, MO
Holt, MO
Kansas City, MO (3 swarms)
Kirksville, MO
Lee’s Summit, MO
Memphis, MO
Odessa, MO
Platte City, MO
Plattsburg, MO
Richland, MO
Richmond, MO
Troy, MO
Warrensburg, MO
Asheville, NC
Bismarck, ND
Eagle, NE
Firth, NE
Omaha, NE
Exeter, NH
Hampton, NH
Kensington, NH (3 swarms)
Moultonborough, NH
South Hampton, NH
Alloway Township, NJ
Livingston , NJ
Long Valley, NJ
Paramus, NJ
Ringoes, NJ
Somerset, NJ
Trenton, NJ
West Caldwell, NJ
Woolwich Township, NJ
Bayside, NY
Cleveland, NY
Cutchogue, NY
Greenburgh, NY
Lacona, NY
Warners, NY
Brookville, OH
Butler, OH
Chauncey, OH
Cincinnati, OH (3 swarms)
Columbus, OH (8 swarms)
Convoy, OH
Covington, OH
Cumberland, OH
Dayton, OH (3 swarms)
Delaware, OH (2 swarms)
Derby, OH
Dublin, OH (4 swarms)
Dunkirk, OH
Enon, OH
Fostoria, OH
Frankfort, OH
Galloway, OH (2 swarms)
Hartford, OH
Lancaster, OH
Lewis Center, OH (2 swarms)
Lynchburg, OH
Madeira, OH
Mount Victory, OH
New Holland, OH
New Madison, OH
New Richmond, OH
Plain City, OH
Sylvania, OH
Tontogany, OH
Upper Sandusky, OH
Utica, OH
Wilmington, OH
Milford. OH
Allentown, PA
Avondale, PA
Huntingdon Valley, PA
Knoxville, PA
Macungie, PA
Willisport, PA
Simpsonville. SC
Chattanooga, TN
Mountain City, TN
Georgetown, TX
Port Allen, TX
Batesville, VA
Big Stone Gap, VA
Fairfax, VA
Lebanon, VA
Bellows Falls, VT
Granton, WI
Madison, WI
Milwaukee, WI
Monroe, WI
Huntington, WV

Canada:

Burlington, ON
Oakville, ON
St. George, ON
Toronto, ON (2 swarms)

And here are the US maps for the last two weeks:

8.30.15 to 9.5.15

9.6.15 to 9.12.15

Click the maps to enlarge!

We’re still a little light on migratory swarm reports this year, but the dragonflies do at least appear to be shifting southward finally.  Last week, the swarms went from being quite abundant in the Great Lakes region and upper New England to the upper midwest, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.  There have been very few reports from the southern states at all this year, but people in the Mid-Atlantic state, the Deep South, Arkansas, and Texas are likely to start seeing a lot more dragonflies over the next week to two weeks as the dragonflies from the northern part of the country start making their way further south.

Still no western migration!  Could start any day.  I’ve been keeping a close eye on all of the northwestern dragonfly listservs and online groups in addition to what’s reported here and there’s so far nothing to report from that area.

Given the big number of reports over the last two weeks, I think the season has peaked and we’re headed into the fall slump this week or next week.  Still, keep an eye out for swarms!  You never know when and where you might see one, and I hope you’ll report any you see.

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Have you seen a dragonfly swarm? I am tracking swarms so I can learn more about this interesting behavior.  If you see one, I’d love to hear from you!  Please visit my Report a Dragonfly Swarm page to fill out the official report form.  It only takes a few minutes! Thanks!

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Want more information? Visit my dragonfly swarm information page for my entire collection of posts about dragonfly swarms!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth