I am hoping that most of the insects I collected were are on their way out, and that I honored them in some way by preserving them for scientific purposes. I could NEVER do this again! But I must confess and ask forgiveness from the Universe. Their bodies are locked away in two glass display boxes…when it is found, you will know the sad circumstances of how the collections came to be.
I was in third grade, when Sister Le Claire, my sister and brother’s 1st and 2nd grade teacher, was gone for the summer to take a science class. When she returned in the Fall, she showed me her arduous collective work of catching, mounting and displaying insects with their scientific Latin name that she had to assemble as part of her summer science course culminating project. I was so impressed with this collection! So impressed, in fact, that she gave it to me! In fact, I still have it buried deep in an old trunk.
This amateurish experience led me on with the dream of becoming a world class entomologist.
Feverishly, I collected insect after insect and mounted the butterflies and insects into a carefully prepared box. I wonder WHY no adult stopped me from this dreadful practice! I have two class enclosures of butterflies and a box of insects still in my possession. I do not know what to do with them— and I feel like I am hiding damaging evidence! How much more damaging can it be–their bodies in my closet!
However, my killing came to an end one summer day…and I will now tell you why…
The very last insect that I attempted to display in a specimen box, was Mr. Water Beetle, an inch and a half long, and an inch wide! I had placed it in the “killing jar” for three days. Waiting patiently for it to breathe its last. Three days passed and finally, I thought it was ready for display. As this young child, being only in 4th grade—guess we were not too bright in those days!—I had no idea that I was depriving it of oxygen and that I was actually “killing” it. I thought I was just “putting it to sleep.” Obviously, the implications of that phrase were also far beyond me! Then, after removing it from the killing jar, as it was so aptly described in the science book, I carefully wrote its Latin description and using specially designed scientific pins, neatly attached it to the insect board. Oh my goodness, just to think I did that, sickens me! In any case, a day later I looked at the enclosed case, and this dear Mr. Water Beetle was walking along inside the cardboard display with the pin in his back!
I reacted in horror!
I had this most sickening feeling that I had hurt a creature of the Earth! I immediately tore the cover off the insect box, removed the pin, and took Mr. Water Beetle out to the field near the water pond and set him free!
That day was the demise of my career as an entomologist, I can thankfully say, and today, my confession to the Universe and my plea for forgiveness.
- 4 New Technologies That Use Insects for Inspiration (discovermagazine.com)
- Kids like bugs: entomology outreach in elementary schools (Part 1) (escsecblog.com)
- 5 Friendly Insects For Your Garden (nelsontheadventurer.wordpress.com)