Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes

Upcoming Events

BugGuide is a National Moth Week Partner. How to add your National Moth Week 2021 photos. July 17-25.

Photos of insects and people from the Spring 2021 gathering in Louisiana, April 28-May 2

National Moth Week 2020 photos of insects and people.

Photos of insects and people from the 2019 BugGuide Gathering in Louisiana, July 25-27

Discussion, insects and people from the 2018 gathering in Virginia, July 27-29

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Photos of insects and people from the 2014 gathering in Virginia, June 4-7.

Photos of insects and people from the 2013 gathering in Arizona, July 25-28

Previous events

Photographing collected live specimens

I could use some helpful hints on
(1) what to do and not do in collecting insects to photograph (that are intended to be unharmed and re-released)
(2) how to put together a set-up in my house to photograph the tiny ones using a tripod and avoiding escapees.
I never quite expected I'd go this far, but I keep finding smaller and smaller insects intriguing and live in a windy area. Thanks for any thoughts.

Try this
If you want extra time over that provided by chilling you can use a keyboard cleaner like Dust-off. Take the nozzle and GENTLY let a little wisp and hiss into their collection vial, NO TORNADOES just a gentle sigh from the can! They will pass out. Let them sleep in the vial for about 30 seconds then dump them out and start shooting right away. Get ventral shots and measure them first (as they normally land and roll to their backs for a while), then they stand up and start to walk around and keep shooting. It normally takes a while for them to fly away.
This is the first shot, then they woke up for the others before flying away...

Thanks for the ideas
Thanks for the ideas. Some of it seems so obvious once I hear it. The flea beetle I was trying to photograph didn't lose his hop with refrigerator treatment. The only decent photo I got was it flailing on its back trying to right itself.

Been there done that :)
Been there done that :)

My solution
Cover glasses, sometimes called cover slips, used in microscopy have excellent optical qualities and can be used to cover small containers holding insects. You can photograph through the glass and it cannot be seen in the image. It works also with flash when positioned at least somewhat sideways. Flash held perpendicular to the cover glass will be reflected into the camera. Really tiny critters I put into the hole of a CD and cover it on both sides with a cover glass. This way one can get ventral and dorsal shots. Also focusing is much easier that way. Cover glasses come in varies sizes and thicknesses. I recommend the thickest ones, number 1 ½, because the thinner they are the easier they break. Cover glasses can be gently cleaned with glass cleaner and used over and over again. To fix the cover glass to a container or CD I use the sticky edge from ‘Sticky Notes’. This can be peeled off without breaking the glass.

Set-ups and techniques
You may want to browse through the Set-ups and Techniques.
One thing I use frequently is an old UV filter. It serves as a cage so the tiny insects can't escape. Chilling might be useful, but I find it too tricky; either it is too much or not enough. Each insect is different, so it is hard to know what to do.

Comment viewing options
Select your preferred way to display the comments and click 'Save settings' to activate your changes.