Glassberg and Field Trips

Barb Beck barb at
Thu Jan 24 14:49:42 EST 2002

Hank, Pricilla, Robert and others

Both types of field trips sound fantastic to me.  I think people have to
learn to identify butterflies by binoculars and not just quickly grab the
net for species that can be identified in the field.  On a field trip you
are not interested in properly documenting every species you find anyway.

On a count we are interested in documenting what we find and doing it
efficiently.  Doing it efficiently means identifying most by binoculars.
But some must be netted here to get a quick accurate id because the field
marks are not seen or the butterfly just does not settle down.

I can see the value of the mayhem of leading a lab tour with nets.  These
are potentially students who will have to use a net in their chosen
profession.  Believe it or not there is some skill in using a net.  Even the
simple thing of trapping the insect in the bag is not intuitive to many. You
must realize too that most universities cannot supply their students with
close focus binoculars and for many students the cost of these are
prohibitive.  Even if the university supplied the binoculars the students
would need to learn to use them.  Using binoculars effectively is not a
skill learned in a few minutes.  Those of us who have used binos for years
do not remember that we actually have developed some skill in using them.
Even if the university could provide binoculars they would not be as easy to
use as my lovely Elites.  Living in Alberta it is impossible for me to hold
a field trip for butterflies during the school term due to our weather but
if I were to hold one it would have to be with nets although I would
encourage those who could obtain a pair of close focus binoculars to use

I would love to be on one of Hank and Pricilla's field trips.  I think it
would be very informative and great. I am a big old lady and it is difficult
for me to net anyway.  I see where somebody leading a university field trip
must use nets. Field trips in the middle where people are out to see
butterflies but most do not have close-focus binoculars there would be great
value in carefully netting butterflies and releasing them.  I find a net
with a window in it extremely helpful in these cases.  There is no need to
handle the butterfly.

There is a place for net field trips and for non-net field trips. At least
here we must use nets and binoculars on our counts to determine accurately
what we have. I know in other places you might not have to.  I butterflied
in Newfoundland last year and had absolutely no need for a net. There is a
place for those who wish at times to a net and release,  there is a place
for those who do not chose to use a net and all, and there is a place for
those who are willing to take specimens for scientific study.  All must work
together to protect what habitat we can for our butterflies.  Any group
which promotes one aspect over the others will not be helping butterflies.

Barb Beck
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

PS  There is never a place on a butterfly trip or count for those horrid
little nets sold to kids as butterfly nets.  The material is inappropriate
and they have no bag.  Kids with those things either beat the butterfly to
death or if they get it into the net grab it in their fist because they
cannot trap the bug in the bag.

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-leps-l at [mailto:owner-leps-l at]On
Behalf Of Hank & Priscilla Brodkin
Sent: January 24, 2002 8:58 AM
To: kriegelr at
Cc: leps-l at
Subject: Re: Glassberg and Field Trips

Robert Kriegel wrote:
> In response to Paul's comments Hank wrote:
> >And it also does not mean that NABA members are forbidden to collect.
> >DO!!! Our field trips tend to contain 15 to 20 people.  Imagine what
> happen if
> >all those folks started waving nets around.  IT WOULD NOT WORK!!!
> As a teaching assistant in several undergraduate and graduate level
> entomology courses we regularly took this many, or more people into the
> field and _required_ them to wave nets around and collect.  At various
> times such field laboratory sessions focused on butterflies, moths,
> insects, even immatures.  Even in introductory level undergraduate courses
> it worked quite well.  Although, I suspect some students did not fully
> appreciate the unique learning experience provided by Dr. Fred Stehr's
> 'roadkill' excursions for immature Coleoptera and Diptera!

Bob -
I have also been on University field trips with the U of A and others.
Those are a whole different animal than the kind of trip we lead, and
each has its purpose.  Our trips are more like birding trips.  We spot a
butterfly and point it out and identify it (or ask others if they can
identify it).  Everyone looks at it through close focus (preferably)
binoculars and we try to describe the marks that make this creature
different from other similar species in the area.  After most of the
group has seen the insect, those with cameras try to stalk and
photograph it.
This is very different than sending folks out with nets to catch and
bring back specimens (live of dead) to the group for identification.
Each type of trip has its place and its purpose.  Our field trips have
the ability to involve all types people, no matter what their age or
physical condition.  If you can walk and see, you can butterfly.
Butterflies, like birds, and very suitable to this type of activity.
Usually we also try to point out plants, birds, and other life forms
that are around.

	             Hank & Priscilla Brodkin
	          Carr Canyon, Cochise County, AZ
                   Send Mailto:hankb at
             SouthEast Arizona Butterfly Association

         "Butterflies of Arizona - a Photographic Guide"
           by Bob Stewart, Priscilla and Hank Brodkin


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