Gardeners' World Web User
15/06/2008 at 21:14
The good thing about entomology is that you can pop a bug into almost anything. When working with children I use my accumulating supply of empty plastic pots that once contained humus, taramasalata, olives, yogurt, cream, margarine, soft cheese, Chinese takeaways, urine samples, and even the children's snack Tupperware boxes. But when I'm working I always use glass tubes, because you can see into them much more clearly with a hand lens. These I get from biological suppliers such as Watkins and Doncaster, who supply them in various different sizes. I usually use the small 'alcohol' tubes because they have a reinforced neck. This is because I often have to bite out the stopper in my teeth whilst holding a wriggling insect in my free hand. Ordinary glass tubes have a habit of shattering in my teeth, cutting my lips.
The ones you can see on the video are ancient plastic-topped bottles I picked up from a second-hand supplier many years ago and which I always carry about in my back-pack in a small metal tube that once contained vanilla pods. Insects breathe very slowly so there is always plenty of air for them even in very small containers. But they do suffer in confined spaces so if you want to examine them in a glass tube pop in a piece of tissue paper so they do not get covered in condensation and also pop in some leaf so they do not get too dehydrated. This also gives them something to cling onto while you peer through the lens. The ladybirds would have been quite OK for several hours, but a bumblebee would not have been very happy at all.