Lab 5: Collecting & Preserving 3 – Aquatic Field Trip

In this lab you will observe and collect insects found in aquatic habitats.  


The main objectives of this lab are to help you:

  1.   learn where to look for aquatic insects and collect them safely
  2.   distinguish the eight common orders of aquatic insects based on physical appearance


1. Review “Preserving Insects in Alcohol”

Before lab, review these instructions.

2. Bring Materials for Lab

See the list at the bottom of this page (IMPORTANT: if you do not bring these materials, you will not be be able to complete this lab)

3. Prepare Collecting Materials:

Prepare at least 3 vials of alcohol (in lab), 3 vials of Kahles solution (in lab), and temporary labels (i.e. 1 for each vial, and 1 for your killing jar); “recharge” your killing jar with a few drops of ethyl acetate from your squeeze bottle.

4. Travel to Pond and Stream for Insect Collecting

We will travel to two sites with different aquatic habitats (and insects) to collect aquatic insect specimens from at least 5 different orders or families.  To help you recognize the various aquatic insect taxa, use this quick guide,



5. Lab Exercise:  Preserve and Label Aquatic Specimens

Before leaving lab, make sure you have properly preserved/stored in alcohol (immatures), or pinned/stored adult aquatic insect specimens.  As in the first four labs, temporary labels are best at this point in the class.  However, for vial specimens they MUST be written in pencil so that the writing will not dissolve in alcohol (i.e. you will end up with a blank piece of paper instead of a label).  Remember, each specimen must eventually have permanent labels from the Insect_Collection_Labels form with all the information described in the label instructions.


You will need the following materials for this lab:

  • Boots or some other footwear that can get wet
  • Collecting gear
  • Preserving gear
  • 70% ethyl alcohol and “Kahle’s Solution” (both provided in lab)
  • Smartphone or computer, to access class website.