Directions for Collecting and Preserving Insects

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    DURING the last few years there has been in America a considerable increase of the number of persons interested in entomology. This may be due mainly to the fact that farmers have very practical reasons for studying insects, but no doubt it springs in part from a growing appreciation of the scientific aspects of the subject. However the increased interest is to be explained, one of its results is a constant demand, especially from correspondents of the U.S. Museum and the Department of Agriculture, for information as to how to collect, preserve, and mount insects. In the present work Mr. Riley undertakes to meet this demand. He also brings together a number of directions on points connected with such matters as the proper packing of insects for transmission through the mails or otherwise; labelling; methods of rearing; boxes and cabinets; and text-books. The work was prepared as a part of a Bulletin of the National Museum, but is also issued separately; and we need scarcely say that it is likely to be of great service to the class for whose benefit it was originally planned. Mr. Riley knows his subject so thoroughly that he is able to explain it simply and clearly, and the value of the text is enhanced by a large number of suitable illustrations. We may note that, in a paragraph on the scope and importance of entomology, he refers to various estimates of the number of insects in the world. Linnæus knew nearly 3000 species. In 1853 Dr. John Day thought there might be 250,000 species on the globe. Dr. Sharp's estimate thirty years later was between 500,000 and 1,000,000. In 1889 the estimate formed by Sharp and Walsingham reached nearly 2,000,000. Mr. Riley thinks even this estimate too low. Considering that species hive been best worked up in the more temperate portions of the globe, that in the more tropical portions a vast number of species still remain to be characterized and named, that many portions of the globe are entomologically unexplored, and that even in the best worked-up regions by far the larger portion of the Micro-Hymenoptera and Micro-Diptera remain absolutely undescribed in our collections, and have been but very partially collected, he is of opinion that to say there are 10,000,000 species of insects in the world would be “a moderate estimate.”

    Directions for Collecting and Preserving Insects.

    By C. V. Riley. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1892.)

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    Directions for Collecting and Preserving Insects. Nature 46, 416 (1892) doi:10.1038/046416a0

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