ENTOMOLOGICAL COLLECTION EQUIPMENT

Proper equipment is essential for the proper collection of entomological evidence.   Preconfigured Forensic Entomology Kits are commercially available.  However, due to budget constraints some police departments are unable to purchase ready-made collection kits and are forced to seek a low cost alternative.  It is possible to configure your own collection kit, and most of the necessary items can be purchased at discount stores.   A list of necessary items has been compiled to assist in the compilation of your own collection kit.  The more "hard-to-find" specialty items such as insect nets and vials are discussed below:

Nets:

Aerial insect nets are an essential component of a forensic entomology collection kit.   The most popular and economical net has an 18" wood handle and sturdy 12" diameter galvanized steel ring.  The net should be constructed from polyester and have a reinforcing muslin ring band.  These nets can be purchased from most biological and forestry supply companies.   

Vials:

Collection vials can be purchased from about any biological supply house.   "Screw-cap" types are best, and the typical size is a 4 dram vial with a foil insert in the lid.  This vial is suitable for most crime scene collections and is commonly used by law enforcement officials.  However, this vial is not suitable for long-term or archival storage of specimens since the preservation fluid will evaporate at a slow rate and periodic maintenance is required. 

For long term storage (for archival or museum purposes), vials are available containing a neoprene cone insert in the lid, which reduces evaporation to negligible levels and periodic maintenance is not required as often. 

Forceps:

The proper forceps are useful for the collection of entomological specimens without damage.  Soft-touch or "Feather-touch" forceps are best as they are constructed of thin and flexible metal that prevents the larval body from being crushed if too much force is applied by the collector.  However, a cheaper and very adequate forceps are commonly available at discount stores.  Biological and forestry supply houses commonly stock a wide selection of specialty forceps.

Collection Containers

As part of the proper processing of crime scenes for entomological evidence, living larvae must be collected and shipped to the forensic entomologist for rearing purposes.   These larvae must be kept on a food source during shipment.  The best method for ensuring their survival is to construct a container to house them during shipment.   This container should be ridged in construction and have a tight fitting lid.   It must also be large enough to contain a foil pouch holding with a palm sized piece of beef or chicken liver and approximately 50-60 larvae.  Recommended containers to temporarily house the larvae for transport and shipping are plastic 16oz. cups.   However, bait containers (available at most fishing bait and tackle shops), and drink cups (with lids) from fast food restaurants are also used and will suffice if nothing else is available.  Styrofoam cups can also be used, but they are not suitable for housing beetle larvae.