Sunday, September 14, 2008

Beating Sheets

A beating sheet should be made of durable cloth, preferably white, attached to a frame about 1 meter square, with two pieces of doweling or other light wood crossing each other and fitted into pockets at each corner of the cloth. An ordinary light-colored umbrella also may be used as a beating sheet. Place the beating sheet or umbrella under a tree or shrub and sharply beat the branches or foliage with a club or stick. Specimens will fall onto the sheet and may be removed from the light-colored material by hand or with forceps, a moistened brush, or an aspirator.

Locating specimens on the sheet is sometimes a problem because of leaves or other unwanted material dropping onto the sheet. Watching for movement will help locate specimens, as well as tilting the sheet so that the debris is displaced or even allowed to fall off, with the insects and mites left clinging to the cloth.

Beating sheets are especially useful in collecting beetles, true bugs, and larval Lepidoptera. Beating may be the best collecting technique when the weather has turned cold, or early and lat in the day, when normally active insects seek shelter in vegetation and are otherwise difficult to detect

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