Beetle Collecting 101: Dress for Success

For most of the nearly 3 decades that I’ve been collecting insects, beetles have been my primary interest – first longhorned beetles, then jewel beetles, and now more recently tiger beetles (each taxon an addition, not a replacement!). During that time, I’ve learned a thing or two about the art of collecting – some of which I’ve figured out for myself, much more a result of my good fortune to have spent time in the field with the likes of Gayle NelsonChuck Bellamy, and a number of other learned entomologists.  In view of this, I thought there might be interest in an occasional post on some aspect of my approach to collecting beetles. With that, I introduce my new series, “Beetle Collecting 101,” and since it all starts in the field, this first installment will consider my basic outfit for field collecting. Although my focus is beetles (and specific groups of beetles at that), this basic outfit is widely applicable across most insect groups. There are a number of additional items that I can and do bring into the field with me at various times depending on location and season or for specific collecting techniques (e.g., beating, blacklighting, pitfall/bait trapping, etc.) that won’t be covered here – these additional items could be covered in future posts if this post indicates sufficient interest. Other future post ideas I had include rearing, specimen processing (everything from pinning and labeling to batch processing and storage methods), and collection organization/curation. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Beetle Collecting 101: Dress for Success

A well-dressed entomologist. Photo by Rich Thoma.

Beyond the needed equipment, the primary considerations for my field outfit are lightweight, comfortable, and protective.  I can spend hours away from the truck in extreme conditions or rugged terrain (or both!), so I want clothing that stays comfortable no matter how much I exert myself.  It is also tempting to carry more equipment than is necessary – this only adds weight and limits the ground that can be covered.

  1. Insect net – duh!  This is an absolute necessity for nearly all but the purely flightless species.  I highly recommend an extendable net handle – I keep mine collapsed (3′ length) for normal use and extend it out to 6′ when stalking tiger beetles or other wary, flighty species.  The collapsed net handle is also a good length and weight to serve as a beating stick when I am carrying a beating sheet (not shown).  I use an aerial net bag, since I don’t do much sweeping anymore – match the bag to your interests.  Of the three common ring diameters for aerial nets, I find the 15″ to be more effective than the 12″, while the 18″ is a little unwieldy.  Green fabric is said to be not as visible to insects as white, thereby allowing closer approach before they attempt to flee, but I do not have any experience with this.  I have collected quite a lot of beetles with my white net bag and appreciate the ability to see the contrast of the insect inside the bag when attempting to remove it.
  2. Hunting knife.  If you’re interested in wood-boring beetles, you’ll want to be able to slice into dead branches suspected of harboring insects.  I like the classic folding Buck Knives Ranger and attach it to the strap of my waist pack (#8) rather than my belt so that it will move with the pack when I swing the pack around backside.
  3. Hat.  If the sun doesn’t bother you, the flies will.  Wear something light and comfortable that will absorb sweat – I like my 2-decades old Mombosok for this (and because I be stylin’!), but those with greater sun sensitivity (or who live in tropical environments) might do better with a brimmed hat.
  4. Backpack.  Before my camera carrying days, this was a Camelbak hydration pack with a good-sized but not overly large water reservoir and zippered pouches with newspaper for placing host plant samples for pressing.  A backpack isn’t really necessary for short forays or mild conditions but is essential for hiking longer distances in hot/dry climates where there is real risk of dehydration.  Many regard backpacks as uncomfortable; however, I find slinging water containers attached to the waist equally annoying and also cumbersome to deal with when crouching or laying.  These days, however, I carry full camera gear in my backpack (camera body, multiple lenses, extension tubes, flash unit).  This adds weight, but it only took a day or two during my first field trip to get used to it.  I still use the camera pack for carrying water, as the front compartment has room for two water bottles or a Camelbak bladder, and my pack also contains a separate zippered compartment where I can still place plant samples for pressing.
  5. Lightweight t-shirt.  I used to wear buttoned fishing shirts over an undershirt, thinking the undershirt would keep perspiration off my skin, while the pockets on the outer shirt would come in handy for holding small items.  In reality, things fall out of the front pockets, and both under- and outer layers would become soaked with sweat.  Now I wear simple 100% cotton t-shirts – artfully emblazoned with an image of Cicindela ancosisconensis by Kirk Betts at The Wild Edge (and leaving no doubt to curious onlookers as to what I am up to).  I find these simple  shirts to be the most comfortable in the most extreme conditions.
  6. Hand axe.  Again, if you’re interested in beetles that live in wood, an axe will be handy for chopping into wood too large or hard to sample with a hunting knife.  Smaller is better (to limit weight), and rather than using a leather holster (which will become soaked with sweat and stretched out), I simply slip the handle under the strap of my waist pack and let the head of the axe rest on the strap to hold it in place.
  7. GPS Unit.  You do record GPS coordinates for your specimens, don’t you?!  I just got a new one for my birthday (Garmin Oregon 450t) with computer download capabilities – no more manual transcribing of data!  Again, I attach it to my waist pack strap rather than my belt.
  8. Waist pack.  I use the very compact Eagle Creek Wayside, with two zippered pouches and an unzippered side pouch to hold all my vials and small tools.  I’ve tried a number of different methods for holding these items – they fall out of shirt pockets whenever you bend over, are not readily accessible when in a backpack, and do not stay organized in a non-compartmented pack.  I have developed a system of vials that serve as both killing bottles and storage containers (this alone could be the subject of another post) – 4-dram vials for most specimens and 8-dram for larger ones.  This waist pack holds 8 small and 6 large vials in the front pouch – with the two sizes kept separate by a divider.  Being able to carry numerous vials allows me to segregate insects by host plant or ecological association, and most importantly, vials in this pouch stay organized so I can easily find the proper vial when I need it.  The larger rear pouch is roomy enough to hold two small olive bottles (for the occasional behemoths or blacklighting), forceps, aspirator, and miscellaneous other items – or, if I’m in the mood to collect wood for rearing (also could be the subject of another post), pruning shears, small folding saw, twine, flagging tape, and permanent marker.  A small side pouch is perfect for keeping a hand lens and an eye dropper bottle of ethyl acetate killing agent at the ready.  Also, the pack easily swings around to my backside when I need to crouch or lay prostrate (e.g., when photographing tiger beetles).
  9. Lightweight polyester/cotton outdoor pants.  I’m fond of the Columbia line of products, but whatever brand you choose, make sure they are lightweight, have a relaxed fit (to allow crouching) and dry quickly (no denim jeans for me!).  The last thing I want is chafing from sweat-soaked pants – yikes!  (Let’s just say lesson learned the hard way).
  10. Hiking boots.  Again, lightweight and comfortable are key, and because of the sometimes rugged terrain I traverse I like mid-ankle support so I can watch for bugs instead of constantly watching my feet.  The lighter the boot, the longer you’ll be able to hike with comfort, and leather uppers will provide greater protection from thorns.

I hope you’ve found some useful tips here.  If you have your own techniques or experiences with field outfits, I’d love to hear them.  Also, if you have subjects that you would like covered in future issues of “Beetle Collecting 101,” please do let me know.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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61 thoughts on “Beetle Collecting 101: Dress for Success

  1. Yes!!!

    More of these posts, please. I don’t intend to make a collection, but the different methods of locating, luring, catching and temporarily containing live bugs is of great interest to me. And, of course, rearing.

    I have started shifting my camera equipment out of my pack and onto a waist belt. Ease of accessibility means I am missing less shots. And that means more room in my backpack for ’emergency’ rations, like chocolate…


    • Hi Adrian – I appreciate the enthusiasm for these types of articles.

      Collecting continues to be my primary focus, so the camera will have to stay on the back. That’s fine – it would be so easy to spend all of my time in the field taking photographs than collecting specimens. Having the camera on the back forces me to decide if I really want to divert 10-30 minutes from collecting 🙂

  2. An enjoyable read, and just as importantly, Ted, you clearly be stylin’! The diagram and caption are great. They clearly set the tone for everything else.

    I have three equipment suggestions.

    First, a cell phone. Since I’m out many weekends during the fall with 24 high school seniors, I always carry a cell phone with the phone numbers of everyone accompanying me, as well as a contact person for the area in which we are collecting. This works well for contact regarding stray/abandoned animals we encounter (otherwise they end up coming home with us), report of poaching, etc.

    Second, sunglasses. Always have to set a good example for the kids when it comes to eyecare, plus I want to be stylin’ too!

    Third, the Tilley hat. Whether we’re collecting aquatics, terrestrials or patrolling beaches in Costa Rica for egg laying leatherbacks, it has protected me from the sun, the wind, and the rain for decades, plus it floats.

    I do think that a technique a week would be pretty good way to have a top notch resource by the start of fall…

    • Thanks, Dave – glad you liked it.

      Yep – the cell phone is in my pocket (as well as car keys and ID :)).

      I’ve tried wearing sunglasses and find they greatly interfere with my ability to detect insects in their haunts. I thought it might be because I’d learned all my search images without them, but when I started wearing glasses for nearsightedness a few years ago I had the same problem. I had to give up glasses in the field, but since I’ve started wearing contacts the problem is solved.

      I actually have a Tilley hat (snap up brim) that I bought for my trip to Africa (see photo in my About page) and that I wear whenever I go to Mexico. I wouldn’t dare face that tropical sun with a Mambosok!

      A weekly series might be a stretch goal, but there certainly seems to be interest out there if this first flurry of comments are any indication.

  3. Good stuff Ted. My only add… your #9 lightweight outdoor pants are great – as long as you don’t get surprised by a rattle snake! Jeans may be heavy, but sans brush guards, they are much better protection. I saw a study comparing the two, and apparently the stiffness of denim often thwarts the fangs.

    But hey – maybe they’re only needed when collecting out here in the wild west. 🙂


    • Hi Ken. Yes, rattlesnakes are a concern. However, in all my years of collecting (which includes lots of time out west), I’ve only once had a close enough encounter with a rattlesnake where I really could have been bitten (see my post, Rattled in the Black Hills). Chafing by wet denim, however, is an excruciating experience that I never want to repeat.

      The only time I’ve ever actually been struck at by a snake was a copperhead here in Missouri – it didn’t break the skin, but it was still a traumatic (and now humorous) experience. 🙂

      I think I generally make enough noise with my tromping and beating to avoid frequent close encounters.

  4. BitB on the bugwalk! That leaves little left to say on spring fashion.

    But I do think you look a bit naked without a notebook and pencil (unless your new GPS takes notes and prints out labels).

    I’d add a cruiser’s vest (Filson makes one with a good design) for quick access to and secure storage of vials, bags, and notebook. Also handy when you dump the backpack so you can crawl through brush, but still carry some vials, tools, etc. The back pouch is very handy too – and it gives you some protection from briers (In Queensland, wait-awhile aka lawyer vine [once it gets hold of you it won’t let go] is a major annoyance and it is a good idea to carry needlenose pliers to unhook yourself).

    Hand trowel and linen bags if you want to collect litter.

    Also, I suggest considering a prospector’s hammer. The spikey end is great for digging into logs, good for prying and barking (and the bark comes off in good chunks that can be replaced when you are finished). A mini pickaxe would be ideal, hatchet blades do come in useful, but I’ve never seen one that would work one-handed. (A Pulaski is a great tool, but too large and heavy to lug around unless you are working on bark beetles or fighting fires).

    I’ll second Dave Stone on the cell phone – if you ever break a leg, get snake bit, find a wildfire in progress. etc., then it would come in handy. Tilley hats are pretty good. I have one made of hemp with a large brim that I use most summer, but I look much more stylish in my Akubra.

    Don’t forget the bear spray if you are collecting in Alberta.

    • Hi Dave. All good information (and see my comments to Dave – the other one – about cell phone and hat).

      My method of taking notes is related to my vial system. Each vial has a label on the cap onto which I jot location code and ecological association with pencil (yes, I’ve learned to write very small!). I’ve not ever found the need to write more extensive notes than this while actually out in the field, preferring to do this directly into my field notebook (in the old days) or computer (now) at the end of the day.

      I know a lot of people who like vests. I doubt many of them spend much time beating branches and chopping wood! I sweat enough as it is, so that would be one more thing I’d end up wanting to ditch every time I started hacking into something. For less strenuous collecting I imagine they are quite handy.

      As you note, the ability to pry is useful, but for me the axe blade is all important. Rather than carry an extra tool, I’ve learned to use my axe as a prying tool – I went through quite a few wooden handles in the early days due to breakage below the axe head. These days I use a 12″ Estwing Sportsman’s axe – all-steel so I can pry to my heart’s content without worrying about breakage.

      Bear spray? Yikes!

      • I forgot to mention the most important functions of the vest – breaking up the outline of a pot belly for that all important ‘outstanding in their field’ picture and covering the sweat marks on the shirt.

        In my dotage, I definitely need a notebook. I take more observations (e.g. pollinator/plant, how high that Calosoma had climbed and on what shrub) and pictures than specimens, and I’d never remember enough at the end of the day for accurate records. The only problem is reading my own handwriting – but I can usually decipher enough to jog the memory loose.

        That Estwing axe looks useful.

        • Ha! I’ve been training for a bike race this summer, so that has minimized my ‘figure’ problems for the time being. But I’ll remember the vest if I return to pudgier form and wish to have my picture taken 😉

  5. Yes Ted, a t-shirt is very important to boldly identify you as a man on a mission.
    I did come up with a longhorn beetle t and if you can come up with a good bupestrid photo I can come up with a custom.
    Thanks for the mention!

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  7. Great post!

    I do most of my collecting on beaches, and often in bitterly cold weather, so my gear is a bit different. But I definitely need to re-organize, as I carry so much new gear; cameras, batteries, collecting bottles and bags (for seaweed, etc.), the GPS unit, emergency raingear, plastic for kneeling in deep mud …

    Then there’s the phone, car keys, glasses, emergency meds for Laurie. And a place for the layers of clothing I take off or put on.

    Backpacks are a bit of a nuisance when you’re removing a jacket or vest, or replacing it. I don’t know of a better option, though.

    The waist pack seems like a great idea for the stuff I need at hand; I’ll look into the one you mentioned. Around here, I’ve only seen two-pocket varieties.

    • Thank you, Susannah. It sounds like you face the same temptation to bring too much stuff with you as I do. Over the years, I’ve developed a sense for how likely it is that I’ll actually need something.

      The Camelbak was not a problem, but the camera bag is heavier and definitely an adjustment. Not that I’m complaining, I’m enjoy adding that capability to my repertoire immensely. One has to decide on their priorities! I’m usually in warm to hot environments, so I don’t have jackets or vests to worry about.

      The waist pack is the best thing I’ve found for holding my small, frequently-needed items – compact, holds everything in place, and easily swings around backside when needed.

      Thanks for your input!

  8. Definitely continue the lessons. I’d really like to hear more about rearing insects. I helped one quarter in The Ohio State University Entomology Dept. insect rearing lab and can produce House Flies, Cockroaches and Milkweed Bugs by the barrels full. Not a talent appreciated by many. It would definitely be interesting to keep some of the strange larvae I find, so I can see the adults. If you don’t mind, I’d prefer to just audit your course. I no longer take exams.

    • Hi Steve, glad you liked it and want to hear more. Yeah, I’ve done tons of mass rearing as well – leps, beetles, mites, aphids, cockroaches, flies, etc. That’s not very interesting stuff – I’m talking woodboring beetles! It’s hard work but can be very rewarding, and for me it has produced tons of previously unrecorded host associations and even a new species!

      I occasionally give pop quizzes, but attendance is optional 🙂

  9. Great post, Ted! My tropical botanist outfit is somewhat different, but many of the principles are the same. I do, however, prefer a light-weight, long-sleeved shirt to a t-shirt. I don’t use the pockets, though, for all the reasons you mentioned. Cooler in the sun and better protection against insect bites than any spray.

    Looking forward to your pinning and curating lessons!

    • Thanks, Mary! I’ve gone back and forth on long-sleeved shirts – I concede they are more protective from the sun and insects, and for beating especially it can be good to have some protection from thorny branches. However, I just don’t like the way long sleeves feel – it’s nothing more than that. Perhaps if I was fairer-skinned it might be different.

      I might get my daughter to take some videos of the pinning techniques 🙂

      • The tropical forest botanists in Far North Queensland that I’ve worked with wear overalls over speedos. Easy sweating and with the legs tucked into socks or boots, the leeches, ants, mozzies, paralysis ticks, lawyer vine, stinging tree, and assorted other hazards find it harder to get through to skin. May help with the snakes too.

  10. My students never know how to dress for entomological field trips. I’m making everyone read this post next time and imposing a penalty for anyone who doesn’t at least pay attention to the shoe requirement. 🙂 This year, I had one student show up for a hilltopping field trip, one which involved hiking up a steep catclaw-and-cholla covered hill in the Tucson area, in DRESS FLATS! Dress flats!!! And this was after I sent out a detailed e mail about how everyone needed to wear real shoes. Ugh… Love the post!

    • Dress flats? DRESS FLATS? She actually showed up for a field trip in dress flats? As my daughter would say – O…M…G… I’m not sure this post will help her, as I’ve not covered such obvious things as underwear and socks. Hysterical!

      Anyway, glad you liked it – thanks!

  11. Great post… love everyone’s follow-up comments too.

    RE: shirts, have you tried the Columbia brand ones? I love ’em! Long sleeve for the sun (SPF40), cool and well ventilated, and velcro/zips on the pockets. Only downside is the high price (here in Aus at least).

    As for more ideas for this series, what about a post on your database/data-entry/labelling system. I’m always interested as to how people store their collection data, and am intrigued every time you post a link to a google-doc.. I found a link to Mantis on Chris Grinter’s blog – and I am loving it so far.

    • Thanks, Peter – and yes this was awesome resultant discussion.

      I used to wear Columbia shirts – they were certainly light and airy, and I suppose they’re perhaps much improved now in terms of pocket security. The waist pack, however, has obviated the need to keep things in shirt pockets, and the simple t is so much more comfortable. Plus, at only $20US each, I can afford to buy enough for a fresh shirt every day on my trips.

      Database/labeling is a good idea – it’s something that everybody seems to develop their own version of, but always informative to see how others do it. I’ve not utilized new software near as much as I could, basically just Word and Excel and cut/paste between them – it all depends on your volume/priorities/desired output.

      • Have you heard of Mantis?

        I downloaded it a few days ago, to see if it would be useful for an amateur. From the website:

        “Mantis is a biological database manager that features the ability to store taxonomic and specimen data, images and sounds, and it has built in managers of citations, specimen loans, and addresses. It has been designed by a practicing taxonomist, for taxonomists. It is also a tool for conservationists who want to keep tract of species distribution or create simple identification tools. The emphasis of its design is on quick data entry and painless exploration of data. Mantis has a number of tools that facilitate species description, generation of taxonomic catalogs, or mapping of species distribution. It allows users to store an unlimited number of links to external files, such as PDF’s, images, or sounds.”

        • I’ve known about Mantis for awhile now but haven’t had the chance to explore it yet. It does look interesting, and your comment reminds me once again that I should check it out.

  12. Leatherman (pref. Wave) – good for almost everything! I’ve used mine while collecting for cutting wire or string for traps, cutting branches for rearing and the pliers for repairs of all types. It can also be an aid in digging in a pinch.

    • Yep, I keep one of these in the truck (actually I keep a lot of stuff in the truck). To make it into the waist or back pack, it’s gotta be something I’ll use routinely.

      Maybe that’s another post idea – an inventory of all the stuff I load into the truck for one of my extended collecting trips. 🙂

      • Mine IS on my waist all the time, collecting or not. It comes in very handy during my tree work and with my other interests as well!

        I’d enjoy hearing about what all you have in your truck!

          • I have been studying a new area – near Nothing, AZ. I’ve got a bunch of infested wood by just looking for dying branch ends and such – nothing has emerged yet in this or any of my other “cut and collected” wood for that matter. But, there are sawdust piles on the bottom of the barrels, so it’s only a matter of time.

            My pitfalls at Nothing have failed to turn up any Ambycheila (which I was hoping for) and have produced little else of interest. The flight intercept trap has finally started catching Bups! I got 8 specimens of at least 5 species from last week, several of which are things I have not seen before. I was planning to pull everything out but in light of that catch, I decided to go a few more weeks. Lights several nights at Nothing have yielded 2 Phyllaphaga and a handful of Serica with nothing else.

            So, it is still early, perhaps because we still have not see our first 100 deg day. (YEAH!) But, it is coming – it’s just a matter of time. It should be really hot by August – are you coming out?

            • I hope the name of the town is not predictive of how productive the collecting will be there 🙂

              AZ is out for me this year – 2 weeks in France during July are definite, and 2 weeks in Brazil in August are likely. I hate to keep saying “maybe next year,” but maybe next year 😦

  13. Ted
    Interesting vintages of a collectors needs, habits and philosophies!
    1) Tweezers: BioQuip version with a hole in the handle-enlarge the hole (carefully) and thread a heavy braided string through long enough to hang from neck to waist! Always at the ready and never lost when one has to quickly scrabble to capture an elusive specimen all the while dropping the tweezers! Storage: hanging from rear view mirror of vehicle!

    2) Medium size ice chest always stocked in Volvo wagon with juice and other non-perishables or perishables if day tripping!

    3) Also a second pair of shoes or birkenstocks after a long day stored somewhere!
    Actually most everything I need just stays in the auto-I do brake and break for road kill-we do get road killed beavers!! Those are not beaver fleas but beetles!!
    Happy Beetling!

  14. Hi Ted:

    You asked about the green insect net bags and their use. I tried them only once many years ago. While they may work okey for butterflies, etc. they were worthless for tiger beetles due to such poor visibility.

    I currently use the BioQuip 15 inch extra soft aerial bags, either white or actually I like the sand color bag best, for good visibility for tiger beetles.

    As you well know there are special techniques one must use for successful tiger beetle collecting, and good visibility in the net is just one of them. J Acorn’s Tiger Beetles of Alberta describes some of the tehniques quite well.

    Charlie S.

    • Hi Charlie – thanks for the tip about the sand color net bag, I’ll give that a try. There is nothing more frustrating than knowing you’ve got the sucker trapped under the net, but you just can’t find it until you see it zipping off after finding the slightest gap under the rim!

      Read my take on tiger beetle stalking techniques in Tiger Beetle Safari.

  15. Hi Ted – what an interesting read, both your post and all of the comments. I have nothing substantive to add, but just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed this post. 🙂

    • Hi Amber – thanks, and I’m glad you enjoyed it. Honestly, these posts where lots of people chime in with their own thoughts are my favorites! I’ve been collecting beetles for a long time, yet I’ve gotten quite a few good tips here that I’m going to follow up on.

  16. Usually, I am one to enjoy reading Ted’s postings and also the large number of comments that ensues and rarely comment myself. However, having been Ted’s partner on so many of these field trips, I must make a comment about his insect collecting gear. He’s used that fanny pack since the day I met him and I’ll tell you a little secret. The fanny pack has magical properties. It has the ability to be bottomless. Along with all that gear Ted talks about carrying, he carries along an infinite supply of food. When we are out collecting, he is constantly pulling out all sorts of granola bars, fruit, jerky, and other goodies to eat. There is a regular smorgasboard of food in there and it never seems to run out. One of these days I expect to see is a regular refrigerator in there. I want a fanny pack like Ted’s.


    • Ha! 😀

      Yeah, well I guess I didn’t mention anything about food, but I do tuck all manner of high-calorie food items into the pouch and also my pockets (I forgot to mention those Columbia pants have a nice big zippered pocket on the thigh). I’ve learned I can stay out longer and cover more ground if I don’t let myself get too hungry. Jerky, power bars, dried fruit, and nuts give you the greatest calorie bang for the least amount of space/weight.

  17. Nice web site. I was wondering what pack you use for camera and hydration. I have always been afraid to mix water and camera gear in the same bag.

    • Hi Craig. I use a Canon 200EG back pack – I’ve been pretty happy with it. I put the water bottles or Camelbak bladder in the open strapped compartment on the front of the bag – never had a leakage problem, but with another zippered compartment between the outer compartment and the camera compartment and everything made of water-repellent nylon I can’t imagine water getting to the camera if I ever did have a leak.

  18. I agree with Adrian! More of these type posts to show folks how you collect including blacklighting and pitfall traps! I enjoyed this post immensely Ted. Great job!

  19. Looks like this is going to be a popular series, Ted! I always find it interesting to read about how “the experts” go about doing things. I’ll be looking forward to reading more of these posts in the future.

    • Yes, I was actually a little surprised at how big the response was. I guess that means I better get cracking on the next article in the series (maybe a peek inside the magic pouch :)).

  20. I couldn’t help thinking about this post as I was reading a short biography Linneaus today, in honor of his birthday. If I may quote

    He so liked his Saami clothes from Lapland, complete with talismans and Shaman’s drum, that he had the artist Hoffman paint his portrait. In fact, most portraits from Linnaeus’s youth picture him in his favourite garb, and it is likely that he used these clothes for his many plant hunting expeditions, having learned early that the foppish attire of the period was both a hindrance and a hazard in the wilds.

    Here’s the link to the quote at Plant Explorers.

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  24. This is such a great guide! I’m a mycologist whose primary interest is fungi associated with wood-boring beetles, so this is super useful. I’m working on assembling my own field kit for this summer, and this helped a lot.

    Curious about advice for a good field hatchet. I often need to get deep into the xylem (for ambrosial Scolytinae), but I also don’t like bringing a huge hatchet in with me. Even if I’ve got the permits and permission, it’s a weird look to bring a huge axe in to a place so I prefer it to be in the backpack. Do folding/collapsible hatchets do the trick, and do they have to “oomph”?

    • Hi Chase, thanks for the nice comment. For a field hatchet I like the Estwing 14″ Sportsman’s Ax – small enough to be relatively discreet and not too heavy to carry, and one piece construction makes it virtually indestructible even when used as a prying tool. I never tried (or heard of) a folding/collapsible hatchet, but I can’t imagine it would hold up even for a day the way I use them. I can’t tell you how many wooden handled hatchets I’ve gone through.

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