Insect Biology and Identification

General Description:

This course will provide an introduction to the natural history, ecology, and identification of insects of the Sierra Nevada. Emphasis will be on characteristics of the major groups of insects. Daily field trips to a variety of sierran localities will allow students to study living insects in a number of different ecological settings. Nightly slide presentations and informal laboratory work will introduce students to interesting aspects of insect biology and give instruction on techniques for identifying, collecting, and preserving insects. This should be a useful course for teachers or anyone interested in natural history. No previous background in insect study is required. Click here to view a partial list of butterflies and insects collected in this area.


John Hafernik

Class Schedule

Students should arrive Sunday evening but class starts 9 am Monday morning and finishes Friday noon,

Supplies and Other Useful Item


Insect nets and other supplies will be provided. If you wish to keep a collection of insects, you will need to bring boxes about as deep as a standard cigar box and with a soft pinning bottom (cork, cardboard, styrofoam, etc.) for storing your insect specimens. For those interested in purchasing entomological equipment, I will have catalogues from various biological supply houses available for you to look at.

Camping gear


Although days are generally warm, or even hot at lower elevations, be prepared for temperatures as low as freezing at night. Variable weather clothing that may be layered is best. Long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, warm sweater and jacket, t-shirt and shorts or skirt, tennis shoes or hiking boots, sun hat, rain gear, and a warm hat or gloves for cold weather or night activities. Old sneakers, rubber boots, or hip-waders may come in handy for marsh prowling.


  • day pack
  • sunscreen
  • insect repellant
  • alarm clock
  • water bottles
  • plastic containers for packed lunches


  • Borror & White 1970. A Field Guide to the Insects. Peterson Field Guide Series
    Order at Amazon
  • Also useful:

  • Powell & Hogue 1979. California Insects
    Order at Amazon
  • University of California Press The Peterson Field Guide to the Beetles
    Order at Amazon
  • Books in the How to Know Series --such as How to Know the Insects, Beetles, Butterflies, True Bugs, etc.
    Order at Amazon

I will also have a small library including these and other books on insect biology available for your use during the course.

Insect and Spider Links

site design by Nica Lorber