Recommended Supplies

All of the following supplies are recommendations only. Items such as the spreading board, pins, and storage drawers depend on personal preference and your particular collecting needs.  I provide links to each of these items on the BioQuip website, which is where I purchase all of my supplies.  Some items, like the forceps and envelopes, can be found in craft and hobby stores that sell stamp collecting supplies.

Catching & Handling Butterflies
Butterfly net - BioQuip has several different nets, but I prefer this 7300 series in 15" diameter (7315NA or 7315GR)
Close-weave aerial net bag - this is the net bag I prefer to use. It is very soft with a fine mesh so butterfly legs don't accidentally get tangled up in the net.  You will need to purchase the 7300-series net to go with it.
Replacement bags - standard white or green aerial net bags for the 7300-series nets (make sure you get the right size!)
Net replacement parts - extra net rings, T-knobs, handles, etc. for the 7300-series nets
Spade-tip forceps - an absolute must for handling butterflies and moths! I keep at least one in every backpack, camera bag, and other field kits.  Also are used in the collecting/mounting process.
Cages - handy for temporarily observing insects for later release, or for rearing.
Plastic tubes - I usually carry a few of these, (mostly 8905 and 8912) in my pack in case I find some eggs or caterpillars I wish to rear and don't have a small cage with me to put them in.

Nikon vs. Canon cameras and lenses
As with everything, there are pros and cons to each brand.  Many people prefer Canon cameras. They are generally thought to produce better images (color and quality), they are a well-known and very popular brand among professional photographers, and in my experience they are often a little lighter weight than Nikon cameras, although newer Nikons are starting to equal them in weight.  Nikon is more well-known for their glass; they have very high-quality lenses and are one of the leading brands in microscopes, binoculars, and some medical equipment.
I don't have a specific reason for choosing Nikon, mostly it was for three reasons: I was already used to their cameras (pocket digital and film SLR), I already had a Nikon N65 film SLR camera with telephoto lenses (so would save money by purchasing only the body of a digital SLR and using my old lenses with it), and because the author of a book about taking closeups of flowers and insects used a Nikon.  Nikon has a slightly confusing numbering system for their cameras: low-price-range digital SLRs are numbered in the 1000s (D3000, D5200, etc.), mid-range cameras are numbered by 10s (D45, D80, D90, etc.), high-range are in the 100s (D300), and the highest-priced cameras are single digits (D3, D5, D7).
My chosen equipment is this:
Nikon D80 camera
Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm macro lens
I plan to purchase a 40mm version of this macro lens soon, as it will allow me to photograph larger butterfly specimens without having to be as far above them as I have to be with my 105mm lens, and it will allow me to take photos of whole plants without only a small portion of the plant being in focus (greater depth of field).
Nikon AF-S VR Nikkor 18-200mm telephoto zoom lens
Nikon SB-700 Speedlight Flash (external flash unit that attaches to the shoe on top of the camera)
Quantaray brand filters for each of the lenses, such as UV/Skylight filter (mostly to protect the lens, stays on all the time) and a polarizing filter (kind of like sunglasses for your camera).

Collecting & Mounting Specimens
See the detailed page on collecting and mounting specimens for more instructions. This list is also repeated there, but has more details about each item.
Glassine envelopes - smallest size fits most butterfly species found in the Pacific Northwest. Next size fits some larger species and smaller swallowtails, square size fits largest butterflies. Largest size is useful for large tropical species.
Spade-tip forceps - an absolute must for handling butterflies and moths! I keep at least three on hand. Also essential for the mounting process.
Insect pins - size 000 to 00 for smallest butterflies, size 0 to 1 for most butterflies, size 2 to 3 for large butterflies.
Glass-headed pins (also found at sewing shops) - use to hold paper strips in place on spreading board, and for adjusting and holding legs and antennae in place.
Pinning board - I use this one, but there are other styles, depends on personal preference.
*previously used the Versaboard, see this blog post about these two boards.
Glassine pinning strips - I've found the smallest size is the most useful, although larger widths can be cut down to any size desired.
Curator's block - holds pins and forceps, or this one if you just want one for pins.
Repair adhesive - great to have on hand, clear nail polish works well too!
Labeling pens - fine-point pens for writing specimen labels, also will write on glassine paper.
Label paper - use with a laser printer or India ink pens for permanent labels.
Storage drawers - I recommend pine with plastazoate foam pinning bottoms.  Plastazoate is more durable than polyethylene foam, looks much nicer and is worth the slightly higher price. Pine is softer than poplar and the lids fit more snugly.

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