Course: Identifying Insects using Specimens and Microscopes

Field Studies Council

Preston Montford, Shropshire
15th July 2022

Cost: £300

Sectors: ecology, conservation & wildlife

Identifying Insects using Specimens and Microscopes focuses on how to find and sample insects, how to prepare and curate specimens for identification purposes, and how to approach identification of your chosen species group.

The main emphasis will be on how to carry out reliable and verifiable identifications through the correct presentation of specimens and the use of keys and other entomology identification resources. Participants will be expected to select a suitable taxonomic group in which they will start to specialise by building up a reference collection of specimens.

Your course takes place on a 12-hectare estate, surrounded by a rich range of habitats, including the River Severn and semi-ancient woodland, set in the heart of Shropshire with views disappearing into Wales.

What will be covered during this course?

  • The course will be delivered through a combination of seminars, laboratory identification sessions and practical field work.
  • Identifying a range of invertebrate groups in the field and in the lab using microscopes
  • Procedures for identifying selected insect groups to species level.
  • Importance of accurate identification of such groups i.e. ecological history of sites and habitat quality, and recorder limitations in producing reliable biological records for insects.
  • Issues with recording difficult groups: under recording of species or taxa as a result of identification issues; improving the recording of invertebrates and difficult groups.
  • Appropriate resources to identify the specimens within a voucher collection and discussion of the use of identification resources for insects.
  • Techniques for collecting and preparing voucher specimens for validation by a referee.
  • Management of collections of voucher specimens.
  • The use of referees and the validation system for difficult invertebrate groups.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Analyse and discuss the procedures for identifying selected insect groups to species level.
  • Critically assess the limitations of recorders in the identification of selected invertebrate groups to species level, with reference to the validation process, referees, and the use of digital images in recording.


This is one of a series of courses (Units) run jointly with Manchester Metropolitan University contributing to the MSc Biological Recording and Ecological Monitoring and the Postgraduate Certificate in Biological Recording. MMU students complete assessed work after the course. For further details about Manchester Metropolitan University degree programmes please contact:

Department of Natural Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, (Shrewsbury Office). Email: [email protected]

Please note, the course fee is for tuition only. There is no accommodation provided with this course. If you would like to book accommodation, lunch and an evening meal at FSC Preston Montford please email [email protected] Please book early to ensure availability of accommodation.

Please refer to our website for further information and to book.

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