How to choose your insect net ?

There are countless types of insect nets. The most famous is obviously the butterfly net which is used to catch all kinds of flying insects in order to study them more closely. 

In this article, you will find advice on how to choose the right insect net for your needs.

Various insect net types

Classic insect nets

If you are looking for a basic insect net, you need to choose one that is strong and has a telescopic handle to catch butterflies that are high up in a tree. RestCloud's insect nets are perfect and very inexpensive for basic insect collecting. They are suitable for both adults and children

The frame of the circular nets like those of Restcloud is formed by two metal half-circles, articulated to be able to fold up, which are screwed directly on the handle. The diameter of the circle is 16 inches. 

Special insect nets

The butterfly net is the main instrument of any entomologist or butterfly collector. Its choice is crucial. Its qualities are lightness, rigidity and solidity. It is composed of three parts: the frame, the handle and the net. 

The racket net

The snowshoe net has a frame made of several curved elements which, once assembled, form a pointed oval. This frame, in 2, 3 or 4 sections depending on the supplier, can be made of rattan, plastic or light metal. The elements are joined together by copper bushes. The two ends of the assembled sections are fixed on the handle either with a fork or with a screwing system. The opening must be large enough: 40 cm wide by 60 cm long is ideal for catching large butterflies like swallowtails. Racket nets were very popular in the early 20th century. 

The spring butterfly net

The circle of the net is constituted by a steel spring whose two ends, pierced with a hole, allow the passage of a screw with large head being used for their assembly and being screwed in a metal end adapted to the end of the handle. This frame has the advantage of folding into a figure of 8 and can be easily slipped into a backpack, but it has the disadvantage of not being very rigid. Its ideal diameter is 35 cm. 


The handle of an insect net

The handle of an insect net is made up of several interlocking parts. In the past, several bamboo elements were interlocked, like for fishing rods. Nowadays, telecopic handles that can be adjusted in advance are preferred. For basic butterfly hunting, a short handle of 60 cm length is very sufficient. It allows a very high precision. There is nothing to prevent you from extending the telescopic handle if you want to reach a monarch butterfly on a high branch. But the length of the handle is a matter of personal convenience and habit: some collectors are very skilful without a handle, the hand holding the frame of the butterfly net, others are very precise with a handle of more than one meter. To catch Delias in the jungles of Papua, I used handles more than 5 meters long because female Delias like to forage in the forest canopy. 

Best butterfly net


The net : useful specificities

The net itself must be made of a textile that is at the same time very flexible, very resistant (so as not to tear in the brambles), very thin (so as not to damage the butterfly) and as transparent as possible (so as to see the butterfly or the insect through the net) All these qualities are difficult to achieve and the best materials are nylon or linen.

The depth of the net must be double the diameter of the frame, i.e. for a 40 cm diameter net, the depth of the net will be at least 80 cm. 
The shape is a cylinder rounded at the end. The net should not end in a point, otherwise insects will get lodged in it and risk damage.


The color of the butterfly net

The color of the net is important. White is not desirable for professional entomologists: white scares some species, it is very dirty and, after a few hunts, the appearance of the net becomes repulsive. Black has the disadvantage of making it impossible to clearly see the small species captured. The ideal is a slightly gray green, reseda green, both discreet and not very dirty. In the tropics, some famous butterflies like Ornithoptera birdwings or Papilio ulysses are attracted by the color red and therefore local collectors use red butterfly nets (see more info on the ALF website). This is of no use in North America or Europe. 

best insect net

How to use a butterfly net :

First of all, you have to approach the butterfly slowly, step by step, without scaring it. When you are at the right distance from the butterfly (depending on the length of your handle), you have to make a very quick circular movement to catch the butterfly from behind so that it sees the net as late as possible. Once the butterfly is in the net, turn the wrist quickly to lock the butterfly in the net and prevent it from escaping. With a little practice, this becomes quite simple to perform. 
When a butterfly is lying in the grass, you can cover it with the net and hold the top of the net with your hand. Most species will move towards the top of the net except for the Lycenes which will remain hidden in the grass.