Insect Investigators

Call for schools with access to an area of native vegetation to participate in an insect citizen science project trial.

What’s the project?

“Insect Investigators” is a research project currently in an early trial phase, run by Dr Erinn Fagan-Jeffries at The University of Adelaide. It involves schools partnering with her to run insect traps to collect parasitic wasps, to document local biodiversity and discover new species. The project is supported by a seed grant from The Australian Citizen Science Association.

Why is she asking us to catch insects?

It’s estimated that 80% of parasitic wasps in Australia don’t yet have names, and are not formally documented. This project aims to help document local insect diversity and find insect specimens from which new species can be named and described.

What would we have to do?

  1. Erinn would visit the school, and set up the trap with the class during an insect workshop. There would ideally need to be access to an area of native vegetation where the trap could be placed.
  2. The trap collects insects into a bottle of alcohol. Every couple of weeks we ask that you take the bottle off, and place a new one on the trap.
  3. Place the sample into the reply paid bag and post it back to Erinn at The University of Adelaide.
  4. After the conclusion of the project we ask that you pack up the trap and post it back. If possible, Erinn would come back to the school and run a follow-up workshop.
School students from Macclesfield Primary School taking part in the first workshop of the project

Would we have to do anything else?

Erinn is also conducting a research study on whether the students gain any quantifiable knowledge or a change in opinions about insects when taking part in the project. This study asks the students to complete a short survey before and after the project. This part of the project is optional and requires parental consent, and more information will be provided to interested schools.

We know that teachers are really busy, and we want to make the project useful and beneficial to you and your class. When Erinn sets up the trap, she can run a workshop on insects that matches the curriculum for the class year level. She also aims to stay in touch with the school through skype (or similar) classroom visits to hear how the project is going and update the class on the results. If any new species are discovered, the class would get to help choose the name! If there are particular aims or curriculum links that you’d like to build into the partnership, we’re really flexible.  

Dr Erinn Fagan-Jeffries with the insect trap

Contact for more information:

Dr Erinn Fagan-Jeffries

Ph: 0405426727