Amazing Arthropods

Amazing Arthropods 

Description: Students will be required to demonstrate an understanding of key concepts in taxonomy (including basic identification and morphology), ecology, life history, and the economic impacts of the major terrestrial arthropod groups.


Event Supervisor: Ruth Adamus




 event supervisor info
 Download the current rules here.  
UPDATED for 2017 Study Guide
Advanced Entomological Techniques
Preserving Your Insects
Designed And Built By The Students policy
 This event uses an optical answer sheet (e.g.,Scantron) Learn more
more event info be careful
Event Coach Workshop recapbe sure you're using the latest rules
  Sample tests from past district tournaments
  There may be a "Quick Start Kit"  available for this event. 
 See the Elementary Workshop List for this season
 Report problems at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.





elem faq button web

When contradictory information is provided, what takes precedence?

The order of precendence is: 

  1) the event rules (which includes what is posted here in the FAQ)

  2) the study guide

  3) information found elsewhere, including at links we have posted


May soft body specimens and very small specimens be presented in a vial with alcohol?

Yes, they may be presented in a vial in isopropyl  alcohol.  They should be attached in the display box with pins or glue.

UPDATED May larval stages be used in the specimen collection? For instance if we found a Dragonfly naiad by pond dipping, can that meet the criteria for Odonata?

Quite a few larval stages look very similar, making them difficult to identify.


Any immature specimens of species which would undergo either complete or incomplete metamorphosis will not be accepted.  That would include the Dragonfly which is an example of a species which undergoes incomplete metamorphosis.


However, an immature specimen of a species which undergoes gradual metamorphosis will be accepted.  


This is a change from what is published in the study guide which only allows adult specimens, and from previous postings here.

UPDATED Will students need to know about sub-orders?

Students are not required to know the suborder level of detail.

UPDATED What is meant by "basic biology"?

Students should be familiar with habitats, what they eat, the time of year they are active, the type of metamorphosis, and their ecological role (free living, parasite, etc.).

UPDATED How will duplicates of the same type of specimen be scored?

In 2016, duplicates of the same specimen were awarded 1 point each, but for 2017, duplicate specimens will not be awarded points.

Will the specimen collection be part of the practice (District) competitions?

No.  The practice competitions will only include  the Part 1 multiple choice test.  Students should not bring their specimen collection to the practice tournament because they will not be evaluated.  We are not able to ensure consistent feedback across all practice tournaments. 

Will students be allowed to compete if they do not have a specimen collection to submit?

Yes. However, the student will not receive any of the possible 92 points (30% of overall) awarded for the collection portion. 

Designed and built by the students policy

We have received numerous questions and concerns about whether adults will feel compelled to build Arthropod specimen collections for their students, and the details of what is allowed by policy.  

The intent and practice of  our "designed and built by the students" policy is to let students have the experience.  Please resist the temptation for perfection, or the need to win at all costs.


Our priorities:

1) Your student should be safe.  There may be a few instances where a tool is required that is too advanced for your student to operate.  Cutting a piece of wood might be a good example of this.  Even so, you should involve the student in the planning and design work, and confirmation that the item turned out as planned.


2) Your student should do the work.  That doesn't mean you should stand back and let your student flounder.  Coaches have an important role in teaching skills.  Organize your work so you can demonstrate a skill, and then give your student the opportunity to practice.  You might need a few extra bugs to pin to learn from.  

It is not acceptable for you to do the same work as your student, in parallel, and then submit the coach's effort as the student's.  For instance, if the student doesn't take as good of a photgraph as the coach, it is not acceptable to substitue the coach's.  Digital photography is almost costless, so let your student practice.



Is it okay to use specimens that are found dead?

Yes.  A dead specimen can be used in your collection provided that the specimen is not missing vital body parts that are required in identifying. 

Are students allowed to move to the next station if they finish before the time limit is announced?

No.  At all station-based events, students are expected to stay at their current station until they are told to move, regardless of whether they have finished the questions, or whether the station in front of them is open.



Is it appropriate to submit a specimen box that does not have a removable lid?

No.  In the process of judging the specimen collection, the Supervisor will want to be able to open it, and possibly remove a specimen.  Using a box that does not open will limit the Supervisor's ability to award full points.

Should students be able to recognize both juvenile and adult forms of the organisms?

They should know the juvenile forms of the insects listed by name. They should also be able to identify, if shown a juvenile or adult specimen, which form metamorphosis it goes through.

What size specimen is too big to glue to tab rather than pin? If a specimen is being stubborn and is not "relaxing", can it be glued to tab instead, even if it is large?

If a pin can go through it without destroying the specimen, use the pin. If it's too small for a pin or not relaxing and you are nervous the specimen would crumble, a paper tab would suffice. Make certain that the materials used are stiff and will not allow the insect to wiggle and bounce around, and be destroyed.

What types of questions might be asked in the subject area of "taxonomy"?

Questions may focus on Carolus Linneaus and the hierarchical naming system that he created.

May we purchase insect larva online for the students to grow to adult life stages in an aquarium at home, and then use as pinned specimens?

Yes you may, provided that the specimens are from our local region.  The weather is warming up quite nicely and there are plenty of bugs emerging now so you may find that it is unecessary. 

How should the specimen collection be labeled? Will it be returned?

Please list your school name, team number, and student names on your collection.


There will be a time posted in the final tournament schedule for collection pickup, after they have been judged and scores reported.

Is a worker bee or ant considered to be an adult? Can we include them in our collection?

Yes, worker bees and ants are in the adult phase, and would be accepted in a specimen collection.



May we include an insect in our collection that is from an order that is not listed in the rules? For instance, a Mayfly, from the order Ephemeroptera?

Yes, and points would be awarded for the insect collection.  However, the order Ephemeroptera will not be included on the written exam.

Will our team be able to get feedback on their collection at the practice tournament?

No.  Please do not bring your insect collection to the practice tournament.

The Event Supervisor will not consistently attend the practice events, and there may be no one present with Entomology experience.