Keeping down the cost of entomology

I don’t know if this is of interest, but since I have become more interested in catching and identifying insects, I’ve been aware that my butterfly net is not robust enough for ‘sweeping’.
I cannot afford to spend the sort of amount that commercial sweep nets cost, so I thought I’d try and innovate. There are various Youtube videos showing other people’s efforts, often involving coat-hangers or old tennis racquets!
My approach, as a non-seamstress was to use an old piece of gauze that I found in our shed and a lot of staples! I used the frame of the butterfly net and used that net as a template for my new, tougher one. It is essentially two parabola shaped pieces, stapled together down the sides and across the bottom. I then used staples to turn over the top of the ‘device’, thus creating a loop, through which I passed the frame of my old net. I wouldn’t say it’s pretty (nor particularly neat) but the only expense was the cost of about 100 staples! I tried it out in the garden, briefly before it went dark and caught one tiny fly and a small spider. But the important thing is that - so far at least - it has proved much tougher than my first net.
In all, it took me about an hour to make it. It would, I’m sure, be much better to use canvas and a sewing machine but I have neither of those.

I’d love to know whether other people have tried anything similar.

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I dare not begin sweeping. It would produce hours and HOURS of additional difficulty!
But I would consider one of the £15 ones here (to begin with) : sweep net for collecting insects
One is marked professional and, being from Amazon (free returns), would come with a quality guarantee

I had a butterfly net - but it is not robust enough to sweep through heather. I suspect that the Amazon one would be equally flimsy.
But you are right, of course. You have to specialise to some extent or you’d go mad! I’m governed to a large extent by the habitat within walking distance of where I live. And we have a lot of grass.

I’ve seen some amazing DIY moth traps on the internet, although I’ve never attempted to make one myself. But some people just put out a white sheet and hang a light-bulb near it - and get significant catches. I tried it on holiday (in Lochcarron) in an even simpler form. I just put a standard lamp near the window (inside) and not only attracted an uncountable number of midges but also some moths that I haven’t encountered before or since.

It occurs to me that some may not know what sweeping is
Sweeping for insects at Cranborne - YouTube - this looks environmentally destructive and the catch would take me months to analyse…
Few nets would stand up to that ‘correct’ style for long

That does seem a bit over the top! The tecnique is right but you don’t need to ‘mow’ a whole field!

Presumably you have seen some of those extreme listers who put big net on top of car and drive along to catch as much as possible as quickly as possible then just look for anything they have not yet seen for their life list.

No! Is that for real?

Yes, sweep nets are much more robust than butterfly nets. You can can get a good quality sweep net for anything between £25 and £40 (e.g. see the NHBS website) and it will last years (as long as you steer clear of bramble). The Cranborne chap in the video took around 27 sweeps, but in a flowery meadow like that I find that 10 sweeps produces quite enough material for one session. I didn’t think his sweeping technique was particularly destructive.

Think it was mentioned in an article in british wildlife or similar and may have seen a video too. Of course the example shown was not on the public highway but a private road.

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It’s a while since you checked the prices! A 50 cm deep net with a 1 mm mesh is around £70.00. That’s why I made my own.
But I agree, I don’t think that the sweeping had done much damage to the plants. I’ve swept our mini meadow (in the back garden) perhaps 50 times in a year and it’s not had any noticeable impact. Treading on it is probably more destructive than sweeping.

Well a standard model is currently only £30, although a professional medium-sized is about £54.

Fair point - but I was assuming that the standard model would not be very robust - and 30 cms is not very deep if you want to record anything that can jump!