Collecting and Preserving Insects With Isa Betancourt - Atlas Obscura Experiences
It’s finally here! Download our iOS app and discover the world’s hidden wonders on the go!
It’s finally here! Download our iOS app and discover the world’s hidden wonders on the go! LAUNCH PARTNER

Collecting and Preserving Insects With Isa Betancourt

3 sessions
$65 per person
See Dates
$65 per person
$65 per person
See Dates
What We’ll Do

This course has already started! However, you can still join if you’d like to (and we hope you will!). Students enrolling after the course start date and time will have access to a recording of the first session (which will be emailed to participants within 72 hours) as well as the option to attend remaining sessions live. Please select the “Join Late” ticket type to enroll after the course has begun.

In this three-part lecture series, learn how to preserve dead insects and begin a collection of your own.

Course Description

Though they’re all around us, insects can be elusive; in life, they’re tiny, nimble, and excellent at evading predators. So if you encounter one that’s met its fate, collecting and preserving it can offer a rare, still window into the insect world—one that holds all kinds of biological knowledge as well as immense beauty. Over the course of three sessions, we’ll explore the history and practice of insect collection and preservation and learn the tools used to work with dead insects, from spreading boards to pointing. By the end of this course, you’ll not only have an understanding of which preservation techniques to use for each insect, but also a deeper appreciation of what these powerful pollinators, predators, decomposers, and creators spend their lives doing. 

Syllabus At A Glance

There are three total sessions included in this purchase, each lasting for 1.5 hours on three consecutive Tuesdays beginning September 7.

Session 1 (Tuesday, September 7, 7:30–9:00 PM ET): Intro to Insect Preservation: History, sourcing, and ethics

Session 2 (Tuesday, September 14, 7:30–9:00 PM ET): Demonstrations: Pinning, pointing, spreading, and labeling

Session 3 (Tuesday, September 21, 7:30–9:00 PM ET): Demos & Show and Tell: Preservation nuances, challenges, and the future  

Between Sessions

Between sessions, students will be encouraged to gather deceased insects. Those interested may follow along during in-class demonstrations, using the insects they find to practice techniques and preparation methods.

Course Materials

While no materials are required to take this course, students who would like to follow along during class should have the following:

Minimal materials: archival paper, pen or archival pen

For dry specimens: insect pins, shadowbox (or other box) for housing specimens, cork for mounting

And/or for wet specimens: 70% Ethanol, glass jar/ vials

Recommended materials:

  • Spreading board
  • Foam or styrofoam board for pinning and positioning
  • Forceps / flat headed tweezers
  • Soft tweezers
  • Soluble glue


Pricing Options

We currently offer tiered ticket pricing in an effort to increase accessibility for all students, regardless of economic situation. Our lecture series are available at three ticket prices, with a limited number of no-pay spots available for students who could not otherwise participate. This model is intended to support a wider range of students as well as our instructors. To learn more about our tiered sliding scale pricing model, please visit our FAQ page.

Atlas Obscura Online Courses

Our online courses offer opportunities for participants to emerge with new skills, knowledge, connections, and perspectives through multi-session classes designed and taught by expert instructors. Courses can take one of two forms: Seminars are intimate, interactive classes—capped at nine to 25 students—exploring topics and crafts through discussion, workshops, assignments, and in-class activities. We also offer lecture series that can be attended live, or viewed via a recording that will be shared within 72 hours after each session airs. Class recordings for lecture series will be available with a temporary password for up to two weeks following the final session of the course.

To learn more about our current course offerings, please visit

For answers to commonly asked questions, check out our FAQ page here.

Where We’ll Be

Once registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Eventbrite that will provide access to the class meeting. Please save the confirmation email as you’ll use it to access your course via Zoom on each scheduled date and time.

About Your Instructor
Isa Betancourt
Isa Betancourt

Isa Betancourt is an entomologist, macro photographer, and curatorial assistant of the 4 million-specimen insect collection at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. She studied entomology and plant science at Cornell University and communication at Drexel University.  In addition to her work in the Academy’s entomology collection, Isa serves as Co-Communication Officer for the Entomological Collections Network and is a member of the Entomological Society of America’s Insect Calendar Committee.

In January 2022, Isa flies to Indonesia for a year as a Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellow. In collaboration with the Nasional University, she will document the largely unknown insect life at their long term orangutan field site in Borneo through the formation of an insect collection to examine how fires and forest restoration efforts might be influencing the insect community. You can follow her on Twitter (@isabetabug), Instagram (@isabetabug), and Patreon.

What Else You Should Know

This lecture series is designed so students can participate live or watch a recording after each session airs. Sessions will take place live over Zoom, with dedicated Q&A segments for students to ask questions via video or chat. Within 72 hours after each session airs, we will email all enrolled students a recording of the session, which they can watch using a temporary password for up to ten weeks after the course concludes.

In most cases, instructors will use Google Classroom to communicate with students outside of class. While students aren’t required to use Classroom, instructors will be using this platform to post resources, discussion questions, and assignments, when applicable.

We provide closed captioning for all of our courses, as well as transcripts upon request. Please reach out to us at if you have any questions, requests, or access needs.

Dates and Availability

There are no upcoming experiences at the moment. Fill out the form below to be notified when we add new dates.

All fields required.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.