4-H and Youth Entomology

4-H and Youth Entomology

4-H and Youth Entomology


4H LogoSt. Fair Insect Collections

Working on a 4-H Entomology project is the best way to learn about insects in Kentucky. Use the guides and documents below to start building an insect collection today!

St. Fair Insect Collection Guide: contains the information needed to assemble an insect collection for competition at the County and St. Fair level. Includes: where to look for insects, how to pin and label insects, and tips for displaying collections. This document compiles and supplements the insect collection guidelines that previously appeared in 4-H Entomology Project: Unit 1 (Pub. 4DC-01PA) and 4-H Entomology Project: Unit 2 (Pub. 4DC-02PA).

St. Fair Insect Collection: Digital Photography Option. Introduced in 2018, this option allows 4-Hers to create a virtual insect collection using digital cameras and macrophotography techniques. The guidebooks below give submission guidelines for the 1st- and 2nd-Year insect photography projects, along with tips and techniques for selecting photographic equipment and taking high-quality insect photographs. Also included are tasks that allow 4-Hers to study aspects of insect biology using photographs (these tasks are aligned to Next Generation Science Standards [NGSS]). For now, rules and guidelines have only been written for the 1st- and 2ndyear photography projects (Lot 6026, Class 687B & Class 688B), but multiyear guidelines will soon follow.

Kentucky 4-H Insect Order Key: use this guide to identify insects to the correct scientific order. This document is adapted from and replaces A Key to Insect Orders (Pub. 4DC-04SO).

4-H Label Cards: download both of these PDF format cards and print them onto card stock to make official St. Fair labels for insect collections.
Card 1 | Card 2

Identification: visit the Kentucky Critter Files for pictures and information about many of the insects that you might find while collecting for your 4-H insect collection.

4-H ENTOMOLOGY TOOLS (For 4-H Agents, Program Assistants, and Volunteer Leaders)

4-H Bee Ambassador Program4-H Bee Ambassador Program

The 4-H Bee Ambassador Program is new for the 2017-18 programming year. Participating counties who offer a certain number of pollinator-related programs can become "The Place to Bee" in their county. The program includes a group of pollinator-related activities that can be used throughout the year. Download the manual and learn more at the 4-H Bee Ambassador page.


Official St. Fair Rule Sheet (New For 2018): download and review the official 4-H insect collection rule sheet that is used in the St. Fair Catalog. This is for Lot 6026, Classes 687-691, 1st-5th year insect collections, and also includes the rules for the new First-Year Insect Macrophotography project, Lot 6026, Class 687B, and the new for 2019 Second-Year Insect Macrophotography project, Lot 6026, Class 688B.

Official St. Fair Score Sheets: download and review the score sheets that we use to judge 4-H insect collections at St. Fair. These can help you to judge county collections and work with youth who want to improve their collections.

Supplies for 4-H Insect Collections:

  • Carboard Boxes: 9"x13"x2.5" white cardboard boxes for 4-H Insect Collections may be purchased directly from the manufacturer at Bioquip.com (these are sold by the dozen; item number 1002F).
  • Wooden Boxes: 4-Hers may opt to use wooden boxes instead. These boxes may be homemade or bought from a supplier. They must be approximately 18" x 24" and not more than 3 1/2" thick with Plexiglas or glass covers and cellotex pinning bottoms (or plastazote or polyethylene pinning bottoms). Boxes must be easily opened (for instance; if a screw is used to secure Plexiglas tops, use a thumbscrew fastener instead of a fastener that requires a tool). (Please note that wooden boxes offer no benefits over cardboard boxes to a 4-Her during the St. Fair judging process).
  • Insect Pins: For 4-H Insect Collections, true insect pins must be used (instead of sewing pins, for instance). Insect pins may be purchased from a variety of online suppliers. Multiple sizes are available. We recommend starting with a box of 100 "Size 4" pins for each 4-Her who is interesting in starting an insect collection. It is also a good idea for an adult leader to keep a few boxes of "Size 1" handy as well, for students to share for use on smaller insects.

4-H Entomology Curriculum Guide: This guide was developed in 2004 as a part of the new Kentucky 4-H Natural Resource Curriculum. It aligns popular activities from well-known activity books (like Project WET, Project Learning Tree, and the 4H CCS entomology unit books) with KERA core content. The topic: "How Does The Environment in Kentucky Affect The Insects (and Related Arthropods) That Live There?"

4-H.org National Publications: Teaming With Insects

  • Teaming with Insects: Facilitator's Guide
  • Teaming with Insects: Level 1 (Grades 3-5)
  • Teaming with Insects: Level 2 (Grades 6-8)
  • Teaming with Insects: Level 3 (Grades 9-12)

These project books were designed by entomologists, educators, and 4-H specialists from around the U.S., and provide a good introduction to insects and their relatives for young people in grades 3-12. Contact the State 4-H office to order these publications. Read more about these publications at: 4-H.org: Teaming With Insects.

Kentucky 4-H Entomology Unit Books: While these "classic" Kentucky 4-H Entomology Project books and leader's guide (Pubs. 4DC-01PA, 4DC-02PA, 4DC-03PA, and 4DC-#1LA) are no longer in print, they remain a valuable source for ideas and supplemental information. Contact us for photocopies of these books, or visit the online versions (in PDF format) and make as many copies as you need for your county programs:

Macroinvertebrate Information Sheets: These documents were originally designed by the Kentucky Division of Water for their Water Watch program. These are useful to agents and other educators for investigating aquatic insects and other invertebrates.

Aquatic Macro Data Sheet and Key (PDF)

4-H Entomology Leader Training: If your county office wants to learn more about 4-H Entomology, contact us for training opportunities. We can come to your county and work with agents and assisstants one-on-one or in small groups to develop essential entomology skills, such as: finding and collecting insects, insect identification, insect photography, and creating a St. Fair entomology project. A great first-step is to have an example St. Fair collection for your office, and we can help you create one. We can also help you develop entomology curricula and activities.


Blake Newton, 4-H Entomology Specialist
859.257.7453 | blaken@uky.edu
Department of Entomology
S-225 Agricultural Science Center North
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY USA 40546-0091

Contact Information

S-225 Ag Science Center Lexington, KY 40546-0091

(859) 257-7450