BIO 315: Insect Biology and Identification

Start Date: Sunday, July 3, 2022
Instructor: John Hafernik
Fee: $395.00
Units: 1
Term: Summer 2022


Course Description

This course will provide an introduction to the natural history, ecology, and identification of insects of the Sierra Nevada. Emphasis will be on characteristics of the major groups of insects. Daily field trips to a variety of sierran localities will allow students to study living insects in a number of different ecological settings. Nightly slide presentations and informal laboratory work will introduce students to interesting aspects of insect biology and give instruction on techniques for identifying, collecting, and preserving insects. This should be a useful course for teachers or anyone interested in natural history. No previous background in insect study is required.

butterfly on flowers
John Hafernik

Instructor Bio

Dr. John Hafernik is Emeritus Professor of Biology at San Francisco State University and a past President of the California Academy of Sciences. He became fascinated with insects and the natural world as a young boy growing up in Texas. He’s never really grown up. He still revels in the excitement of discovering new things about insects that he first experienced as a six-year old boy. When he’s not chasing insects, he enjoys traveling, hiking and nature photography. He taught entomology, ecology and evolution on the SF State campus for 40 years. He has taught summer courses at the Sierra Nevada Field Campus since 1982. You may contact him @ 

Course Details

Course Schedule

Students should arrive Sunday evening but class starts 9 a.m. Monday morning and finishes Friday noon.

Supplies List

Insect nets and other supplies will be provided. If you wish to keep a collection of insects, you will need to bring boxes about as deep as a standard cigar box and with a soft pinning bottom (cork, cardboard, styrofoam, etc.) for storing your insect specimens. For those interested in purchasing entomological equipment, I will have catalogues from various biological supply houses available for you to look at.

Lodging and Camping Supplies

Camping gear if you are staying on campus:

  • tent and sleeping pad (unless you are staying in our tent with a cot provided)
  • warm sleeping bag
  • pillow, toiletries, and towel
  • flashlight and lantern
  • alarm clock

Field gear for everyone:

  • day pack
  • sunscreen
  • insect repellant
  • water bottles
  • plastic containers for packed lunches
  • sense of humor

You might also want to bring:

  • camera
  • binoculars
  • hand lens
  • camp chair


The weather in the Sierra Nevada can vary greatly, even in a single day. Be prepared for chilly temperatures at night, even below freezing early in the summer. Rain is a possibility any time, whether forecast or not. Variable weather clothing that can be layered is best: long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, warm sweater and jacket, t-shirt and shorts or skirt, sturdy shoes or hiking boots, sun hat, rain gear, and a warm hat or gloves for cold weather and/or night activities. And, if you come later in the season, bring your swimsuit for afternoon dips in the lakes!