The use and prospects of non-lethal methods in entomology

Gabor L Lövei, Marco Ferrante

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperReviewResearchpeer-review


Arthropods are declining globally, and entomologists ought to be in the forefront of protecting them. However, entomological study methods are typically lethal, and we argue that this makes the ethical status of the profession precarious. Lethal methods are used in most studies, even those that aim to support arthropod conservation. Additionally, almost all collecting methods result in bycatch, and a first step toward less destructive research practices is to minimize bycatch and/or ensure its proper storage and use. In this review, we describe the available suite of nonlethal methods with the aim of promoting their use. We classify nonlethal methods into (a) reuse of already collected material, (b) methods that are damaging but not lethal, (c) methods that modify behavior, and (d) true nonlethal methods. Artificial intelligence and miniaturization will help to extend the nonlethal methodological toolkit, but the need for further method development and testing remains.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnual Review of Entomology
Pages (from-to)183-198
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • ethics
  • arthropod conservation
  • sampling
  • monitoring
  • insect decline
  • Animals
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Arthropods


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