Tracks & Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates

RGV BioU Mark

Instructors: Charley Eiseman
August 15 - 16 | $295
Course size: 12 students


his course addresses the full spectrum of topics covered in the book by the same name, with an emphasis on signs found on plants. We will explore nearby habitats in search of leaf mines and other feeding sign, galls, eggs and egg cases, cocoons, nests, webs, burrows, and other objects and patterns created by insects, arachnids, snails, worms, etc. In the process of identifying these features we will discuss the life histories and ecology of numerous species. Back in the lab we will examine items collected in the field, both to observe details that require magnification and to investigate mysteries. Slideshow presentations will give overviews of most categories of invertebrate signs as well as introduce students to the often little-known creatures responsible for them.

Course Goals

  • Begin to make sense of the bewildering array of patterns and structures created by insects and other invertebrates.
  • Appreciate the diversity, ingenuity, and specificity of invertebrate lifestyles.

Course Objectives

  • Understand insect life cycles and associated terminology.
  • Recognize the different types of feeding sign and other damage to vegetation.
  • Become familiar with the major groups of gall-inducing invertebrates.
  • Become familiar with the major groups of leaf-mining insects.
  • Introduce participants to resources for pursuing invertebrate-related mysteries.

About the Instructor(s)

Charley Eiseman is a freelance naturalist based in western Massachusetts. He has been conducting plant and wildlife surveys and natural resource inventories throughout New England for over twenty years, as well as teaching courses and workshops on interpreting animal tracks and sign (both vertebrate and invertebrate). He holds an MS in Botany (Field Naturalist) from the University of Vermont and a BS in Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation and Management from the University of Massachusetts. Charley is the author of Tracks & Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates (Stackpole Books, 2010), Leafminers of North America (self-published e-book, 2019), and an insect-themed blog called “BugTracks.” He has also published over 40 scientific papers on insect natural history, including the description of over 60 new species.


Coffee, tea, and light breakfast fare included with course fee. Picnic lunches (Saturday and Sunday) and a catered, buffet-style dinner (Saturday) are also included. Participants may opt out of meals and provide their own food instead. Those declining the included meals will be reimbursed for a portion of the course registration fee.

Required Materials and Recommended Reading

Required text:
Eiseman, Charley and Noah Charney. 2010. Tracks & Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates. Stackpole Books, 582 pp.

Recommended text:
Eiseman, Charley. 2019. Leafminers of North America. e-book available from:


Course begins 9 AM on August 15 at North Branch Nature Center. Saturday dinner is at 6 pm. An optional evening session follows dinner. Course begins on Sunday at a time of the instructor's choosing. Course concludes by 5 PM on August 16.

Academic Credit / Professional Development

This course qualifies for 1 graduate-level science credit for an additional $150 course fee. All BioU courses are accredited by Castleton University. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that home institutions will accept the credit. Participants pursuing academic credit will be required to complete an additional assignment above and beyond the course hours, including literature review, reflective writing, or a field-based project.

This course qualifies for 20 hours of professional development hours and continuing education units. Certificates of completion are provided at the conclusion of the course.

Cancellation Policy

While we realize that unexpected circumstances arise that are out of our control, North Branch Nature Center cannot guarantee refunds for registrations cancelled within 30 days of the course.  If a cancellation occurs within this window, NBNC will attempt to fill the space from our wait list and provide a full refund.

North Branch Nature Center

713 Elm Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602
(802) 229-6206
[email protected]

Office Open Monday-Friday from 9 am to 4 pm
Trails Open 24/7