Indiana Youth Entomology
Career Development Event (CDE)
|Insect Identification (40 specimens)||Points|
|Common name - 3 points each||120|
|Order - 1 point each||40|
|Quiz - 20 questions at 2 points each||40|
|Insect Identification (50 specimens)||Points|
|Common name - 3 points each||150|
|Order - 1 point each||50|
|Quiz - 20 questions at 2 points each||50|
• In the event of a tie high score, the tie will be broken by favoring the individual or team having the highest score on the quiz questions. If a tie still exists, answers will be compared and the winner determined based on which individual or team answered correctly while the second place finisher will be determined by the first incorrect answer. If a tie is unable to be broken by these methods, then a duplicate award will be given.
How is the state exam constructed and administered?
Both the junior and senior state exams consist of 125 questions. 50 are ‘common name’ identifications, 50 are ‘order identifications’ and 25 are ‘quiz questions’. Each riker box will be marked with a number that corresponds to the respective column (Common name, Order, or Quiz) on the Scantron sheet for your answer. All are multiple choice questions.
Both junior and senior state exams are administered via students at a tables passing specimens or questions contained in Riker boxes as directed by a moderator.
In the senior division, there are several blanks (cardboards) in the exam. These are simply place holders because there are more students than questions. When you receive a blank you may use this time to relax but please keep your eyes from wandering. Pass it when directed in the same manner as the riker boxes.
What are the rules for this contest?
Specific rules for this contest can be found at
What is a riker box?
A riker box or mount is a flat rectangular container with a glass front wherein an insect specimen or quiz question is mounted on white backing material. In this contest these are black and measure approximately 4 inches X 5 inches and are ¾ inches thick.
How can I prepare for the exam?
Working together with other students and with coaches is the best method to learn and prepare. Collecting and studying physical specimens is very valuable because each specimen differs slightly even from members of its own species. Practice exams are located on the entomology youth website (https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/4hyouth/)
During the contest, can I look as a specimen a second time?
No. We are not allowed to have you look at a sample a second time.
What if I do not know the answer?
The exam is set up to challenge even the best entomology student. Unlike some of your exams at school – it is our intention that NOBODY gets them all correct. If we did there would be tie high scores and that sends the judges into a tizzy. Some of the questions are very difficult – do not be discouraged. Most of our graduate students and professional entomologists would not get them all correct. Watch out for tricky questions. Read them all thoroughly. Some questions may be repeats – do not let that through you off.
Tip: If you do not know the answer to a particular question – we suggest guessing. This gives you a 25% chance of getting it correct and also helps you to stay on track with your scantron sheet.
Where and what time is the event?
The state CDE takes place in the Stewart Center on Purdue University main campus on the second Saturday of December. Students should be registered beforehand but the registration table is manned beginning at 8 am.
General instructions are provided at 9 am and the exam follows immediately. Awards will be made available at approximately pm.
Who do I contact with questions regarding registration and awards?
YDEA (https://extension.purdue.edu/4h/Pages/CDE.aspx) takes care of the registration, questions about the contest, scoring and the dissemination of awards. If you have questions concerning these, please contact them directly.
Why identify by common name when these are not precise and are sometimes confusing?
There is not a lot of scientific merit in assigning common names to insects because they can be very subjective - one common name may be used for two very different insects and some insects do not have a common name at all. However, common names have always been a part of the insect CDE in Indiana. The last time we suggested removing the common name requirement it was met with significant resistance. Many said it was part of the fun of identification. We certainly do not want to remove the fun! For these reasons, we will maintain the common name requirement.
Will the answers to the questions be provided following the exam?
Yes, a quick review of the exam and answers will be provided for those who wish to stay after the exam. This review is for students only.
What may I take into the exam room with me?
Students may take a magnifying lens and a couple of #2 lead pencils only. Cell phones, text books and back packs should be left with coaches or parents.
Why do the names differ depending upon which text book we use?
You are correct. The science of insect taxonomy is fluid and what is accepted one day, may change the next. That is part of the beauty of this field of science. However, to make the contest consistent we have published both the ‘How to Make an Awesome Insect Collection’ and ‘How to Manage Radical Insects’ books in hard copy as well as provided them for free on-line. (See resources above).