Indiana Youth Entomology

Career Development Event (CDE)

Rules, Resources and Procedures


All questions for the Entomology CDE will be taken from the two following resources:

  1. How To Make An Awesome Insect Collection! (ID-401) – available online at:  ( or to purchase as hard copy from The Education Store click here.

How To Make An Awesome Insect Collection! (ID-401) is a resource text that provides a photograph, identification (common name, family and order) as well as the pest status, appearance, life cycle and tips on where to find each of the 150 insects required in this contest.  In addition, a general introduction to the insects, how to collect, preserve and display insects is presented to assist students in creating their own collections.  Students making a collection will soon realize that the 150 required insects for this contest are a small fraction of insects found in nature.  Making a personal collection or adding to a team collect is a great way to learn more about entomology as a science.

Junior and senior questions will come from the content of this text.

  1. Who Let The Bugs Out? (ID-402) – available online at:  ( or to purchase as hard copy from The Education Store click here.

Who Let The Bugs Out? – A Beginner’s Guide to Managing Radical Insects, is a second resource text and is required by senior level students.  It contains 50 of the most prominent pest and beneficial insects that those who manage them should be aware. It features photographs and descriptions of the adult and immatures stages and well as the damage that they can cause..
The book also describes the principles of integrated pest management (IPM) and a review of career options in Insect science.

Seniors will be examined over the content of this book as well as the content of How to Make an Awesome Insect Collection.


Area CDE Exam:

  • The Area Entomology Career Development Event exam is composed of 40 insect identification and 20 quiz questions. Juniors and Seniors will have separate exams. Questions will be taken from the Resources listed below.
  • Scoring: 40 specimens and 20 Quiz questions:  3 points for each common name (max. 120) and 1 point for each order (max. 40) 2 points each for quiz question (max. 40 points).  Maximum total points = 200.
Insect Identification (40 specimens) Points
Common name - 3 points each 120
Order - 1 point each 40
Quiz - 20 questions at 2 points each 40
Total 200

  • All area contests should be conducted in such a manner as to prepare contestants for the State contest.
  • We recommend participants be allowed 20-30 seconds per identification.
  • Suggested area quiz questions will be sent to Area Coordinators in October.
  • Specimen samples may be taken as photographs from the required resources or may be actual specimens from a collection made at the area level.
  • If possible, use Scantron for at least part of the CDE to familiarize youth with them before they reach state.


State CDE Exam:

  • The State Entomology CDE exam is composed of 150 insect identification and quiz questions. Participants will be divided into Junior and Senior sections and will complete exams in separate rooms. 
  • Fifty (50) insect or insect related specimens mounted in individual Riker boxes will be identified both to order and common name. Contestants from both the junior and senior divisions will be required to choose the correct (multiple choice) answer and record it on a Scantron answer sheet.
  • Twenty five (25) Multiple choice questions will be taken from the resources listed above.
  • Juniors are allowed 30 seconds and seniors 20 seconds per specimen box or quiz question, although this may be altered if needed.
  • Scores will be awarded as follow: Insect identification = 3 points for each common name and one point for each order. Quiz = 2 points each. Maximum total points 250:

Insect Identification (50 specimens) Points
Common name - 3 points each 150
Order - 1 point each 50
Quiz - 20 questions at 2 points each 50
Total 250

• 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.


Common Questions and Answers

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 (


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 ( 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).



Purdue Extension Entomology, 901 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA, (765) 494-4554

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