Tools for insect behavior studies in the field

Observing insects in their natural habitat often requires a flexible set-up; you need to be mobile while still being able to code behavior in detail. With The Observer ® XT and Pocket Observer you get the best of both; powerful observation tools in a mobile format.

Observing insects in their natural habitat is essential for understanding their basic biology and ecology. Their behavior is strongly influenced by environmental conditions such as wind direction, vegetation structure and composition, and movement of nearby species. A field-based approach allows you to investigate these influences. It can also complement the strengths of laboratory studies by revealing the environmental cues and context that shape insect behavior. Using a handheld computer, smartphone, or tablet provides the flexibility you need to work in any kind of environment.

Scoring on the go

Your experiment starts with designing a coding scheme (ethogram) with The Observer XT. Then transfer it to the handheld computer that is running Pocket Observer and start observing. Scoring behaviors is easy: just tap the corresponding key of the built-in keyboard or key on the touchscreen keyboard. When your observations are finished, the data is transferred back to your desktop or laptop for analysis.

A handheld for every situation 

Noldus offers you a variety of handheld models, suitable for various environmental conditions. Rugged handhelds can withstand high humidity and extreme environmental temperatures and are suitable for observing insects in hot climates or greenhouses. Protective accessories are available for rainy observation days and for use of the handheld in dusty or humid environments. Pocket Observer also runs on a selection of smartphones and tablets.

Continuous and instantaneous observations

The Observer XT and Pocket Observer support both continuous and instantaneous (time) sampling. Sometimes, combining both methods is just what your research needs. You can focus on one specific insect, while generally monitoring other insects or even other (predatory) animals, scoring their behaviors at set intervals.

Select, visualize, and analyze

Each project may contain a coding scheme that defines subjects, behaviors, and modifiers. You can also add independent variables, such as age, gender, or group ID to each animal you are studying. This way your data is not only neatly organized, but you can also use it to select, visualize and analyze your data to different extents. From basic classification to in-depth selection and analysis, The Observer XT will help you out.

Advanced analysis

Besides basic statistics, the Advanced Analysis Module offers reliability and lag sequential analysis. Need more? Export your data to statistical packages such as SPSS. Or import your observations into Theme™, a program that detects patterns of repeating sequences that are impossible to detect by the naked eye or by basic statistical programs.


Find out more about insect behavior research in these blog posts