Most insects are dry preserved, normally on pins, once dry the specimens will keep indefinitely as long as they’re properly cared for and stored.
If you have a dried unmounted specimen you’ll need to ‘relax’ it before you can pin it into the desired position.
*NOTE: keep in mind that there are many different ways to preform each of the methods I will be describing, be sure to do your research and find the best method that works for you.
RELAXING: Dried specimens can be relaxed by placing them in an airtight humid chamber, such as a Tupperware container, for 24 hours to a few days. Cover the bottom of your container with a damp paper towel and add a few drops of Phenol or Ethyl Acetate to prevent mold. Most people do not have access to these chemicals so I often suggest adding a moth ball and a few spritzes of Lysol into your chamber. put your insect into your container and add another damp paper towel. You can keep this container in a room-temperature room for as long as needed to soften your specimens. I suggest 24 hours for regular sized butterflies and adding 12-24 hours for any larger bugs. Large Beetles may need to stay in the chamber for up to 3 days.
PINNING: Insects are normally preserved by pinning. Common pins are too short, too thick, and will rust; Insects should be pinned with ‘insect pins’ which can be purchased from a supply house like BioQuip.com They are available is various size (Thickness)
Example: Nos. 1 – Very Slender, Nos. 2 (Less Slender), Nos. 3 (Thicker, for larger insects)
Most insects are pinned at a 90 degree angle through the thorax. Beetles, hoppers and the like are pinned through the front part of the right wing, at a point where the pin wont damage a leg when emerging from the insects underside.
SPREADING: An insect can be spread on a ‘Spreading Board’ (which can also be purchased at a supply house, like above, or handmade using wood or Styrofoam) or upside down on a flat surface. The position of how you spread its wings depends on the insect and how you want them to lay. If you are using a spreading board you’ll want to pin the body into the center crevice so its wings are level with the board. Using Forceps open the wings and hold them into place while you pin them with strips of parchment/Tracing paper, you do not want to pin through the wing! (there are many methods for spreading, like using glass or strips of card stock, but I like using parchment paper) You’ll want to pin the wings to the boards using your forceps to move the wings into the position you want as you pin them into place. I have attached tutorials below so you can watch some of the various methods for various Butterflies and Beetles. Your specimen can take anywhere from 24 hours to a week to completely dry.
PINNING AND SPREADING TUTORIALS:
Butterfly – Card stock Method: https://youtu.be/0YrAHR3Ipqc
Butterfly – Tracing Paper Method : https://youtu.be/7DWwBL8MU8w
Beetle Wings: https://youtu.be/klFRSN3uyNc
Mounting & Protection: Insect collections are subject to attack by dermestid beetles and other pests, They will Ruin your collection of not properly protected. You can store your specimens in ‘insect storage boxes’ or ‘riker mounts’ with a moth ball with them. You should examine your collection periodically for signs of damage. Should you detect any pests your collection should be fumigated or heat-treated. When mounting your specimens be sure they are pest-free. You will want to display the specimen in an air tight display like a glass cloche or shadow box, be sure your display is completely sealed with glue, tape or however you may see fit to ensure that no pests may find their way in.
DISPLAY CARE: Avoid direct sunlight, heavy humidity and extreme heat. lightly dust your new display with a feather duster and clean with a glass cleaner by spraying a paper towel then cleaning; do not directly spray the glass.
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