Procedures for Collecting and Storing Butterfly Specimens

By: Vikram Kuamr


Butterfly specimens are collected for many scientific reasons. You might not be in that field of study but still itís important you know how such specimens are collected and preserved. It might come in handy at a situation you least expect so never rule out anything. To begin with, you should start by identifying the right butterfly that you want as a specimen and net it. If that is a challenge, you can net a group of butterflies then sort out those you want as specimens before releasing the rest. After that, you will then have to kill the butterfly by pinching its thorax. This is a very specialized way of killing butterflies so donít try it in case you donít have the basics. You have to be careful enough and gentle to prevent the specimen from suffering damages.

Turn the wings to the back side of the butterfly so that you will have an easy time sliding it into an envelope. Alternatively, use a tight-fitting box to store the specimen up to the time when itís relaxed for mounting. Frozen plastic bags are also not bad for storing fresh specimens as they get ready for mounting and this shows how the options at hand will be many for your consideration. Your next step will be relaxing the specimens after they get dry. There is the belief that once dead, insects become stiff and can break easily but not with butterflies. As you will realize, the dried specimens will be easy to position and re-position as you wish. It has to attain your desired shape.

You can use relaxing chambers for accomplishing this task in which you will place a folded towel and add some water to moisten. The presence of moisture can easily encourage development of molds on your butterfly specimens so add some antiseptics to take control of the situation. After that, close the relaxing chamber and there will be high humidity which will automatically relax the specimens within a period of 2 days to a week. However, the period taken to relax will depend on size of the specimen. Once relaxed, the specimen will now be pinned but after you have detached it from the envelope with a lot of care not to damage. A pin should be forced to get through the thorax such that it cuts in between the wings.

The main reason for pinning your specimen is to allow for easy manipulation once you are working on it from the mounting board. When mounting the specimen to the board, you have to be extra careful so that the wings and entire side where they are positioned is above the boardís surface. Finally, store the butterfly specimens in tightly sealed boxes.

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Make sure you are very specific when collecting Butterfly specimens for storage. They should be free from any damages since that can affect the outcome of any scientific studies and tests that they will be used for. Ensure you are armed with the right butterfly kit for accomplishing the task.

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