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> > Pinning and preserving?

PrometheanOctober 4th, 2006, 1:00 am
Posts: 2Hi all,

Im interested in starting a bit of a collection of aquatic insects in my local area. I have heard that a good way to do this for the adult specimens was to pin them out on a bit of card. Does anyone know of any resources that describe pinning techniques or can give me any other information on further preservation? I dont really want hundreds of small bottles with preserving liquid around the house, but is there a way to treat the specimens before they dry to stop them disintergrating?

TroutnutOctober 4th, 2006, 9:03 am
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
A Google search for "pinning insects" turned up a pretty good article on the topic. However, it doesn't address the problem of the insect bodies kind of shriveling as they dry.

I store my insects in jars with alcohol, but they're mostly for reference rather than display (so I can come back to any insect I've photographed and look at it under a microscope to help with the ID). So I don't store them all individually, but I put every insect from a particular day together in the same small jar. That's a little less cumbersome than having lots of little vials, but it's probably still not what you're looking for. And it does leech out the color from each specimen, which isn't a concern for me since I have photos of them alive.

I'm not sure there is a way to pin mayflies without their bodies shriveling. That article I linked to has a recipe for a "relaxing jar" which is intended to relax live insects and prevent mold. Maybe a similar formula in a display case (make sure it seals tightly, and have enough water and ethyl acetate to make it humid but not moldy) would keep mayflies from drying out. You'd have to keep "watering" your collection, but it just might work. Maybe.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
GONZOOctober 4th, 2006, 10:26 am
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Have you considered resin casting? It takes a little practice, but the results are worth it. I have some specimens that I cast when I was a kid and they are the same as the day they were cast. I would only recommend doing this after they have been keyed out (or saving an uncast specimen for this purpose).
PrometheanOctober 4th, 2006, 11:15 pm
Posts: 2Thanks for the replies guys. I havent heard of resin casting, but it sounds like what Im looking for so I'll do some research.

GONZOOctober 5th, 2006, 12:14 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681

Check with a local craft store. They may not stock resin-casting materials, but I'm sure one of their suppliers will have it in their catalog. The resin is usually a two-part mixture (resin and hardner), and they should have various molds and mold release wax as well.

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