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Does anyone know anything or have any sources about how to collect and preserve insects? Answered

I would like to make a display of bugs in my area, and was wondering if anyone had any ideas/links as to how to trap/preserve/display insects? Thanks in advance!


Umm how about an adhesive, gas them or leave them under a jar until they kcik the bucket, fix them with a little adhesive and a pair of tweezers, if you get them when they're not long dead you could pose them a little, also it seems less cruel for your sake and theirs...

The only problem I see with this is the adhesive part: insects are known to leave legs, wings or pieces of wings behind just to get away. If there is any time for it to struggle, it may damage itself.

I meant using the adhesive after the fact but yeah making sure they're dead might be quite important...

Oh ok. I mean, there ARE adhesives used for this purpose, that keep them "onboard" but I don't know if they'd be available to you and I. That stuff on fly paper for instance

Aye but I meant using them after the gassing, so the bug won't be making escape attempts anyway...

Oh I understand, I was just expanding on my own post....kind of thinking out loud...so to speak :-)

Ah, makes sense, unlike those comments where I type the arguments in my head for things...

Just pin them to some sort of foam or cardboard. They dry out and stay for a really long time. My Biology teacher has some from back in the 60s using this method.

What about "posing" them? I'd like to be able to spread their wings out and make them so their legs don't look like tangled messes. I'm not sure how to do this with out ruining my specimens. And how do I kill them?

Pin them the way you want them to be. They will die of hunger/dehydration within a day or two

Are you sure? That seems kind of...cruel. For biology class I attempted to kill them with nail polish remover...It didn't work, and I could hear the bugs from in the living room clawing at the egg carton. Not a great experience. When I checked on them the next morning, they were tangled, like I said before, and most of them had managed to pry themselves out. If I do this again, I'd like to do it as humanely as possible, with aesthetic results.

You could use COto stun the bugs and then prick them with the needle.

Yes, I've done it before. Arthropods only have a ventral nerve and ganglia in the head (they feel it a little, but they don't have a brain). You could also try drowning them in alcohol.

I guess that since insects have exoskeleton they can be preserved by inserting a needle through them on a board and that should be enough.


6 years ago

would like to also find more instructions/advice on displaying collected insects. I use fingernail polish on a cotton ball in a jar to kill them very quickly. is there a way to set the wings without putting holes in them?Stuff like that

Fingernail polish contains acetone, and member Ntemple, gives a good explanation of the best way to use it (he posted in here)


7 years ago

okay... this is what you do. First, get a candle or a CO2 Cartridge. put the candle (lighted) into a jar and put your beetle in it. The co2 should cause it to die very humanely.

Or alternatively, feed the beetle borax mixed with some jello

They should die. If not , get a tazer, fix the metal leads on them and shock them to hell

I work at a science museum where there is an entomology hall. Here is what you do: Get a glass mason jar and fill it with about an inch of plaster. When the plaster is totally dry, it will absorb the fingernail polish remover so you don't have to worry about your insects sloshing around. You will need to fill the plaster to saturation, particularly if you are collecting on a hot day. Put a loosely wadded up paper towel in your jar. This will let the insects cling to something, feel protected and keep them from getting after each other in the jar as you collect. Generally, we have some kind of pocketed apron when collecting so that your jar has a home and your hands are free. The nail aprons from hardware stores work like a dream. As you collect, you can throw your bugs into the mason jar in your apron. You can stick several bugs in one jar without much complication, but be quick about taking the lid off and throwing the bug in as you don't want all your acetone to evaporate. Once you get home you have two choices. First you can pin all your critter right then. They should all be dead at this point if you used enough acetone and they had 30 minutes or so to sit. You can also stick them in a slightly damp paper towel (NOT WET) and gently put them in a bag in the freezer. When you are ready to pin them you can thaw them and then go to town. Pinning boards are nice (you can get them from Carolina Biological, Wards, Nasco, etc.) but a styrofoam sqaure about an inch thich will work too. I use balled sewing needles to arrange insects in the position I want with out actually pinning the insect. So, there will be two pins crossed and an angle under a leg and one pin on top of the leg holding it in place. Soft bodied insects (like butterflies) will need to be pinned through the body before arranging the rest. Hard bodied insects, like scorpions and beetles can be pinned before or after per your preference. Good Luck!

There's a coincidental resurrection!

I just found out that an easy way to cleanly kill collected insects is to break up a few cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) leaves into the jar - they give off cyanide fumes in quantities sufficient to quickly kill insects (which is why you should never transport a cherry laurel, or its branches, in a car with the windows closed).

Thanks for the input. I shall be sure to post any insects I find.

I used to love to preserve insects and I have found that if you use finger nail polish removal stuff or special bug poison they kind of preserve themselves if you pin them up.

Just a thought from an ignorant mind..what about freezing the specimen

The Wikipedia article has several very useful references, but the first thing I'd do is purchase a reference book or field guide to identify the insects before you kill them (maybe even before you collect them), to ensure you are not damaging vulnerable populations.

Also, ask yourself - do you need to physically collect them? Would you not get as much satisfaction from photographing the insects in their natural habitat? Your collection would then need far less space to store, even if you printed them out.

Or a compromise:

Nowadays some collectors practise their hobby also by rearing caterpillars, or ova, to adulthood. When done well, this procreates more adults than in nature. Some of the adults are released back in the wild, thus minding the numbers of individuals in natural populations. This method has also been used in some conservation programs.

Oh, I didn't know this:

Note that it is illegal to collect in a federally sponsored facility or national park without a collecting permit.

(from one of the wiki-links)

Thanks Kiteman, These notices are posted in several areas, and I shall be sure to check before I do any collecting. As for the physical collection...I don't know. My Uncle is an entamologist, and my favorite things at his house are his displays of insects. I would love to be able to start one of my own and show him some of my stuff, maybe research them together, compare local species...Photos are cool, but they aren't the bug. And I invariably kill any bugs I try to raise anyway. I definately will not go after endangered species. Thanks for all of the information!