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Insect Designs has been on the Internet since 2003. We are currently the largest supplier of quality insect specimens in Australia, and we ship worldwide. This blog features the latest news from our store as well as the occasional interesting news we have uncovered about the wonderful world of bugs.
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Setting Butterfly Specimens

Hello Everyone
In an earlier post I explained my method of relaxing butterfly specimens. In this post we will look at my method of setting them into position. This method is by no means the only one out there, but I find it works for me. I hope you find it useful.

Step 1
Place the specimen on a paper towel and gently press on the thorax with the blunt end of a pair of tweezers until you feel (and hear) it crush. Be careful not to squash the thorax completely. Repeat on the other side.
If the specimen is quite old you need to be especially careful.

Step 2
Holding the specimen as shown, squeeze the tweezers so that the wings open slightly.

Step 3
Hold the wing where it joins the thorax and manipulate the wings open and closed. The idea is to make everything supple so that the wings open easily. Repeat on the other side. 

Step 4
Push a pin through the thorax and pin it to the pinning board so that where the wings join the thorax is level with the top of the pinning board. I make my own boards from pieces of stiff foam glued together.
Pin thin strips of card on either side of the body as shown in the picture.

Step 5
Place a pin next to the abdomen on the side you are going to pin out first. This keeps the body more or less in place while you open the wing out.

Step 6
Move the wings into the position you want using the pair of tweezers. I use stamp collecting tweezers because they are nice a smooth and won't damage the wings. Be careful not to rip the wings.
Hold the wing in position by pressing down gently on the cardboard strip. Place a piece of unwaxed paper over the wing and pin around the outside. Repeat on the other side.
Remove the pin from next to the abdomen.

Step 7
This is what the finished specimen should look like.
If the abdomen droops or is off centre, use pins to put it in the correct position.

Step 8
Use a strip of card and pins to position the antennae.
Leave the specimen in a cool, dry place for about a week to dry out fully. Keep ants etc away by using some surface spray in the area where your specimen will dry.
Once it is dry, remove the pins and store your specimen in a safe place. Use plenty of moth balls.


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