Instructions For Spreading Butterflies And Moths

1. Have all needed items ready: well-softened specimens (stored in relaxing box or freezer after collecting), spreading boards of proper sizes, straight strips of tracing or waxed paper or other material, setting needles or picks, insect pins for specimens, glass-headed pins for holding paper in place (insect or dressmaker's pins okay). See Fig. 1.

2. Fix paper strips along the side boards of spreading board, slightly back from the notch to allow you to work the wings into place. Use two or three pins at the top of board to hold the paper even down its length.

3. Push a proper sized insect pin straight down through the thorax of specimen, so it is not tilted in any direction. Push the pin far enough that the top of the thorax is one-third to one-fourth the distance down from the pin head (Fig. 1A).

4. Push the pin down into the soft material in the notch of the spreading board so that it is not tilted in any direction. Also, push it far enough that the wings, when out straight to the side of the insect, rest flat on the side boards of the spreading board. Be sure you do not place the insect too close to the top of the board (leave room to pull wings into proper position).

5. Push an insect pin down along the left rear of the thorax, behind the base of the left hind wing, to keep the body from swinging left as you position the wings.

6. Place paper over the wings. Hold the left-hand paper strip in the thumb and forefinger of your left hand while you now begin to position the wings.

7. Insert a sharp insect pin or setting pick behind the costa vein close to the base of the left forewing. Swing that wing upward until the inner (anal) margin is at a right angle to the plane of the body (Fig. 1B). Be sure not to let the hind wing pop out from below the forewing. Insert a glass headed pin into the paper above the costa near the base and inner margin near the anal angle to hold the wing secure.

8. Pull the left hind wing forward by inserting a setting pin or pick behind the radial vein near the wing base, and swinging it forward. Leave a small triangular space between the outer margin of the hind wing and the inner margin of the forewing. Fasten paper over the left hind wing by putting a pin below it near the wing base.

9. Repeat procedures 6 to 8 on the right side, and be sure you have produced symmetrical results (Fig. 1C).

10. Position the antennae with pins to look as shown in Fig. 1. The abdomen may need to be supported with crossed pins beneath it or held down straight with crossed pins above it.

FIGURE 1 (A) Orange sulfur butterfly (Colias eurytheme) with insect pin inserted at proper height, ready to place in groove of spreading board. (B) Insect pin inserted behind thick costa margin and pulled forward so that inner margin of forewing is at right angle to groove. (C) After left hindwing is pulled forward and secured, right forewing and hindwing positioned to match left. (D) Glass-headed pins in proper position to hold tracing paper tight for at least one week, until the insect dries and can be removed; label ready to add.

FIGURE 1 (A) Orange sulfur butterfly (Colias eurytheme) with insect pin inserted at proper height, ready to place in groove of spreading board. (B) Insect pin inserted behind thick costa margin and pulled forward so that inner margin of forewing is at right angle to groove. (C) After left hindwing is pulled forward and secured, right forewing and hindwing positioned to match left. (D) Glass-headed pins in proper position to hold tracing paper tight for at least one week, until the insect dries and can be removed; label ready to add.

11. Write data (where, when, and by whom collected) on the paper strip holding down the wing or make a label and tuck it under the paper strip until the specimen is taken off the board (Fig. 1D).

12. Add other specimens below, as close together as you can, if you have many specimens to spread.

13. Make a notation of the date of spreading on the paper strip to remind you of how long the specimens have been on the boards.

14. Store the board in a pest-free, dry place such as a steel or wood cabinet. Fumigation of the storage enclosure is recommended.

15. Allow specimens to dry for at least a week, longer if possible. If the abdomen is completely dry and stiff, the specimen should be ready to remove.

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