Storage Of Specimens

Specimens that you would normally pin or spread after pinning can be placed in envelopes. This is known as

"papering." Glassine stamp envelopes are excellent, but any kind will do. To make triangular paper envelopes, cut rectangles of paper, one side about a half-inch longer than the other. Fold into a triangle and then fold down the remaining "flaps" after putting the insects inside. Be sure butterflies and moths have wings folded over their backs for best results. They can be softened in the relaxing box at any later time. Don't forget to put collection data on the envelope.

Storage of pinned and papered specimens must be in tight containers so that museum pests such as Dermestidae (carpet beetles) and booklice (Psocoptera) cannot get to them. These can also be repelled by fumigants such as napthalene (moth flakes or moth balls), PDB (paradichlorobenzen), or dichlorvos-impregnated "strips" cut into blocks. However, the trend is away from museum fumigants because of possible health problems from exposure to them. The better method is freezing. Whole boxes can be left in a freezer for a few days on an annual basis to kill any pests that may have entered.

Drawers and boxes housing pinned specimens must have tight-fitting lids with inner flanges higher than the outer walls of the unit. Thus, a tight seal can be achieved, which usually keeps pests out. Equipment dealers offer high quality "Schmitt" boxes and standard cabinet drawers of different dimensions (Cornell, U.S. National Museum, and California Academy types are most common), as well as cabinets to house them. Homemade boxes and cigar boxes will do in a pinch; just add a foam plastic lining. However, one cannot expect such boxes to be pest-proof without fumigation.

Vials with alcohol-preserved specimens and microscope slides can be stored in special boxes or cabinets also available from dealers or built yourself.

See Also the Following Articles

Museums and Display Collections « Population Ecology

Photography of Insects «

Further Reading

Anonymous (1992). "How to Make an Insect Collection." BioQuip Products, Inc., Gardena, CA 90248.

Borrer, D. J., Triplehorn, C. A., and Johnson, N. F. (1992). "Introduction to the Study of Insects," 6th ed. Harcourt Brace, New York.

Borror, D. J., and White, R. E. (1970). "A Field Guide to the Insects." Houghton-Mifflin, Boston.

Covell, C. V., Jr. (1984). "A Field Guide to the Moths of Eastern North America." Houghton-Mifflin, Boston.

Martin, J. E. H. (1977). "The Insects and Arachnids of Canada," Part 2, "Collecting, Preparing and Preserving Insects, Mites and Spiders." Bio-systematics Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario. [Publication No. 1643]

Merritt, R. W., and Cummins, K. W. (1996). "An Introduction to the Aquatic Insects of North America," 3rd ed. Kendall/Hunt, Dubuque, IA.

Opler, P. A. (1998). "A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Eastern North America." Houghton-Mifflin, Boston.

White, R. E. (1983). "A Field Guide to the Beetles of North America." Houghton-Mifflin, Boston.

Winter, W. D. (2000). "Basic Techniques for Observing and Studying Moths and Butterflies." Lepidopterists' Society, Natural History Museum, Los Angeles, CA 90007-4057.

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