Specimen repair etc.

Kenelm Philip fnkwp at aurora.alaska.edu
Thu May 1 16:22:14 EDT 1997

Mike Soukup asked a number of questions about repair, mounting, and such.
For what it's worth, here are my personal solutions to these problems:

Broken antennae and torn wings: 

I have been using clear nail polish as an adhesive for years. It seems to
work. I have been able to replace chips in wings, fix tears in wings,
reattach wings, and reattach heads, antennae etc. The one thing I do
_not_ do is use parts from another specimen! For antennae broken in the
middle, you have to set up supporting pins to hold the reassembled antenna
motionless until the adhesive dries. I should add that, since the Alaska
Lepidoptera Survey collection is being compiled primarily for taxonomic and
distributional purposes, I am not very concerned about minor blemishes in

If the nail polish is thinned enough, you can pick up a drop on a pin, and
then draw a line of adhesive along a wing tear, or the edge of a chip. The
pieces will then bond on contact.

Pinning small dried specimens:

I have had no trouble pinning dried micros after relaxing them. A good
relaxing chamber is an invaluable tool, unless you are always able to
spread your material when it's fresh. You should maximize the surface
area of your relaxer--mine is a 12x17" shallow Pyrex baking dish with
a flat glass top. A bead of bathtup calk along the top of the dish was
used to make a tight seal against the lid. If you do not place layers
of specimens in the relaxer, it will relax average-sized butterflies
in 24 hours, and small butterflies and moths in less time.


Any number of solvents may be used. I have been able to degrease by totally
immersing the specimen in ethyl acetate for a few hours. Warning: hold
the specimen's wings vertically when inserting and removing from the fluid!
Otherwise you'll snap them off.

Mounting boards & pins:

I use BioQuip 1022 series spreading boards. When these first came out,
they were treacherous owing to their lack of a bottom. I told the company
about the problems that caused--and they eventually added a 'floor'
under the boards. For my own purposes, I use an extended base that 
projects about 5/8" at each end of the board--this lets me store the
boards in an old insect cabinet on the drawer slides while the specimens
are drying, thus keeping the boards away from pests.

I use Elefant stainless pins.


I use the technique described by Klots in 'A Field Guide to the Butterflies'
(page 18). I use a photographic paper trimmer to cut 11" by 1/16" strips off
8.5x11" sheets of standard xerographic paper, and start at the center of'
the spreading board and work towards the ends. Rather than glass slides,
I use wider paper strips to hold the wings flat during drying. This takes
lots of pins!

							Ken Philip
fnkwp at aurora.alaska.edu

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