Killing Jars-Ethyl Acetate or Cyanide?

Pierre Zagatti Pierre.Zagatti at
Thu May 22 04:10:33 EDT 1997

In this country (France) we can find cyanide killing jars.
The bottom of the plastic jar is filled with plaster, and
cyanide is embedded into plaster. So you have no hazardous
operation to build them. I guess it would be possible to
find such jars in the US in entomo stores (Bioquip ?)

For my own, I use always ethyl acetate, because:
1- I catch mainly beetles
2- When I catch a butterfly, a short stay (30 s) in the
ethyl acetate jar is sufficient to gently anesthetise
the lep, then to properly identify it and release without
damage. In this case you must absolutely avoid a direct
contact between the lep and the solvent, because it
will remove the epicuticular wax layer and kill the insect
(there is perhaps a direct solvent penetration also).
To avoid this contact, I use a jar with vermiculite impregnated
with ethyl acetate. The butterfly to be identified is kept in
a fold of the net into the jar (tapped with cork).

The insects killed with ethyl acetate are easier to prepare
than those killed with cyanide, therefore cyanide jars are
more easy to use during a trip in the tropics.

Pierre Zagatti
INRA Phytopharmacie et Mediateurs Chimiques
78026 Versailles Cedex
zagatti at

More information about the Leps-l mailing list