greasy specimens

Dr. James Adams jadams at
Thu Nov 13 15:04:55 EST 1997

Dear Bob,

> Someone called me with a question concerning their Lepidoptera collection.
> Mourning Cloaks and Large Fritillary's have become greasy, and he would
> like to safely degrease the specimens.  Does anyone have a protocol that I
> could pass along?  Thank you.

Any reasonable organic solvent will work.  It would, of course, be a 
good idea to use an innocuous one!  Ken Phillip suggests ethyl 
acetate, which does work well; I personally use acetone.  The method 
is precisely as Ken suggests:  immerse the entire specimen in the 
solvent, and leave it for a while.  Large specimens may need more 
than one treatment.  A word of caution -- specimens that have 
structural colors may have their color altered irreversibly.  Scales 
on lep wings, for instance, may end up flattened out.  Also, fringe 
scales on the wings often mat together, though careful treatment with 
a fine brush can separate them without removing them.

James Adams

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